Monday, February 27, 2012

Introducing Linnea Olsson

I was lucky enough to see the beautiful and talented
perform at her release party in Södra Bar last Wednesday evening.

Linnea's new album - Ah! - is fantastic!
Incredible voice, amazing cello playing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bastu Bliss

bastu = sauna = bliss

see that little building down there by the water's edge? that's my bastu

Tucked away on the far southwest corner of Kungsholmen island in Stockholm is Fredhällsbadet. In the summer months, its grassy slopes and wooden piers are open to the public, and, more often than not, covered in sunbathers and swimmers, soaking up as much sun as possible. 

During the winter, however, I am one of only a couple hundred lucky members who has access to Fredhällsbadet, namely the saunaEvery Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, I am welcome to enter this isolated, water-side sanctuary where bastu-ers plunge into Lake Mälaren, then relax in the 180° F-sauna to warm up. A bubbler keeps the water from freezing so that even in the depths of the winter months when the rest of the Lake is completely frozen, bastu-ers can take a swim. Since bathing suits are not allowed, men and women go on different days.

I've found the perfect place to escape - my smultronställe, as they say in Sweden - in Fredhälls bastu, where from the top bench, I can look out the windows and see only water. And the feeling of going from nearly frozen water to the hotness inside a sauna is unlike any other - exhilarating is an understatement. 

I am lucky to be able to visit Fredhälls bastu and also to live within a 2-minute bike ride from it. Although I don't go as often as I'd like, it's wonderful to know it's there when I want: my own energizing, detoxing spa experience in one of the most beautiful places in Stockholm.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I heard it's your birthday

Yep, it was my birthday last Sunday
The big 2-7!

started with a wonderful brunch @ Björk      

and then a gorgeous walk on the ice

Unfortunately this weekend, luck has shifted, leaving both NS and I couch-bound as our colds have turned for the worse. Looks like our movie marathon will continue - suggestions are very welcome : )

Saturday, February 11, 2012

On Ice in Stockholm

It's days like last Saturday that make me love winter in Stockholm. Cold - well below freezing - with clear skys and a bright sun, making the snow sparkle with the gleam of a billion tiny snowflakes.

These photos are from the ice of Lake Mälaren just south of the island, Kungsholmen, where we live. The ice froze in about a week thanks to the cold front - from Russia apparently - that has swept over Europe and has stuck around since. Temperatures have been between -7°C and -19°C for the last couple weeks, usually closer to -19°C. I don't mind, though - it feels like it's supposed to feel in a Scandinavian winter, and the snow is gorgeous.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My love for Bikram yoga is ordinarily curtailed by 
       a) lack of funding
       b) lack of time

But to escape the cold Swedish winter that has finally arrived, last week I treated myself to a special 7-day deal at duCalme studio in Vasastan (one of Stockholm's nicest areas).

The studio is beautiful; every time I entered, I felt like I was coming to a spa. With fresh flowers everywhere, calming music for background noise, and tea and fresh oranges after class, duCalme became my haven for warmth and health. Their motto, Away from the hustle of the city... proved true in every way.  

I resolved myself to 7 straight days of bikram at duCalme - and I did it! Every weekday night and weekend morning, I found my way back in the same front right-hand corner of the studio, starring down my reflection in the mirror. Will today be a good day or a bad day? I never know until I've done it. But this week, I felt strong, focused, and marvelously sweaty after each class. Not to mention the heavenly lavender-scented, cold-water-soaked towel on my forehead at the finish. A side note: the showers are incredible - those were probably the best 7 showers I've had in months. Thank you duCalme!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Winter Weekend in Västervik

the view from Nik's Dad & Nina's back deck

[Väst = west; vik = bay]

Västervik (NS' hometown) is the perfect weekend getaway from Stockholm. A 3 1/2 hour bus ride - this time, on what must have been one of the world's oldest buses (with a bus driver who handed out chocolates to all 7 passengers!) - it is easy enough to make the journey on a Friday evening. And that's what we did last Friday. 

our fika with NS' mama between checking out the winter sales

It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend visiting with NS' parents, walking around Västervik centrum, fika-ing, and enjoying some delicious meals. We also got to see Lasse's big band - an excellent group - play with the infamous Swedish singer, Janne Shaffer (has played with Abba, Bob Marley, Johnny Nash, to name a few). I hadn't heard of Janne before (no surprise), but really enjoyed his electric guitar concert, not to mention signature trademark: his tongue moving around inside his mouth as he plays. 

Oh, and did I mention the 5 hour 53 minute Australian Open Final on Sunday morning? I didn't watch all of it, but I can safely say I've never watched more tennis in a day than I did on Sunday. 

Covered in a thick layer of fresh snow, winter wonderland Västervik was exactly what we needed to recharge our batteries