Cherry blossoms

Spring and blossoming trees have been inseparable features ever since I moved to UK. Magnolia and cherry blossoms are a sure sign of spring! Kungsträdgården in the city centre has many cherry trees, and since mid-April I was pondering if I will miss the short blossoms while I was away for couple of short trips. To my surprise the blossoms were at their best only after I returned from my latest trip in early May. That day though the weather was very miserable, rainy and cold, nothing like last year's blue sky and crisp temperature.

The warm weather over last weekend brought out the blossoms in other places too, and I saw those both when I was out running and cycling. Kungsträdgården's trees are a sight since they are so many in one place, but during the blossoms there are lot of people and the surroundings in general are not so attractive apart from the trees themselves. Haga park also had blossoming cherry trees with no crowds, and the lake backdrop was very nice.

This weekend I also spotted some magnolias. They are very common in UK, but here in Nordics I haven't seen (m)any apart from Marimekko's Keisarinna print. As I stopped for a little break during my cycle ride, I noted that lilacs might be in blossom already next weekend should the warm weather continue.

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Kungsholmens Glassfabrik

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I have always been a fan of ice cream, but my taste has changed and refined over the years. In Finland the small-brand ice creams have really taken off in the past couple of years with Jymy, 3 kaveria, and Suomen jäätelö. This has lead me to explore other small producers as well as I travel. In Stockholm I have mostly stumbled upon the ice cream places as I move about town - that happened also with Kungsholmens Glassfabrik (Kungsholmen's ice cream factory). 

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Where
Pipersgatan 4, on Kungsholmen as the name suggests. Closest tunnelbana is Rådhuset, opening hours are somewhat limited.

What
Ice creams, to have in or to take away in cones, cups or tubs.

Order
2 scoops, approximately 4e. 

Comments:

- The selection was good and more skewed towards actual flavours than just making an ice cream out of a candy or cookie.
- When I had hard time choosing just two flavours, the lady suggested she can do four half scoops! This was fabulous.
- All flavours I tried (bergamot, passion, cardamom, chocolate) were good, balanced taste with not too much sugar. 
- The space is simple but nice, it is ok to sit and enjoy the ice cream but less nice to spend longer time.

Would I go again?

Yes! I have to taste more of the selection, there were some that I would definitely want to try still. Additionally, I think the pricing is very reasonable.

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Country life

Last summer cottage trips were rare as the sudden and surprising moving hassle took a lion's share of the time. I didn't have summer holiday eitehr - university started already at the end of August. I made do with some long weekends instead. Because of this the relaxion part of cottage life had to be skipped, but at least I could partake in the essential part: labour camp! The darkening autumn nights added to the challenge level, as all outdoor work had to be stopped much earlier than during summer. By six-seven in the evening the shadows were really long and the sun was setting, making it impossible to continue work safely. 

The main agenda was wood chopping. The trunks had to be moved, cut, chopped, piled and covered. After Saturday's work there would be sauna, and Sunday was for finishing up and preparing the cottage for the coming winter. And of course this all was topped by a drive home. There was much to do on both weekends, as our neighbours had fell their forest, leaving some of our trees exposed. We had to fell some trees and make sure that they are appropriately handled for the winter so that they will not rot away. 

Thankfully the work camp left some time for other activities too. On the first weekend I made traditional Finnish thin crepes with barley flour, and on the other one there was a village market. It is not a big market, but more like some local farmers coming together to sell their produce to the people who live or have cottages nearby. It all started years ago from cinnamon rolls and other bread things, but now the offering has expanded to cover meat, crepes, jam, vegetables, and this time there was also a sheep farmer with some yarn! I also got to enjoy a wood-burning sauna (it is different to electric one) and admire the last butterflies of the season.

Occasionally I return to these memories in the midst of the Stockholm greyness, and wait for the summer to arrive again. 

 This tractor was a life saver for us! With its hydraulic chopping attachment we managed to go through much more logs than would have been possible manually. As the task was huge, quantity went over quality and some firewood is quite roughly sized :D

This tractor was a life saver for us! With its hydraulic chopping attachment we managed to go through much more logs than would have been possible manually. As the task was huge, quantity went over quality and some firewood is quite roughly sized :D

Throwback: Uppsala Cathedral

In addition to the castle, the cathedral is another prominent landmark with its tall towers. It is also the archbishops seat, and the venue where the protestant reformation started in Nordics. The cathedral is still used on daily basis, so it is a bit hit or miss whether a visit is possible. When I visited, there was a christening taking place, but thankfully it was short and I was able to return bit later. There is also a crypt with an entry fee, but it was under renovation so visit was not possible.

Many Swedish Kings and Queens have had their coronations here until early 1700s, and some are buried in the cathedral as well. From Finnish perspective, the place is interesting as it has the first remaining shield of Finland there in a tombstone of a King (I have forgotten which one...)

Snickarbacken7

This is my regular place when the weather is less than ideal, since indoors there is steady, bit dim athmosphere with nice music and candle light. There are no windows indoors, so one can be in blissful ignorance if there is a grey day or April snowfall (I really hope I do not get to witness it this year!)

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Where
Snickarbacken 7, a bit North from Stureplan along Birger Jarlsgatan. No evening opening, but bonus for Sunday opening.


What
Coffee, tea, filled rolls, cake and sweet buns, as well as light lunch. Brunch (plates) on weekends. Additionally, there is a changing art gallery on the walls.


Order
Tea + cake approx. 7.50e

 

 

Comments:

- This is fairly pricey place for a standard cafe, a cup of tea costs almost four euros. At least tea is ok, and both cakes and athmosphere are excellent. The cakes are fairly traditional Nordic coffee cakes, buns, biscuits and basic chocolate cake.
- No special comments about service, but be prepared to queue to place your order.
- Snickarbacken7 is very good for working (there is wifi, and some power plugs) and for coffees or lunching.

Would I go again?

For sure! I have been here on several occasions, partly because I live close by. The place also has unique and timeless feel, which brings nice variation.

Throwback: Uppsala castle

 Uppsala Castle's South wing and one of its three towers.

Uppsala Castle's South wing and one of its three towers.

I was browsing some photos and found that a year ago it was quite fine weather, and clearly spring was on its way. This year March has felt like November - rain, snow, grey. But now, let's go back one year to enjoy the sunshine!

There was still too much sand on the roads to go out cycling, but a fine day required spending time outdoors. I decided it would be a great opportunity to venture out, and see a bit more than just the same streets of Stockholm. Uppsala is an easy place to visit, as the train service is very frequent and quite affordable. I think I paid around €15 for return trip on weekend. No pre-booking is needed and you can buy tickets from vending machines at both stations. I bought singles as there wasn't a difference in price, and you would have to choose which train to take back already when buying. There was no day return option unfortunately.

Uppsala is mostly known as an old ruling place, because it has some Viking remains and of course the university is famous too. I touched on all these points during my quick trip, it was bit shallow but nevertheless fun and welcomed change. The trip started on a positive note, as when I went to the tourism office to get the city map, I realised Peter-no-tail is from Uppsala. He is a tailless cartoon cat that has adventures around town in books and animations, a character that was very familiar to kids when I was growing up. I don't remember much, apart from liking the stories.

 Basement cafe has both nice venue with large windows and decent offering

Basement cafe has both nice venue with large windows and decent offering

It is arguable what in Uppsala is the most famous side, but it is undeniable that the castle has the most prominent physical presence. The castle has changed a lot over the centuries, which might make it even more fascinating. It is no longer in the old, traditional castle layout, but it has some venue spaces, offices, county governor residence, and museums. The castle is important in the Swedish history, as it used to be the seat of the King and has been the venue for many pivotal events like Queen Kristina's abdication, announcement of the war that became Thirty Year's War, and Sture Murders. It also burned badly in 1702, after which the castle was turned to county government's seat. Nowadays the castle can be visited, it has an art museum that has free entry, and a nice cafe. Adjacent to the castle there is also a garden, which is probably quite nice when it get warmer and greener.

 The decorative carvings are what remains of the old Castle Chapel that used to be in this wing. Over the years the Chapel was repurposed and extra floors and walls were built into the space. Country Governor's festive venues are on the other side of the wall.

The decorative carvings are what remains of the old Castle Chapel that used to be in this wing. Over the years the Chapel was repurposed and extra floors and walls were built into the space. Country Governor's festive venues are on the other side of the wall.

What have I been up to?

University, of course, that along with job applications is the standard answer for anything right now. However, these past few weeks have also offered me something else that I have been missing: both holiday and free time (it is not given a 'holiday' will not include coursework), and some new places.

The week before Easter I packed my red suitcase and headed to Helsinki, again from my favourite airport Bromma near Stockholm city centre. (Which reminds me that I should return to airport reviews - I have material for so many more!) The flight was very early, and having to check in luggage meant leaving just after 5.30. I made my way home, unpacked and repacked the suitcase to catch the overnight flight to Delhi. Flight went ok, I managed to sleep a little between dinner and breakfast. The fingerprint check for the electronic visa is always an exercise, I don't get the machines or they don't get me :D The connection was pretty smooth, and we refuelled with overpriced airport Starbucks, but the breakfast options were quite limited.

Next flight to Bangalore as again quite fine, I think we were delayed, but I read and slept so it went fine. It keeps amazing me that Delhi-Bangalore is 2.5 hrs, just a bit shorter than from Helsinki to London. India is huge. Bangalore traffic is still bad. I didn't check how long it took for us to cover the 40km journey, but probably it was around two hours. I had an accidental nap to compensate for the two short nights which made the drive much nicer. During travels I am a chronic napper though - as soon as we had had lunch, I went to take another nap, and slept for couple more hours.

 Vanha laukku on nähnyt maailmaa ainakin tarrojen perusteella!

Vanha laukku on nähnyt maailmaa ainakin tarrojen perusteella!

Bangalore overall was nice, quite relaxed, and a mix of things that were new to me (cake, tea shop, some restaurants), and returning to old favourites (clothing shopping, food at home and out). Even though we did not have too much to do, it was still hard to relax. I realised I am not used to the noise levels, and street sounds are quite high at night too. Additionally, it was very hot during the days (30-35), so air-conditioning and fan were needed. They of course add to the sounds as well, so there is background noise even when you are sleeping.

The newest aspect of the trip was Delhi where we stopped on our way back for the last day. We went around some sightseeing things, and it was interesting to see a third major Indian city and how different it was again to the others, Bangalore and Mumbai. Flight back felt again forever long, even though it is only around an hour longer than the other way. I watched a movie, which for me is always a nice bonus on long-haul flights. I get to see films that I would like to go and see in theatre but then I just don't get round to it.

We came back on Easter Monday, it was stand arrival due to construction work. I had sandals and it had snowed 15 cm... I managed to stay dry thankfully. The time difference is not much, only 2.5 hours, but somehow it was very weird to be back. Both of the experiences, home and India, were real and true, but on that Monday they felt like a world apart. I am so happy I planned to stay home for few days before returning to Stockholm. That enabled some more easy-going days, and an opportunity to take care of the less pleasant side of travelling that involves unpacking and laundry. On top of that, my suitcase was damaged on the way to Delhi from Helsinki, so I had to deal with that as well. It is very unfortunate the suitcase was damaged as it was only three years old, and otherwise would have been good for many more trips. Luckily there was a renovation sale in the luggage shop that I went to, and I did not have to spend much money on getting a new one. It is still Samsonite, just like my two previous ones, and the same extra light suitcase material as the red one. 

My flight back to Stockholm was during the day, I think by the time I booked it I thought I am done with too early mornings. 6.50 is not an ideal time to take off. Having an ongoing university project meant that I was not done for the travelling when I reached my Stockholm home. It was quite the opposite. I had some 1.5 hrs to unpack, and repack for an overnight trip to Malmö where we had a workshop with a client. I took the train, which took in total little over five hours with the delays. Thankfully the internet was quite good, and I also had time to grab a small meze plate and tea from the station before departure.

Friday was spent in workshop and travelling back to Stockholm, and I got to repeat my post-travel routines by doing laundry on Saturday morning. It has been nice to be back, despite the laundry :)

Yay! Spring is on its way

The title represents my feelings from the past week. At times it is quite warm already, and finally sun has been more the rule than exception. It is not proper warm yet, one still needs a light winter coat as the wind is brutal. It also rains, but yesterday's rain made me very happy indeed: it smelt of spring. The streets still require cleaning from the sand/grit, so I don't mind some light rain every once in a while. It keeps the dust levels under control.

Generally, the light and blue sky do lighten the mood, and have made me write more. I have written some posts ready during my travels over the past two weeks, and I will be sharing a range of things old and new.

In the coming week we shall
- do a trip to Uppsala
- return to last summer
- have some coffee (or more like tea)
- find out where have I been the past weeks

Apologies for the second post in a row with no pictures - the coming posts should more than compensate ;)