Birthday week, part 2

…birthday week has turned into birthday month and it’s nearly December! At this point I will just try to choose a few moments to highlight and summarize the month of November.

Erin and Melissa took me out for birthday lunch at Marvin, featuring “classic English suet pies” and wonderful crispy Mac and Cheese bites. We tried 3 versions of the pie: traditional beef, curried chicken, and goat cheese w/ beets. We all thought they were fantastic! That’s where to go for comfort food.

Marvin in Malmö

Carole hosted Lussekatter saffron buns fika at her house especially for Spanish speakers, so I met a couple of newcomers to the International Club and brushed up on my Spanish a bit. Carole is perfecting this recipe, and I’m happy to help. This batch turned out great! And we made chokladbollar as well, a no-bake recipe that will be really easy with the Thermomix.

Yummy saffran buns

One weekend I joined Carole and another American, Andrea, for a tour of Malmö offered by one of her colleagues who works for the City of Malmö. She told us many interesting stories about her neighborhood, Rörsjöstaden. Unfortunately I forgot most of the details and cannot find the notes I made, so I’ve linked to another blog post which describes a similar tour. But you can see in one photo I marked the apartment where we once had dinner with MN friends who live there! Apparently it is a notorious building due to the rust finish which made it the “ugliest building in Sweden”. I quite like it and don’t think it sticks out in a bad way. I can say that the space inside is really nice. It’s a small world, considering that 350,000 people live in Malmö and we’ve been in that building! It was great having an actual Swedish person show us around. She had even booked brunch for us afterward so we could chat and warm up.

The Architecture Tour
The Jewish cemetery and Holocaust memorial
More from the tour of

Last weekend we visited Malmö’s transportation/ shipping museum (with Bry and Noicelings!) which was better than I expected and had a bit of everything. I enjoyed the stuff about Lund and the natural history exhibits in particular. Also the bit about ferries, which included Bornholm!

The Lighting of the Tree Ceremony in Lund was on Friday afternoon, with a couple of different choirs providing music. Then, after a super long speech, the lights went on with no countdown! It’s such a crowded event that we didn’t stay long and instead made our way to our first Jul market of the season at Kulturen. We were lucky to have a relatively warm evening.

Kulturen jul market

November was so busy this post doesn’t cover it, but now we’re on to the next month. Bryant will soon be posting about his work trip to India and I’ll share about hosting fika with our new kitchen island complete!

More excursions

I keep expecting life to slow down as we settle in on Spolegatan, but it never really does. Lund, like most Swedish cities, is putting up winter lights, replacing water in the fountains with greenery, and adding seasonal decoration. I joined two international organizations for tours in Helsingborg and Malmö this week.

In Malmö we saw a few of the oldest buildings which were near the harbor when they were first built. As the city grew, more town squares/ marketplaces were built to facilitate trade. A few interesting details… about the millstone embedded in stortorget, the big square and the name Malmö, probably just a story since the name Malmö had been used since at least 1170 and the millstone was added much later.

Digging a well in stortorget would have resulted only in sea water, of course, so they piped in fresh water from a lake 3 km away using oak pipes., The well remained in use from the 1520s until the 1850s, when a cholera outbreak was linked to the wooden pipes.

The well in Stortorget, the main square (not the original torg!)
Back in August we celebrated Bryant’s Birthday at Årstiderna (The Seasons restaurant) in the lower level of the Kocksa House, built in 1522

A curious recent addition is this plaque calling out Gustav Vasa for his bad behavior during the peace talks of 1524, when he drew a knife against one of the participants after failing to get his way… an odd detail that we step right over when entering the Espresso House for a post-orthodontist treat!

Raven carefully cleaned up a pool of water to drink from

The Celtic New Year

The old traditions of Samhain, All Hallows Eve, Día de los Muertos, All Saints and All Souls have melded into an interesting mix of religious and cultural celebrations here in Sweden. It makes perfect sense that people mark the transition from summer-harvest-abundant life to winter-dormancy-death. And many cultures believe that “the veil between the living and the dead is thin” during this time, so it is common to visit the cemeteries and hold ceremonies of remembrance. The shift to darkness seemed sudden, but the weather has been warmer than normal and there have been a few hours of partial sun to break up the “höstrusk” or autumn rain and gloom.

Halloween is growing in popularity, though Swedes insist on celebrating it over the period of several weeks, rather than only on October 31st. Trick or Treating, if it has been adopted by ones neighborhood or community, typically happens on the Saturday closest to the 31st. Costume parties are also popular during these several weeks, based on my observations of people around town and at the train stops.

We were invited to two such parties this year and went with the relatively simple Alice in Wonderland theme. There were some uber creative costumes such as The Øresund Bridge, Picasso and his Painting, the Oreo Trio, The Addams Family, the Heathers, and many more!

There were lots of fun seasonal treats!

On Friday I went to an All Saints Day hike with Stephanie and Carole in Malmö. It was organized by the Church of Sweden’s Pilgrim’s Walk but I didn’t know what to expect. It was more religious in nature than I thought it would be. It was led in Swedish, starting with a lantern lighting ceremony, after which we walked single file in silence to various locations between the two main churches. Along the way we stopped to hear readings on the theme of light (Matthew 5:14) which was good practice for my Swedish. There was a lot about angels and connecting with each other and with memories of the dead, I think. It was clearly more emotional for many of the participants and I felt a bit out of place, but it was peaceful and quite interesting. Hil actually passed by on the bus after the last session of Model UN in Malmö and saw our group as we carried lanterns through the cemetery.

The actual cemetery part of the walk was much too dark for photography. Here we are emerging near Sankt Pauli Kyrka. There was a prayer service after the hike but we made a quiet exit and managed to get tea at Hollandia just before closing!

About 50% of people in Sweden visit the cemetery or attend some All Saints/Souls celebration. The majority of cemetery visits, services and concerts happen on the first Saturday in November, the official church holiday. We were invited to dinner with the Westall Lundqvist family (my Danish Swedish relatives, Anne is my third cousin according to the Ancestry family tree) here in Lund. Before the dinner I thought it would be fun to take a quick walk through the cemetery just 2 blocks from our house and sure enough it was a big deal! Most graves and pathways were lit with candles and lanterns and there were people cleaning the graves and placing flowers. It was more solemn than what I’ve seen of the Day of the Dead but had a similar, if less colorful, vibe.

A Giant hare at Norra Kyrkogården scared me! Lots of Fall activities at the orchard, botanic garden etc.
brunch at Solnäs Gård -Kiviks orchard

Cykeläventyr: Tirups Herb Garden

The weather has been so nice lately, and I can only hope that Autumn continues this way! Erin and Melissa rode their bikes from Malmö to Lund, where Carole and I joined them for a cycling adventure! I am still not confident about biking except under the most perfect of conditions, so it was a great time to get out of my comfort zone. We were mostly on dedicated bike paths and there was little traffic for the sections that were on the road. The route took us through picturesque countryside to a garden inspiration center (see previous post of the visit with my American friend, Brandie, who has since moved back to USA) with gift shop, cafe, and creative displays of plants and garden art. It’s quite charming. We enjoyed lunch al fresco followed by leisurely strolls around the grounds to soak up inspiration.

I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home and crashed around 7pm, but still I agree with the group that we should make biking a regular event, at least in fair weather. Next time we’d like to try biking out to the Long Pier and/ or the beach.

Another birthday in Sweden!

Our 14 year old (yikes!) says we need to do something different for her birthday this year to distinguish it from the photos of previous b-days in Sweden. She’s right- it’s hard to tell since she requests the same cake, gets similar gifts in more or less the same setting. So this year we changed a few details and though Bryant had to work the 3 of us headed out on a little adventure to Malmö by bus rather than train. It was easier than train and more pleasant except for the lack of AC on an 80 degree day. I think this was largely due to the kids choice of riding in the upper deck which they deemed more exciting. Luckily we had an abanico (Spanish fan) with us and I tolerated the heat.

I made the Birthday Girl’s favorite breakfast and after hearing about a bunch of cancelled trains due to an accident, we decided on the bus option. The bus stop is out on the highway entrance, which seems odd, but is really quite practical and safe for pedestrians due to thoughtful planning. There are speed bumps, sheltered pedestrian lanes and crosswalks. And of course the round-about keeps traffic flowing but at low speed. Even with all train traffic being diverted to bus, it was on time with plenty of space. Our new place is close to all bus routes and the train so I plan to start using the bus options more often. I think they might be more practical for certain trips.

We strolled though Malmö, stopping at the Saluhall (food court) for picnic lunch and continued on to the King’s Park where the kids played a new card game after our picnic while I took a quick spin through the botanic gardens and castle grounds. This time I noticed a new AnonyMouse installation and some pigeons nesting inside one of the arrow loops in the barbican (Barbican: an exterior defense or small castle defending a gate or approach to a castle).

Then back to Lund for sushi and beloved Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake. The Birthday Girl played a new video game all evening and has already made plans to celebrate her day with a school friend next weekend by doing some “tree walking” at an obstacle course near Lund. Fingers crossed for a continuation of this gorgeous summer weather!

Midsommar 2022

Another strange summer for us, with everyone off on their own adventures. I’m with the youngest in MN so she can enjoy her final year as a camper at Twin Cities Theater Camp. Bryant is in Lund (Berlin, Helsingborg and maybe a few other work trips) until his vacation in July. The two will join us at Laurel Flats mid-July for their MN time. We’ll see the Show and then head to Atlanta for a few days.

At least the projects at our St Paul condo are keeping me so busy I don’t think too much about our eldest’s college scouting trip to the UK with a few friends from Katedralskolan. As they were heading to the airport in Copenhagen I saw an article about the train strike in the UK, followed by a story on a second giant sink hole in London. But the girls were able to ride to and from Oxford by train yesterday and Cambridge today without difficulty.

There are fun moments mixed into the chaos of trying to pack up this condo and deal with daily life here again. Deb got tix to Black Violin which has been on my concert list for awhile. It did not disappoint, though it was a bit too loud for my 50+ ears!

Another school year done

The girls completed their second school year in Sweden! They both had some fun end of year activities, while I passed my level 3 speaking make-up exam this morning – a 15 minute discussion on the topic of Lifestyle. I got stuck a few times but was able to give logical answers and get through it! We’ll have our level 4 results next week. It’s been a crazy week of Studenten (high school graduation) Ceremonies and parties. They party hard from the 7 a.m. champagne breakfast and on through the night, with a long break mid-day to sleep! Each day belongs to a different school and that school gets to parade through town blowing whistles etc and they get the trucks to drive them around town. But it is very organized chaos. Students drink but there are adult chaperones. Systembolaget even donates the champagne, apparently.

And the beach has returned to Central Lund for the summer. Lots to do getting ready for our trip to MN. Picked up new glasses, prescriptions etc. and made time to enjoy the patio at the Grand Hotel with Bryant since he finished work earlier than usual. So we all ended the week on a high note! Noicelings chose Chinese dumplings for a celebratory dinner.

If we can’t be heard it’s Freja’s fault. Worst for test, best for fest.

Snapshots from my LU walking commute

Towers lifted off the cathedral with this giant crane

The botanic garden has a collection of the types of stone found in Sweden. Last photo is a birthday gathering for Katedralskolan friends, playing kubb. Such a wholesome party for 17 to 19 year olds. We hope the friend group stays this way!