Have you ever seen those beautiful hand-painted red horses? The ones that have become the symbol of both the province of Dalarna, Sweden, and the country. These are handmade and hand painted very close to Mora. Why else would you visit Mora? It is situated on a beautiful lake, is the endpoint of the world famous Vasaloppet ski race, and has a cute downtown that is blocked off to motorists.
Why did I go to Mora, Sweden? I had heard that Swedes like to go to the lakes in the summer. They have lots of lakes in Sweden, so how was I to choose one? Well, back at home, I was looking at a guidebook I was borrowing from the library and found Lake Siljan, which is one of the larger lakes in Sweden. Next, I opened Google maps, centered it on Lake Sijan, and searched for hostels. One showed up in Mora, so I checked to see if the train went there. When I found out it does, I was decided. I figured that, in addition to visiting Stockholm, I would do what the locals do in the summer.
Go Where the Locals Go
Usually when I stay in hostels, I meet people from all over the world, and usually all over Europe in particular. However, in Mora, I only met Swedes. I guess what I had heard was right; Swedes like to go to the lakes in the summer. In the hostel, there were more private rooms than most hostels I stay in, and Swedish families occupied them. There were only a few of us in the bunk room. A Swedish woman I met in Norway had told me this would likely be the case. A wonderful benefit of this is that I had a lot more opportunities to talk with Swedes and learn about their country than if the hostel were filled with people from other countries.
Mora is not a very large town, but they have a walking street with shops, cafes, and restaurants that is very nice. At one end, there is a church, adding to the beauty.
It isn’t very large, but it is quaint and just the right size for me. I enjoyed my coffee outside, as well as poking around. Other travelers I met found some nice shops for buying nice things. I didn’t notice any of the standard tourist trinkets; just nice things to buy. Probably because many of the travelers are from Sweden rather than from further away.
Rent a Bicycle
Like I did all over Scandinavia, I rented a bicycle to get around. My hostel had a couple nice inexpensive ones, so I rented one from them for a couple days.
My first destination was the little island of Solleron. Why? I was told there is a Viking cremation grave with a little museum there. This sounded interesting to me, so I set off with my city bike to pedal the almost 10 miles located mostly on paved bike paths.
The ride was pleasant, and the island very cute. Talk about getting out there into the countryside. I loved the tiny little roads with hardly anyone on them. The Viking cremation grave was interesting, and they had a printed guide in english that I was able to take with me. I walked quite a bit on the mown paths, learning all about what was found, and taking in the beautiful scenery around me.
When I was done, I wandered around the island on my bicycle and found a dirt road and dirt paths that led me to the lake and along it. I was amused thinking about the city bike I was riding more like a mountain bike. The quiet spot I found on the lake was very peaceful and beautiful.
Nusnas, Where the Dala Horse is Made
For my second day with my bicycle, I decided to go see where the iconic Dala horses are made. This time I only had to bike a little over seven miles to get to my destination, on quiet little roads through the countryside. The Dala Horse Factories of Nusnas are located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and trees in the distance. They have a good size parking lot and picnic tables for visitors. I liked getting away from the town into such a beautiful spot.
Inside the factories, you can watch the different stages of the dala horse creation, all the way from the first cut of the wood to the last dot of paint added by paintbrush.
I very much enjoyed watching this process and understand why these horses are so expensive. There are a lot of people involved in this process from the skilled carpenter using the heavy machinery, the detail-oriented people sanding each horse to the right smoothness, the paint loving people dipping the horses in a bath of red paint, and the skilled artist painting the beautiful design onto each horse.
Have you been to this part of Sweden? What did you enjoy while you were there? Comment below.