Sweden · 8 Days · 32 Moments · December 2017

Steven's adventure in Sweden

10 December 2017

To the best of our knowledge, there is no such thing as an overweight Swede. You might say they are consumed with fitness. This photo was taken in our hotel room the other night.
A tourist moment in front of the Stockholm Opera House.
On the way back from the museum we stopped into a 7-11 (yes, you read that correctly) for some snacks and had a good natured conversation with the clerk about our President, a conversation which has been repeated everywhere we go. Leaving the store, we were considering fronted with a pro-Palestininian protest march excoriating the President's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Video of the march is ony FB page.

9 December 2017

Weighing 1200 tons, the Vasa was apparently both top heavy and too narrow to be seaworthy. Its armament was also too large, contributing to its short life span.
The Vasa was incredibly ornate, as subsequent photos will attest. It was raised in 1961 and underwent a restoration lasting almost 20 years. It remains the largest and most extensive restoration of a ship in the world, with about 98% of it original. The museum was quite literally built around the ship and today attracts about a million visitors annually.
Originally, the boat was painted in bright, vivid colors. This representation illustrates how the stern looked in 1628.
The Swedes acknowledge their greatest maritime disaster was turned into its greatest success with the installation of the Vasa in its own museum after just over 330 years underwater. Oddly, had the Vasa not sunk almost immediately it would not be around today.
This photo of the stern shows just a few of the carved sculptures decorating the bout throughout.
The highlight of Stockholm was a visit to the Vasa Museum, home of the ship Vasa. The Vasa was commissioned by the king of Sweden in 1626 and completed in 1628. It was one of the first ships in the world with two gun decks and was built expressly for the purpose of establishing Sweden as a naval power. It's maiden voyage, just off the coast of Stockholm, was a moment of great national pride and most of Srockhom's 10,000 residents watched as the Vasa set sail. The voyage lasted 15:00, at which point the Vasa sink just offshore.

8 December 2017

By the way, apologies for some of these shots being out of focus. After careful analysis My bro, a professional photog, made me feel better by insisting it is equipment and not operator error. We have a workaround going forward.
The short tunnel at the end of the drawbridge on the way to the inner courtyard.

7 December 2017

For reasons I don't understand, these windmills are a ubiquitous presence on Oland Island. Kalmar and the island are on the east coast of Sweden, across from Gothenburg on the west coast.
Okay, I'm digging the new rig. So it goes.
The tourist in action. EVERYWHERE we go we hear about our president, by the way. A typical conversation goes something like this recent one at check in at a hotel: Me: I'm from the United States and no, I did not vote for Trump. Her: What is wrong with him? He doesn't seem like a very nice man? Me: I have no idea. We are as troubled, likely more so, as the rest of the world. Her: No matter. He won't last long. Me: Why do you think that? Her: Because he can't. You people are better than this. The name of the hotel, of course, is the Hotel President.
From Kalmar it was across a beautiful four mile bridge to the vacation island of Oland. It reminded me a bit of our Outer Banks off of North Carolina. Here we are in front of Oland Slott. Much smaller than Kalmar Slott it sits almost exactly across the Kalmar Strait from Kalmar Slott. Unlike the behemoth across the way, the best preserved castle in all of Scandinavia, this one is more or less an outer fortification and not much more. Still impressive, however.
No "dilly dilly" and a miscreant offering something other than the right brew and here's where you find yourself.
Came across this incredible bike shop, a chain of about twenty throughout Sweden. Sort of like the reality show "Fast and Loud" this store offers custom paint jobs starting at $500. The Specialized Shiv in this photo is not EXACTLY my style but wow is it eye-catching. The guy at the store had no idea what this job cost but laughed and said it was well in excess of $500.
The courtyard.
I find myself listening to BBC coverage of the fires threatening my hometown as I write about our roadtrip in Sweden but I'll press on. Construction of Kalmar Slott (Castle) began over 800 years ago and it ultimately became the most dominant fortification in Scandinavia upon its primary completion well over one hundred years later. Imagine. It is closed for the season but is large enough to afford an interesting self-tour walking through its courtyards and inner perimeter. It's difficult capturing its immense scale in a few photos but it easily qualifies as one of the largest man-made structures I've ever seen. We were the only visitors on a blustery winter day although its grounds appear to be a popular dog walking spot for the locals of neighboring Kalmar, a beautiful seaside city about the same age as the castle.

6 December 2017

It was an incredibly windy, rainy day. Having been in low grade hurricanes the winds at the site were easily in excess of 70mph. This app does not permit posting of videos but I'll put one up on FB which illustrates just how severe the conditions were. Truthfully, it was fantastic and caused us both to repeatedly remark on how tough the Swedes must be.
Making the last point was this fellow who had just finished surfing in the Baltic and was readying his windsurfer to get back in. The water temperature was 41 Fahrenheit and I might add this was irrelevant to this guy. As we finished up I asked him his name. "Nemo" he yelled back. Too just can't make this stuff up.
For scale, here I am standing next to the rock at the far end of the formation and facing the Baltic Sea.
The Day Three (12/6/17) tour culminated with a trip to Ales Stenar in Ystaad. Often referenced as the Swedish Stonehenge, Ales Stenar sits on the cliffs above the Baltic Sea in an area the definition of "windswept". Much like Stonehenge, the boulders cast significant shadows at both the Summer and Winter solstices. They are shaped in the image of a ships' hull and so often referred to as a stone ship. Dating to 1624, Ales Staren sits on property originally owned by the cathedral in Lund, about a 90:00 automobile drive from the area.
The main cathedral in Lund was consecrated in 1145. An interior shot was difficult as the overhead light were a bit overpowering but we were nonetheless overwhelmed, all the more significant as we both swore "no churches or cathedrals". This one, however, is magnificent. Neither of us can quite figure out the lighted display on the property immediately behind the cathedral but it was eye-catching, particularly during the holidays.
Lund may well be the most alluring college town/city I've ever visited. The university celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2016 and dominates the city. Pictured is the front of the library which has a distinctive Hogwarts quality to it. Lund University advertising itself as one of the world's top 100 universities. It feels much like an oversized Cambridge. The foyer makes this Harry Potter observation clear. Here Spen relaxes against a supporting column.
Setting off from the small town of Angelholmes early this morning my brother made certain the potato chips were secure. First stop was Lund University, the second largest university in Sweden and home to 47,000 students.

5 December 2017

Me in front of Visitor Center. Here my brother and I in the delivery room. Appropriately named as the tour of the factory in which the car is manufactured is like watching a birthing process. A few nuggets: * The portion built in 1964 has the longest corridor in the world, so long one cannot see from.ome end to the other due to the curvature of the earth. * One car rolls off every minute. They are working longer her hours this month as a record is in reach. * Two robots, massive machines which look like Transformers, outnumber humans 2:1. They really are taking over the world (the robots, not Volvo. * For Volvophiles, however, this is the best: the iconic diagonal bar across the Volvo grill original was applied to keep the grill from falling off. Best as I can tell it has outlived its original purpose. Later -