The city of Ostersund is located in the heart of Sweden. When you you visit the Ostersund’s center you feel like you’re in the middle of a decent sized city, but it’s home to only 45,000 people! I came to Ostersund from Norway, so visiting all the restaurants and shops here was like heaven since everything was about half price. Just for that alone I loved my trip to Ostersund. The architecture though was impressive too, like the city hall seen on the right for example.
The highlight of Ostersund is the Jamtli museum. This is one of the biggest and most interesting museums I’ve ever been to and was surprised to find it in such a small city. Above is the entrance to the Jamti and on the upper right a shot of the inside. There are several galleries and artifacts on display, but the center of the museum is a giant room with houses, sleds, animals, paintings and even a Sami tent. Below is some artwork created by the Sami people. The left shows a small boy who was killed along with his reindeer.
The museum has all kinds of textile art like this tapestry on the upper left. This one is said to be hundreds of years old but remains in excellent condition. Outside of artwork, there are plenty of other interesting artifacts like this ancient shield on the right. I’m not sure why but they seemed to have a large collection of skulls and recreations of the dead in the museum.
In addition to the indoor museum, there is a large open air museum which is more like a village. Since I was here in the winter, it probably wasn’t half as interesting as the warmer months when I imagine there is a lot more people and activities taking place. The village includes dozens of buildings, a lake, a functioning hotel and restaurant and even a stable with some horses!
West of Ostersund is the small ski city of Are. Before I came to Sweden I happened to meet a Swedish guy back in the United States. I told him of my trip and that I was going to Are which he had never heard of. That’s likely because I was pronouncing it wrong, more like the English “are” but I also tried “are-ray”. Turns out I’m not the only one with this issue. On the welcome sign to Are they had written in parenthesis the proper pronunciation. Either way though, the locals are proud of Are. You’ll see the name printed on merchandise, on chocolate, and even this bread above in a grocery store!
The entire reason for me coming to Are Sweden was to ski. I got here at the very end of my trip to Scandinavia, and to be honest I found myself too lazy to get in line, rent ski boots and equipment, and all the hassle you have to do to get on the slopes. Sweden doesn’t have very high mountains in regards to altitude, but some of the mountains are reasonably steep to give some great skiing. The ski slopes in Are actually pass both under and over the main road! I took the left hand photo from my car as I was driving by, and later at night a photo of another slope passing over a tunnel.
I visited this church in Are, but little did I know at the time it was built in the 12th century when this are was once part of Norway! The original church was very tiny, only about 35 square feet but it was expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The bed & Breakfast that I stayed in Are came with a huge surprise. I had no idea until I arrived that there is a moose farm here as well! Twice a day throughout the year they organize visits to the moose where you can go inside their enclosure and even feed them. When I visited, the moose ranged from a few years old up to as old as seven. A seven year old moose close to his prime age, so he would have been wearing full antlers had they not been sawed off by veterinarians. Apparently having giant antlers makes the moose feel more manly and when they go in heat they can become very violent. We were told at the moose farm that even in the wild, males can become so aggressive that they occasionally kill female moose.
I got a rare treat while I was in Are. Sun! I drove about 30 minutes northwest of Are to go hiking through the woods and was surprised when the sun came out. I hadn’t had a clear day in forever it seemed. Even this wasn’t a completely clear day. The sun kept going in and out behind the clouds but I definitely enjoyed the moments when I had direct sunshine on my face. On the left is some of the evergreens in Sweden under sunlight. The right photo is the beginning of the hike I did. The hike was short and sweet, and even though there was snow much of it was compact so snowshoes weren’t required.
I liked hiking in the forest and seeing green grass and moss with the white snow. It’s an unusual contrast for me that I usually don’t see back home or in other places that I’ve hiked. Within only a few minutes of hiking I could hear the rushing river and the raging waterfall in the distance. Below are two photos of the Indalsälven river, one of the longest in all of Sweden.
The short hike took me to one of Sweden’s best waterfalls, the Tannforsen! Tannforsen falls are usually called Sweden’s most largest and most beautiful. The humidity in the area creates a sort of unique mini ecosystem here. This is why there is the high amount of moss and lichen in the area. In the middle of winter, say January or February, the falls are known to completely freeze over!