Östersund is a city almost perfectly in the middle of the country of Sweden, and was our last major stop on this road trip. It is the capital of the country of Jämtland and is kind of considered an unofficial capital of Norrland (Northern Sweden) as well. It has only about 44 000 inhabitants, and is promoted as a winter city due to its love and history of winter sports. It even hosted The Nordic Games (the predecessor to The Winter Olympics) often early last century because Stockholm didn’t have enough snow some years. While I don’t think The Winter Olympics have been held here or organised here yet (despite applications from the city), it has hosted a number of other championships in skiing and snowcross. In the picture to the right of the town square, taken at 10pm I might add, you can see behind the town on the hill a great skiing slope cut out between the trees. Apparently one day I have to ski on them. Oh joy. (I can’t even walk on ice…I’m like Bambi, it’s tragic).
We were only there for two nights, during which we met up with some of my girlfriend’s family who live up in the area (she herself was born up here, in a blizzard no less. No wonder she likes the cold). One of the first things to occur though, around the time they were helping us to set up the tent, was that a female moose appeared with its two moose children (what is the word I’m looking for here? Someone?) and started running around the outside of the camping site rather confused. Most people in the site stood up and watched with interest, not venturing to get any closer to it as it desperately tried to find more forest to run back into. But, I’m not most people and I decided in a slightly dangerous moment of David Attenborough-ness (it should be a phrase) to carefully, quietly chase after it. I tip toed as I got myself as close as I could to the beautiful animals without scaring them away, or attracting attention of a more violent nature (neither of which I wanted), and took a bunch of photos. It was great fun and I genuinely am happy to have finally seen a moose – I know this shows how utterly Australian I am, but oh well.
After the moose incident, we finished setting up the tent (on a hill which led to us getting a bit wet…not the best camping site of the trip) and then went out for a dinner in the town with the family. The next day, we decided to go exploring around the area we were camping on, a little island a few minutes out of the city centre that housed a few residents and a lot of beautiful countryside. We ended up walking much further than we intended, but we got to see some beautiful houses including one little cottage tucked away behind some trees, and I also loved the view of the mountains in the distance. Being here was very serene and calming, although it did seem less isolated than The High Coast felt earlier with the people and houses around here. The water constantly nearby also added to the atmosphere – I’ve said that I want to always live near the ocean (because I always have, despite moving nearly a dozen times between 3 countries) but I think I could live inland somewhere like this if there were lakes and rivers nearby – it turns out I just want to be near water. Also, this north, it would almost definitely freeze over during Winter for a few months.
That second evening we went back into town. We wandered around the city a bit just to explore – it’s only a few centuries old, so it still looked nice but it’s not even half as old as a lot of cities in this country (including our home city, Halmstad). We found an Australian Pub, or so it claimed to be anyway, which after looking at the menu I decided we had no choice but to walk away from (I mean, the “Aussie Burger” was something like beef, egg, coleslaw and pickles…sorry but where’s the normal salad like lettuce and tomato? The bacon? And most importantly the beetroot? Without beetroot you cannot call a burger Australian. End rant). So we left the unAustralian pub and ended up eating a really tasty meal elsewhere at a nice little beer garden before going for dessert and a cheeky cocktail drink at an English pub called Sir Winston which, as you can guess, was dedicated to Winston Churchill.
The next day we would begin our drive back home, which after a couple of stops ended up occurring mostly at night out of exhaustion and desperation to not drive in the heat of the day anymore (stop laughing those of you from warmer countries – Sweden just had its hottest summer in decades okay? And Australian heat is just insane…nobody should live in that). I end this post with a couple of pictures of YOSHIS! Okay it’s not really Yoshi but you have to admit there are some similarities. These dinosaur looking statues are based on a local mythical creature of the water here not unlike the Loch Ness Monster. Much like Nessie, I hear this creature is quite elusive as well, but the statues are a lot of fun all the same.