We all got up pretty early Friday morning (after a long night pub crawling) and met at 25 Studentvägen at 09:00 to get on the bus for Dalarna. I was super excited for this Friday trip because I’ve always wanted a real Dala horse and I knew we’d have some time to explore in the afternoon after we’d finished with all the planned things on our schedule. On the way, we saw this HUGE Dalahäst!
The trip took about two and a half hours and we arrived at the Falu Gruva copper mine in Falun at about 11:30. Its a World Heritage site and we were lucky enough to have a tour scheduled! I chose the English tour guide. I’m relatively sure that I can understand enough now to have gone on the Swedish tour, but I was really interested in the mine and wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss any cool information. I also know that if I had gone on the Swedish tour, I would have spent the whole time focusing on understanding the Swedish instead of enjoying the mine.
Here’s it is from the outside:
We had to put on rain capes and hard hats for our tour just to protect ourselves from the wet and muddy conditions inside the mine, as well as to protect our heads from the low tunnel ceilings. We looked pretty awesome ;)
The elevator was out of order so we got to take the stairs all the way down in to the mine (and back out again!). I was actually grateful that we got to walk because I’ve heard the elevator ride is a longgggg way down…
We knocked three times on the entrance to the mine before we went in to please the mine’s “ghost” that haunts the tunnels. Then.. off we went!
There were some really cool things to see all around us and throughout the entire mine. The old mining tunnels and tracks were eerie but spectacular! Our tour guide kept stressing the fact that every single hole, tunnel, and cavern was made by thousands of men. None of it is naturally occurring at all.
We arrived at a light part of the mine which was an opening outside to the top of the mine. There was a bell dinging that we could here from this spot which meant that the water pumps were working to keep the mine from flooding. If you didn’t hear the bell, it meant that someone had to act pretty fast to fix the problem. It was also how the men transported ore and copper in and out of the mines using a bucket and pulley system. So cool!
We went deeper and deeper in the mine, up and down stairs and muddy tunnels.
Here is one of the terrifying ladders that the men would climb up once or twice a day. They’d need both hands to hold on to this rickety contraption, so they’d hold their torches between their teeth. It is said that you could tell someone was a miner if they had no eyebrows or eyelashes because they’d been burnt off this way ;)
We arrived at a huge cavern that was lit with an eerie blue light. The cavern walls had caved in a time or two, so in the 18th century the miners decided to fortify the ceiling with a wooden structure. There is a particular quality to the air in the mine that preserves wood (and bodies, actually) so it’s survived in good condition even to this day. There are even older wooden braces dating back to the 16th century in the mine as well. We were at our deepest point in the mine in this room: 67 meters below ground.
Leaving this cavern, we came to the “wall of fame” inside the mine. Lots of celebrities and royalty have visited the mine over the years and were allowed to sign their names on the rock. At the top you can see the signature of Carl Gustav who is the current King of Sweden, and underneath him is Victoria’s signature- the Crown Princess.
There was a little museum outside the entrance to the mine as well as a small cafe. We went to grab a sandwich and I chose one that had salami, brie cheese, cucumber and bell pepper on soft ciabatta bread. It was delicious!
The next stop of the day was about 30 minutes away from the copper mine. We visited the home of Carl Larsson, a famous Swedish artist and painter, who lived on a spectacular piece of land right beside a lake. We got to take a tour of the home and see where he, his wife, and his 8 children lived and played. Lots of Larsson’s paintings were done of his children and his home, so it was interesting to see the setting in person and compare it to his art.
The gardens were beautiful and it couldn’t have been a more perfect day to relax and lay by the lake.
We went to an antique shop close by the gardens and I finally found a real Dalahäst that was whittled and painted in a nearby town in Dalarna called Mora. He’s so cute!
We also met this precious cat outside the antique shop who wanted to snuggle and sit in our laps. Too bad we couldn’t take him home with us! He tried to follow us when we left for a fika… I’m sure he wanted some too :)
All in all a beautiful day in Dalarna. Don’t worry– I remembered to get a jumping picture ;)