Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Memories - What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation - Part 1

 I have found more of my memoirs that I wrote after some of our summer vacations, and many of them included genealogy highlights. So I'm going to share these memories in a series of posts.  Maybe I'll even find some photos to illustrate the posts.    

What We Did On Our 1999 Scandinavian Vacation 
(29 July to 17 August 1999) - Part 1


Linda (whose maiden name was Leland, from a farm in Voss, Norway) and I wanted to enjoy the people, culture and places in Sweden, Finland and Norway. 

We hosted two girls from Finland in 1994 as foreign exchange students (we called them the Olympic Shopping Team from Finland), and had stayed in close contact with Mia H's family of Tornio. They invited us to stay in their home, then travel with them to Helsinki, with a possible trip to Kuopio to visit the second exchange girl, Anne K and her family.

As background, Linda had one set of great-grandparents who came from Norway and settled in Dane County WI. Torger Sjurson (Liland) came from the Voss area in Hordaland with his family in 1855, and Anna Ellingsdatter (Natvig) came from the Sogndal area in Sogn og Fjordane with her family in 1863. I had done research on both of these lines, and hoped to further my research in Norway and show Linda some of her Norwegian heritage.

We planned the vacation to see Stockholm in Sweden for three days, then ten days in Finland with the two families (in Tornio, Kuopio and Helsinki), and seven days in Norway (in Oslo, Voss and Bergen).

I set up an email message box on Hotmail.com so he could communicate with family and friends during the trip.

We left San Diego on 29 July on a United flight to Chicago, then an SAS flight to Stockholm, landing at Arlanda airport in the early morning of 30 July.


After arriving at the airport, we took the bus into Stockholm, which took almost an hour. At the train/bus station, a taxi took us to the Hotel Gustav Vasa, located about a mile north of the downtown area. It was only about 9 AM and we were very tired from the trip. Our room was not ready yet, but they let us go up to a small room and take a nap. We woke up about 12:30 and moved our bags into our own room, which wasn’t much bigger. It had two beds in a room about 8 feet wide with a bathroom at one end, plus a balcony overlooking the Gustav Vasa Church. We went downtown on the subway and got off in the central station, which is like an underground city. We decided to take a boat tour of the waterways around Stockholm, so we took a taxi to the boat launch area. The tour we chose went around the Djurgården island and Gamla Stan (the old town). After the boat tour, we walked a bit and headed back to the hotel, stopping at a deli to get some sandwiches for dinner. Early to bed this night!

On Saturday, we had breakfast in the hotel and decided to go sightseeing. We took the subway to the boat launch area near the Opera house, and walked across the bridge to the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan. We walked through the central courtyard, and saw the changing of the guard. After stopping at the gift shop, and taking some pictures with the cannon and the guards, we walked back to the boat launch area where we took a bus tour of the Stockholm area. The bus took us around Gamla Stan, Södermalm, Kungsholmen, and Östermalm areas. We took many pictures of the buildings and waterways from the view points. After the bus tour, we took a city bus to the museum area on Djurgården island. Linda went to the Astrid Lindgren museum (called Junibacken) and Randy went to the Gustav Vasa Museum, which houses the raised vessel Gustav Vasa which sank in 1638. We were tired and hungry, so we went to a nearby outdoor restaurant for a drink and a rest. Then we took the bus back to the central station, ate dinner at a hot dog stand, and then went shopping in the downtown mall.

After breakfast on Sunday morning, we took off on the subway and bus for the Skansen outdoor cultural museum on Djurgården island. Skansen has many old houses and farmsteads brought from the countryside and the towns, and the buildings have historical artifacts and docents in period costumes. It also has gardens, livestock, and wild animal enclosures. In the afternoon we walked to an open air restaurant for a Swedish dinner, then took the bus and subway back to the hotel.


On Monday (2 August), we packed up, took a cab to the Central station, then the bus to Arlanda airport.  We took an SAS from Stockholm to Luleå in the north of Sweden, and were met there by Kalle and Mia H. They drove us about 100 km. to their beautiful home in Tornio, which is on the border with Sweden at the top of the Gulf of Bothnia. After meeting Aila, settling in and touring the garden and the house, we took off in separate cars. Linda went with Aila and Mia to shop and sightsee, while Randy and Kalle visited his office and drove around Tornio. Later, we all drove out to the Tornio River and watched fishermen with nets, and had a fresh fish snack at a dockside snack shop.

Kalle and Aila are professionals, and they spoke English well. Their home is large, with wood paneling and wood floors, decorated beautifully. They allowed us to sleep in their bed, while they slept in the small extra bedroom. Mia has her own room, which houses the family computer. Their hospitality was outstanding! They enthusiastically introduced us to Finnish food, with great success. We had several delicious meals with different breads, meats and vegetables, and lots of cloudberries, lingonberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries for spreads and dessert. We also had Finnish vegetables (which are sausages!), reindeer meat, and smoked salmon (delicious). Randy was able to use Mia’s computer to send and receive email, and to check up on the Padres’ progress.

On Tuesday, we went to the Tornio church and graveyard, and then to Kemi to visit the church there. We then visited Aila’s parents home in Kemi and met two of her sisters. A sister, Anneli, had been out picking blueberries, and the father, Erkki W, offered Linda a blueberry sprig. Aila’s mother, Laila, was not feeling well, but graciously showed us their home. We took some family pictures and said our goodbyes. Then we visited the part of Kemi on the waterfront which houses the Ice Castle in the wintertime. On the way back to Tornio, the girls stopped to shop in Kemi while Randy and Kalle went to visit his sister Kaisu N’s home, where the sister’s husband, Kale, and son, Jussi, were just having a snack.

We also enjoyed a visit with the family of Kalle’s brother, Mikko, his wife Riitta and their darling 4 year old daughter Vilma.

Thursday was our day trip to the Arctic Circle and back. We drove to Rovaniemi, which has a visitor’s center, mail center and Santa Claus village. We saw reindeer up close, and had a picture taken with Santa Claus. We took pictures straddling the Arctic Circle and then had lunch at a nearby restaurant. 

 Then it was off to visit Kalle’s aunt and uncle, Leena and Nisse H, who have a cabin on a lake west of Rovaniemi. While there, we had our first sauna (but did not jump in the cold lake!) and Randy and Kalle engaged in an Olympic darts match (USA vs. Finland, Finland won). Randy split his head open on the crossbar of the outhouse, but the injury was not serious. Linda helped cook the Finnish pancakes (like crepes) on the open fire. We then drove back to Tornio through beautiful rolling hills and across flowing rivers and streams. The land in this area is relatively flat, with lots of surface water and beautiful views.  

Stay tuned for the next part of this vacation saga.

NOTE:  Sorry for the picture quality - they were taken with an early model digital camera with a low image size setting.  I should enhance and colorize them using the MyHeritage tools.


Copyright (c) 2024, Randall J. Seaver

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