Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ode to Winter

Orsa Grönklitt - A snow oasis in the “fjällen” (mountains) of Dalarna.  

After surviving winters in Sweden for the first couple of years, we decided that we should embrace all of that cold white stuff and get skis. Cross-country skis, that is. Two years ago we embarked on our very first cross-country ski experience. Let me just say a couple of things about that:

Uncooked spaghetti.


I felt like Bambi trying to walk with skinny pieces of uncooked spaghetti strapped to my feet. How in the world would I be able to do this? I think I skied a total of three times that first winter. “Skied” being a generous description. The following year, for some insane reason, I decided to complete the Tjej Klassik, comprised of a 100km bike ride, a 1km swim, a 10km run, and a 30km ski. 

By winter, I had completed everything except for the ski portion. So I was, you could say, committed. We never got much snow that winter in Stockholm but with my determination to complete this “Tjej Klassik" feat, we rented a car on two different occasions to drive up to more snow so I could practice my “ski techniques". I also took a private lesson, which helped tremendously. By the time the actual race came along, I was, what I thought, adequately prepared. 

I completed the 30km race in just under 5 hours. If you aren’t sure, that is pretty slow. However, I did complete it faster than many of the participants so I did not consider my own time so bad. In fact, I felt a bit like a super hero and imagined myself somewhat of a cross-country ski buff. Ha.

Fast forward to this year. We still did not get much snow in Stockholm. What little snow we did get, our skis, which we discovered on the last morning skiing in Stockholm would be possible, were not in “ski condition.” Meaning, the klister I had put on my skis the previous year (yes, we did not clean them following the race) was pretty much baked on and had formed a hard, plastic-y layer. We were forced to take our skis in to be serviced. 

(Fredagsmys (cozy Friday) in the cabin)

The following weekend, I suppose we could have gone grass-skiing but it just felt fake. There was essentially no snow. FYI, we had a ski trip booked for mid March with my husband’s sister and her husband, who had skied several times already this winter, not to mention that they are pretty much, serious ski buffs. Like for real. We had not been “on” our skis one time this winter.

(Cobalt sky + snow + pine trees = Happy)

Fast forward again, and there we were on that Friday morning, at Orsa Grönklitt, standing precariously on our skis for the first time in a year, about to embark upon a cross-country ski adventure. It felt surprisingly like the very first time I stood on my skis. Uncooked spaghetti. Bambi. It was not so much like “riding a bike” where once you have achieved “balance” it all sort of falls into place. 

(Looking like a pro)

We managed to ski 14km the first day and despite being so sore we could barely walk and if I was sitting on the couch and wanted to cross my legs, I had to physically pick up my leg and cross it over the other leg, we went out again the next day! (I know this was a long, run-on sentence, but it felt necessary to say it that way). 

(Every day was absolutely gorgeous)

Despite our soreness and my feeling like I wouldn’t make it 1km on the skis, we managed to ski almost the same distance the second day. And DESPITE the fact that I had skied the Tjej Klassik the previous year, my husband, who I was almost skiing circles around the previous year, was passing me and skiing circles around ME this year. 

(A tiny snowman)

I don’t know what happened. Maybe my memories of the difficulty of completing the 30km the previous year were blocking my ski abilities this year. I must have suppressed that because I remembered myself to be somewhat of a super hero cross-country skier. Which was not so much the case. 

(Taken with my husband's new GoPro camera)

Even so, Orsa Grönklitt was amazingly beautiful. Out on the trails, if you stopped skiing, you could hear absolutely nothing, with the exception of a bird chirping on occasion. There was cobalt blue sky as far as the eye could see and sunshine, loud and clear, beating her warm rays down on our deprived, winter bodies. It was heavenly.

(A well-earned Happy Hour)

Our cabin itself was a sacred sanctuary, complete with every modern convenience one could possible want. It was a two bedroom cabin with bunk beds. For reasons that may not seem obvious at first, be sure to claim the bottom bunk immediately. After the first day of skiing you will understand. The adorable (tiny) little built-in ladder that you loved earlier that day will suddenly seem like an insult.
(During skiing...)

(After skiing...) 

But all in all and soreness aside, I would highly recommend a cross-country ski trip here in the winter. It was the perfect active getaway. And if you plan for a cabin close to the ski trails, there is little need for leaving the cabin or getting in your car again until your departure date (unless you need to make an emergency ice cream run :-p).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Greasy Spoon

Along a lone street on Södermalm lies a quaint, little restaurant called The Greasy Spoon. This lovely little gem serves English-styled breakfast and, in my opinion, the best breakfast in Stockholm, that I’ve had so far that is. For such a small, somewhat hole-in-the-wall, The Greasy Spoon is big on flavor and options. My breakfast partner in crime tried the Full Veggie and a pot of English tea while I chose the Scottish Pancakes, with option 1. blueberries and mascarpone, and a freshly-squeezed, grapefruit juice. 

I had eyed the pancakes as they were delivered to tables as we waited and at first I thought the scoop of unwavering cream was, in fact, ice cream. When I discovered that it was actually mascarpone I thought it was perhaps a bit overkill. It was a huge ball balanced atop the stack of pancakes. The English apparently know what they are doing however as it was actually the perfect amount of cream to compliment the blueberries and 'cakes.

And freshly-squeezed, grapefruit juice? I was in heaven. They also serve freshly-sqeezed orange juice and both are served with ice unless you request it without. The doors open at 7:30 am Monday-Friday and at 9:00 am on the weekends. My recommendation is to get there as close to 9:00 am as possible to avoid a long wait. I am not sure what their rules are on booking tables in advance but I do know that there was a party of 6 reserved at the front window table when we arrived, so large party bookings are a possibility.

So, if you find that you are in the mood for a tasty breakfast out this week, I highly recommend The Greasy Spoon. There was a yummy breakfast polenta that caught my eye, as well as a few other tasty-looking options that I would like to try, so I am sure I will be back in the near future.