During my trip up the East Coast of Australia in 2015 I met two wonderful Swedish friends whom I kept in touch with and while I'm in Europe I decided to pay them a visit in Sweden.
Sweden is a wonderful country with lots of greenery and trees which reminds me of my home town in Alaska. I learned a lot about the different types (North and South) of Swedish people and traditions. Most of my trip was in Uppsala during the Valborg Celebration or Walpurgis in English which is the celebration of Spring arriving in Sweden.
I arrived Thursday afternoon in Stockholm with a couple of hours to kill before my train to Uppsala. Stockholm is a comfy city with warm orange and yellow toned buildings surrounded by Lake Mälaren, Sweden's third largest lake. I walked around Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm and saw the Royal Palace.
When I arrived in Uppsala, mainly a University town with about 24,000 students, we went to one of the Student Nation tents and had drinks and dinner which has relatively cheaper prices than a normal pub.
A Student Nation is a student membership where a member can get access to pubs, canteens, libraries, balls, clubs, theater, music and sports activities. There are 13 Student Nations in Uppsala. In the tent was also a DJ so after grabbing a bite to eat we danced the night away.
One song the DJ played in particular got my attention, i'm not sure what the song was but as soon as it started playing all the students on the dance floor took their tops off and started whipping them around over their heads. It sounds strange but it is a tradition that started in 2008 that happens every year during the week leading till Valborg.
Friday morning I had a traditional Swedish breakfast of knäckebröd or "crack bread", yogurt (which came out of a milk carton) with museli and an egg with caviar. At night we had a typical Swedish Friday Night or Fredagmys in Sweden, where families usually eat tacos, swedish style, Lördagsgodis, a mixture of loose candies in a bucket or bag, and other snack foods of choice while watching a family program, and playing games. We watched Let's Dance, the Swedish version of Dancing with the Stars and played Yatze.
Typical Swedish Breakfast
Typical Friday Night Swedish Dinner
Saturday was Volburg and we had an incredibly long and crazy day starting with running of the falls. Running of the falls is a river rafting event with about 120 homemade styrofoam boats made by students and is one of Sweden's greatest student events.
We woke up at 6:30 am just to get a good spot along the river even though the event started at 10 am. I wasn't surprised that we weren't the first ones there either! We had a very good spot on the pier right next the river. The 4 hour wait didn't seem that long since we brought along food and drinks. A champagne breakfast is common while waiting for the event to start but sadly we forgot the champagne in the rush of leaving the house.
American Themed boat at the River Rafting (Thats Donald Trump's head in the front)
The crowd of people at the River Rafting event
My friends and watching the River Rafting
After the boats we made our way to the park where thousands of people come and lay down blankets for a picnic and drinks. There were soooo people there was no room for personal space.
At the park during Valborg
View of the park from a friends apartment
After the picnic my friends took me to a champagnegalopp aka Champagne Gallop at one of the student nations. While walking to the Champagne Gallop we saw a glimpse of Mösspåtagning or Donning of the Caps at the Carolina Rediviva Library with the white naval caps all Swedish students have when they graduate. The mass of people at the donning was so large that you could see them from a mile away. Traditionally after mösspåtagning students would race down the hill from the library to the nations to drink champagne at the Champagne Gallop. But now the donning of the caps is more of a family affair while the students go straight to the Champange Gallop.
The huge crowd (you cant see the road) in front of the Carolina Rediviva Library at the top of the street for the Donning of the caps
The Champagne Gallop experience differs from what Nation you go to but the funnest nations are the ones outdoors where bottles of champagne are sprayed on anyone and everyone. I learned that Champagne definitely does not feel good in your eyes! The atmosphere was intense with Champagne being sprayed left and right and live music pumping everyone up. The ground was covered in empty champagne bottles, a lot of them broken from the massive crowds so I regretted wearing flip flops very quickly.
After a warm shower and a short nap we had a BBQ at a friends house with steak and bernaise sauce, Swedish potato salad, and a green salad.
Then we ended the night by going to another friends apartment in student housing. The place was set up with a DJ booth, lights and dance floor in the spare room. It was definitely one of the most exciting college dorm parties I've been to.
We arrived home around 2:30 am with much needed sleep.