The good life in Torshälla

Torshälla began around the year 700 as a place where bands of heathens made sacrifices to the god Thor. It received city rights in 1317. Today Torshälla is part of Eskilstuna.

We came to visit Marica and her family. Monika has known Marica a very long time. In Monika's words:

"Marica and I met as seven and eight-year-old girls while riding a northbound Swedish train. We never stopped writing, caring, or looking forward to the next letter or visit. She's a woman of depth and humor, with lovely insight into the workings of people's minds and hearts."

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

It's so rare to hear about penpals these days at all, much less two people who have maintained a correspondence for 50 years. After all I had heard about Marica and her family, I was not at all surprised with the warm reception they gave us. Right from the start, we spent hours on the back deck talking as naturally as if we'd been neighbors all along

And they have a dog. Oneida is a purebred Samoyed. And guess what? Their fur is hypoallergenic, and has properties similar to angora; you can actually knit sweaters with it. Which is exactly what Marica did the last time Oneida shed:

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

After a great first day chatting with and getting to know Marica and her husband Janne, we went into Eskiltuna to see what was what. Like many of the places we have visited, Eskilstuna is remarkably picturesque.

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

One thing Eskilstuna is known for is its metal work; everything from copper and brass kitchenware to fine knives to scissors is made here, and you can still watch craftsmen make it right in front of you. In fact, this heritage dates back to before the Industrial Revolution, when the city earned the name "Stålstaden" ("The City of Steel"). This knife maker looked up only briefly when we walked into his shop at the Rademacher forges, which were built in the 1650's.

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

These buildings were fascinating in that they have not only been preserved as historical monuments, but Eskilstuna's craftsmen still work in them, full-time. These are not shows for tourists (although plenty of tourists visit). I enjoyed poking my head in each craftsperson's shop and snapping a few pictures of their tools

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

One thing I noticed about old Swedish buildings - lack of headroom. I kept cracking my skull on ceiling beams, despite the well-meaning warnings placed on them

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

The next day I woke up with a heavy weight on my chest. Before I had time to wonder if I was having a heart attack, I opened my eyes, slowly and quietly grabbed my camera off the nightstand, and took this shot

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

Did you know that Samoyeds have very thick coats, and were bred to sleep on people to keep them warm? Yeah, neither did I. And another thing: they have beautiful eyelashes

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

So, after several days of laughing and drinking with Marica, Janne, and their daughters Elin and Ida, I didn't think it could get any better. But, on the last night, Janne says to me "John, the sauna is ready"

Sauna?

It turns out that Janne shares a sauna built on a dock on the lake down the street. So, we grabbed some towels and beer and headed down

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

It was a cold and rainy day, and the temperature was dropping. But I figured that wouldn't matter once we were in the sauna

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

Where it did matter, though, was about 45 into the adventure, when Janne says, "John, shall we jump in the lake?"

  Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

Extremely cold, but also invigorating. Kinda like testing a battery by licking it...

And with that, our time with the Aldin-Lundgren family came to an end. The next morning we loaded up the car and headed out...

 Torshälla, Sweden

Torshälla, Sweden

Next up, Tällberg