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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Walking in the Winter Wonderland

We had a rare weekend when neither one of us were preaching in church so we decided to treat ourselves to a little overnight in the cozy seaside town of Dalarö.  While only about a one hour drive from our home in Stockholm, enough away from the city that we felt like we were really away in another world.  The weather cooperated nicely with our plans to spend our first winter weekend in the archipelago by dumping at least a foot of snow on the surroundings!  The drive out there was simply breathtaking with the trees heavy with new fallen snow and the dazzling brightness that the blankets of snow all around provided.  We checked into the Strand Hotel around 2.00 p.m. We realized that if we didn't get out and take a walk right away, the daylight would soon disappear so we dropped our stuff and headed out.  The town is quaint and lovely, dotted with gorgeous homes and wonderful views.  It is a sleepy, quiet place in the dead of winter with many shops sporting signs on their doors that they have gone home to hibernate and will re-open again in the spring.  
It had been a long time since we have had such a huge snowfall and the snow was the perfect consistency.  Dry, fluffy and light, it was a pleasure to wander the narrow streets while kicking up the white stuff all around us.
We returned to the hotel to be greeted by afternoon fika.  What a wonderful way to spend a chilly afternoon!  We were the only ones there for quite some time and finally two others came in for a coffee.  Our room sported a lovely sea view with a gorgeous balcony that would one would surely spend hours and hours on during the summer.  Since it was covered with a foot of snow, we didn't spend too much time out there!  The rooms are a little tired but it was a cozy spot to relax and unwind.  In the evening we decided to take a night walk.  The town was beautifully lit and it was easy to find our way through the narrow streets.  It wasn't cold and the snow just kept falling and falling.  The Waxholm boats came in and out often ensuring that folks could get where they needed to go even in the middle of winter.
In the morning I decided to take a little walk through town.  The bakery had opened and the smell of cinnamon and cardamon was wafting through the air.  People were out shoveling, the plow was going and folks were much more prone to say hello than they are in the big city of Stockholm.  I returned to a beautifully set dining room where breakfast awaited us.  A special table by the window overlooking the sea greeted us and we enjoyed a beautiful, relaxed morning.
We had decided to take a Waxholm boat out to our friends' place in the archipelago.  We marveled at the fact that in the dead of winter one can still hop on a boat and cruise through the archipelago, arriving at the most remote of destinations. Sweden is great in using their land all year round and their tried and true expression: There is no bad weather, only bad clothing certainly rings true with its inhabitants.  There were a few other hearty souls boarding the boat with us that morning and we made stops at 5 different islands.  We disembarked and had about a 20 minute walk to our friends' place.  Again, we were simply dazzled by the surroundings.  It felt as though we had entered Narnia. The way the snow hung on the pine trees, the occasional sea views that peeked through the landscape, the quiet stillness that freshly fallen snow creates were soothing to the mind and body.  We've been to this place in the summer so it was really cool to see it in all of its winter glory as well.  Upon arrival, Kjell got two wood fires burning in their stoves and Marilyn lit the candles so a cozy afternoon was on its way!  Wonderful conversation, good food and warm laughter created a great day together.  By the time we had to leave to catch our boat back, the day was waning and darkness was setting in.  We got to the pier and used our cell phones to signal the boat that there were passengers waiting to board!  It was such a different experience being out in the archipelago in the darkness and cold but it was intriguing and interesting none the less. We kept remarking how lucky we were that it was a snowy weekend as rain and mud would not have been as charming!
We returned to a car buried in snow.  We got it cleared, cranked up the heat and found our way back home.  Our wintry weekend in the archipelago was delightful.  Tons of snow, a cozy retreat, the stark beauty of the archipelago on a dimly lit winter day and time with our friends in their beautiful island paradise are the gifts I take from this wonderful time away.