Having written extensively about how bad some bathroom facilities have been in our travelling experiences, I figured I should write about ours here in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, it won’t be a funny report. The facilities are fantastic.
A walk-in shower, heated floor, roomy, toilet next to the bedroom. In fact, I’d say that this is my ideal bathroom. Here in the middle of nowhere.
So that’s my report.
Elsewhere, here in the west (and a bit further north) of Stockholm, we decided to head to Karlstad.
We were worried it would be crowded with people, given it was the Easter weekend. Our concern was misplaced. There was very little traffic and very few people. Mind you, there were a lot people at the famous Artisan Bread where we stopped to sample their famous cardamom buns.
And I can highly recommend the cardamom buns. Possibly the best I’ve had since discovering them. If you ever find yourself in Karlstad, Sweden, treat yourself to one.
Filled with bun, we headed for a convenient car park, left Max and headed into the city centre.
Eva had told us about the Lion Bar, which allows dogs, so we intended to have a late lunch there. Beforehand, we headed up to the compact, little cathedral.
Originally, the church was built near the river in the 13th century. It managed to last until 1616 when it burned down. So, as these things go, they built another one on the same spot, opened in 1629. Things changed a lot when Queen Kristina granted Karlstad church cathedral status in 1647.
There was a concern that the church, having now become a cathedral, would sink into the water. Conveniently though, the church by the river was destroyed by fire (another one) in 1719 – I don’t think this had anything to do with the Great Pillage. The decision was made to build the new one on a hill in the centre of the city, a long way from the river (and possibly matches).
In 1730, the new cathedral was opened for business. Then, in 1865, another big fire broke out and destroyed the tower and roof. So, that was repaired and then, in 1915-16 the whole thing was renovated, though not to the extent desired by architect Erik Palmstedt. He wanted the choir wall removed. The church authorities disagreed.
In the 1950’s, there was another attempt to have the choir wall removed but, again, it was thwarted.
But, there is a happy ending to the choir wall debate. In the major renovation of 1967-68, the choir wall was moved eastwards a bit. Everyone was then happy.
Though, of course, these things always come around again and there were more renovations in 1997-98. This has left the cathedral looking bright, welcoming and warm. While not as beautiful or exceptional as the church at Nora, it’s still pleasant to wander around.
Or it would have been pleasant had someone not been tuning the organ. As Mirinda said, it sounded like the Martian sounds in War of the Worlds by Jeff Lynne, but not as tuneful. At first I thought it was a jack hammer. This is the first time I’ve heard an organ being tuned. I hope it’s the last.
We then strolled slowly down to the Lion Bar.
It was quite amazing how empty Karlstad was. Mirinda asked a guy in the bar why it was so quiet. He said it was because of the plague and the fact that it was Easter. I don’t know why but the place was definitely empty. And the vast majority of shops were closed. Except for the wonderful Lion Bar.
Here we met Michael, once connected with the Danish royal family and once connected to Eva, he is a very charming man. He works at the Lion Bar all hours of the day and night. I’m assuming his workload has dropped off with the early closing hours edict.
He also loves dogs. To the extent that he boiled up a couple of Danish sausages (“Better than Swedish because they are 80% meat“) and managed to hand feed Emma a bit. To say the girls wolfed down the rest of the sausages would be an understatement.
Michael also told us more about the Anti Poaching Unit of which he used to be a member. As was Eva. It sounds amazing. Though he also warned us about traps, poison and illegal hunting practices that we needed to look out for in the forests of Sweden. Mirinda is thinking of doing the APU Course in Stockholm though she’s not so keen on the self-defence classes you also have to attend.
But there’s a lot of money in poaching and, as we have all learned through the pandemic, money is way more important than people. Poachers would clearly not hesitate to attack someone for the price of a dead moose.
We had a couple of planks (pork, mashed potato and beans wrapped in bacon) which I washed down with a couple of on-tap IPAs. It was all an absolute delight. It was almost like there was no pandemic just outside the door.
Before heading home, Mirinda wanted to see the edge of Lake Vänern, the biggest in Sweden, the biggest in the EU and the third biggest in Europe. It is pretty big. And we only saw a very small bit of it.
I say ‘we’ but I sat in the car reading while Mirinda took the girls down to the waters edge. My ankle has been acting up for the last few days and I’m growing increasingly incapable of keeping up with anything much faster than a snail.
We’re returning to the restaurant tomorrow so hopefully, I’ll be able to get a shoe on.