Author: Yellow Duckie
I was thrilled at the idea of spending the weekend at my friend in-law's place in Gagnef (in the region of Dalarna). My train journey started off 44 minutes past 7 in the morning from Stockholm Central. It was smooth all the way until we reached Hedemora. Apparently one of the cables broke and everyone was kicked out of the train. In the stated of such a sudden unfortunate event, the ground staff at the station did manage to get hold of some busses to send us to our destinations. It was unorganized but judging from the nature of the event, they did great. In the midst of it, I met a lovely lady, Inger, who happened to be heading to Gagnef and made sure I get to where I was supposed too ( I latermet her again in Gagnef's museum)

Instead of a 3 hours journey, it took me about 4 to get there but nevertheless I got there. In no time, I found myself in total surprised when we got to Pelle and Karin’s (Emelie’s in-laws) house in Gagnefbyn as I did not expect that they are actually staying in a typical Dalarna “Farmhouse”. As much as I can i will try to describe the landscape: There will be a residential house, storage house, stable and blacksmith. These buildings is arranged as the border of a square, forming a vacant area in the middle where the garden is. The buildings here are all painted red, with the reason that these red paints, actually they are not red paints but a residue from the cooper as I understand, perserve the wood and a repaint is required every 15 years! The trend of painting these cottages red start only in the late 19th century.

As we draw up to the drive way, lunch has already been set up in the garden which was decorated with Karin’s beautiful bed of flowers. The sun was up and I had my first Swedish lunch at Pelle and Karin’s place: The famous Swedish Kottbullar (home made), boiled potatoes, lingon berry jam (which I also suspect that its home made), brown sauce, boiled beans and salad. Dessert was served shortly after the meal: Strawberries with Ice cream (which I found out from them is a summer “thing”, it’s almost like a must-have) accompanied by coffee and tea. All these taken with the golden flower bed which lies beyond the yard as the backdrop, I really couldn’t ask for more!

Their house was really a piece of art which I admired. It’s like paying 80 Sek to see how the olden days live. I am not saying that their house is ancient (although it is, I was told that it’s about 150 years old) but here I am living among history. Every piece of furniture in this house holds a story: a clock that belongs to Karin’s parents when they got married, Karin’s grandmother sewing table, a chest of drawers that was left by the owner of the house when they bought this place, a porcelain dog with Karin gave to her grandmother, I was in total fascination. I could not help but to wander around the house admiring every piece of item on display. The simplicity of life here has once again, make me appreciate every single piece of item I own.

Emelie took me for a walk across three picturesque villages. It was a short walk and we have crossed three towns, this shows you the size of each village which is fairly small. The red timber houses with white window frames sitting serenely among the bed of colorful summer wildflowers against the backdrop of vast green fields. There are a lot of smaller lakes around where you could have a dip or a swim in the wild! It so peaceful here, it’s not a wonder why the Swedes would have summer houses away from town and to be honest, Dalarna would be the region I would consider.

I have learned a lot about Swedish food during my stay here. They have taken the opportunity to let me have a real Swedish taste so in my first dinner with them, they made sure there that Sill (pickled herring, when they first mentioned it, I thought they were referring to seal) was served. It was served as an appetizer which was to be eaten with boiled potatoes (oh those fresh potatoes are so sweet). I have to admit that I was quite afraid to try but after trying them, they are not so bad, the rawness of the fish cannot be tasted and some of it is sweet, depending on what it is used to pickled the fish with.

Grilled chicken was served with boiled potatoes (eaten with fresh dill), avocado with yogurt as sauce and salad. Karin also made some strawberry salsa which is very nice to be eaten together with the chicken. The following night we had, baked Salmon which was caught but Pelle and Karin’s son-in-law at the Siljan lake together with boiled potatoes, crème fraiche with fish roe and salad. We had Rhubbard & red currant crumble (the ingredients, apart from the flour, was fresh from Karin’s garden). Of course, it is always finished up with a cup of coffee or tea.

The best place to catch Midsummer is here in the Dalarna region where the celebration takes place for 2 weeks! Different towns in Dalarna will hold the midsummer festival at the different date so that there is a fair amount of crowd at the town to celebrate this festival. In this region, they will try to keep the celebration as close as possible to the tradition and some of the town folks do take the trouble to dress up in their colorful traditional clothes.

I was told that most of the people here own a pair of the traditional customs which was used during weddings, child baptism and other major celebrations. From a quick observation, I realized that the people from this region tend to be a lot more friendly and warm. Passerby will never fail to greet you when you pass by although you both don’t know each other. Perhaps it’s the small community that knits the heart of the villagers here as each of them holds a sense of belonging in their own village to make it a better place to live in (although I fail to see what else can be done to make this place better as it is already in perfect condition!). The younger generations will return to this place to celebrate their happy holy union.

Apart from the cold weather that kept me at bay from dipping in the water of the lake close by, I was contended to be spending such a lovely weekend with Emelie and her family just relaxing in the serenity of this town. I had a great tour to Lake Siljan by driving through the scenic routes to Tallberg and hit all the way to Nusnas (The birth place of the Dala Horse).
We even managed to stopped by half way to check out the warehouse sales of the Swedish fashion designer,nygårdsanna, who was from Dalarna. The sales was held at her grandparent's and annually draw great crowd. Tea, coffee and sweets were sold to keep the waiting husbands and children happy while their mum rumbles through the crowd to grab a good piece of dress.
A wonderful weekend indeed.
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