Thursday, February 11, 2010
This is the country of 100,000 lakes, some of them very large (Vänern, Vättern and Mälaren) and you can’t go very far in Sweden without almost falling into one.
Summertime in Sweden, lakes are for basking beside, for swimming, for fishing and for boating. Wintertime, the lakes farther north freeze over and play host to skaters and ice fishing enthusiasts. Just witness the people swimming and fishing in Lake Mälaren in the middle of Stockholm, the water is clean (almost drinking quality) and you can catch salmon and other fish species here. And they are edible, just as the tap water in Sweden is very drinkable.
The Calm and Quiet Little Town of Falun
The copper mine in Falun (listed as an UNESCO world heritage site in 2001) is without a doubt one of the city’s most famous sights. For more than 1000 years it played a significant role both for the city’s economy and for Sweden as a great power, until it was put out of use in the beginning of the 90th century. Falun’s past as an important mining site reminds itself throughout the modern city and it’s surroundings. The main attraction at the site of the mine is the Great Pit - a huge hole which was created by a large cave-in in 1687.
The central parts of the town are best experienced on foot. No matter whether you choose to walk along the winding river Faluån or tour the Main Square you will be reminded of Falun’s past as a mining city. A good documentation of the past is found in the town’s residential areas, where old miners’ cottages showcase the special architecture and street system of the time.
If your into shopping, you will feel yourself at home along the city’s central shopping street, which boasts an enjoyable mix of both old and new, fascinating boutiques and big malls.
If you want to go beyond the city centre there are several alternatives. A bike trip around the lake Varpan (situatued slightly north of the city centre) will take you past many well preserved mine-owner homesteads. Such an estate, with its restored baroque garden, is found in the village Staberg, not far from the city centre. A bit further north, in the picturesque town Sundborn, lies the home of the popular Swedish painter Carl Larsson.
Those inclined to sports may enjoy the great facilities at the sports complex Lugnet , home to the Swedish National Ski Arena.
Apart from the famous Dalecarlian horse, Falun red paint, and the wooden houses painted with this paint, is for many the very essence of Sweden. It has gone from being a sign of prosperity and riches to become a paint used by the ordinary Swede. The paint is made of residue from the mine and known for its beautiful deep red colour and its effectiveness in preserving the wood on which it is painted. And it is proved environmentally sound too.
Those who want to bring home something edible should try out Falukorv (literally “Sausage from Falun”) – perhaps the most Swedish of all food products. Its history dates back to the mining times, when large amounts of ox hide were used to manufacture the ropes used for lifting the copper ore from the mine. As a by-product, large amounts of ox meat were left to be taken care of. The many German engineers that worked in the mine at the time proved to be able to contribute with their knowledge of how to make good-tasting sausages. Even though ox meat no longer is used , the tradition of making Falukorv lives on to this very day.