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Sweden

Sverige

d

Four days on the south coast of 

Sweden

 

A classic "Woodie" cruises past near Karlskrona, Sweden

 

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Our original thinking was to travel up through the Baltic States, then to Finland and then through central Sweden to Denmark.  However we became tardy and decided that that tour at this time would require a greater rapidity than we prefer.  Thus we next thought to take a ferry from western Poland direct to Copenhagen.  

 

However on a moments notice we chose to take an overnight boat from Gdynia, Poland to Karlskrona, Sweden.

 

 

 

 

Without any preparation what so ever, we entered Sweden at 8 AM on a Tuesday morning and decided to begin our tour right there.

And to our joy, the Tourist Information system in Sweden is the best we have seen.  Any town worth its herring has an office stock full of multi lingual brochures and a knowledgeable staff.  

 

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Karlskrona

After the busy-ness of the streets in Turkey and the old East Bloc, we found the empty streets of small town Scandinavia - well quite frankly - boring.  Seems we got accustomed to chaos.

Here we see the splendid main square and one of the two venders of the open air marketplace.

 

 

 

Karlskrona (Carl's Crown) was established in 1680 as a pre-planed Naval Shipyard, base and town.  The base is still one of the most important Naval facilities in Sweden.  Heretofore the land was occupied by a farmer who thought his land was worth more than the Crown was willing to pay.  Ten months in the Royal Slammer convinced him of the fairness of the King's offer.  It has one of the largest Baroque city squares in Northern Europe and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

 

 

Maritime Museum

 

One of the best museums of its type in the world.  The heart of the collection and display is the former Royal Navy's model collection.  These were not just display pieces, these were exact copies - plank by plank - of real naval vessels.  The purpose was to aid ship design, construction and utilization - without the cost of real ships.  These vessels served to educate all levels of Swedish Naval officers for over 300 years.  Other displays included sailing ship Figureheads, which were surprisingly large pieces.

 

Models of this detail helped the shipyard in planning and construction and enabled better cost estimating.

Land support structures were also modeled.  Here is a miniature working Mast crane as well as a number of other ship machinery pieces.

In my experience, the only thing comparable is the miniature ship collection of August Crabtree in the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia.  Mr. Crabtree built each vessel plank by plank from the keel up in an exact duplication of the ship builders art.

 

 

 

 

 

Glass World

Thirty five miles north of Karlskrona is a gently rolling woodland area with a small number of villages that are world renowned because this is the center of Sweden's Crystal industry.

 

 

And though we stopped in a number of villages, we spent most of our visit in the Kosta factory of the Kosta Boda Company, one of the world's premier crystal makers.  Turns out that Judy has been here before - in her previous life as a retailer of Swedish Crystal.  She reports that much has changed in 25 years.

And though we did not get the VIP tour like she received back then, we were allowed, along with every other tourist, to move freely around the factory floor.

 

 

A Suing Lawyers Best Dream

In the fire and sharp shards industrial setting of the Stemware line for both Kosta Boda and Orrefors, we see the Missus bringing Junior directly to Hubby's workstation for a little chat.  Sure wouldn't happen in the good ole U S of A.

 

 

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Glimminghus

 

 

 

 

The fortified Manor House complex was begun in 1499 by a Danish Knight to protect his property and family.  (The province of Skane was Danish for a number of centuries until the early 1600's).  Today the complex houses a Living Museum of life in those times with costumed interpreters.  

Arriving late in the day in September we learned that the "season" in Scandinavia is July and August and not much of anything at all was going on there.

Driving through the southern Swedish coastal belt was a very pleasant experience.  Gently rolling farmland for the most part.

 

 

 

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Names

We are all familiar with the fact that in the good old days, Scandinavian men were named after their father and their last name would change to Neil's Son or some such.  But did you know that the naming of daughters (dotter) was handled the same way.

And here in the church yard cemetery of this fine looking church in southwest Sweden is evidence that that practice ended rather recently.  Much to the delight of Scandinavian genealogists everywhere.

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Ales Stenar

I could tell you about fiery Viking burials in stone ships.  I could write about ancient peoples who worshiped the sun or the moon and who built strange temples.  I could speculate about sorcerers who predicted the future from the stones.

I could.  But I would have to make it all up.

Ales Stenar ( Ale's Stones) is one of the largest ship shaped stone formations in Scandinavia.  There are many more, especially along the coasts.  What is known for sure about this formation is that the sun of the winter solstice rises in a line over the southeast point of the ship, while the setting sun of the summer solstice sets over the northwest prow.  That 5 out of 6 Carbon 14 dating tests showed a result of 600 AD.  And that the shape of the formation is the same as Viking ship designs of that time period.  Thus the official explanation is an unrisky middle of the road "could be" of each of the explanations above.

Google this entry and you  will find a number of academics who wish to argue this point or that.

Looking southeast

 

Located just a few miles east of the port city of Ystad, the site is a half mile up hill stroll from the small harbor at Kåseberga, at almost the most southerly point of mainland Sweden.

 

 

Here we see Papillon making the acquaintance of four German Reisemobils as the setting sun warms his back.

 

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The Ghosts of Vikings past observe your passage with the utmost curiosity.

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While Judy casts a wary eye toward the cliff edge.

 

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Kåseberga

Trelleborg

A city in Sweden, but also the word used to name six Viking age circular fortifications in Denmark and former Danish lands in southern Sweden.  One of which is located in the Swedish city of - wait for it - Trelleborg.

These 6 are the only ones yet discovered from that era.  The forts were built to protect the Vikings and their families from - you guessed it - other marauding Vikings. 

The Archeological remains are scanty at best but the recreated wall gives you an idea.  And the small embryonic museum shows some of the tools, jewelry, and artifacts from the period.

The Viking world at the turn of the first millennium was rather large and often based on trade, though spasms of violent raiding could break out at any time.  But by 1100 the Northmen were a fairly settled lot and raiding had ceased.

As traders they traveled far and wide, covering most of Europe.  Today's principal western Russian cities were all founded as Viking trading way stations, primarily on one of the interior routes to Constantinople.  (There is graffiti in the Hagia Sofia that states "Half Dane was here" though we did not see it).

As conquerors they controlled much of Normandy, England and Ireland, and they extorted tribute from most of the Baltic coast towns and monasteries.

Eventually they were converted to Christianity, settled down to city life and the coasts and estuaries of Europe no longer had reason to fear the Scourge of the Norsemen.

 

Hundreds of Rune Stones dot the landscape of Scandinavia.  These stones are basically funeral tributes to the dearly departed family member from those who stayed behind - for now.

 

Next - Denmark

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