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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 4: Swedish vacations

I maintain that Sweden is basically Canada if the Europeans had been there longer, or at least central Canada. The surrounding nature made me feel right at home.

My fourth weekend in Sweden was spent living it up in the outdoors, and save for a few details I could have been in Muskoka. But it is a must for a longer trip to Sweden, because if you don't go out, away from the cities then you will have no idea where the Swedes have actually gone all summer, as they are certainly not in Uppsala.

One of the three excursions that you can elect to go on with the UISS is to Varmland, to take part in some outdoor adventures and to sleep in cabins. When you sign up you can choose one of three activities: the first is rafting along the Klaralven, the second is hiking through the wilderness, and the third is the adventure trail, which involves rappelling and zip lines. That is the activity I chose.

It takes between 6-8 hours to get to the Vildmark i Varmland campsite (Wildlife in Varmland) from Uppsala. When we arrived on Friday, once we got settled in a few of us went down to the river to see if swimming was possible. It was possible but much too cold to be pleasant, though that didn't stop us from trying. Then those who chose rafting had to start building their raft. Seriously building their own raft. It sounded weird, but if you watch the river for awhile you see people who have clearly made this their vacation, with their boat tied to the raft. You can apparently raft down this river for about five days. The rest of us not building a raft could elect to go on a Beaver Safari, which is exactly what it sounds like. Apparently the European Beaver and the North American Beaver are so distantly related now that they don't share enough genes to mate, though they sure look and act the same. We got eaten alive by bugs when we stopped to make some food, but I guess we should be happy that everyone had a good meal.

Saturday we all went on our respective adventures and the rain held out just long enough for everyone to make it back to the campground. Next was the all too Scandinavian of adventures, the sauna. The sauna at the campground (yep) was right next to the river, just perfect for going out for the obligatory cold dip. In the evening we were served fresh moose, cooked over a grill on an open flame.

Sunday morning we woke up and cleaned our cabins (proper camping). On our way back to Uppsala we stopped at the home of Selma Lagerlof, the woman on the twenty Kronor note and one of Sweden's most famous authors. She was the first female author to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Her house at Marbacka was a museum even while she was alive.

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