Last weekend I was whisked off to a castle in the South of Sweden for SlottFest 2010 thanks to the annual gathering of friends from Västervik, a tiny town on the East coast where my Niklas happens to be from (THANK YOU Joseph for organizing!!).
[slott means castle; fest means party = perfect combination]
The castle is called Örenäs Slott and is situated on Öresund, the body of water separating Denmark and Sweden. There’s only about 15 miles between the 2 countries at this point, so you can easily see across to the other side. Örenäs is the youngest castle in Sweden, built in 1918 – not so young by U.S. standards.
Sweden may not seem like such a large country, but it is in fact quite looooong. Stockholm is only about a quarter of the way up, from which it still takes at least 5 hours to get to the Southern-most region. And so Nik and I watched snow-covered fields turn to soggy, wet land on our train ride South before arriving in Lund and then continuing by train to Glumslöv, the nearest village to the slott.
Upon arriving, we checked into our room to find that we had a suite on the top floor with not 1 but 2 full bathrooms. I don’t really understand the rationale behind this, but I didn’t protest – it was gorgeous, bathroom(s) and all. Scattered throughout the castle were several salons with huge antique sofas and wing-back chairs crowded around ornately decorated fireplaces. I was happy to relax in one of these comfy chairs, where I could pretend to be royalty reigning over the surrounding sugar fields (who knew sugar grew in Sweden?).
At 7pm the night’s festivities began with champagne in the basement, a tastefully bare space with brick walls, low ceilings and cozy candlelight. Our party of 70-some then made our way upstairs for a 3-course dinner: skagen pate (skagen is an incredible Swedish dish: a combination of shrimp, dill, sour cream, etc mixed in the perfect ratio, usually served on toast); beef and potatoes with a delicious sauce (details are getting harder to remember at this point in the night); and for dessert, a chocolate mousse with Italian ice (of which I ate an extra serving, because for some odd reason I wasn’t full enough already).
I have never seen Swedes eat together in a large group without singing. Although I’ve been informed that songs are only for Christmas and Midsummer, the sopranos at this reunion were aplenty. I have no idea what the words meant, but almost every Swede knew each one. Most were accompanied by a toast at the end, and naturally, more toasts led to more singing, and so it went with song, toast, then a speech, toast then another song, toast and so on… toast…. toast
The last move of the night, upward once again, was to the salons for Baileys, coffee, Macmyra whiskey and dancing. The evening progressed as most do, messier with each passing hour, and the last guests were up well past 5am. I’m told there were only a dozen or so left by then. I’d given up my efforts to outlast the crowd and surrendered to sleep a couple hours earlier to the world’s softest bed. The weekend was definitely one to remember, my first – and hopefully not last – night in a real castle.