Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Oy, the wind! It's howling today -- the clouds cleared from all the rain overnight, but it was cold and very windy today as we walked through Gothenburg. It's the second largest town in Sweden, a huge shipping port, and has the buildngs to show for it; although only few of the 17th century buildings remain, most have been replaced by stone mansions along the canalfront and huge 1960s housing blocks south of the main part of the city. We went directly to the huge car-park near the bus station and left the car to walk around the older part of town, on a small island in the main canal -- the remains of the original walled city are very visible here.

We walked through the main pedestrian area of the city (lined with shops of every sort) and went to the cathedral (which is a very plain-looking building, actually). Inside, it's simple and nearly all-white. it does have some unusual details, though: along eah side of the church are glassed-in cases that look for all the world like tram cars (and the locals do call them "the trams", apparently) that were used for the private conversations of the bishops, and the cross hanging over the alter is an unusual sort: no christ on the cross, just his abandoned clothing. I probably wouodn' have even noticed this, to be honest, if every single guidebook hadn't mentioned it, but once you know that it's a rather weird version of things, it's hard to not notice.

The Fiskekirke ("Fish Church") is not really a church, and never has been, but it's the oldest indoor market in the city and while it's small compared to the others, the array of fresh fish here is amazing. People come from all over the city to buy fresh fish and prepared lunches. We were a bit early for lunch, but some of the shrimp salads looked amazing. Our primary goal, though, is Maritiman -- the "floating maritime museum" along the waterfront. Twenty boats of various types (from small local tug boats to a destroyer and a submarine) are tied up along the pier and are open for boat-nuts to poke into every nook and cranny. Not quite my cup of tea, but Mark loves it and clambered down into the submarine and into the engine rooms of the boats to look around.

We passed by the Stadmuseum (the city museum) and decided to have lunch in their cafe -which turned out to be one of the best lunches we've had so far -- the dagans ratt, or daily special: bread, salad, coffee, and a meat pie was excellent. We realized we needed to go back and plug the meter on the car parking, so we quickly went back to the car ad got another two hours of time, before walking through the botanical gardens to see the palm house -- a replica of the Crystal Palace -- and look at the not-quite-blooming-yet rose garden, which will be spectacular in the summer whne all three thousand plants are in bloom.

The central part of town around the main square and the central train/bus/tram station is filled with bicycles, and we stopped quickly in the the main station to look around. it's the oldest train station in Sweden,with lovely woodwork and decorative details. Our final stop before leaving the city was to see the Kronhuset - a 17th century brick building originally built as an artillery depot and now used as a concert space. The buildings wasn't open to look inside, but it is a good representation of what all the buildings in the main part of the old town would have looked like. For someone like me who likes old buildings, it's a gem. And, in the courtyard, there is a lovely bakery and chocolate shop. Can't beat that!

it's only about two hours down the coast to Hishult, so we have a pretty leisurely drive this afternoon, with a stop at the harborside fortress in Varberg -- which is very much like the star-forts we saw all along the coast in Ireland and Scotland -- obviously a very popular layout. The wind was so fierce that we were having a hard time walking up the steep cobbled lanes inside the fort...and of course mark went up on the battlements to peer over the very edge. I really shouldh ave demanded the car keys, just in case he pitched himself over the edge on a wind gust.

The GPS led us directly to Carolina and Christer's, and we settled in for the evening to catch up and drink coffee. We are staying in the little house that belonged to Christer's mother, which is just a short walk from their house. They are charming people, and we're really enjoying seeing them again (they visited us in Colorado about two years ago, as part of their trip to the US). They farm here ("as a second job, only in the evenings" Christer says) with sheep and five huge, fuzzy Highland cows. Carolina bought them, she said, and the seller was very concerned that they have "a good home", and even came to visit after they were here. We laughed and told her that she could never get rid of them now -- they would know.

Slept like rocks. Tomorrow -- off to visit more family!

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