Tuesday June 7, 2022
Hij all. (Swedish for "Hello", though it is pronounced "Hey"!)
We're back! Actually....we are away, taking our first major trip since March, 2019.
Since then, we considered blogging about our multiple home deliveries, house and garden projects, and favorite streamed TV shows (Ozark, The Good Place, Schmigadoon, Crash Landing for You ). But we quickly realized that most of our readers could write the same thing. So, we're off to Scandinavia for 2 weeks. Welcome aboard.
As a reminder, travel with us with no hassle-- no masks (for you), no COVID testing, no airport delays, no early mornings, and no packing or unpacking. Just read and enjoy.
Once again we are traveling with Tauck, and here is our itinerary:
Lots of ground to cover in 2 weeks!
The tour doesn't officially start until tomorrow. As usual, we got in a day early to avoid any travel snafus and to try to acclimate ourselves to the local time (7 hours ahead of Chicago). The passage was actually quite smooth. We left for O'Hare at noon Monday even though our flight wasn't until 3:50. When we landed in Zurich at 7am local, we were the ONLY people at Customs. Got through in literally 1 minute. Had plenty of time to make our connection to Stockholm. The Tauck driver was waiting right outside the door, and a 40 minute ride took us to the center of the city. During that whole time, NOT ONE PERSON asked about Covid or to see our vax cards. Conversely, the driver and the woman who checked us into the hotel made a point of telling us that Covid was in the past here. Hopefully they are correct.. "No rules."
After getting settled, we headed out at around 2:30 for a getting-to-know-you walk in Gamla Stan. This is an island (actually Stockholm is made up largely of islands and is one of a dozen cities known as "the Venice of the north"!), and is where the city was founded in 1252. As you would expect, it is full of cobblestoned streets (many very narrow), and old old buildings including a number of churches.
Many were blocked of from cars, but we did have to be watchful for bikes and scooters.
As on so many of our previous first-day excursions, it soon began to rain. But we were fully prepared with umbrellas and slickers. It was about 64, but being surrounded by water, pretty raw. The briskness, though helped us stay awake. And, as usual, many of the "must see" buildings had some form of scaffolding on them while undergoing repairs.
All of the buildings were old, but the ground floors were all retail establishments; a very touristy area. Souvenir shops, clothes stores, galleries, and food, food, food. We quickly learned another word: glass.....ice cream! And many other words were easily translatable.
We had picked up an area map at the hotel, but like so many medieval towns, Gamla Stan is very dense and the streets wind and go to several levels. So only the few major cross streets were marked on the map. It was easy to get lost, but also easy to reorient ourselves.
We had been given a restaurant recommendation by a friend from a previous Tauck trip. We had to ask for directions from 3 different people, and even using GPS, we were still lucky that we finally stumbled across it.
Fem Sa Hus has been in business as a tavern and restaurant since 1694!! We timed ourselves to get there right when it opened at 5, so of course we were the first and only people there.
The menu featured traditional Swedish dishes. We weren't yet brave enough to try the moose carpaccio or fillet of reindeer, but our choices were still representative. Those of you who have traveled with us before know that we often rave about our meals. Well....this was no exception. Everything was very delicious and the service was 5 star.
After a basket of heavenly breads, we started with Toast Skagen with shrimps in mayonnaise, topped with roe.
How do you say delicious in Swedish? It was smart to share!
Next, Nordic char with seasonal vegs, Sandfjord sauce and boiled potatoes for Wendy.......
Arctic char is kind of like salmon but more delicate. The sauce was yum. The serving was at least 12 ounces worth--quite generous indeed according to our waitress.
Wayne had Fillet of veal a la Anna Lindberg (the original owner) with morel sauce, red wine reduction and potato au gratin.
The veal was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was divine (way better than they look in the picture). The potatoes were also excellent.
And the dessert, Chocolate dessert with Italian merenque (sic) and raspberry coulis, was outstanding!
The "chocolate" part was a soft warm brownie. You can believe that we ate every bite! So much for reducing our sugar intake (and did we mention Wendy had her first Scandinavia donut tasting just an hour before dinner?) .
The meal give us some energy, but we were still pretty wasted from this long day. Then the 15 minute walk back to the hotel and Wayne fast asleep by 7:30. zzzzzzzzzzz. Watch this space for more adventures on Wednesday and through the 20th.