Sunday, September 26, 2010

Full report on the visit from the family Nelson.

Prior to the visit by my parents and sibling a lot of planning went into the holiday. We spoke to Swedes and non-Swedes to obtain information on the best things to do and places to visit. Two other, very important factors were also taken into account during the planning stages which were, the weather and food. Probably a week before they arrived we had the provisions and sleeping arrangements in order while the activities were planned as if we were in charge of a small military campaign.

On the day of their arrival we were therefore ready with a reasonably busy schedule, allowing for alternate days of less strenuous activities (of course always taking the weather into account). Since our company existed of people with similar thoughts about time management  (i.e. enjoying proper and timely execution of events almost as much as the events themselves) everyone seem to derive pleasure from this structured holiday. We present in the following section a very brief description of each day with the main event and some highlights of the day:

Day 1: Arrival and Orienteering (Fredag).
A few minutes after 13:00 the family Nelson emerged with all their luggage from the arrival terminal in Arlanda Airport. We took bus 801 homewards and after 45 minutes we arrived at Uppsala central station where a small crisis ensued since one bag was left on the said bus. Coincidentally, it was the bag with all the passports but quick thinking and quicker footwork averted a potentially major disaster. Safely at home after 15 more minutes commute we took the weary travelers for a short stroll in the immediate surroundings of our burrow, Gottsunda.

Day 2: Exploring Uppsala City (Lördag).
We thought that a good strategy would be to familiarize our visitors with the city center and spent a few hours exploring Uppsala and enjoying the local cuisine.

In the afternoon we went for a slightly longer stroll near our home.
(Note: the picture was actually taken an area called Hågadalen bordering Gottsunda).

Day 3: Skansen (Söndag).
Before 9 on Sunday morning we were on the train to Stockholm to visit the open air museum, Skansen. Due to administrative difficulties we could not locate the correct bus stop at central station and were forced to walk along the most expensive and very beautiful Strandvägen to Skansen.

The rest of the day were spent at Skansen where native animals are kept and historical buildings are located with people in time period costumes.

Day 4: Gamla Uppsala (Måndag).

We were slightly slower out of the beds on Monday. This was partly due to the main event being located just outside Uppsala (and in part recovering from all the walking the previous day). We were however in time for a morning fika* on the old viking mounds.

The mounds at Gamla Uppsala are actually graves of old viking kings and other important chieftans (500 to 700 AD). Also located at Gamla Uppsala is the oldest church in Uppsala build during the 1200's. We spent some time in the church and the museum that contain a number of excavated artifacts from the mounds and surrounding areas.

We concluded the trip with a late lunch at the Odinsborg restaurant.

In the afternoon we went for a stroll in the Gottsunda Gipen.

Day 5: Uppsala Church and Museums (Tisdag).
The whole of Tuesday was spend by perusing the historic buildings and museums in Uppsala. These include the largest cathedral in Scandinavia, the oldest university in Scandinavia, Uppsala castle and the botanical gardens.

We of course also obtained some food in a very nice cafe next to the river.

Day 6: Stockholm Boat trip and Vasa Museum (Onsdag)
Wednesday was one of the most active days during the whole holiday. We left Uppsala station on an early train. 

We boarded the "Stockholm under the bridges tour" boat and for 2 hours we were entertained with the sights of the islands forming the city Stockholm.

After the boat trip we invaded old Stockholm (Gamla Stan) for some serious memorabilia shopping (we were also lucky to happen upon the change of guard at the Royal Palace).

Laden with our purchases we boarded an extremely hot bus where we were in traffic for a number of minutes. Finally we reached the Vasa museum and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

(The Vasa was the flagship of King Gustav Adolph that sank in 1628 after sailing less than 2 km during its maiden voyage. It was salvaged 300 years later and are showcased in the Vasa museum. Anyone visiting Stockholm should consider a stop at this museum. For more information on the Vasa click here).

We left Stockholm in the early evening after an eventful and educational day.

Day 7: IKEA (Torsdag).
After the previous day's adventures we went to the famous furniture company IKEA for browsing and a bit more shopping (we also went to some of the other stores in the vicinity).

Day 8: Picnic in Gottsunda Gipen (Fredag).
Carina and I thought that our guests by this time would be a bit exhausted and planned a quiet picnic in Gottsunda Gipen.

BUT after a successful picnic and braai they surprised us with a suggestion to take a long walk home through the forrest. Even when we were close to home they insisted that we make another long detour to experience some more of the forest.

That night we made a short movie of the photos of the bears that we saw fighting in the Gipen. Link here.

Day 9: Culture Night (Lördag).
Coinciding with the holiday was Uppsala's annual culture night. During this night various artists showcase their talents, most of the museums are free and open and a multitude of other sights, performances, shows and much more are to be seen. From the wide selection of entertainment we decided to listen to various choir performances in the cathedral followed by an organ performance which concluded at midnight.

Day 10: Lake Malären, Brunch at Skarholmen (Söndag).

To ensure that our guests experience the maximum amount of Swedish cuisine we went for a brunch bufe on Sunday. For some reason, brunch at the Skarholmen restaurant starts at 12 pm which was not a bad thing considering our previous night's activities. It is important to mention that the Skarholmen restaurant is located at lake Malären (about 4 km from where we live) and we had a beautiful view while eating favorites such as Kjöttbullar, gravadlax, rökta räkor, rödbetor och fetta salad and much more.

After lunch we went for a short stroll along the shoreline, took the bus home and took a much needed nap.

Day 11: Uppsala, last shopping (Måndag).
The mood of the whole company on Monday was a bit sombre. We spent half the day  in Uppsala viewing the buildings for a last time and strolling along the river. A final bit of shopping was also done to ensure a bit of Sweden would be taken to South Africa.

After a last lunch we headed back home where packing commenced.

Day 12:  Last Day. Packing and flight back (Tisdag).
We started the last day with the usual cup of freshly brewed coffee. After breakfast most of the company got into action and serious packing by the parents was completed before tea time. Cindy and Ronnie, however cycled to his work where she met real Swedes, Chinese, and a Pole.

Very long before the flight we were back and everyone was rearing to leave. We left 2 busses too early to Uppsala central station and got on an early bus to the Arlanda airport. At the airport our guests checked in without a problem and we said our goodbyes. They promised to return in the future to experience a winter in Sweden. We also got a final gift from the airport security (confiscated lingon jam: NOT allowed in hand luggage). We waved them goodbye and returned home.**


We enjoyed the 12 days very much and hope to have more visits from South African family and friends. Therefore please apply for a Shengen Visa at the Swedish embassy and come for a visit. We will extend the same hospitality and tailor the vacation to your needs…


*Fika means something like having a coffee break but encompass much more. We will have a blog on the whole concept of "fika" in the future.
**They arrived home the next day before lunch. Their check-in luggage spent an extra night in Paris but were reunited with them the following day.

Lastly: For more photos become friends with "Ron En Sarie Nelson" and browse through their photo-album on Facebook.