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.