Monday, April 20, 2015

Oregrund, Sweden

April 20, 2015

Took the bus and headed to Oregrund today. It's about an hour away by bus to the east and is a small, quiet harbor town. It was recommended to me by my friend Kenley. There wasn't a lot to do in Oregrund, but it was very lovely.

It is also the jumping off point to and from Graso Island. I have photos of the barge but did not make the voyage across the strait myself. A lot of people from Oregrund and Graso Island commute further inland for work.

Right on the sea, Oregrund is colder and windier than Uppsala, but it is beautiful. I went there mid-day and walked around the harbor and the town.

I went to the only coffee shop open, the Konditori, which was the only place with people. The town was so quiet. The coffee shop was a pretty pink building with white chair and tables and flowers inside. I got a coffee and sat and read my school book most of the afternoon.

I didn't really do much in Oregrund, but I did really enjoy getting out and being by the water.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Västerås, Sweden

April 10, 2015

Today, I went to to Västerås, a town about 1.5 hours west of Uppsala by bus. It is the fifth largest city in Sweden (Uppsala is fourth) and is one of the most industrial.

In fact, the first thing I noticed when I got off the bus was the giant ABB power plant. It's a huge building, Across the train tracks there were even more factories, but I didn't walk that way. Instead, I wandered through the lovely Vasa Parken and snapped that one mandatory photo of the castle in Västerås. It's a pink square building without adornments at all. It was where the King Erik XVI was imprisoned when his brother King Johan III overthrew him and took control of Sweden. It is this King Erik's statue that stands in the Vasa Parken.

I followed the river and walked past the Town Hall or Stadshuset as the Swedes call it. It's a beautiful white, gray, and blue building. The bell tower contains 49 bells that all go off at noon every day. It rings throughout the whole town, and while not a spine chilling experience, does have a nice ring to it.

The river leads to the Västerås cathdral where the tomb of King Erik XVI rests. It's my favorite cathedral I've been to so far in Sweden. It was so religious and so old. There were many graves that were buried in the floor of the church. I was walking on gravestones. The church was beautiful.

I wandered through the cathedral district and the old town, Kyrkbacken, which is the only remaining part of the town from the 18th century before a huge fire destroyed most of it. It's very medieveal with small, colorful houses and flowery backyards. The houses are labeled as to what type of people lived in them before in the old days. The labels are mostly in Swedish, but I did come across this cool literary gem:

Afterward, I went and ate lunch at a Coffeehouse by George. The only person in Västerås that I met who spoke English was the travel information center, so I had to order a salad in Swedish. For the first time. It was a nice lunch and the weather was warm.

The last place I made it to was Anundshög. It is an ancient Viking burial mound outside of the city. To get there you can take either bus 1 or bus 12 to the last stop and then walk 2 km across farmlands and follow the road signs. It's a completely different world than the city, and there's something really freeing about walking along the road in the middle of nowhere but knowing you are going somewhere.

Anundshög is a special place and very much worth visiting. They have a lot of hiking trails out there and a few other sites (like a labyrinth and a cathedral), but since I went at 3.00 I took the bus back after watching the sunset, so that I could make it home before nightfall. A lot of parents bring their kids out there for picnic lunches, especially when the weather is warm like today.

Västerås reminded me a lot of home, industrial city with a river running through it and farmlands on the outskirts.

I would like to go back one day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Swedes call it Göteborg

It's international name is Gothenburg. It's a city on the west coast of Sweden, and it is my favorite so far. I took the train from Uppsala to Stockholm and then from Stockholm to Gothenburg. I was only there for a couple days, but I greatly enjoyed my trip.

I left early Friday morning, slept on the train, and then went and had lunch at a really pretty cafe called the Eva Paley in Gothenburg. 


I walked around part of the city, through some University of Gothenburg buildings, and saw the Vasa Church (where I stepped inside to hear some organ music) and the Oscar Frederick's church. I saw the sunset from one of the high points of the city, the skansen kronan, a former fortress, and it was so breathtakingly beautiful. 

On Saturday, I took a walk through Slottskoganparken and the outdoor zoo there. I loved the zoo. It reminded me so much of home with peacocks running around everywhere. I have a magnificent photo of one male peacock who was so arrogant and beautiful. 

After my walk through the park,  I went to the Saturday market in Haga and bought a cinnamon bun from a street vendor. There were a lot of interesting pastries that people were selling, along with clothes, candles, herbs, teas, and soaps and other random items.

I visited Poseidon. I find it interesting how the Scandinavian countries connect to Roman-Greco mythology: Helsinki has Aphrodite, Gothenburg has Poseidon.  The statue is right in front of the konstmuseum which is a big building with very little art inside of it but is apparently world famous. I did enjoy the Segel Gallery ("the pink floor") which had some beautiful paintings, but most of the modern art fell flat for me. If I don't know what it means, how am I supposed to find beauty in it? Or is the point that there is not meaning other than the beauty of the art? But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Philosophy aside, I became a science geek and went to the natural history museum. The museum is impressive with its collection, but also eerily fascinating, because where did they get all these things. It reminded me of Mr. Venus's shop in Our Mutual Friend. I visited it after the zoo, and it was weird to go from living animals to the dead.

In my tour of the city, I walked past many university buildings, the Dutch church, Haga kyrka, the kronor building (which is one of the oldest buildings in Goteborg), and the Gustav Adolf square. I also went to the fish church and walked along the river.

I also wandered through another city park that had a palm house with roses and flowers. I love spring and was very happy by the flowers. They have started blooming here in Sweden.

I loved Gothenburg and want to live there one day. I love Sweden, and I can't believe I only have eight more weeks left in this amazing country.