Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
We had a lovely weekend in Östersund. We stayed in great accommodation.
We walked around exploring the pretty town. Östersund is located at the shores of Sweden’s fifth largest lake, Storsjön, opposite the island Frösön. There is a legend of a lake monster in the huge lake and there are dozens of sculptures of the lake monster scattered around the town that have been decorated in different themes by local artists.
There’s a good play ground next to the lake. We walked across the pedestrian bridge to the island of Frösön.
We found a supermarket that was open on Saturday morning (nothing opens early, not even a cafe) and had a nice breakfast in a park by the lakeshore, looking across towards Östersund.
We deliberated about what to do next and agreed to buy our allocation of wine (allowed by Norwegian customs without incurring duty – which is 4 bottles per adult). The range was good and we were excited to be able to buy European wines that we’ve read about previously but have been beyond our price range in Australia. Alcohol is very expensive in Norway so we avoid buying it here in Trondheim.
After stocking up on wine we drove over to the Moose Farm to see moose for the first time.
The farmer rescued two young moose whose mothers were killed in car accidents, one in Sweden and the other in Norway. The pair bred and the farmer realised the potential for tourism. He established the Moose Farm with twice daily tours in the summer that don’t require a booking. In the rest of the year it is necessary to book a tour in advance. In addition to tourism, they set up accommodation on the farm with cute cabins.
He also investigated by-products and realised that he could produce for farm-gate sale products such as lanolin (moose produce prodigious amounts of lanolin, so much that we could see globules glistening in their fur), cheese (the farmers have to milk the moose by hand and they have very short nipples so it is arduous labour), and paper (apparently the droppings of moose are nearly pure cellulose).
We were charmed by the young man that ran the tour. He spoke to the group in both Swedish and English and explained everything from the life-cycle of the moose (they only live for about 8 to 10 years) to the products that they sell. He was engaging, entertaining and made us laugh.
After his introduction we were led to the enclosure housing the two calves from this year. One is healthy but the other was born prematurely and he is much smaller than the healthy female. He has recently had an infection in his leg but the farmer is confident that he will survive.
After feeding the two calves, the farmer fed the adults (a large adult male and female and a juvenile male and female) a bucket of potatoes. The moose loved them and gorged themselves. After they had finished feeding the farmer led us into their enclosure and we were able to pat them and watch them up close. The farmer said that another adult female was in the paddock and that whoever spotted her first could have a free ice cream. I scanned the paddock and saw her ears twitching. Later I discretely pointed her out to the farmer and he promised an ice cream to my daughter.
Once we had finished patting and kissing the moose and having photos taken we wandered back up to the farm entrance, while chatting with the farmer. He works for H&M in the expansion department and is only at the farm to help his parents during the summer. He was amazed to discover that we are Australian and we enjoyed chatting together. He mentioned the recent opening of the H&M store in Melbourne. He kept his word and delighted our children by giving them an ice cream each.
On the way back to Östersund we decided to check out a garage sale. We were intrigued by the signs that we had seen on the road here from Trondheim and wondered what could be found. We looked through a shed crammed full of old farm equipment, china, shoe lasts, furniture and more modern second hand stuff belonging to the owner. I was sorely tempted to buy a lovely 1970s green patterned tea set but apart from the fact that we didn’t have any Swedish cash we abstained as part of our strategic consumption manifesto. Further down that narrow country lane we found a turnoff for a nature reserve. We wandered along the track and were delighted to find as many ripe strawberries and blueberries as we could ask for. As is becoming a pattern we gorged ourselves on nature’s bounty and they abandoned the walk and headed back to the charming apartment.
The next morning my husband valiantly shopped again for groceries, this time jamming them into the boot to take advantage of the lower prices in Sweden and larger range of food items that we miss. On the road back to Trondheim we stopped again in Ytterån but this time at the Mus-Olles Museum. He was an eccentric farmer (1874-1955) kept everything that passed through his hands, including all of his chocolate wrappers, smoking pipes, pairs of scissors, buttons etc. He had a mineral spring on his farm that attracted people from all over Sweden and when he opened his museum people sent him things to add to his collection. In this way he was able to add exotic items from around the world, like ostrich egg shells.
The museum was interesting and we enjoyed looking at his stuff. It made us shudder after having laboriously sorted through every last belonging of ours before embarking on this expat assignment. The woman that ran the front desk, shop and ticket counter was very friendly and stopped to chat with me, telling me about sled dog rides, her love of skiing and the beauty of her area, called Jämtland. She was delighted that I am interested and find her area lovely. We intend to return in the winter to go dog sledding. A bigger highlight than the museum though was that we managed to collect about 400g of blueberries and eat as many as we could, right outside the museum. The drive back to Trondheim was calm and uneventful. We all enjoyed our trip and are looking forward to our next foray into Sweden.
Other posts from this long weekend in Sweden