Saturday, November 29, 2014

Julmagi på Skansen

Julmagi på Skansen translates to Christmas magic at Skansen. I didn't see any magic but it was a sunny cold day for strolling around the Christmas market at the big outdoor park. We picked up some local food items after taste testing a variety of interesting things. There were elk and reindeer meats, cheeses, breads, jellies, and a home brew beer being cooked over a fire.

We really enjoy the varm glögg (hot mulled wine) every time we find it. This one came with a flat gingerbread heart. We hit the donut stand several times because they had little freshly made sugar coated donuts in a paper cone. It reminded us of getting hot malasadas in a paper bag in Hawaii. it's a lot colder outside here but the memories warmed us up along with eating the warm treats.

We stopped by the fire pits every now and then to get a little heat. I didn't take too many pictures but here's some people dancing around a tree with a band playing Christmas songs and one of the many fire pits.




Some of the market area and a nice day:







We took the funicular down the hill:




Friday, November 28, 2014

Stockholm Lights

Daylight is getting shorter with an 8:13AM sunrise and 2:58PM sunset right now. The shortest day of the year will be here on Dec 22nd when it will be 8:44AM and 2:49PM so not too far off from how it is now. The sun is usually hiding behind overcast skies so there's only been a few hours of clearly seeing the sun this month. The temperatures have stayed a little bit above freezing and we really haven't had any snow yet so it's not that bad of a winter here so far.

Winter, cold, and dark dreary skies aren't too hard to deal with for a few months anyway. The real time to ask how it is will be after it's getting warmer everywhere else and winter is still dragging on here. That's when we may not enjoy it as much. Until then though, we can walk around and see a bit of how the Swedes deal with the darkness by putting up a bunch of lights around the city. Here's some pictures. A few may look like they're inside a mall but they're all outside.

 
















Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rome and Florence Italy

I assumed at some point in life we would travel to Europe and visit Rome. We looked at flights and prices from the U.S. several times and it always seemed so far and too expensive. A nice benefit of joining the Foreign Service is moving closer to other places we've always wanted to visit. We finally went to Rome for a week and it was just a 3 hour flight from Stockholm.

Rome was a bit more crowded, faster, and aggressive than Stockholm. It was also warmer and brighter than the shorter daytime we're experiencing in Sweden. During the off season for tourists is a great time to visit Rome since I can't imagine visiting there in the heat and crowds of summer. It was crowded enough for us this time of year. The weather was great for a light jacket in the morning to take off during the day and the rain on a few days didn't slow us down much.

We visited the Capuchin Crypt and Sistine Chapel but weren't allowed to take pictures at either of them. I posted some pictures from my phone on Facebook for family and friends but these are pictures our daughter took with a better camera. She took a gazillion of them so I'm just posting a select few. I'm sure they're still too many. Click on them for bigger pics.

Various of Rome









Vatican Museums




































St Peter's Basilica



























Various Rome and Pantheon




















  Forum and Colosseum






















Various Rome and Spanish Steps













Train Trip to Florence