Into The Groove
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
83Trip End Sep 16, 2011
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Where I stayed
We typically clean the hotel on Sundays, which is the main changeover day for the guests. We also score some Thursdays, as it is also common for guests to take the Friday off and come up for the weekend. The size of the cleaning team varies depending on how many rooms need changed-over and what the cleaning demands are across the Duved / Tegefjall area – though the core "Renen" team quickly develops into Jennie, Lauren, Jim with the addition of some youngsters and occasionally Asa. Our heads always lift when we see Jennie and Asa joining us, as they are so quick the room cleaning flies by. Not so exciting is when the youngsters join us – these are 16 to 18 year olds who are kickstarting their experience in hospitality. One fellow "Anton" is a good worker, and is quickly spirited off to help with the apartments outside the hotel. Another couple we dub the “Wonder Twins” in recognition of their amazing cleaning speed. Jim and I are starting to get concerned about whether we are pulling our weight went it becomes apparent that the Wonder Twins are cleaning 4 rooms to our 1. Then its discovered they're not vacuuming the rooms or wiping down surfaces or cleaning the bathrooms. The final straw was reached when they're discovered sleeping in one of the rooms, following a big night out. So out they went !
Our work does not go un-noticed, and we also land a casual job cleaning the hotel restaurant once a week. The first clean is horrendous, but after that the clean is quick and efficient. What is satisfying is that the restaurant clearly feels much cleaner and fresher – Per the manager is impressed, he always comes in taking deep breaths and flinging his arms out, saying “ah – clean clean !”
Our recreation is, of course, skiing. January is the “get serious” month, and Jim takes a ski lesson then practices diligently on the Duved slope just outside. Lauren has also taken a ski lesson, and is growing more confident by the day on the intermediate slopes. Whenever there is a good snowfall though, Jim’s snowboard comes out to play !
We also learn cross-country skiing. Cross-country, or Nordic skiing, is very popular in Sweden – there are a good network of tracks right across the Are area. Fortunate enough to receive “lost never claimed” skis and boots, we take advantage of working for SkiStar and round off our kit purchasing 2nd hand gear from the SkiStar hire shop. Lotta takes us out above Bjornen, and we practice on the Duved exercise trails. We get confident enough to look forward to a day trip Asa has kindly offered to take us on. A stop in at Handöl, a soap-stone mining village, then its onto Storulvån for the cross-country skiing. It is a beautiful sunny day, and we work our way out through the snowy landscape, truly feeling we are in northern Sweden ! Asa finishes the day off by taking us to a nearby ice hotel built around the base of a waterfall, all frozen of course. The frozen waterfall is impressive, and we also found the ice hotel to be worthy of the visit, and in fact, being less commercialised than the original Ice Hotel we visited in Kiruna, we voted it a better experience in terms of charm and authenticity.
A visit to Stockholm is due, and we jump on the train to tour the capital of Sweden. Stockholm turns out to be very much a grand European dame of a city, very picturesque and carefully designed and maintained – the influence of having a historically long line of Swedish royalty living in the city. We walk around the harbor, full of ice, and visit the Vasa museum, where the ill-faited ship Vasa has been raised from the sea, preserved and placed on display, providing a fascinating illustration of 16th century Swedish sea-going life.
We are into February now, 2 months gone already, the snow season is starting to fire-up properly, the weather clear ( we see across the Are valley for the first time ), the daylight starting to lengthen ( no more pitch-dark at 3:30pm – yay ! ) Its time for another visitor – Jim’s brother Jeff and his snowboard are coming !