You would not think hanging out in a cabin in the woods would be this eventful, but it is. Our first day, Anna Kajsa and I, the non-skiing party, tog det lugnt. That means we had a full schedule consisting of sleeping, eating, reading, sleeping, going for a walk, going to our sauna, resting, eating, sleeping. It was a tough day, obviously.
Since we were well-rested, we deemed the evening perfect for a night out. Going out in Sweden is special and going out in a tiny village that is mostly tourists is even more special. There is only one club in Sälen (are you surprised?) and it is called Ice (no, you’re not surprised). We checked their photo gallery before we went: very young, very blonde Swedes in uniform fashion having such a good time. With lowered expectations and increase wine intake, we arrived to the club as soon as they opened – and were pleasantly surprised. The clientele was still very young and heavily make-uped, but it was possibly to, most of the time, to blend them out, and the music was very acceptable. They even played „Dansar aldrig nykter“ („I never dance while sober“) which is both a very adequate description of the party people and a favorite song of mine.
The last day of the year,we used to discover downton Sälen. This little place has 652 inhabitants and there is actually a Tourist Office. It is located in a central house where also the library (advertising „You can now do genealogy research with us“), the real estate agent (it is not as cheap here as you would think), the bakery (they offer no vegetarian sandwiches), the alcohol store (closed by 2 p.m.), the bank (with German signage) and a design shop (gorgeous but unaffordable) are. We were informed about the sights at the tourist office: the hembygdsgård, the fjällkyrkor, the interior shop and the Dala-shop.
The hembygdsgård and the fjällkyrka were definitely best: the former is a farm estate from the 1500s that was used until 1945. In Sweden, particularily here in Dalarna, people sometimes have their estate’s name as the name before their real name which I think is very peculiar. The last one living on the farm was called Olnispa Johanna Hansdotter and she was a 13 degree grandchild of Ola Nils Per (Olnispa) who build the farm. The most interesting part I thought was about Gustav Vasa, who undoubtetly was an important figure in Swedish history (google Kalmarunionen if you can’t follow) and is still remembered by eating knäckebröd and by skiiing the same way he did when was escaping from the Danish king. The ski race is called Vasaloppet and is the oldest, longest and biggest ski race in the world. It starts in – you guessed it – Sälen. During his escape, Vasa stayed at the Olnispa farm. Imagine! I might have peeked into a window where the unifier of Sweden slept.
We got to the fjällkyrka (mountain church) at dusk so the chapel was plunged into a very special beautiful light. We stepped in to the sounds of a piano and a girl practising songs. It was a very lovely church even if Malin thought it looked like a sauna due to the wood.
On our way back to our cabin, we had to scrape away ice from the car, outside and inside. Sweden really makes sure to deliver real winter feeling. There are few things as cosy as coming back from the white cold into a warm cabin, put your cold wet clothes into the drying cupboard (a great Swedish convenience), start a fire in the fireplace and curl up on the sofa with friends drinking hot chocolate and eating gingerbread made by grandmothers and mothers. The only thing we were not granted was to see Northern Lights due to the clouds. But there are hopefully more years to come, cheers to the first new one!
„Ett nytt år är som ett pärlband av möjligeter. Öppna dagar som ska komma”. (A new year is like a bead string of opportunities. Open days that shall come.)