I have never been a fan of going outdoors and doing activities like hiking and camping. Nevertheless, it seemed ridiculous for me to keep this mentality when I arrived to Uppsala (it has been almost two months now!) and discovered that it is surrounded by beautiful forests. I decided that I should step out of my comfort zone and start exploring and doing things I have never done before, or never thought I would do. And there is no better place to do that than Fjällnora! In this recreational park, located approximately half an hour away from the city, you can do plenty of activities such as ice-skating in a frozen lake, skiing, grilling and just enjoying nature.
The first time I went there, I tried sauna for the first time in my life, only because my friend from France convinced me. A Swedish guy (her roomie) also joined us. I don’t know if it was just me, but the idea of spending time just sweating in a small room with people seemed awkward. At least it was not a naked sauna! (hehe) I tried not to think too much, bought a swimming suit in a hurry (that is exactly the last thing I thought I would need in Sweden, especially during winter) and hoped for the best.
Our adventure started early on a Saturday morning, involving taking the bus 809 in the Central Station and then walking through the forest for about 20 minutes before reaching the cabin with the sauna. The price was very reasonable! 90 Swedish crowns between three people, and we could stay for quite a long time. The process is simple: You start with a freezing cold shower, then enter the hot sauna, stay there for some minutes until you sweat the get out again to the cold shower, and repeat!
I was surprised about how hot the room can get! According to my friend, a proper sauna must reach 90 degrees (Celsius), but only with half of that temperature I already felt like burning. During the time I spent inside the sauna, I got to know these friends better, and I also got a grasp of the Swedish culture. Apparently, going to the sauna is a common activity in this country, but not as popular as in Finland.
The second time I went there, I tried ice-skating in the frozen lake. It costed 60 Swedish crowns for one hour. Many aspects shocked me, starting with the ice skates: They were not the regular ones (or at least not like the ones you might use in an artificial ice-skating rink, for example for figure skating or hockey), but they consisted on some boots in which you had to tie a very long skating blade. I thought this would made skating extremely difficult, but in the end, it was not. It is just a matter of getting used to the size of the blades, but I also believe that my previous experience in skating helped me a lot.
If this is your first time skating and you feel that you are just looking ridiculous while even kids as young as 3 years old can at least keep the balance, my advice is just have fun! Laugh a lot, even about yourself, and enjoy the nature surrounding you! Also think about the delicious fika you can get after all your effort, since the park has a canteen in which you can purchase snacks, coffee and sweets. I recommend the waffles with jam and whipped cream, yum! If you prefer to stick to the typical Swedish pastries, you can also find kanellbullar and chockladbollar.
The greatest lesson I learned after these two amazing trips is: Don’t be afraid to try new things! Especially when you are an exchange student here in Uppsala, because you know you won’t stay there forever. I can guarantee you will have lots of fun 😀 What are you waiting for booking yourself a day off to this magical place?