Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Farewell to G, Farewell to G

Alas all good things must come to an end. Finally it was time for G to depart from Sweden. The farewell dinner was held at Taverna Santorini in Karlskrona. It's a Greek restaurant, with lots of traditional blue and white decor. I had the Bifteki Alexsander, which was really tasty. Here are some photos from the evening.
First up are M, U, G, A and E.
On this side we have MS, S, T, H and B.
Here is everyone, well...almost everyone.
Here are H, B and G deep in conversation.
In this one, G is opening a gift, while M, U, A and E look on.
After dinner, some of us went to a British pub named "The Fox and Anchor". Here is its sign above the front door. Here is one of G himself, perhaps looking surprised at just how big the glasses are at this place. G flew home to Australia a couple of days later. Thanks for being such a great flatmate :)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Swoon at Härstorpssjön

I really was busy that weekend in August. I managed to fit in a trip to the local lake, Härstorpssjön, and locate another of the boundaries of Ronneby. Firstly, here are some sheep on a farm on Vierydsvägen.
Vierydsvägen is great to ride on, because there is a wide cycle path next to the road, and it's right next to farms with very green grass and some animals. Part of the way along is this "You are now leaving Ronneby" sign.

And now some images of Härstorpssjön itself. It's right near the apartment block. You just head down a very steep path and you're there. Here's a photo taken from near the bottom of that path.

And here is one taken right near the bank of the lake.

Finally, here is a panorama taken from up at the apartments. Sorry it's not the best quality.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Peek at Peking

A few days before the circus, G invited a few of us out to dinner in Karlskrona. It was my first time eating at a restaurant in Karlskrona (actually I'm trying to think if I had even eaten at a restaurant in Ronneby at that stage...) this trip. The place we went to is called the Nya Peking, located on Östra Vittusgatan. It wasn't too shabby. I think the thing that surprised me most was the set of poker machines just inside the entrance. The meal everyone seems to like here is "Tre små rätter" or sometimes you can order "Fyra små rätter" (3 or 4 small dishes). You can see G with his three in this photo, along with U and A, as usual taking a photo of someone. IMHO, G is doing the best impression I've seen of the sarcastic emoticon ^o)
Here is a photo of M with some isvatten and some of the gambling machines in the background.
As further note on gambling, I was surprised at a recent trip to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (a pub) to see a person working at a casino table - some sort of card game. I'm not really used to seeing that either, but I suppose given that they have computerised gambling machines, there's not much of a leap to employing someone in that same capacity.
I must add that MS was there at the Nya Peking too but he was pulling a face as he didn't want his photo taken, so to honour that, I'm not posting said photo.
Here's the yummy dish that I had - biff med ananas.
And finally, here is a photo of Karlskrona's Rådhuset (town hall) taken on a late summer evening as we were leaving. It was actually getting fairly dark by 21:25. By contrast, at time of writing two months later, sunset is at 16:27.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Nästa är Ronneby Blåsorkester

One day at BTH I picked up an events calendar of things that are happening in Ronneby in the second half of 2006. One item that caught my eye was a performance in the town square by Ronneby Blåsorkester, which I'm translating as wind orchestra. So the day after the circus, I headed into the centrum to see if I could see them.
When I arrived a couple of minutes after the scheduled start time, I could see the square was full of people and things going on. I looked around and saw a stage. There was someone playing a cello and someone else playing an accordion. I could neither see nor hear any other music. I remember thinking "this is their orchestra?" I was very unimpressed. So unimpressed that I just wandered around the square for about ten minutes trying to think what to do. It appeared that I had come all the way into the town to hear a mediocre cello and accordion duet.
While cogitating thusly, I began to hear the sound of march music approaching. My spirits lifted and I almost ran down towards Strandgatan. I saw a marching band and realised the duet on the stage was a completely separate thing. I raced along Karlskronavägen with camera in hand to try to beat them to the next street. I got there just as they were turning the corner. Here they are in their snazzy uniforms. And here are the tail-enders. Look everyone! THREE sousaphones!
Once the march had finished, they stopped in the pedestrian mall for a stand-up "whoopdy-do" concert. I didn't recognise any of the marches they played, but they sounded very technical, with a lot of "icing". They have a female drum major, and the signals she gives are very elaborate. In addition, they have two flagbearers whose only job is to stand out the front and hold the flags of Ronneby and Sweden. You can see them in this photo.
Here are some of the members. You can see the bell lyra even has Swedish and Ronneby Kommun coloured tassels!

If you'd like more information on them, see http://www.ronnebyblasorkester.se/ but I warn you that it is in Swedish.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If You Build It, The Cirkus Will Come

After seeing the Circus Maximus in Rome in the first weekend of August, I thought it was pretty cool that I would be able to see the Cirkus Maximum on the last weekend of August. Cirkus Maximum is Sweden's national circus. Unlike Cirque du Soleil, which usually comes to Perth for more than a month, or Circus Joseph Ashton, which never seemed to stop doing performances, this circus usually only does one peformance in each town. Given that Ronneby is one of the largest towns in Blekinge, we were fortunate enough to have the circus arrive on Friday, which meant a Friday evening show. Being such a small ever-travelling group, they do not sell tickets until the day of the performance. However to partially make up for that, and to prevent a last-minute rush, they do sell tickets at lunchtime as well as two hours before showtime. I decided I did not want to miss out on a ticket - there would be no second chances unless I travelled out to Karlskrona the next day, so I cycled to the ticket booth at the circus grounds in my lunchbreak. Ronneby actually has its own circus grounds, called Cirkusplatsen, located on Cirkusvägen, which runs off Risatorpsvägen. Unfortunately, there were only elderly women at the ticket booths, so I had a feeling they wouldn't be speaking English. Optimistically, I began with the usual "Talar Ni engelska?" to which the woman rambled back something in Swedish which was completely unintelligible to me. Nope, if I wanted a ticket I was going to have to speak Swedish. And here's where I made my error. I tried to ask for a 250SEK ticket (about AU$45), except I stumbled on the word for 'two' and ended up saying it twice. Consequently, the woman expected 500SEK for two tickets. When I handed her only 300SEK (I only wanted one ticket) she started yelling more stuff in Swedish. I was speechless. I was unable to communicate what I wanted, and had 200SEK being demanded from me. Fortunately, a middle-aged woman was also waiting in line and she did happen to speak a small amount of English. I explained the problem and got her to translate for me. Crisis over. Here is a photo of what the ticket looked like. After work, I cycled back to the cirkusplats. They have a traditional big top, which they have to put up and take down every day. I got there with a while to spare, and there was parking chaos outside, so I was able to get a fairly good seat right in the centre. It _was_ a fairly good seat, until a really tall guy decided to sit right in front of me just before it started.
Of course, it was all in Swedish, so only understood a handful of the words. However, they did have a lady singing. She sang a few songs in English, for example "Sparkling Diamonds" from Moulin Rouge. There were also songs that I recognised but now sung in Swedish, for example "Tomorrow" from Annie sung as "Imorgon", and "When You Wish Upon a Star". There were quite a few animal acts, namely a dog act, camels, horses and elephants. Also interesting was that they gave free animal rides to children at intermission. I hadn't really seen that before.
A lot of their acrobatic acts were imported from China. They did things like pole climbing and diving through rotating hoops. The one really weird act was the clowns - Los Rivelinos. Two of them were dressed the same and kind of looked like Hulk Hogan trumpet players (I'd never really seen the Swedishness in Hulk Hogan, but I do now). But the third guy was very strange. A painted white face but dressed up in this type of dressing gown and pointy shoes. He looked to have almost a transvestite quality. Reminded me of the Pompadour character in the Babar cartoon for some reason.
So that was basically it. It finished after about 2 hours 10 minutes. Having journeyed there by bike, I was able to beat a lot of the exiting traffic and was home by 21:30.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ronn-e-by and I-vo-ry Ride Together in Perfect Hamn-o-ny

The weather so far here in Ronneby has had a different feature each month. July was hot. August was wet. September was fine and October has been particularly autumnal - cold and cloudy. The colours of foliage here at the moment are really quite pretty. You'll see it in later entries. But anyway, back to the rainy month of August, as that's where I left off. Here is a view out from the balcony of the apartment taken on a rainy weekend in August.It was one of G's last weekends in Ronneby and he hadn't been to the hamn in a while. So, while there was a break in the weather that Jenny Morris was not singing about, we grabbed the bikes and headed south along Risatorpsvägen. There are quite a few farms in this area, and one of them had some sheep right near the road. A lot of the sheep here are black. I'm not used to this. Below is a picture of a group of them.
Eventually we made it to the suburb of Ekenäs, where the beach is. It was a completely different atmosphere this time though, the beach was deserted. Whilst there, we managed to get close enough to this duck to take its photo. G named it 'rugby duck' because its neck was that short that it resembled a rugby player.
A lot of houses have flagpoles in Sweden, but not many of them are on the roof. Here is one of them. Must be hard to change flags...but then again there is not much need to, as almost every flag I have seen here has been the familiar blue with yellow cross.
The following two pictures were tahen at the jetties where one can take a ferry across to the island of Karön. Apparently it is really nice in Summer...well, days in Summer when it's not this blustery.
As you can see, there are a moderate amount of boats at the jetties, and Karön is in the background.
Here are some of the signs which are used to mark the entry and exit points of major towns. I'm trying to collect photos of as many as I can. The two below are situated on Reddvägen, which is the street on the western bank of the Ronnebyån. One marks the entry of the harbour area, heading south, and the other signifies the start of Ronneby proper, heading north, at the suburb of Rönninge.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Revelation

I realised the other day that I had completely mistaken the meaning of Cityakuten. I had seen the word in TV guides a lot, and it sounded like some kind of late night local news program. This all changed when I saw an ad saying "Cityakuten är tillbaka" with vision of Dr John Carter in a helicopter in the background...Cityakuten is Swedish for ER. They certainly seem to like it here - they're showing three episodes of it next Monday on TV3.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Deal or No Deal

Well I finally finished my tax return today, so to celebrate, I watched some TV. Flipping through the channels, I came across 'Deal or No Deal'. I was surprised that it wasn't called 'Affär eller Ingen Affär' or whatever it would translate to in Swedish. The format is the same as in the Australian version, but there are some differences. For example, the Dealettes (suitcase holders) are all men in Sweden. The only attempt made to make them all look the same was their clothes - there were no matching wigs here. Additionally, they open the suitcases really slowly here. There's no fiddling with latches, but they just lower the lid over a period of about ten seconds. They really build the suspense. The 'Bank' is in fact a person, seen only in sihouette, sitting in a dark room on the second floor of the TV studio. The bank offers are not just displayed on the screen - it's all about marketing. Being Sweden, the bank guy actually phones the host each time on his Ericsson mobile. I think it's all about chewing up time. Finally, instead of saying 'Deal', the contestant is required to press a button on the table next to the Ericsson when they wish to stop. The contestant tonight did rather well, collecting 802000SEK, which is about AU$146000. He did especially well, as his suitcase contained only 1SEK.