One thing that made me decide to stay in Falun is the mine they have here which is supposed to be real interesting to go down into. After visiting other UNESCO World Heritage sites like Sigiriya and Galle (Sri Lanka), Ha Long Bay (Vietnam), Cordoba (Spain), Venice, Verona and Cinque Terre (Italy); I thought it would be worth a day trip. It’s not as beautiful as the aforementioned places, but then again, what did I expect… it IS a deep dark mining cave! What made it astonishingly interesting was how the mine itself evolutionized the Swedish (and even man, in some some ways). Because of this mine (mid-13th century), the first hospital in Sweden was set up, the first technology university started (19th century) and other important technological advancements that was recognised in Europe.
Anyway, I’ll start from the beginning of my day..! First of, I was rushing out of my room till I forgot my map. Then I forgot to pay attention in the bus and I overshot my stop -_- Luckily it wasn’t a far walk to get another map, and I stepped into a sushi place next door for lunch. Was quite relieved to have some sushi! Though it can’t compare to what I get in Malaysia. I paid 85 kronas (RM42) for this. For the same price in KL I could have got a MASSIVE SET MEAL. OK I’ll stop thinking about this!
Moving on! I slowly made my way by foot to the mine, which took me roughly half an hour. I don’t know, I wasn’t keeping time. That’s the awesome thing about being on holiday alone… if you don’t feel like knowing what time it is, you just don’t bother. I didn’t check the time ALL DAY (OKAY. Also I forgot my phone today heh.) Took lots of pictures on the way.
Now you know what I mean about not being able to read road names? As I read it in my head, my brain interrupts itself and goes WHAT?!
I took this route because the tourist info people told me that these are the houses in which the miners used to live in. Everyone’s windowsills were decorated with toys and decorations – was so nice to observe.
As I approached the mining area, I noticed the stones on the ground are more orange rubble than anything else.
I paid 210 kronas (RM100) for a guide into the mine and all access to the museums and transport around the area. ‘Twas my luck there was an English-speaking tour shortly, so I waited at a tall bell tower which was rung when the guide was getting everyone to gather around. Before we entered the mine, we were ushered to a room where we donned safety helmets and waterproof capes.
Ulrika, our guide, showed us what copper looks like when it’s mined, and how it looks like when it’s a finished product.
She brought us in via the VIP entrance. In the past, all Swedish Kings and Queens had visited the mine before (tho not necessarily going down into it). Once we were in, we had to watch out for particular parts of the rock roof which were low (not like it mattered to me cos I wasn’t blessed with height) and the ground was really wet. I got a bit of water into my shoes but… those shoes have gone through a lot worse at the festival so I wasn’t bothered.
Thanks to reading Fall of the Giants (boring book by Ken Follet I didn’t finish), I knew some background about mining and tools that miners use. So it was interesting for me to see it in real life (FYI, the mining part in the book wasn’t boring. It was much later when the war was going on that I snoozed and skipped pages and finally gave up.)
Ulrika showed us the torches the miners would light, and the barrels they would drink water from (temp in the mines then shot up to 50°C so the miners needed lots!). She even showed us how the thick wooden straw didn’t reach the bottom of the barrel… so that they wouldn’t drink the dirtiest part of the water. She also mentioned how the barrels were cleaned twice yearly (gag!)
We walked to a shaft where the men, water and minerals were brought up and down back in the day. Oh btw, the mine didn’t only have copper in it, it also had gold, quartz and a whole heap of other ores and minerals I saw on display in the museum later on. Anyway, I digressed. Back to this shaft. She pointed at the big metal bucket and said that eight men could be lowered at one time by each having one leg in the bucket and one arm on the chain. Jeez can you imagine? You couldn’t live long if you were a careless miner! Also, there was no way of stopping the lowering once it started, so if they miners wanted to get off at certain levels, they’d have to swing the giant bucket from side to side, and JUMP off at the right time. 0_o And you think traffic jams are a job hazard…
The rope for this bucket used to be made of ox hide, and hundreds of oxes would be killed each year to make the strong rope. This resulted in having a lot of ox meat, which was all made into falukorv aka Swedish sausages, which is famous here. Obviously in this day, the sausage meat has been replaced with pork or other meat since there’s no more old school mining rope needed = no more ox meat.
In another part of the cave, Ulrika switched off the electric lights, and then her lamp to show us how dark it was for miners if they say, dropped their lit torches on the wet ground. It was PITCH BLACK. So black that there was no darkness for my eyes to get used to, cos not a bit of light was available. I think the five of us tourists must have been looking around us blindly going, “Urm okay, you can turn the light back on nowwwww”
Ulrika told us the story about the most famous miner in Sweden – called Fet-Mats. I thought he got famous because of some wonderful achievement he did, but luckily the story is more interesting than that. Fet-Mats was a miner who suddenly disappeared in 1677 cos he went into the mine by himself at night (tho noone knows why). Just so happened that when he was in there, that portion of the mine collapsed and because there were other parts the miners were concentrating on, nobody worked on clearing the area till 42 years later, when they’d run out of minerals in those other parts. When Fet-Mats’ body was discovered, he still looked like he was just sleeping, cos the vitriol in the mine (sulphuric acid that prolongs decomposition) had preserved his body. Nobody knew who he was and they brought his body up to identify him. After some time, an old lady turned up and identified him as her fiancee that suddenly disappeared 43 years prior. What a tragic story! How sad right! It’s like a Titanic moment.
Anyway, it was decided that they’d place his body in a museum for tourists to see, but after 30 years the lack of vitriol made the body decompose pretty badly (Ulrika said it prollie smelt too) so it was buried in a church. To cut a long story short, they lost his remains, rediscovered it, displayed it again, and finally buried it for the last time in 1930. Can you imagine… this poor man’s remains moved around for centuries just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Glad to be out in the sun again!
I got on a wagon that was pulled around by a tractor to visit the mining area. Got myself some pistachio and pear glass (swedish ice cream) that I daresay can CHALLENGE Italy’s gelato… The pear was seriously something. I’m gonna be dreaming of pear glass after this… sob.
This little toddler waddled around making sure everyone’s door chain was latched, aww!
I couldn’t stop gaping inwardly at the smallest things: Water reeds! I’ve never seen so many water reeds before! Wow… forest with skinny trees, all close to each other! I wish I wasn’t alone so someone could play hide and seek with me!
On the way home i stopped by a bakery and asked the cashier to recommend a dessert. She said she personally loves päronbiskvi and i bought a takeaway without hesitation.
Gorgeous fields on my walk home from the bus stop.
Chores one cannot avoid doing when traveling for long periods of time…
I rewarded myself with päronbiskvi and it was absolutely SUBLIME! It’s like a hollow biscuit with THICK PEAR CREAM loaded in the middle, and coated on the top with chocolate.