Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Det snöade!


Well, the dusting of snow has turned into mounds. We woke up to a bit of snow on Saturday morning and it started again during our drive back from Falun on Saturday. It continued to snow most of Sunday and all day Monday. And we are now living in a winter wonderland (for at least a few days, the temperature is supposed to rise again on the weekend).


Sunday morning looking out over our square

Monday afternoon while waiting for the bus

Today, I went on a walk to try and capture how much snow has fallen - probably a foot/33 cm since Saturday.

Falun Gruva

Hej Hej!

Last weekend B., S. and I drove up to Falun to check out the Falun Copper Mine. Falun is a town of around 55,000 and played a significant role in the history of Sweden.

The copper (and iron, gold and silver) mine is a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its "historical industrial landscape" and because of the fact that mining has been going on at "Copper Mountain" since 500 AD. Can you imagine?????!!!!!

The Mine is both a pit mine (as you can see from the photo) and an underground mine. Originally the miners would mine through firesetting. Setting large fires against the walls of the mine until the rock face would crack. They would then take their hammers and chisels and/or sledgehammers and chip away at the rock until they had some ore to send up to the surface.

Apparently the pit mine used to be three smaller pits but in 1687 an extensive cave-in took place. The galleries and chambers of the mine collapsed down to a depth of 1000 feet along with the rock walls that divided the three pits. Luckily this occurred around midsummer, one of the few times of the year that the miners had off, so not a single person was killed.

The minerals in the water of the mine preserve things very well. In one of the chambers, the staff put a Christmas tree (because the chamber was called the Christmas Gift - due to the fact that a large deposit was found there at Christmas time) five years ago. The tree is dead but it still is green and has all its needles. An even more impressive tale of preservation involves a miner named Mats. Mats was trying to finish up some work one evening and ended up being the last one in the mine. Unfortunately a rock slide occurred and he ended up dying in the mine. Unfortunately no one knew where he had been working so the body wasn't found. Forty two years later in the early 1800s a crew of miners came across a body. They brought it up to the surface and everyone was trying to figure out who this person was. There hadn't been any miners reported missing and the miner looked as though he had only been dead for a few days although his clothes were old-fashioned. The mystery continued until an older lady came up to see what the kerfuffle was about and she exclaimed, "Thats Mats!". He had been her fiance and it was quite a shock to see him so well preserved while she of course had aged. He had taken on some fluids though so he was a bit puffy and today the story of "Fet Mats" (Fat Mats) is in many school books across Europe.

There are over 4000 working sites in the mine and the deepest shaft that still exists is 680 feet deep and is bisected by an enormous wooden wall put in place to protect the pumps behind it. It is presumed to be the world's highest wooden construction. The miners would ride 7-8 at a time standing on the edge of this barrel going down the shaft and then have to swing out to the ledges and walkways and job off. They put up the wall so the barrel didn't hit the pumps on its back swing.

The copper mine was very important to Sweden. The glory days of the Mine coincided with the period during which Sweden was established as a great power. And to a large part this position was financially based on the export of copper from Falun. At times the mine accounted for two thirds of the copper needed in Europe. The mine closed in 1992 but is now a museum and heritage site. In addition from the leftover iron bits they make the famous Falun Red Paint, which you will have seen on some of the houses in my photos! The paint factory is still in operation.

We look a bit like linebackers in these photos, but it was drippy down there so it was nice to have the capes!

Trevlig tisdag!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Beginning of the End

Hej hej,

Well, it has finally happened...snow has fallen and has stuck. Yuck. This truly marks the end of fall and the start of winter (even if the below zero temperatures had been signaling winter's arrival for at least a week). I had been hoping for a mild winter like last year but it seems that that my luck has run out. This was the view from our window this morning (we live above shops in a square).

The snow means that I'll probably be selling my bike earlier than I had anticipated. I got a bus pas yesterday so that will be my new mode of transportation.

This is also the start of our last month in Sweden. We are in the process of figuring out what we are going to sell, give away and take with us (not much). We're also trying to squeeze in a few more day trips to see some sites that we haven't made it to yet. So watch for a few more messages from Sweden yet!

Trevlig torsdag!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Copenhagen vs. Stockholm

Hej Hej!

So last week our friend, J., arrived for a visit and almost immediately we took off to Copenhagen. B. and I had already planned the trip before we knew she was coming but the three of us decided to go and after buying tickets with one airline that went bust we eventually made it there on airline number 2.

Reading the guidebook for Denmark, it made an outrageous claim. It said that Copenhagen was the most beautiful city in Scandinavia and that Stockholm shouldn't argue!!! Hmmmm. I had to wait to see Copenhagen to form an opinion but after spending 2 days there I would have to say that I remain faithful to Stockholm. Here are my reasons...

1. Stockholm is surrounded by water. It sits on 14 islands and the water is an integral part of the city, whereas in Copenhagen its more of a side thought.

2. Stockholm seems slightly cleaner to me (but I may be biased).

3. I like the old town of Stockholm better than the old part of Copenhagen (although it is beautiful too!)

I guess I have to be loyal to Stockholm, but for those of you who have yet to visit it, its definitely worth a visit. I believe that it is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

While in Copenhagen we ate well. J., B. and I had a couple of very nice dinners, and we managed to fit a "fika" in most days. The first day we visited J. and R. (also of Saskatoon via Kamloops) and had coffee with them at their house. That pretty much took the afternoon and we got lost on our way there on the bus (but only momentarily). The next day we went to the "Bodies" exhibit that has been traveling around the world but was currently on in Copenhagen. They had some amazing displays complete with real parts from real people - including cross sections of bodies - very, very interesting. The afternoon was spent sight-seeing with Ben's colleague, who took us on a canal tour (where most of our photos are from) and up the Round Tower. We saw the Little Mermaid on the canal tour and while the guidebook suggested we would be disappointed I wasn't. I thought she was lovely. Our last day was spent wandering around the streets, checking out the fancy dept. stores and visiting the outside of the castle and a round church. The weather was not the best but it wasn't terrible either so we did ok.

Some interesting facts I learned while touring around Stockholm with J.: 47% of the MPs in the Swedish parliament are women. The only country to have a higher percentage of women in parliament is Rwanda and that is mainly due to the fact that they have a 50/50 quota in place. Second interesting fact, in the Stockholm City Council 52 of 101 seats are held by women. Pretty impressive, don't you think!

J. left yesterday and I have spent the last two days recovering. No seriously I was tired :) Now I'm ready to start getting organized for the move back and for Christmas (and B.'s 30th!)

Here are a few shots from our week! Photos

The days got shorter by half an hour in the last week. I am not impressed. The city has decided to put on a light show for the whole month of November to try and counter the dark days. I just hope the weather improves otherwise I might be a gloomy girl come December.

Vi hörs!