Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Destination for my traveling kids: Skellefteå, Sweden

Swedes ride their bikes even in winter. If they can find them.
We're spending the holidays with my parents in Skellefteå, Sweden this year. Last time we were there for Christmas, in 2009, there were crazy amounts of snow everywhere, and it was also really cold: below 20 degrees Celsius for a large part of our stay. This year Skellefteå has barely any snow yet, and it's been an unusually warm fall and early winter. We'll see what kind of conditions we'll be dealing with for our stay!

Getting the mail can be a challenge...
The kids are very excited about the trip, and so am I. Here are 10 things I'm really looking forward to (apart from hanging out with friends and family of course!):

1. Trying out some cross-country skiing with the kids. We already have gear for the kids at my parents' place (it was a Christmas present last time we visited), and the kids tried it. I'm hoping the temperatures will be a little milder this time around so we can enjoy it a little bit more!

2. Playing in the snow. There was so much snow last time we visited in December that even the locals found it astonishing. I'm hoping there will be enough this time for snow angels and toboggan rides!

3. Snuggling up in the dark. Northern Sweden doesn't get a lot of sunlight in the winter. In Skellefteå, the sun will just barely creep over the horizon in the daytime before setting again. This can be kind of depressing I guess, but when you have some candles, some Christmas treats, and a cup of glögg (Swedish mulled wine), it doesn't feel so bad. It will also make it easier to convince my jet-lagged kids that it really is the middle of the night when they wake up at 3 am...

4. Shopping for winter gear. I'm hitting up the local clothing stores for the after-Christmas sales, mainly to try to find some bargains on kids' winter clothing. Snow suits, jackets, ski pants, snow boots, even simple stuff like gloves and toques... the quality of the winter gear that is available over there is often a lot better than what I'm able to find where we live in British Columbia. And when it's on sale, I can usually find some excellent deals. If you're in Sweden, Lindex, Åhlens, Polarn o Pyret, H&M, and KappAhl are good bets for kids' clothing.

5. Swedish treats. And yes, since I grew up in Sweden but have been living in Canada since 1992, there are a lot of treats I enjoy when we visit:
  • pastries from Lilla Mari, the coffee shop located just beside my parents' apartment
  • salty licorice
  • Swedish Christmas ham
  • gravlax
  • all the different varieties of Swedish cheese and crispbread
  • my mom's home-made black sausages (like black pudding in sausage form)
  • my dad's home-baked breads

6. Leo's Lekland. This is one place my kids are all excited about seeing again. Leo's playland is packed with slides, ball rooms, trampolines, and more. There are lots of places like this where we live in Canada, but in Skellefteå, it was kind of a novelty when Leos opened two years ago. It can get pretty intense in there when it's Christmas holidays, really cold outside, and every family is looking for somewhere for their kids to burn off some energy. Getting the kids in there is easy; getting them out... that's a different story!

And in case you're wondering exactly where Skellefteå is: take a look!

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