Monday 10th September, 2007
Tuesday 11th September, 2007
Wednesday 12th September, 2007
Thursday 13th September, 2007

Monday 10th September, 2007

Drop Cap t has been a long travelling day today. We have just arrived in Stockholm and it is 2135. We received an extremely early wakeup call at 0330 this morning to the sound of shells and heavy machine gun fire. No one could explain it in the morning, or the siren accompanied convoy with motorcycle cops and large blocky official looking vehicles which occurred later. So it was a rather disturbed night.

Approaching Sweden photograph

Approaching Sweden by Ferry

Drop Cap fter breakfast we convened to get the ferry to Sweden. It left at 1000 and arrived in Goteborg at about midday. It was an uneventful crossing but, approaching Goteborg we were among an archipelago of small islands and there were all sorts of ships, boats, navigation buoys, lighthouses and bridges as we sailed into the middle of Goteborg.

Approaching Sweden photograph

Approaching Sweden by Ferry

Drop Cap ac's impressions of the day include the Stena Ferry we caught; it was a catamaran hull, powered by large water jet engines and the skipper manoevred it very well. He also records the incredible number of wind (generating) mills all over Denmark, and about the first thing we saw in Sweden as well. By 2030 they expect to be generating 30% of their power by wind in Scandinavia. They are very environmentally conscious here, even heavy industry is not grimy.

Goteborg Harbour photograph

Towers on Goteborg Harbour

Drop Cap e were soon back on the coach and heading for Stockholm. We had a late lunch stop at a road house in a lovely spot overlooking Lake Vattern. Unfortunately, however, it was drizzling rain from the moment we arrived in Sweden, despite the sunshine of the trip over. After quite a large meal we went on again, travelling through thick forests of silver birch and pine. We saw several lakes and rivers and a glimpse of the famous Gota Canal, designed by the ubiquitous Thomas Telford, which crosses Sweden from East to West.

We saw several red deer in forest clearings, but no moose, despite the signs. Into Stockholm quite late, we had a Tex-Mex meal at a sport bar attached to the hotel and returned to crash.

Drop Cap e have a town tour tomorrow which takes in the Vasa ship and the Nobel Prize room. A free afternoon in which, at the moment, we plan to have a look at the Old Town and maybe do a cruise around the hundreds of islands which make up the Stockholm archipelago. Or not, if it is raining or our feet give out.

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Tuesday 11th September, 2007

Stockholm City Hall? photograph

Ceiling of Main Council Hall, Stockholm City Hall

Drop Cap oday we had a half day city tour which took in two remarkable sights - the City Hall and the Vasa Galleon.

"The City Hall" doesn't sound much but it was an astonishing architectural mish-mash, built early last century and combining many architectural styles and periods. Remarkably, it seems to work and the rooms are amazing. They hold the Nobel Prize Banquet and Ball here every December, the local council meets here every three weeks, many council employees work here and it would be a lovely place to work.

Drop Cap ne hall has a painted ceiling with decorative painted rafters forming a framework underneath in Viking style, I think, and the major hall is lined with gold mosaics in real gold! Fantastic.

Drop Cap fter doing some souvenir shopping we went on through the Old Town, which was in a state of ferment owing to a state visit by the President of Brazil and an incipient parade. People and police everywhere.

Vasa Model photograph

Scale Model of the Vasa Galleon, Stockholm

Drop Cap hen we arrived at the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a Galleon built in the 1600's which capsized and sank on its maiden voyage, out of the dockyard. Like the Mary Rose in Britain it sank in the silt and the brackish Baltic waters, which were not salty enough for shipworms, kept it preserved. It was salvaged in the 1950's and is preserved in polyethylene glycol which they sprayed on it for seventeen years before building the museum around it. It is fantastic, with carvings all over the stern. The carvings were once painted brightly and gilded, it must really have been a sight - briefly! It is a terrific museum.

Drop Cap y camera, which has been signalling low battery since Tivoli, finally lost patience and said "Change Batteries Now" - so we did. The first set has lasted since April, when we bought it, so I don't think that is too bad.


Drop Cap fter opting out of any more sightseeing and coming back for a good nap, we gathered at 1700 to go to the waterfront and catch a ferry. We had a half hour ride through the islands and, despite the light drizzle, it was magical. I wished I had brought the camera. It was beautiful with Autumn foliage starting to show and swans bobbing in our wake.

When we arrived at our stop we drove through lovely woods and lakeland to a country restaurant where we had a very pleasant set dinner of prawn salad, choice of venison or salmon and apple pie. We had the venison, it was a stew, very tasty although a trifle tough, with rice and a few veg. All in all it was a very good night and we all seemed to enjoy it.

Back to the hotel by 2125 to pack and have the bags ready to go out by 0700 and leave by 0800.
A tourist's lot is not a sleeping in one!

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Wednesday 12th September, 2007

Sigtuna Lake photograph

Beside Lake Malaren at Sigtuna

Drop Cap oday was a relatively leisurely day as we went out of Stockholm and through suburban type areas until we reached the lovely little village of Sigtuna on Lake Malaren.

Sigtuna Bandstand photograph

Tiny Bandstand at Sigtuna

Drop Cap his pretty place has a lovely church, St. Mary's, with a herb garden and the ruins of St. Olaf's monastery, which was dissolved in the manner of Henry VIII when the country went Lutheran. There is a tiny Town Hall, supposedly the smallest in Scandinavia, cobbled main street and a picturesque walk by the lake. The park has a tiny bandstand which looks like a rotunda cut in half. It was a gem. Mac was delighted to find the first cat he has seen in Scandinavia, a black and white one in a shop window which was prepared to rub against him even through the glass.

Uppsala Cathedral photograph

Uppsala Cathedral, Sweden

Drop Cap hen back on the bus for another leisurely drive to Uppsala, the second largest town in Sweden. It is the site of the oldest University in Scandinavia, 14th Century. Here we explored the beautiful cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Sweden, St. Erik. The cathedral is painted inside like a medieval parchment illumination. It is quite lovely.

Dalarna Horse photograph

Giant Dalarna Horse at Lunch Stop

Drop Cap fter some coffee we went on our way again, through lovely rural forested and agricultural scenery. Mac saw a couple of trains today so his cup runnethed over. One cat, two trains.

We had lunch at a roadhouse with a very large Dalarna horse out the front. (We will be seeing the factory tomorrow.) Then on to Falun, capital of Dalarna province, to a very nice hotel in the centre of the Old Town.

Guide at Larson's house photograph

Guide at Carl Larson's House, Sundborn, Sweden

Drop Cap n hour later, a small group of us gathered for the optional tour to Carl Larsson's House. Larsson was the national painter of Sweden, very well known here if not elsewhere and loved by the Swedes.

Carl Larson hydro works photograph

Carl Larson's Hydro Electric Works

Drop Cap is home in the idyllic village of Sunborn was a dream. The house, which consists of several small cottages joined together, is painted all over inside with pictures of his family and their life there. He was very talented and seemed to be able to turn his hand to many things. He even designed a hydro-electric plant on the river close by to supply power to his home and it is still turning turbines today. We visited his grave in the local churchyard, beautifully sited by the lake, or river.

Sundborn photograph

Sundborn, near Larson's House

Drop Cap ack in Falun, we had dinner with the group at the hotel. Asparagus soup, Swedish meatballs, very nice, and apple crumble slice and custard.

Tomorrow afternoon we reach Norway. Please let the weather be good for a week!

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Thursday 13th September, 2007

Horses photograph

Rosemary with a pair of Dalarna Horses

Drop Cap ut of Falun today, our first stop was at Nusnas where they make the famous wooden Dalarna horses.

These are a symbol of Sweden and you see them everywhere, primitive carvings (as in primitive art) brightly painted with primary colours and flowers etc.

We had a small demonstration of the carving and painting of these horses which come in every size from life size rideons to tiny. We were trying to get rid of all our Swedish money while still leaving enough for lunch, so we did not buy a biggish horse, but I bought a pair of tiny ones on earrings for Radha.

In the showroom was a large and very fluffy black and white cat, so Mac was happy too.

Dalarna chicken photograph

Dalarna chicken

Churchboat photograph

Churchboat, Nusnas

Drop Cap utside we found, not only other painted animals, like a large chicken, but a preserved "churchboat". These boats were used in the 18 - 1900's, when there were few roads in the area, to take whole villages to church. You can see how they are a descendant of the old Viking ships.

Drop Cap e went on until we reached Salen, a small town, at lunchtime. While the others allowed themselves to be shepherded by Lene to a soup lunch in the main shopping centre, we went to the local supermarket (we needed mouthwash and bandaids) then repaired to the local burger joint and had a very pleasant burger and chips and a soft drink. They made the burger, then offered your choice of dressings and toppings. We ate out in the fresh air and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Troll photograph

Mac and Friend at Elvesun

Drop Cap fter a long drive through lovely pine forest and lake scenery we passed through into Norway and stopped at Elvesun, where we bought new batteries for the camera and clock, got Norwegian money from the ATM and bought some stamps at the Post Office.

Then on to Lillehammer, where we checked in, wrote and posted a card to Warwick and had a really nice pizza and caesar salad with a bottle of white wine for dinner.

Tomorrow, the fjords!

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