“On a Clear Day I can See Forever”: Örebro, Sweden

The beautiful Örebro castle.

This spring I had the amazing opportunity to visit Sweden! Always at the top of my list, I jumped at the chance to travel with Chris to Örebro, the seventh largest city in the Scandinavian country (including immigrants from 165 countries)! Unfortunately for Shotshchild, he had a ton of extra work to do, but fortunately (and guiltily) for me, this meant an extra few days wandering around the lovely city of Örebro.

The city is absolutely beautiful; Örebro has a ton of green and walkable spaces, super friendly people, and so many vegetarian food options available. Get ready for a ton of pictures and recommendations.

Oh, and a castle on the water too. NBD.

One of my favorite things about Sweden and Swedish culture is Fika. When we first moved to Hungary, Chris told me about this break for coffee and sweets that his Swedish colleagues enjoyed each day (and encouraged Chris to join). This morning/early afternoon time to share a beverage and snack with friends is essential in Sweden. For many, this “state of mind” is imperative; its a time to relax, refresh your brain, and socialize with your co-workers.

The correct way to pronounce this beautiful ritual is simply Fika (“fee-ka”) but as I am American and butcher all things, I always exclaim “FIKA TIME!” whenever I feel like it’s the appropriate moment for Fika.

What a way of life. My friend Ashley, who visited Örebro the week ahead of me, scoped out the best place for Fika in the city. She didn’t disappoint with her recommendation! We visited Gamla, located in the open air museum, for a vegan Swedish ball and coffee. So good!

Another great part of this trip was embracing a slower lifestyle. This included reading in the hotel lobby on rainy days #livingmybestlife

We stayed at the Clarion in downtown Örebro and I can’t recommend this space enough. The hotel is located in the perfect location and has a beautiful lounge area. Their breakfast was AMAZING–I unfortunately forgot to snap a picture of all their choices–and an amenity I was thankful for as the sun rose super early while we were visiting. I also shared breakfast with a wonderful Danish man sporting a Santa beard who told me allthestories about his life.

Each floor of the hotel included its own Book Share!

Örebro is one of my favorite places we’ve had the opportunity to visit; I also had one of my bestdaysever while in Sweden: long walk through an art installation, visit to the public library, quiet time in the cemetery, a stop at a Middle Eastern spice shop, and wonderful Indian cuisine for dinner. Just. Amazing.

Where are we?

Located in the heart of Sweden, halfway between Stockholm and Gothenburg, Örebro is positioned on the River Svartån. The city’s name derives from the words bro (bridge) and ör (bank); Örebro is known for its castle, which was built on an islet in the Svartån.

A walk through the center of the city.

Örebro is also famous for its old town and the beautiful spaces near the river. Luckily, I happened to visit during a ton of festivals and holidays including the National Day of Sweden 🇸🇪 and high school graduation. Graduations are a huge event in Sweden; parents held up signs and flags for their students and tons of graduates were piled into trucks, celebrating in the streets. Super cool to see.

The OpenArt festival was also taking place while I visited Örebro (for real though this was the best timing ever) and exhibits were constructed all over town. OpenArt is Scandinavia’s largest biennial festival that “revolts against traditional urban spaces, encourages creativity, and gives us the opportunity to experience the city from completely new perspectives”. The festival included over 100 pieces.

This “Plastic Monster” was created by students in 2018 to bring awareness to the effects of the carcinogens from plastics on animals and humans. The piece also included information on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area three times the size of Sweden that is made up of plastic waste. Sweden is currently aiming to become a zero-waste country.
A piece by Czech artist David Cerny: “[the] pink tank becomes an elegant pacifist protest against state violence and a reminder that democracy and freedom of expression do not come without cost, but must be fought for.”
Constructed by Elsa Tomkowiak: “All the environments she invades are the support of a prolific pictorial work that raises the question of our relationship with reality.”
View from underneath the piece.
A street fair taking place the day before we left. We missed the beginning of the fair because we were watching John Wick 3, but no regrets on that decision.
Street art by Sego that combines organic life with fantasy images.

The Sites:

Örebro Castle:

The defense tower is the oldest part of the castle and was built in the late 1200s. The entire structure was rebuilt in 1900.
The castle is famous for its legendary ghost. In 1434, Engelbrekt Engelbrektson (that name though!), the leader of the Engelbrekt Rebellion against the Kalmar Union, lived in Örebro Castle. He was buried in St. Nicholas Church after his assassination in 1436. Karl IX then took over and became so jealous of Engelbrekt’s hero status in Örebro that he dug up his body and buried him in the castle walls. Now Engelbrekt’s ghost wanders the halls of the castle to this day, although we didn’t see him when we toured (boo, pun intended).

Olaus Petri Church:

The Olaus Petri Church opened on the Fourth Advent Sunday in 1912.
View of the Church from across the street.
OpenArt installed a piece (“Estrogen Bomb”) by the Guerrilla Girls in front of the Church.
❤ this

Wadköping:

This beautiful open air museum is just a short walk from the city’s center and includes houses and farms from the 1500s. There are a ton of cute shops and don’t forget to stop for Fika!
Wadköping also includes a number of museums and is next to the City Park.

Stadsparken:

The sites of Örebro, carved into a tree trunk.
Voted Sweden’s most beautiful park in 2004, this area is perfect for quiet walks and exploring the beautiful plants in Sweden.
My favorite reading spot in the park.

Oset and Rynningeviken:

Just outside the city is the Oset and Rynningeviken nature reserve. Only a 45 minute walk or an even quicker bike ride, this is an absolute must see while you’re in town.
The park was probably my favorite place in all of Örebro.
This area was previously a military site and then a dumping ground for tons of waste. In 1968, the landfill closed and the military use ended; the nature preserve was created and is now a beautiful place between Örebro and Lake Hjälmaren.
I was incredibly lucky to walk this trail with our wonderful friends Ashley and her husband Pete, and the amazing Rodgerson family: Bri (who runs the lovely Home Base Hungary Blog), her spouse Derek, and their three kids, Beau, Didi (left), and Willow (right). So fun to spend a day at this beautiful park with this fun crew!
📷: Bri
Willow took a particular liking to Chris (“Cwissssss!”) and had the best quote of the week: “Well does being around kids now make you want to have kids!?” So funny! Willow and Didi were also a solid breakfast crew–I knew I never would have to eat alone!
📷: Bri

Other Sites:

Wandering the river
Corner of the downtown area and enjoying all the walking streets.
Rudbeck Upper Secondary School’s Main Building
The city library
Norra Strandgatan was built in 1891 by architects Fritz Ulrich and Eduard Hallquist. Originally used as a bank. the manager’s son, Hjalmar, lived in the second floor of the building. As a child he began writing Solivro, “the inspiration for his most widely read book Markurells i Wadköping, where Wadköping is a fictional city with Örebro as a model”. This was also the main editorial office for the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper before opening as the Hotel Bergen (current use today).
Nikolai Kyrkogård (Nikolai Cemetery) was opened in 1806.

Restaurants & Pubs:

Fratelli:

This cute little restaurant offers a number of pasta and pizza dishes. I ordered the mushroom ravioli and it was amazing!

Chandani:

We can never say no to Indian! Chandani is a great restaurant with outdoor seating. We both ordered curries and of course Naan bread, and enjoyed it all. One of the best parts of Örebro was the number of international restaurants in just the small downtown area.

Mocca Deli:

Nachos and coffee, does anything scream “ashlyn” more than this?
A super cute spot, Mocca Deli offers a ton of veg and meat options including nachos (of course) salads, and pizzas.

Örebro Saluhall:

Located right across from the hotel, the Saluhall is an awesome option for lunch or dinner with a group of friends. The food court includes over six restaurants with all types of cuisine (Italian, American, Asian) for even the pickiest of eaters. I ordered lunch from Sallad& that included pickled red onions and beet hummus (I’m dead, bye).

Naturen Hus:

Photo via Totally Örebro.
We stopped for lunch at Naturen Hus on our stroll through the Oset & Rynningeviken nature preserve. This restaurant is an absolute must visit when in Örebro. I ordered the goat cheese salad and it was so incredibly fresh. The perfect meal for the prettiest view of the park.

Satin:

We made a special trip to Satin for lunch after our friend Ashley mentioned the restaurant offered a vegan kebab plate. It was AMAZING. All the vegetarian options in Sweden were soooooo good.

En Trappa Upp:

Located on the second floor of Pitcher’s, En Trappa Upp is a cozy bar with beautiful views of the water. They had a ton of craft beer options including Danish brewery Mikkeller‘s summer pale, K:rlek (meaning “love” which I of course had a heart explosion when the bartender translated the name for me.)

❤ you Örebro.

📷: Bri
Beautiful street art near the grocery store, where I fell in love with all the Swedish vegetarian options and bread choices!

Currently:

Reading: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Watching: The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)
Listening: This Land (Crooked Media)

Prague: Malá Strana & the Left Bank of the Vltava

This March we spent a few days in Prague, Czech Republic and we had such a great time (read: I took too many pictures) that I thought it might be best to split this adventure up into two separate posts. We spent our first day in Malá Strana and wandering around the left side of the Vltava River.

Where are we?

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The capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, Prague is about a four and a half hour drive for us. Having been in existence for over a thousand years, the city is known for its many historical and cultural sites, as well as an expanding food and beer scene. Germanic tribes replaced the Celtics living in modern-day Prague around 100 BC. In 400 AD the fall of the Roman Empire caused most of these Germanic peoples to move west to Germany; Slavic tribes from Russia and Asia replaced them by the end of the sixth century.

Prague was officially founded by Princess Libuše, an ancestor of the Přemyslid dynasty and the Czech people. The youngest and wisest of three sisters, she became queen after their father died. She held the gift of foreseeing the future, legend states that upon seeing the Vltava River from a cliff, Libuše prophesied:

“I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.”

She then ordered the castle to be built overlooking the river. Construction started in the late 8th century and you can still read some of the masonry under the castle dating back to 885. Another fun Libuše legend I wanted to share: When the male leaders of her tribe were unhappy with a woman ruling, they demanded she marry. Libuše, already in love with a plowman named Přemysl, claimed to have a vision of a farmer with one broken sandal plowing a field. The councilmen found Přemysl in nearby Stadice just as she said; the two were married and had three sons.

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“I just might be the next ruler in the making.” #slay

The city is divided by the Vlata River. This first post I’ll just concentrate on our time in Malá Strana and the left bank of the river.

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The Sights:

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Kostel svateho Josefa built by the Carmelite sisters in 1686-1686.

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View from the Castle

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Entrance to the castle. The compound is the largest ancient castle in the world.

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Prague Castle

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The compound (larger than seven football fields) includes the St. Vitus Cathedral.

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Mala Strana District

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Mala Strana District

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Church of Saint Nicholas was built between 1704-1755 on the same site where a 13th century church stood before plans to rebuild the church began.

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Prague Castle at night.

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St. Charles Bridge

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Czech scuplter David Cerny is known for his “tongue and cheek” pieces including this one called “Piss.” We saw more of his work in Old Town.

 

Restaurants:

Malostranská Pivnice:

After wandering around Malá Strana looking for a couple of bars that were only open in the summer (damn seasonality!) we found Malostranská Pivnice on our way back to the apartment. Apparently the pub is located on a former hangman’s house built in 1664 and was opened as a bar in 2002.

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Too cute not to snap a picture

I wish I had taken more photos but I was wayyyyy too distracted by the amazing accordion player who was taking folk requests from a group of Russians in the pub. I uploaded these amazing jams here and here.

Cafe Lounge:

Cafe Lounge had an amazing breakfast and coffee menu. The restaurant had a really cool art-deco Great Gatsby vibe that was super cute.

I was overenthusiastic about sitting outside (in March) and the barista kindly reminded us that no normal person wants to enjoy their brunch outdoors during this time of the year. Inside it is!

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The Farm Letna: Urban Kitchen & Coffee:

Breakfast all day, changing menu each week, and bike rentals, what else do you need in life? We had lunch at Farm Letna our last morning in Prague.

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The restaurant concentrates on using locally sourced produce, meat, and coffee. Shockingly, I chose lunch over breakfast (I know!) because that day they had a soup special that sounded great.

I had the best beet-based veggie burger of my life and Chris had the club sandwich, which was a perfect opportunity to state all of the Lion King “cub” sandwich puns from the elephant graveyard scene.

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Random:

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View from the Airbnb

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Obligatory Prague Castle Selfie

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My favorite house

 

Up Next: Prague Part 2 including Old Town, Beer Museums, and the quest for Jurassic Park arcade games.

Currently:

Ashlyn (2)

Watching: Master of None Season 2

Listening: Team Fortress 2 Fight Songs Soundtrack

Reading: Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

Mood:

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❤ Ashlyn