Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking the new VW to Åre

Vacation time: do we travel to Paris, Legoland in Denmark, or a short drive to Sweden? If we take the Sweden trip, with the money we save we can buy a car. So Sweden it is.

Some friends of ours decided to sell their car, and it couldn't be much more perfect for us: a VW Passat wagon, turbodiesel manual transmission, the kind that gets amazing gas mileage like our previous VW. Our Mercedes has been having problems, including most urgently the defrost not working with the frosty weather already here. Yep, it's become very hard to drive hanging our heads out of the window... not to mention probably illegal too. The Passat came available from a friend of ours at a very good price, and it seemed like perfect timing.

I test drove the car yesterday and loved it. We'd take it. Our friends needed us to pick it up quickly, so we decided we'd get it this morning and leave it at home while we drive the Mercedes to Sweden, then figure out insurance for the VW when we returned. However, the Mercedes wouldn't start this morning. First time ever it wouldn't start for us. Did it sense that its time was at hand?

So we walked downtown... it was a beautiful morning and the fall colors were shining through. We drove home in our new old car, and there I was, one hour before we needed to be on the road, calling insurance companies trying to find a good rate. Thankfully, it was extremely easy to get insurance over the phone, and we were on the road right on schedule, in our "new" car. Vroom vroom! It's so fun to drive!

We're staying at the Holiday Club in Åre, a hotel/water park/sauna that also has a bar, restaurants, minigolf, and bowling. It's also on the beach, which doesn't matter much to us in Oktober. The club looks like nothing interesting from the outside, but inside it is luxurious. We checked in, had a quick lunch and a game of minigolf, then relaxed a bit in our room before heading off to swim.

The changing room for the pool was very funny. A large space with many lockers, the women's area is to the right, men's to the left, and the middle area is designated mixed. Doors to the men's and women's showers are in the center right next to each other, and folks go about their business not seeming to mind that naked people of both sexes are moving through the same areas. Ah, Sweden!

The pool was very fun! Organic layout... lots of 'rivers' to swim down, bridges, 2 hot tubs, 2 kiddie pools, big waterslide, plenty of buttons to push to turn on water sprays or jets. There's a lap pool and a pool that starts indoors and is mostly outdoors, heated to a reasonable temp for winter swimming. Some people were even running down to the beach to jump into the freezing water and rushing back to the pool. A wall of windows gives a great view ontot the lake and mountains. I stayed with the kids while Pam checked out the variety of sauna activities. Hot saunas, cold saunas, Roman baths, Swedish, Finnish, and Blacksmith (?) baths... I'm quite looking forward to trying these out tomorrow!

A walkway from the hotel crosses over the railroad tracks to a shopping mall with a big grocery store. (This also connects to the train station, making a nice way to travel to Åre from Trondheim.) It's so much fun to shop in a Swedish grocery store -- so many new and different products, and the prices are very low. We'll do a big shopping trip on our way out of town. Mmmmm... bacon.

Here's the view from our window... a rich sunset over a Swedish lake. Nice!

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