India Day 2 – The Spice Plantation

I had read mixed reviews about the spice plantation but thought it would be a good site to add to my tour.  Some called it a tourist trap but, hey, I’m a tourist so…When you enter the plantation you are greeted with a lei of flowers, a dot of red powder on your forehead and a glass of hot spiced tea.  The tour took us from plant to plant explaining what each spice was and how it was used.  We were past the harvest season so not every spice was available to see.  They had a demonstration of how the black Betel nut is harvested.  I was familiar with this nut only because of the movie South Pacific in which the sailors sing about Bloody Mary who chews Betel nuts but doesn’t use Pepsodent.

The tour ended with a hot buffet which, truth be told, I did not feel comfortable eating.  When I read up on how to stay healthy while visiting India it was repeatedly stated not to eat lukewarm food from buffets.  This food had been sitting out in the sun so I opted for a Sprite.  Given the heat and the big breakfast,

I had eaten this was perfect.


India Day Two – Shri Manguesh Temple

My driver dropped me off at the bottom of the walkway that leads up to this temple.  The walkway is lined with stalls selling lots of souvenirs

, hats to protect from the sun (I was already wearing one) freshly made sugar cane juice, and flowers to give once inside the temple.  It was a long hot walk with lots of people yelling for my attention.  Once inside the area of the temple building you were instructed to remove your shoes.  I did so and then quickly stepped to a shady area – yikes it was burning hot on my feet!

I was wearing a skort and a woman appeared to help me wrap my cotton scarf around my legs so that only the bottom part of my legs showed.  Once you walk through the silver doors of the temple you are not allowed to take photos.  I wish someone had been along to tell me what was happening.  There were multiple priests behind the railing at the front of the temple.  They would take flowers from the worshiper, along with cash, and then dump the flowers into a large bowl.  You could see that there was another ro0m behind these priests where there were lit candles and more people sitting.  In the front, where I was, there was an area where people knelt, in a line, on the floor.  The woman knelt on one side and the men on the other.

India day two – The Old Goa Church

Today I hired a taxi to show me some of the sights of Goa. Our first stop was the Old Goa Church – also known as the Basilica of Bom Jesus where the remains of St. Frances Xavier are displayed. The church has an amazing amount of gilded surfaces while the ceiling is simple wooden plank. The day I visited there were a large number of Hindu men and women. They all seemed especially enthralled with a small glass boxed statue of our lady of Fatima which each passerby was inclined to touch with their flattened palm. Many also had ribbons of marigolds which they placed on statues in the courtyard.

My son and I arrived in Goa India at 2:30 in the morning after having flown a total of about 19 hours.  It is a small manageable airport with just 2 luggage carousels so did not feel overwhelmed.  It took awhile to find our luggage but when we did it was easy to exit.  They seemed to require most everyone to put their luggge through a scanner before exiting but they did not ask us to do so.  We had someone meeting us at the airport.  You have to wait outside to greet people but we spotted them immediately.  The first thing I noticed was the heat, like a summer night, and the horns blowing and dogs barking.

We had a LOT of luggage which required us to put some on top of the car and then we all squeezed in.  I soon learned that the horn is probably the most important part of a car in India.  It seems to be used instead of turn signals and is used whenever anyone is passing you – even if you are on a road with multiple lanes….there is a toot toot as they passed.

I also quickly realized how many “wild” dogs there were in India.  We passed packs of them standing on the edge of the road.  The pet lover in my had to avoid watching these poor creatures.

We arrived at our hotel and were greeted with fruit drinks – which I refused because of my fear of “Delhi  Belly”. We said good-bye to our friends and were quickly led to our room.  I didn’t think I would sleep long since I had slept on the plane but…..did not wake up until 1:30 in the afternoon!

My room was not what I had requested so I spoke with the front desk and they were quite gracious in making the change and insisting I see all available rooms before deciding.  They even insisted on sending up room service while we waited.

This is the view from our room

Klaradal closes after 14 years

I made the decision this January that I needed to close Klaradal.  It’s been a labor of love but, unfortunately, not a big money maker.  The past few years saw declining sales and the past two years we lost money.  So… was the only choice.  I told my employees first and then my customers.  My goal was to find a new job for the woman who helped me manage the shop.  A customer stepped up and offered her a new position.  It was great to see her on her way but also left me understaffed for the last 45 days. [Read more…]

Back to Stockholm

Friday it was time to check out of Akerblads hotel and head back to Stockholm.  I didn’t want to leave that beautiful oasis so I lingered.  First I did a walk down to the lake (It was a straight shot so no fear of getting lost again!)  and then I went for a quick swim (indoor pool!) and some sauna time.  When I finally hit the road I was thoroughly relaxed and ready for some en route shopping.  I continued my farewell tour before heading into Solna and my favorite little apartment hotel (2home)  I had so many things to unpack and, in the midst, was lucky enough to have a handsome runner insist on helping me lug in my purchases!  Ahhh Chivalry is NOT dead! 

Thursday shopping near Leksand

Woke up to another beautiful morning in Tallberg.  Take a look at my view from breakfast.  I put on my shoe grippers to keep me upright on the snowy driveway and sidewalks and headed out shopping.  I Visited a number of my favorite sites and took farewell photos of the owners.  When I came home, I decided to have dinner at the hotel and then went for a walk.  I felt great, securely walking with my steel grip covered shoes and took in the quiet night.  I was excited to spot two jackrabbits…something I’ve only seen once before here.  The walk was great until I realized I was lost!  Every house is red, and every house seems to have a lit tree in front of it.  The hotel is rather large and lit up, but I found myself on a somewhat dark road surrounded by single family homes.  I thought I would turn on my phone to get location help but discovered the battery was drained!  Luckily after more walking, I spotted a familiar hotel and, from there, was able to get back to the hotel.  Needless to say, after an almost hour walk in freezing temperatures, I slept well!


A Snowy Wednesday in Rattvik

View from my window Wednesday morning, Tallberg.

I awoke after a great night’s sleep on my Swedish Hastens mattress to discover it had snowed overnight!  My little balcony was filling up with snow, and the swirling flurries made it impossible to see any distance.  I must admit, though…it made my heart happy.  Snow!!! After dressing, I walked down one flight to the restaurant which features a traditional Swedish breakfast with some American additions:  Scrambled eggs, fresh squeezed orange juice, yogurt, loaves of bread, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, smoked salmon, and sill.  (Herring)

Fortified with breakfast, I ventured, by car, to the town of Rattvik.  There is a second-hand shop there that is ONLY open on Wednesdays, and I wanted to be sure to be there when they unlocked the doors.  I made it, with 5 minutes to spare, despite slow travel due to road conditions.  I found some unique items including fun vintage linens.

My next stop was an Antique store in the center of town where a poodle greeted me as I came through the door.  I found an antique bread bowl with a beautiful patina, a blue tin French key holder, and a pastry server in the Gamla Fransk pattern.

I then drove to the local Hemslojd to see if I could find any gifts for the Klaragals.  They had some unique items and lots of woolen pieces but nothing that caught my eye.  I’d been to the shop many times before but had never realized there was a second floor.  When I climbed the stairs, I discovered a mini museum of folk costumes and an abundant number of costume skirts, pants, blouses, and vests.  If you are ever in Raatvik be sure to stop in to see their collection.  

Before heading home, I popped into the local bakery to get a Semlor to enjoy back at the room.  The snow, as I drove home, became heavier and driving proved challenging.  I relaxed, once back at the hotel, with a swim and visit to the sauna. Their sauna is glass enclosed, and the steam is infused with herbs.  I forgot all about the snowy drive.  And soon it was time to enjoy that Hastens mattress again!

First night in Tallberg, Sweden.

My bed at the Akerblads hotel. The green and red colors are reminiscent of those at Sundborn the home of Carl Larsson.  

Wonderful jetted tub and sink with storage in my room at Akerblads.








I am staying at my favorite historic hotel in Tallberg,  Sweden:  Akerblads. This family run hotel goes back centuries and each room is decorated in a unique way.  This time I lucked out and received a large double room with jetted tub – despite my bargain rate!  The view from my window lured me outside for a walk last evening. It was a bit slippery but the scenery and sheer quiet made it all worthwhile.

Kick sleds outside of my hotel.

My Farewell Tour

I made the decision to close my brick and mortar store, Klaradal, in early January which was after I had already booked an early winter shopping trip. I decided to go ahead with the trip since I also had art, which I had purchased at Swedish auction houses in the fall of 2016, that needed to be retrieved.
My husband, who has a cousin who is ailing, decided to join me for part of the trip. We arrived Friday, February 17th and spent the afternoon picking up the aforementioned purchased art.  We then checked into the mini apartment in Peter’s cousin’s building and enjoyed catching up over cocktails (mixed by the best bartender I know – Peter!) and a late dinner.

Saturday morning we headed to another auction house, picked up our purchases and bought some art boxes for when I air freight these items home.  Dinner included Peter’s other cousin who had traveled from Gothenburg to visit with all of us.  It was a fun evening.

Sunday morning we hit my favorite Sunday flea market.  I found a couple of paintings to buy and a few small items.  Mostly I was just saying good-bye to my favorite vendors.  We then went to a Cafe Bel Monde – which is a short walk from the square.  I enjoyed a latte and classic Swedish cinnamon roll.  Peter chose the healthy fresh salad with chicken.  We thought we would head over to the Antique Fair which was on its last day but….jet lag took over and we instead headed home for a pre-dinner nap.

It was the perfect way to re-charge before cooking dinner for the cousins.