I have been down in the southern part of Sweden for two weeks, and the days have passed in a rapid succession of friends, friends of friends, and let us not forget the almighty fika.
A day at the castle is always inspiring. It always fascinates me that there are those privileged few who still grow up surrounded by all this satin elegance--balls and velvet curtains and grand chambers have been part of their life from childhood. But then again, I myself am part of an old tradition, and there are those that find the concept of the missionary to be one of centuries past; they can only think of bespectacled men and women clad in top hats and hoop skirts, hacking their way through the deepest and darkest jungles of Africa with machetes.
My grandparents, my parents, and I all went to visit the palace. Alas, the king was not at home.
She is beautiful. Look at the dress! The hair! The poise!
Note to self: Must get throne for living room.
My grandparents were a bit knackered after a few hours of walking the halls of the palace, and we stopped for fika, which consisted of American-sized cinnamon buns and coffee for the grown ups. And hot chocolate for me.
The changing of the guard at the palace
We drove to Uppsala the next day and visited Erik och Karin in the countryside, who had been kind enough to lend us their apartment while we stayed in town. Erik loves classic cars. He writes for several car magazines and photographs cars for calendars, despite his own waning eyesight. He has quite a few cars in his own collection. In the garage alone, he had two Cadillacs, one blue, one pink; a yellow Ford Mustang; a hot rod that looked to be built from bits of a T-Model Ford, an old Buick, all bright lights and chrome, and a few more I can't recall.
One summer, he lent us his copper-coloured Ford Cougar from the seventies. We drove around our holidays with the top down and suddenly we were part of the classic car family of Sweden. We would nod knowingly at each other from afar, mutually admire each others cars, and go our separate ways.
A Vespa for every woman.
We celebrated my father's birthday at Ullvakvarn. We picknicked, fed the ducks, browsed the wares of an expensive loppis, and ate ice cream.
This one just makes me laugh.
GB Glass Gubben hälsar oss välkommna.
The brightly coloured GB Ice Cream Man in the window is iconic in Sweden. Here he is gesturing us inside from the window.
We visited the Sundbergs and enjoyed the pleasure of their company on their sun-mottled veranda.
Again, we visited my parents' old friends Anders and Lena, who owned a beautiful house on the top of a hill.
The sign above the guest towel reads 'Friends.'
The blue and white room
The gate Beautiful
Upsala-Lenna Jernväg, also called Lennakatten, is a museum rail line. The trains on it are steam-powered and trundle along on narrow and meandering rails through lush green forest and picturesque stations from Uppsala to Faringe. It just so happened to run past Anders and Lena's house, and I was lucky enough to admire it up close and to speak with the soot-smeared engine driver.