Sweden: Day six, or "The longest day"

One more day trip before we return the rental car. This one brought us north of Stockholm to a teeny town called Sundborn. As you can tell from their web site, Sundborn is known, primarly, for being the home of Swedish painter Carl Larsson.

The drive north provided picturesque views of fields filled with bright yellow flowers, and purple flowers along the highway. Though we saw many moose crossing signs, we saw no moose. It’s not surprising, really, seeing as fencing has been put up along the highway to prevent moose from being able to enter.

Carl Larsson’s home was easy enough to find, thanks to the smallness of Sundborn. It was fun to walk across the bridge that has been painted to look like a rug (and which afforded a pretty view) to get to the road leading to the house.

While we waited for our English tour guide, we snapped a few photos of the grounds behind the house.

This statue stood by a second building on the grounds. It is the artist’s rendering of Carl Larsson himself. I smiled when I saw that she used a stuffed horse’s head for his head, as Sundborn is located in the Dalarna region of Sweden, known mostly for its Dalarna horses.

The words on the card:
The flowers and the glass balls are the joy of Carl's life.
The black bands are grief. The mirrors reflect the world as Carl painted.
Just as the artist intended.
Please look closely, but be careful with him -
he is extremely fragile.

Our tour guide, Tanja, is one of 200 descendants of Larsson, as are all of the employees of the site. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the house, but if you look at any of Larsson’s paintings, you’ll get a good idea of what it looks like. It was fun for us to walk into rooms that we have seen depicted in paint, and to find that they were just as he had painted them. He painted on many surfaces in the home, and often those paintings were of his family members. In addition, his wife, Karin, embroidered a small tablecloth with each family member’s name around the hem.

So welcome to the house of Carl Larsson and his spouse!

The tour took 45 minutes, and then we were free to walk around the grounds and visit the guest shop. We did both.

We stopped in a restaurant not far from the house, but seeing that a sandwich buffet cost nearly $17 per person (and still not realizing that things simply cost more in Sweden), I suggested we get back on the road and find something less expensive on the way.

This beautiful birch forest was near where we had parked our car:

“On the way” became a stop in Gamla (old) Uppsala, which I mistook for the location of the Uppsala Cathedral.

It was raining in Gamla Uppsala, but we walked to the pretty old church anyway and took some pictures. There were signs for a restaurant on our walk up to the church, and we made a note to stop and get something on the walk back.

Let the children come to me.

However, the restaurant was closed, which is just as well, because their lunch special would have cost us nearly $30 per person.

We trudged on . . . getting ever more hungry . . .

Uppsala Cathedral, another place I have been to and wanted David to see, was as huge and beautiful as ever, even in the rain. We ran through the drops and entered the tall, heavy doors.

After spending about half an hour in the cathedral, I was exhausted from lack of food. It was close to 6:00, and we hadn’t eaten anything since 10. Leaving the cathedral, we drove through the streets of Uppsala in search of a restaurant, but found nothing. Apparently Uppsalans don’t eat.

David suggested we just get back to Stockholm, fill up and drop off the car, and then we could pick up some food at a grocery store on our way back to the train. The promise of food kept me going.

About 45 minutes later, we were back in Stockholm and heading to Avis. We wanted to make sure we knew how to get there before we filled the tank up with gas and then drove around using it up while we searched for the place. Finding Avis was the easy part.

Finding a gas station near Avis, however, was another story altogether.

We drove around Södermalm for about 20 minutes, but no gas stations could be found. David proposed that we get back on the highway and get gas at the first station we see. Sounds great, I said. But getting to the highway proved a little more tricky than we had expected, and we ended up on a wrong street taking us further south than we wanted to be. At this point, we had an hour to get the car back.

Finally, after another 10 minutes of driving and searching, mostly in hungry and frustrated silence, we got back on E4 heading north. And north, and north, and north. A gas station presented itself at long last, and we filled up the tank and picked up some Pringles, if only to have something in our stomachs. It was now 8:10.

We got back to Avis around 8:30 and did a final check to make sure we hadn’t left anything in the car. As I dropped the key into the slot, I said, “I rid myself of you!” and we began the walk to ICA, their grocery chain.

By the time we returned to the apartment, it was 9:30. We whipped up and scarfed down our quick dinner of tortellini and fell into bed.

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