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The most cold, damp and magical winter white town I have been that sits at sea level. Due to a last minute change in the World Cup schedule I got my ticket the day before I left. It took me 24 hours to get here from Park City… 4 planes later and an hour drive through the middle of nowhere, which I was told resembled the backroads of New Hampshire, I arrived at a cheerful bright lit up city. I realized a couple days in that it was so lit up because in the winter months it only sees daylight from sunrise sometime around 9:30 am and sunset sometime around 3:00 pm (and because of all the Christmas lights!) When it is the daylight hours it’s not a bright everyday sunlight. The sun stays low behind the mountains or clouds, making the first few hours of light a beautiful dawn and the last few hours a fiery dusk. Over the weekend it was always a soft light until the darkness set in again by 4 PM. Fighting jet-lag was no easy task in these conditions, but I set out to explore the city as much as possible.

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I think I fell in love with Åre because of the friendliness of the locals (they speak perfect English, so it’s easy to chat with them), the amazing shopping and really really good food all within small walking distance in the center of the ski in and ski out city center! I had one of the best dinners of the trip at the Liten Krog (the Reindeer was delicious!!!) right off the square and a couple doors down from a fun bar called Broken, that also served really good American bar food.

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Outside each little shop were some chairs with soft furs, candles or small fire pits. It had a way of making it look even more inviting to come inside and get warm. In all of the windows hung large stars, reefs or candelabras lighting. I would have bought so much more home decorations if I could have carried them home and was inspired to shop at Ikea when I get back!

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A couple mornings I found myself in the Åre Bageri which was a cozy cafe coffee shop at the edge of town. They served amazing pastries, sandwiches and great coffee! I kept going back for the sandwiches for lunch.

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I spent a couple evenings at the Åregarden hotel which I can only imagine has amazing accommodations. I went there to meet friends for a drink at their cozy lobby bar and went back to go to their Vinbaren wine bar.  The wine bar was also cozy and had an extensive amount of a wine selection and very friendly bar tenders. They let us try copious amounts and told us the hotel started first with the wine bar.

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One of the night while at the Åregarden bar I learned about the Swedish common phrase/moto LAGOM which means “Just enough,” “Not too much or too little,” “Just right,” “Enough to go around,” or “Fair share.” I thought it made perfect sense about my experience from the women’s amazing style with black and furs to the Christmas decorations in the windows, the decor in fancy hotel lobbies, the simple red houses, overall architecture and the openness of the locals to tourist. It was beautiful in Åre in just the right simple fitting kind of way!

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Åre sits on at the base of a rolling mountain on the edge of a frozen lake (see it to the right pictured above). One afternoon we rented skates to go out on the lake. The nice guy we rented the skates from told us on a good year the lake is frozen from Oct until May. The skates were similar to a snowboarding boot and then a very long blade part that we buckled the boot into. It took me a while to get a feel for them to actually start moving fast.

IMG_0894The shop told us we had to wear these ice picks around our neck with an attached yellow whistle (pictured below) in case we fell through the ice. This was unsettling, but he told me it was only precautionary and wasn’t likely to happen. Once we got to the lake there was a clear path that some sort of ice mover must have created, so I stayed on it because I was too scared to venture off otherwise!

IMG_0889We skated until it was dark out at 4 pm. The lake was still lit up bright from the lights reflecting on it from the ski hill and town.

IMG_0883 …3:45 PM looking back on the city!

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…next stop Italy and I’ve got to catch a flight….I really hope I make it back here someday!