Greetings from Sweden! Uppsala is the 4th biggest city in the country, with a little more than 200,000 inhabitants. We arrived in late February, and stayed with Karin (aka karinoswald) and her family for a while, in an apartment on the fifth floor with a great view from the balcony!
We were greeted with the first-months-of-the-year speciality, a "semla". The classical semla consists of a wheat bun with a core made of special marzipan and whipped cream. This is a blueberry semla with blueberry cream, which conservatives don't consider as a real semla. And don't ever try to give one to a Swede after April... it's just unheard of!
Close to our temporary home, there is a wonderful nature area where we went for a walk...
... and caught a ride with some Viking friends! 8-year old postcrosser Tore (aka ToreRoland) helped us on board.
In this area, there is an old cottage with foundations from the late 1600s. It's called a soldier's cottage (or Torp), because the house was a part of the payment to a soldier who lived there in times of peace, and the family took care of the place in times of war.
Sweden hasn't been in war for over 200 years, but we still have a military system and the last soldier who lived in this cottage moved out just about 60 years ago. It's now owned by a community that takes care of the house, keeping it and the land around it in shape.
To help raise money to take care of the Torp, there's a coffee sale eight times a year. This day, they were making waffles, and of course we wanted to help... and eat a few! :)
Our host Karin works as a nurse assistant at the Children's Hospital, which is a part of the big Akademiska Sjukhuset (the University teaching hospital), where over 8,000 people work! We were curious to see how things work in Swedish hospitals, so we made a field trip to check it out.
Everyone who works in a caregiving position wears the same clothes — the doctors, the nurses, the nurse assistants, the dietitians, the physiotherapists, and so on. To distinguish them, they have different colours of the badge, stating their occupation. The nurses have a blue sign that says "sjuksköterska", which means nurse. And to make things a little more fun for the children, they use a lot of colours on the accessories!
We visited some children who were staying at the hospital, and they were very pleased to see us... I guess that's the advantage of being a toy! :) There are machines everywhere, and they can look a bit scary, but Karin explained that they're there to help everyone cough or breathe, so they're essential to the children's wellbeing.
We even got to try some emergency manoeuvres! I fear we're not quite strong enough for the task though...
Lots of postcrossers bring their postcards to the workplace, and Karin does too — she hangs them in her changing room and locker!
The hospital even has its own internal mail central, which we visited and even helped a little with the mail sorting. As a reward, we got to drive their cool mail bikes!
On March 19th, one of the highlights of our visit to Sweden occurred: we were invited to a Postcard Collector Fair, and to a Swedish Postcrossing meetup!
The fair organisers had prepared a table for us, and our host placed a looooot of stamps and postcards on it, to make the visitors curious.
Some people came to talk to us and liked the idea, but most of them only liked really old postcards that they wanted to keep, not send... Still, it was great fun to visit the fair and buy some cards!
After the fair, we went to a nearby café and wrote about 150 postcards to people all over the world, both direct swaps and official Postcrossing cards. One of the guests is number 2 in Sweden, and she had printed out 61 addresses... And at the café, some people got very curious and asked us what we were doing. They thought it was a wonderful idea, so maybe we managed to get some more Swedish postcrossers!
A few days later, we got the chance to tour the city, and see the sights. Our first stop? The Hågadal school, where a group of students exchanges postcards with the help of their teachers! They're class 3a (aka hagadala) — look at all the postcards they've received so far!
Great job, guys!
After hanging out with the kids, we continued our city tour. Not far from the hospital, the 16th century castle lies with a great view over the town.
From there, we went to see the university library Carolina Rediviva, host of the very famous Silver Bible, also known as Codex Argenteus. Close to it is the University Hall, from the late 1800, which has some rune stones in its garden. They tell us about brave Vikings who did NOT have horns on their helmets, we've been told. That is just a modern gimmick.
Construction of the Uppsala Cathedral started in 1272 and took several centuries to complete. The towers are over 118m tall, and it's the biggest church in the Nordic countries. Some famous kings and queens are buried here, and there's a museum inside one of the towers.
All these historical buildings are within walking distance from each other, but we still needed a little rest on a bridge over the Fyris river, and then we wanted to play in the mini version of the cathedral! There is a botanical garden in Uppsala as well, since the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus lived and worked here, but in March (at the end of winter), it's more like fifty shades of brown... so we didn't go there.
We met our host's local mailman though and got to ride on his car — isn't it the coolest?! It was the perfect send-off to our stay in Uppsala!
Thank you Karin, we've had a great time discovering your city!
Where do you think we will go next?