(Not really. But I did go ice skating, or åker skridskor as the Swedes say it.)
For the past two Sundays, my host family and I have been going ice skating on a nearby lake. It’s not easy to go out all the time with two little ones, so we decided to make the best of the weekends to go out and get some fresh air!
While it’s still pretty cold in Scandinavia, the highs during the day have been a little above freezing, so the ice was definitely starting to get a bit thin. In fact, this past Sunday was probably the last safe weekend to go ice skating, unless the weather starts to cool down again. But that means no more snow so it does make me a bit sad. ): I actually quite like the cold and layering up with scarves and sweaters; it’s fashionable!
In southern California, everyone has a boogie board for the beach or noodles for the pool. In Sweden, everyone has ice skates. My family has both options: the kind that binds onto a set of boots like ski bindings and hockey skates. Fortunately, I can fit into my host mom’s skates so I wore hers and she had an extra pair to use. Even the little one had skates! She wasn’t very keen on standing on the ice though and felt perfectly comfortable on her sled.
The older one has a snow racer that she loves to steer while being pulled. I skated around with my host dad while he pulled her all around the lake.
And this is me trying to get into the shot, awkwardly in the corner!
It actually felt really liberating to skate in such an open area. I’m a pretty good skater but I’ve only ever gone skating at an ice rink, so this open space felt amazing. The lake is surrounded by a forest-y area and the scene is absolutely breathtaking. Many families will bring their hockey sticks (another non-quotidian item Swedish families seem to commonly have) and “puck” around, no pun intended.
Sweden is such an active country. Sports stores definitely aren’t going out of business here anytime soon; they’re massive. The ones I’ve been have large sections for each sport, including all of the “typical” sports and the wintry ones. Almost everyone I’ve talked to seems to have a gym membership and if they don’t go to a local gym, then they regularly go outdoors to take a walk or hike or run. I’ve actually been conned (not really) into joining a gym and taking a beginner’s fencing class! Our first fencing class is in a couple days so I will definitely keep updated about that.
Overall, nature is just a big part of Swedish culture. The Swedish constitution actually contains a clause called “the everyman’s right,” which is a freedom to roam to access any public or privately owned land for recreation or exercise. Since there are a lot of woodsy areas in the suburbs, that means that I can walk through the forest or pitch a tent overnight. There are no “state parks” that require a fee for entrance.
So far, I’m really enjoying myself in Stockholm. Everyone is friendly, at least to Americans, and the amount of kaffe I’ve had here is more than satisfactory.