December 26, 2014

The Value of Travel

Watch our update video here!
We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and can you believe it's just a few days until a brand new year?!?
We will be spending it in...POLAND!!! Ok, before you even start thinking things like, "Why would you want to go there? Isn't it poor? Aren't/weren't they communist?" Well, you get the idea and believe us that we had some of the same misconceptions about Poland.
It's unfortunate that Poland has had a tragic history and but you must think back even farther than the world wars to realize that Poland used to be a great power in Europe. Communism in Poland ended in 1989 and is rising nation once again as well as tourist destination. It is very fitting that their national anthem is called "Poland Is Not Yet Lost" because it is inspiring how after going through so much as a nation and people that they were never truly lost.
There are certain stigmas that we can get about countries, nationalities, religions and one has to wonder where they come from, especially when they can be hardly true! Does it come from movies, media, or its history giving a bad name? We think it's so important to question those before taking them as truths and a good way to do that is by traveling! We couldn't agree more with these quotes from Mark Twain,  

We realize that not everyone has the means to travel but it is so important to do it if you can; don't be afraid, step outside your bubble and explore this big wonderful world full of beauty and diversity! There is truly no better way that we know of to being a better citizen of this earth, to broaden your mind, and to learn how to love your fellow man than by traveling.
We are trying to take advantage of how easy it is to travel Europe from Sweden while we are still living here and we thought new year's eve would be a fun holiday to spend in another country. We decided to make it a quick and affordable trip and literally what we did was go on wizzair.com and tried to find the cheapest flights and the first one to peak our interest was Gdansk, Poland! We were blown away by the beauty of their old town and instantly captivated by its unique fairytale ambiance.
Only a few weeks before we did this we had been talking to a Swedish friend who is half Polish and he really opened our minds to how wonderful it is there and he helped us throw away those bad misconceptions we had about it. He explained how affordable hotels and food are there and you can eat amazing meals for such good prices (yes we are sure excited about that part!). We felt positively sheepish that in our minds we had pictured Poland in such an inaccurate way and it was never on our "to visit" list...until now!
We now want to take this lesson we've learned and try to apply it to all the stigmas we have about certain countries and nationalities. It's unfair to treat them as "guilty until proven innocent" or judge an entire country by either it's history or an idea that comes from media. Stereotypes often form because to be honest they usually can be somewhat true but would you want to be judged and put into a category according to an overall assumption? No, so we say DO YOUR RESEARCH and come to your OWN OPINION and most importantly, TRAVEL if you can! Stigmas and stereotypes can be apart of what makes up a country but it doesn't DEFINE them! 
As you can tell we are really passionate about traveling and most importantly learning how to become better citizens of this earth. We were really inspired by the thought provoking ideas that Rick Steve's has to share in this video about the value of travel, we'd really recommend taking the time listen and to reevaluate the stigmas you may have that you might not even realize!
Here's hoping all the best for you in 2015 and we are looking forward to share about our trip when return!
-Tales of Sheaves

December 19, 2014

Christmas Markets In Sweden

HAPPY HOLIDAYS and we hope you are having a wonderful winter season! Here's our newest vlog of the 5 Christmas markets we went to + 1 light festival in less than 6 minutes! We thought it'd be fun to go to as many festive activities we could find this winter. In Sweden in the winter it starts getting dark around 3pm and plus it being very cold it's easy to never want to go outside so finding fun stuff like this to do really lifts our spirits and brightens the dark days with the Christmas spirit!

We kicked off the fun when we went to a ljustfest/light festival at Runnviken which is a beautiful old mansion and Bed & Breakfast/Spa with the most beautiful grounds and overlooking a lake. It was just perfectly spooky for Lindsay' fall lookbook but we can only imagine how beautiful it would be in summer.
There was a craft fair inside of this adorable old greenhouse and we thought it looked absolutely enchanting illuminated with fairy lights!
There was also a small greenhouse with fairy lights, a little table with a candle, and benches with fur blankets, so cozy!
The first Christmas markets we attended was at Öster-Malma Slott
We can never get tired of exploring these kinds of old mansions and it was sure festive there with people bustling around, a fire pit going, and the smell of roasted almonds (a Christmas market must!) and glögg!
We thought this moose was very cool and unique!

And what is a Christmas fair without Swedish Christmas candy?!
We loved how they had booths set up inside the old castle gate houses
They also had things to buy in the old red cafe
What a beautiful location overlooking a lake
We actually went here at the end of summer and it is absolutely gorgeous here when everything is green
Öster-Malma also is a hunt school hence the rows and rows of antlers and hunting displays all over the mansion
This door was so beautiful, we wonder where it leads?
When exploring old mansions, never forget to LOOK UP!
The highlight of this markets was the delicous fika we had inside the mansion at a cozy table for 2 with a white chocolate brownie, saffron cake, and glögg. 
We couldn't help but take advantage of the beautiful backdrop for a few Christmas-y photos. 
The next thing we attended was a "julmys" (which basically means "Christmas cozy") in Old Oxelösunds Skärgårdsmuseet (archipelago museum) which is this charming old building by the sea.
 Oxelösund is known for his beautiful archipelago and the old buildings sure add the it's charm.
 It wasn't really a market but a few tables set up with Christmas crafts, a "loppis" (flea market) inside, with a fire going, and gingerbread & glögg!
Red mushrooms are often used as a part of Swedish Christmas decorations
A lighthouse glowing
On our way home from Oxelösund we saw that the local candle shop in an old red Swedish building was open so we popped in and couldn't believe how cute it was set up for the holidays.
Christmas market 3 was Nyköpings Julmarknad and we only took one photo because it wasn't very extensive but it was fun and we got some roasted almonds.
The 4th Christmas market we went to (and our favorite) was at Tullgarns Slott (yes another old beautiful mansion!) and we went with our friends Jessica & Thomas.
When we asked someone to take that photo of us the said that they had just heard the kind of Sweden was in the mansion, wow!
We went to the orangery first to hear the Christmas choir perform.
Their voices filled the room with beauty and we loved how they were dressed, sure added to that old fashioned Christmas feeling.
This Christmas tree was so beautiful
Then we headed into an old horse stable where the Christmas market was held! It was so cozy and we thought it was such a smart and cute idea how the booths were in old horse stalls and some were even set up so that people could sit and eat their fika from the cafe.
There were rows and rows of Christmas candy and Swedish Christmas crafts.
Isn't this window beautiful?
This julbock display was very impressive!

The last Christmas fair we went to was on an old farm called Lasätter Gård.
We thought the market in an old barn was so charming and this Christmas tree inside was something out of an old fashioned Christmas dream.
We had fika inside the teepee that had a fire pit going inside and it was a really fun atmosphere inside, if not a bit cold though! They had delicious waffles with their signature "fläder" (elderberry) syrup.
"Tomtensverkstad" (Santa's workshop)
Lasätter Gård was such a cute old farm with charming traditional red Swedish houses.
How cute and rustic are these old pails with poinsettias?
Have you attended any fun Christmas festivities this winter? Let us know and we want to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
-Tales of Sheaves