Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sweden

We entered Sweden following the loads of holidaying Norwegians on the sunny Bohuslan Coast.  Our fist lunch overlooking the bay in Stromstad with all manner of smoked herring and salmon and a caper vinaigrette potato salad was delicious too!  The coast is known for it's red granite and many bays.  It was pretty and in addition we got to see some interesting iron age rock carvings and a stone ship setting.  These ship settings are similar to the stone circles found in the UK with large stones arranged on their ends.  These are in the shape of a boat and gradiated in size rather than the ones we see in the UK.  Some are associated with burials but the largest is likened to Stonehenge with an alignment to the suns Midsummer/ winter axis alhtough exactly what it means is unclear.

Continuing south to Gothenburg we tried a typical Swedish import - Kebab Pizza.  It was better than expected but not to end up on my list of things to eat regularly.  Basically it's a pizza where the meat is like on a kebab and then after it is cooked they sprinkle over lettuce, mayo and pickled chillis like a kebab.  Wild. It was nice to stay in a hotel and do some work. Don't dispair, we did get to more cultural spots with trips to the botanic gardens, wandering the moated old town and the "Fish Church" (market). Then onto a warehouse turned modern art space down the river by ferry (sadly in pouring rain) and then onto the Art Gallery.  They had some interesting impressionist works as well as an eclectic sculpture collection.  We were lucky to have Gg's friends advice and enjoyed a delicious modern swedish meal at Famaligen.

We then cut through a large bit of the middle in a day stopping at Orebro with a little castle and then for great icecream in a little wooden town - Nora and then searched out Angelsburg.  Angelsburg is an old ironworks with a wooden forge on a lake.  In retrospect it wasn't really near anything else but it was an adventure and probably would be much more exciting when they are in costume demonstrating it all in high season.  It did however give me the oportunity to make a new (and unlikely to be found on a local's table) version of Swedish meatballs - ratatouille style!



The next day we visited a stone carving depicting Sigurd's story.  This complex tale went on to inspire a famous icelandic saga and even Lord of the Rings.  Uppsala is a great university town and historic centre in Sweden's history.  We ate in a cool restaurant where there was a good number of locals under the base of the Cathedral and then wandered around before retreating to the art gallery when it rained.  It was fortuitous we did though as they had a great exhibition by Christian Partos.

Our final stop was Stockholm.  We found a nice camp site on the edge of the lake and a short trip into town with (undexpectedly) a great Thai restaurant.  This proved a good base for a hectic couple of days taking advantage of the Stockholm card multi museum entry.  We saw all sorts of royal in the Gamla Stan (old town) Palace.  Some of their old finds of ancient crowns and armour and clothing from centuries ago were particularly interesting. After a wander in the narrow cobbled streets we then went on to the Vasa museum.  This huge 300 year old ship was rebuilt like a giant jigsaw puzzle after it was found at the bottom of the harbour in the 60s.  It is ridiculously ornate and probably sank on its maiden voyage because it was so big/ tall for the size of it's keal.  A fascinating piece of work to have it now looking complete and on display though.  The Nordika folk art and design museum had thought provoking and fascinating exhibitions of Sami (indigenous "Lappland" people who live in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland) objects, art and their fight for recognition of their traditional lands.  We finished a beautiful sunny day cruising the waterways enjoying the view.  The next day the weather stayed on our side and didn't rain until we'd explored the grounds of Drottinghom Palace which is out on one of the many islands of Lake Malaren that make up outer Stockholm.
It is the summer palace of the King and has a theatre that is still in original condition since the 18th Century.  Fabulous with impressive set changing mechanics.  The Chinese pavilion was classic royal fantasy on the time and fascination with the "Far East".  We had run out of steam for more Royal rooms but the cafe did a great traditional meatballs with a pleasingly not as sweet as many ligonberry sauce.  They also did a princess cake named after the youngest princess Estelle.  It is pink like the Ikea one rather than the usual Green and was a cut above with Raspberry mousse inside.  In evening after a cool exhibition on cycles at the design and modern art museum and rejuvenating ice cream at 18 Smakers (18 flavours) we went to Fotografiska.  This is an amazing photography museum with several photographers doing special exhibits.  The Sebastiao Salgado Genesis exhibition was fabulous and brought back great memories of many of the amazing places we've been lucky enough to see, especially in Patagonia, as well as inspiring many more places to explore!  The Lisa Ross Sacred places from the Muslim Chinese deserts near Tibet was totally different but I found fascinating. (http://fotografiska.eu/en/utstallningar/utstallning/living-shrines/)  I was sad they didn't have a catalogue or post cards.  The cafe up top had great views over the city.  The next couple of days we relaxed a bit more wandering around town exploring different suburbs and had an enormous sunday brunch. Apparently buffets are the thing around here!
Now on to Aland and then Finland proper.




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