Fika in Sweden

8.7.2017

When in Sweden, one must eat Swedish food. It can be costly to eat out in Scandinavia, so whenever possible, we look for cheap, but tasty, local fare. Food trucks can be the answer to both of these criteria and we found a good one in the center of Gothenburg.


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Our choice from the little black food truck pictured above, was fried herring, mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce. We enjoyed every bite. On our walk through town to get lunch, there was a Red Bull vehicle parked by the street with several blonde Swedish girls handing out Red Bull’s new Simply Cola. Now, how fun is that? A free cola to have with our fried herring.

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  • You can have this traditional Swedish meal for yourself for around 60 SEK ($7.55 USD) from the Strömmingsluckan food truck. Located just off of Magasinsgatan 17, 411 18 in the center of town. No guarantee if the free colas will be there when you come through town though.

Somewhere along the line, the concept of fika was brought to our attention and soon it became the main thought on everyone’s mind. Fika is the idea of a coffee break accompanied with a sweet, but most definitely done with friends or family because conversation and quality time together is highly regarded. We picked up some cinnamon rolls at a cafe near the food trucks to take with us for an afternoon fika and headed off to Gothenburg’s archipelago. Public transportation includes ferry rides to these so that was very convenient.
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We chose to go to Asperö first. There is a short walking path across the island, with more heather growing on the rocks which proved to be delightful.
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Photo Credit: Lynette

Cars were not to be seen anywhere so bicycles are the mode of transportation. If you need to haul more than will fit in a bike basket, there are “truck” versions to carry your stuff.

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Natasha discovered a jellyfish and was super excited.

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To have a proper fika, we needed coffee. Or at least tea. There wasn’t a cafe on Asperö so we took another short ferry ride to Brännö. We weren’t completely sure if had found a cafe since the establishment was rather…eccentric. I thought it looked like a junkyard in the Caribbean and it was a little disconcerting since I thought we were in Sweden.

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If you can spot Natasha below, her questioning pose perfectly describes our feelings of the place. This boat was the playground.

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The cafe seemed more like a bar to me, but the girls ventured up to inquire about tea. It was simple Lipton, but it was hot and once procured, we could have our fika.

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Photo Credit: Lynette

  • Our cinnamon rolls were from Da Matteo, the cafe right in the courtyard where we had lunch at the food trucks. There was a cardamon version and a cinnamon version for 30 SEK (approximately $3.75 USD). If you go there, the cafe has seating inside for cozy conversation, as well as free wifi. Very handy if you’re engaged and your fiancé is hundreds of miles away back in the States and you want to chat, as Maria did.
  •  Also there is a free restroom right inside the door. Always on the lookout for those.

The first roll I was given had a rather burnt top. Now, it’s not normally my habit to return something I’ve purchased just because it may not meet my expectations, especially food. However, I’m not always in Sweden, selecting a Swedish pastry to have a proper fika on a dreary, wet day. So I was bold and kindly asked if I could have a different cinnamon roll that wasn’t quite so brown on top. The gal behind the counter quickly exchanged my roll and I left a happy customer, feeling rather empowered by my confidence.

The shelter we dined in was a hodge-podge of a structure; held together with tarps, old metal frames and even duct tape. It made me think of our time in Bocas de Toro, Panama and Red Frog Island.
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While eating, we were entertained by a cell phone conversation overheard while having our little snack. Apparently an English fellow was trying to help his wife (or girlfriend) with a lock and key issue she was having back at their apartment, which proved to be quite humorous. Poor guy, he tried numerous times to figure out how the key was positioned in the lock and things just weren’t working. We were probably a little too amused at his (and her) lack of communication and the entire predicament.

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Photo Credit: Lynette

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Whale Watching Interview

Bright and early one morning, Daniel woke Natasha and got her dressed before I was even out of bed. They were on their way to catch the bus to take them to a special boat, in search of whales. I stayed home with baby Lincoln and since I wasn’t on this water adventure, I will turn this blog post over to 6 year old Natasha. She’s going to tell you about their day.

Janel: “So Natasha, you had trouble the day before catching the bus because of traffic delays in Québec City during the morning rush hour. The ticket lady kindly did a favor for you and allowed you to come back the next day. This morning then, you made it, but still not without some difficulties. Can you tell me about that?”

Natasha: “After we parked we had to run a while. Then when we were running, we dropped my books and catalog. A man was walking by and he picked them up for us. That delayed us a little bit. Dad carried me piggy-back but after a bit I got down and ran too. After we ran some more, I asked why I couldn’t be on his shoulders. He said I was getting too big.”

Janel: “So you finally made it to the bus line up after running approximately a mile. How was the bus ride?”

Natasha: “It was pretty good. But the driver kept on talking and talking. I didn’t listen to all of it.”

Janel: “What was he talking about?”

Natasha: “Whales.”

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Janel: “Once you reached the boat dock, what did you do?”

Natasha: “Well, first we talked to a lady in the line for our big coats and pants for the Zodiac. When we got them we went to a room where everyone was putting on their Zodiac coats and pants. But when I got my skirt off and was putting them on I didn’t like them. After a bit of talking, Dad had an idea: We would go on the big boat. The big boat is big and doesn’t have waves like the Zodiac and we wouldn’t have to wear the coats and pants. But there wasn’t much time to sign out of the Zodiac and onto the big boat. So when we were running to change tickets Daddy suddenly realized he had forgotten something. His own coat! So I was left with the backpack and was just about to pray that we could get on the big boat in time, when Dad rushed back with his coat! So we got on the big boat in time!”

Janel: “What was the big boat like?”

Natasha:

  1. It had a bar*. The bar was downstairs and it was warm. On one half of it there were lots of tables and on the other side there was a place to get chips and drinks. In the middle there were stairs that go down, down, down. Over top of the stairs there was a model whale that was cut open to see what it was like inside. I thought that the brain was where the intestines are!
  2. The big boat had a display of replica whale bones.
  3. There were lots of floors and an observatory deck. But you could observe on the regular deck too.

*Something like a pub.

 

 

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Janel: “What did you do on the observatory deck?”

Natasha: “Obverse the whales.”

Janel: “Of course. Was it cold up there?”

Natasha: “No, the oddest thing about the boat was that the downstairs (not the bar) was very windy and cold. And the top wasn’t windy and cold!”

Janel: “Where did you spend most of your time?”

Natasha: “The bar, eating chips. Because it was warm. But there were windows and I could still see out.”

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Janel: “I’m sure everyone is wondering by now, did you see any whales?”

Natasha: “Of course! 11 minke whales. And a whole pod of belugas. The belugas were all around the boat at the very end and they were lovely. Whiter than white!”

Janel: “Wow! How many belugas are in a pod?”

Natasha: “I don’t know.”

Janel: “Tell me more about the minke whales. Did they jump all the way out of the water like in a lot of pictures we might see?”

Natasha: “No. That happens very rarely. We saw their backs with their fins and their blows. You just looked around till you saw their back or their blow.”

Janel: “Did you get any pictures of the whales?”

Natasha: “No. You never knew when they’d come out.”

Janel: “So, you had a good time?”

Natasha: “Yeah!”

Janel: “Do you have any tips or anything you might like to tell someone who is interested in going whale watching on the St. Lawrence River in Québec, Canada?”

Natasha: “One tip would be if you don’t want waves, go on the big boat instead of the Zodiac.   p.s. it has a bar!”

 

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Promenading

Last Friday I was sitting at the counter doing some blogging and I saw a helmeted person drive pull into our driveway. I couldn’t see who it was, and didn’t have any idea who would be coming to see us in a town where no one even knows us.  After I told Daniel, “Someone just pulled in…” he said I should probably get up and see. Lo and behold, it was Daniel’s youngest brother, Silas. He drove up some 800 miles on his motorcycle to visit us for the weekend! Through rain, wet clothes, running out of gas and having to push the bike approximately two miles, more rain and being very sleepy, he made it. He and Daniel kept it surprise from me, and yes, I was completely surprised.

So that afternoon we all went to see more of the Old City, including the Governor’s Promenade, right along the river. We parked above at the citadelle and worked our way down the 310 steps to the riverfront. The view from the walkway showed us from above where we had biked previously, right along those cruise ships.1-012

Down at the bottom then, there is a huge boardwalk leading up to the Château Frontenac. That would be the hotel that looks like a castle below:04-013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To get back to the car we went up the narrow streets through parts of the old city  where I fell in love with this church’s doorway. 
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The citadelle and the Canadian flag were right above us, so of course we walked up to see the view.

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And what a view indeed.

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Québec City is know for being “So Europe, so close”.  And just look at these houses. I have a similar picture from when we were in Strasbourg, France last spring and you might not be able to tell the difference. (By the way, I never blogged about that trip, but one day I might. Ha!)

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Montmorency Falls

Back on the mainland, just directly across from Île d’Orléans, is Montmorency Falls which we visited after picking our apples from the previous post. The below picture shows the bridge to the island.

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Then if you would simply turn around, your view would be…us! And the waterfall, of course. It’s taller than Niagara Falls, but not near as wide. So there’s actually a bridge to walk across and view the bubbly, swirling water from above. Do check out the link above for better pictures of the waterfall. It’s superb to be here in fall with all the trees turning color. Just in the 10 days or so that we’ve been here the maples are showing their colors so much more.

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The huge bolts holding the bridge were pretty impressive at both ends of the foot bridge, and I thought they look like cannons. Or robots feet.

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The surrounding park is lovely, and was peaceful and quiet during our visit. Natasha found an elephant’s tree-trunk to sit on during our walk back to the car.

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There’s A Hole in the Ground

Well, it’s time to play catch-up. Despite all my best efforts at blogging in the here and now and trying to keep things updated and close to the actual event, sometimes I just stop blogging because I am enjoying the here and now.

You see, we are home now, back in the States and it’s just not quite New Zealand. We saw a lot on the way home, which I will of course share at some point, and now we are home with very mixed feelings. It has its nice points for sure, like being in our own little house again with our own kitchen. Natasha has her beloved stuffed animals to play with again, and Thanksgiving is coming. (I love an American Thanksgiving, and that’s something that Kiwis don’t have.) But we miss a lot from Down Under. Things like amazing scenery and the urge to rush outside because if you don’t, you might miss seeing something spectacular. Fun accents wherever you go, washed carrots, and the sense of exploring whenever you exit the door.

I’m sure it’s just a matter of creating those same feelings wherever you are, but sometimes you just can’t create amazing scenery. There simply aren’t big hills to climb where we live in the midwest, or rocky coastlines.

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So to pick up where we left off back in October, Logan and Maria were still with us and we were exploring more of Abel Tasman National Park. On this particular outing, we drove up the mountain pass towards Takaka with an extra passenger. Just before we started up the mountain, we picked up a backpacker who was hitchiking. That added something new to the drive!

We weren’t going all the way to the town of Takaka right then since we wanted to stop at Harwood’s Hole, so Nikko hopped out before we headed back the gravel drive to the entrance to the hole. He wasn’t there when we came out, so we assume he got a ride down the mountain.

Meanwhile, we were hiking in the most magical forest I’ve ever encountered. Everything was mossy and green like a rainforest.

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There were bogs.

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And rocks to climb over. (This was considered an “easy” walking path.)

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And purple mushrooms.

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And leafy, lettuce-looking moss.

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And of course, a ginormous hole in the ground. It was so massive, we just basically sat down and stayed there. You couldn’t really see the bottom or the entrance because of the angle, so we just observed. There were some German hikers there at the same time and one guy in particular was more daring than us. So we just watched him climb and prayed we wouldn’t watch him fall. (He didn’t.)

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On our way back out, it might seem cliche, but I really wanted my picture with a sheep. The road went right through their pasture and was rather picturesque. (But what isn’t in New Zealand?!)

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A Scottish Highlander met us on our way out as well:

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So from there, we let Maria take the driver’s seat and we went down Takaka Hill to the town in search of milk. As faithful readers might remember, we searched out milk in Central America and Europe, so it was only fitting that we do it here as well.

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When we first came through Abel Tasman National Park, we saw the sign “Raw Milk” out by the road and stopped to investigate.

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This was by far the most elaborate set up we’ve encountered. Village Milk even has a website and obviously, it’s not illegal to sell raw milk in New Zealand.

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Their shed, right on the farm was complete with a fridge containing clean glass bottles to purchase, and a sanitation process that steams customer’s containers before the milk fills them.

We weren’t prepared to get any milk that first time, but this time we brought our empty water jug and procured some. It cost $2.50 a litre. (New Zealand dollar.) Kind of appropriate that Logan and Maria were here when we actually bought some, since Daniel and I met on their dairy farm and have so many great memories of times spent there.

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On our way home we had enough time and sunlight to show Logan and Maria Split Apple Rock. This time it was at low tide, and we could get a lot closer to the rock and explore some of the caves nearby.

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Instead of me bringing little treasures home without a clear purpose for them, I photographed my finds.
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