Sunday, January 31, 2010

No need to panic...

With only three months until our landlady returns and a serious housing shortage in Uppsala we had a bit of a panic this week. The custom here is to give notice three months in advance and we thought that now is a critical time to get one of these apartments that will open in three months. An additional worry is that all interested individuals (including us) register on a queuing list to obtain an apartment BUT the average waiting time is 7 years. The situation is however not that bad and we were able to find a new apartment, after one day's search, in Gottsunda (a suburb in Uppsala, 7km from the city center) through a private renting agency called Graflunds. We will move in the begining of May and Carina will have two kilometers more to travel to work while I still only have three. If we are approved (the renting agency need to check our credit and working status), we will have an 82 square meter, two bedroom, completely unfurnished apartment. Anyone is therefore welcome to come and visit us, just bring your own bed. Thus, we went to IKEA to look at furniture. There are many nice pieces (all requiring some assembly) that we are interested in but today we only invested in a "starter box" for the kitchen that include pots, pans and other kitchen utensils.

Allthough browsing through IKEA is a very Swedish thing to do it is completely different from another Swedish weekend activity that we grown to enjoy. Here are a few pictures of last weekends ice skating adventure were we skated 15 km.

Crossroads on the ice, with the necessary signpost.

An outing for the whole family.

Note the icepicks around Carina's neck, needed for if she falls through the ice (does the required safety equipment raise some questions about the previous picture...).

Our current focus now is on doing enough work before our trip to Africa, but more on this later.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

On thin Ice?

Most of Europe was crippled by the unusual cold spell the last few weeks. However, in Uppsala life was not disrupted as people went back to work after the Christmas holiday. We experienced an all time record low (as South Africans) when the temperatures dropped to -21.8°C. We went for a walk and the photo was taken at sub -20° at 01:15 in the afternoon (the camera stopped working for a while after this picture):

One of the things that we were looking forward to were to skate on the frozen lake (spanning about 60km from Uppsala to Stockholm). As South Africans we were slightly apprehensive to test the ice ourselves but we heard that a track was scraped during this week and safe to skate on. Still worried, both about our skill level on ice skates and falling though the ice (and drowning and freezing), we went to lake Mälaren. We saw many people on the scraped track, including mothers skating while pushing their babies in prams, and we deemed it safe to go for it.

Here are a few pictures of us on the track about 2km from the shore:

Although it was a beautiful day with ample sun and a relatively warm -10°C, anything sticking out still tend to freeze:
This is something we will definitely do often.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holiday on Ice.

Today is the last day of our 2 week holiday spanning Christmas and New Year. Although we started slowly with both of us contracting flu (the non swine variety), our holiday was still very exciting and eventful. We will briefly provide a few highlights on our first winter holiday in Sweden:

We roasted chestnuts (in the oven):

Attended the Nobel lectures held in Uppsala:

Enjoyed the fist serious snow for this season:

Went to Uppsala city center many times, but marveled at the scenery every time.

Here is a picture (Uppsala city center) of Carina sitting on "man fish", what is strange about this picture?

We also went to Stockholm for a day:

For Christmas we made tradiditonal Swedish food. Following is a video of us on Christmas eve:

The following morning we went to church:

We visited the lake (the big flat white part in the background of the picture, not necessarily safe to walk on yet):

There are only a few hills in Uppsala and they are optimally used for sliding down on. We also bought a polystyrene device looking similar to a body board and went down a few times:

One of the best parts of the holiday was ice skating. The first time we were a bit unstable on the ice but enjoyed it so much that we bought our own skates to continue with this activity:

And naturally we enjoyed more snow...

We are looking forward to the coming year and still more Swedish culture. Hope everyone have a wonderful 2010.