Dalarna. Okay, this actually came in the middle of the trip, but I wanted to save my favorite part for last.
One of the things we'd been really looking forward to on this trip was celebrating Midsommarafton (Midsummer's Eve), one of the biggest holidays of the year in Sweden. We'd heard that the best place to go for traditional midsummer celebrations was Dalarna, a province in central Sweden. (You may be familiar with the Dala horse, a symbol of the region.)
Stockholm cleared out for the holiday weekend on Friday morning, and we left in our rental car, a great big silver gas-guzzler that we got as a free "upgrade" because all of the small cars were already booked. Yikes.
We watched them raise the maypole, then went to a nearby cafe for a dinner of waffles with whipped cream and cloudberry jam.
Små grodorna ("The Little Frogs"), but I think there was another about elephants, and maybe one about playing various musical instruments. There were a lot of drunk teenagers and the ground was littered with discarded bottles, which added an element of precariousness to the fast-paced dancing. There were so many people dancing that you couldn't stop moving even if you were able to see the hazards in front of you. Luckily we made it through unscathed.
Carl Larsson, an artist who painted scenes of rural Swedish life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Finally, we had to pack up and say good-bye to Dalarna and to our tiny cabin with the lilac hedge, but I think this will always be one of my favorite places in the world.