Tuesday, January 30, 2007

'Tis the Season

As I've mentioned on several occasions, Sweden gets very dark towards the end of the year, and particularly in December. It is therefore comforting that there are some traditions which try to restore a bit of light and warmth around Christmas, or Jul. For the whole month, we were allowed to turn on the electric light settings featuring seven candles. Mine had been sitting on my windowsill for the whole time I was at BTH, and at last I could turn it on. But wouldn't you know it, mine didn't work. Fortunately, there were some spares (there is not someone in every office) and so I was given a replacement. Here is what it looked like from inside my office. I took the photo at night for best effect.
This isn't just limited to BTH. People everywhere were placing candles and stars in their windows. My camera has pretty bad night vision, however this next photo illustrates my point. It is a photo taken of one of the apartment blocks at Hjorthöjden. All that my camera could pick up were the lights in the windows. Another tradition I got into was that of the Advent calendar. I was on a budget, so I bought a cheap one (10SEK, about $1.80AU) at Maxi. Here it is in the photo below. Each day I would come home from work and open one of the little perforated squares to find a different chocolate underneath. I must admit though that I had to cheat towards the end and open more than one a day, since I was leaving on December 21st and the last day of Swedish Advent calendars is always the 24th. No sense in wasting perfectly good chocolate!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Karlskrona Revisited

On the last day of November, my supervisor surprised me by announcing that he would be having a meeting with all of his students together in Karlskrona. The main campus of BTH is located there, and it is about 25km east of Ronneby. The meeting was more a "getting to know you" type rather than anything technical, although it lasted longer than it was meant to. It finished around 3:45pm. Here is a view of the main buildings of Campus Gräsvik at approximately that time. It is after sunset. A tradeoff for travelling all the way to Karlskrona was that we could all have the rest of the afternoon off to see some of the sights of the town. Karlskrona has a tremendous naval history. We learned that when we went to the Marinmuseum (Marine Museum). It's a two-storey building situated on the coast of a small island named Stumholmen, in the east part of Karlskrona. The building was only opened in 1997, so it's very modern. The following are some of the photos I took inside the museum. I apologise that some are very dark, mainly due to it being after sunset even before we arrived.
Here is an old hand-drawn map of the Swedish coast.
This image depicts some boat models. And this one is a very intricate cross-section of a ship. This image may be difficult to make out, but it shows a lot of different weapons (rifles, mainly) that were used on the ships.
Indeed a lot of the exhibits concern defence and warfare. This exhibit was a model of a battle between Sweden and Russia.
At the far end of the museum, there is a large atrium with many large ornate carvings mounted on the transparent walls. These are what were attached to the front of Swedish ships of the past. Four of them are shown in the image below.
A lot of the upper floor exhibits are dedicated to submarines. This is a view inside the walk-through model. Submarines have such confined spaces. I recall bashing my head a couple of times as I walked through under some of the archways. This is another ship model on the upper floor, just near the front entrance.

I was lucky enough to pop into the shop and grab a few souvenirs as Xmas presents for my family. Another drawcard of the museum is that there is actually a third storey, located below the ground floor. Here, you can look out of the windows and see the water and sea floor, while learning about how scientists do research below the waves on small information panels, thankfully most of which are in Swedish and English.

It was then time for the museum to close, and for us to depart. Here is a view of the front entrance of the museum. You may just be able to make out the golden star lights in the windows. Tomorrow was the first of December, and the beginning of the Xmas lights season. But, in keeping with the Swedish tradition of starting things on the evening beforehand, the Xmas lights were being turned on on November 30th.

On our way to Taverna Santorini for dinner (the same place G had his farewell dinner), I managed to take these photos of the Xmas lights of Karlskrona.

They certainly provide a welcome type of escape from the long-lasting darkness at this time of year.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What the fog is up with this weather?

November 28th 2006 would have to be, without doubt, THE foggiest day I have ever experienced. Previous posts about the fog pale in comparison to that Tuesday. I knew things were going to be bad weather-wise from the time I got up. Here's the view from my bedroom window, taken around dawn. Visibility was indeed minimal.
After managing to cycle in to BTH without being hit by anything that had been hiding in the dense fog, here is the view that greeted me from my office window. The bare trees on the hill that had been a constant reminder of the impending arrival of winter could now not be seen. They had been blanketed. Here is another view, this time from the window of the lunch room. And no, those odd circular lights in grid formation in the sky are not flying saucers. They are simply a reflection of the lights on the ceiling of the lunch room. This is the view from the western end of the kitchen, towards the river. Again please excuse the unwanted reflections. But it certainly is a very grey day.
Here is a better view...well at least one with less reflections, the amount you can see of the outside is probably about the same. The trees bordering the river are almost completely lost in the fog.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Vistas via Vieryd

By this stage of my visit, I was running out of new places to go. I mentioned this to A, and she asked whether I had been to a place called Trolleboda. I said I had not, and asked her where it was located. It's a small village a bit to the west of Spjälkö. So the next Sunday at midday, I set out. I decided I wanted to see some more of the places to the west of Ronneby, on the way to Bräkne-Hoby, but not that far (since that would take a long time to reach). Instead, I retraced the path I took the time I went to Spjälkö, as far as Svedala. Here is a photo from that general area, complete with vapour trail from a plane. I like these cloud formations. It is amazing how low the sun appears in the sky as the winter solstice approaches. This photo was taken a little after 1pm.
Instead of heading south towards Saxemara as I had done on a past occasion, I continued west. Eventually, I came to a fork in the road. I could take the bitumen road Hjälmserydsvägen, or the dirt track Guttamålavägen. I decided on the latter. It was very quiet, very isolated. Here is a photo I took of some of the trees as the track wound off into the distance on the right.
And here's another from the same area, but looking more up at the clouds.
As I stumbled out onto Askebodavägen, which was a bitumen road, at the village of Guttamåla, I felt I was in the heart of farm country. Again, I had a choice. I could head south and head straight for Trolleboda, or continue west. I chose west. Eventually, I reached the continuation of Hjälmserydsvägen. Just after this point, there is a small bridge across Vierydsån, the river which flows out of Nässjön, the lake to which I had just been the week before. Here is a picture as it gathers speed flowing under the bridge at a place called Krokskvarn.
As the river widens on its way south, it becomes more placid. Here it is as seen from the southern end of Hjälmserydsvägen.
Eventually, the river meets the (Bering) Sea, or at least a long bay named Vierydfjorden. Here is a view looking south along the fjord. It was very cold and cloudy, but I was glad I had made it as far as I had. It would have been about 2pm to give you an idea of the time.Here is another view, taken from slightly to the east. The sun was bright enough to poke through some of the branches of the bare trees.
I then had to make my way home again, after pausing briefly for lunch. Just east of the fjord is the town of Vieryd. Here's the blue and white entrance sign. And you guessed it, the road home was called Vierydsvägen.
I wanted to have a squiz at a few of the coastal villages on the way home. The first of these that I came to was Bökevik (something like Rummage Bay). The blue sign below says (my translation) Bökevik's Fishing Village. You are welcome to walk here. Cars are directed to the marked parking spots.
Here is a view from the very end of Bökeviksvägen, complete with fishing boat.
There are many jetties here. The purpose of this photo was actually to get a picture of a white swan, but I did not zoom in far enough.
The next village to the east is Skönevik. Here's the sign. It's the village just north of Trolleboda.
And so on to Trolleboda itself. It's a fair hike southwards from Vierydsvägen. I went past a farm on the way with a delightful little pony with its mum, but there were farmers around so I didn't want to offend them by stopping to take a photo. Anyway, here's one of the jetties when you get down to the coast.
Some of the bare trees near the jetties. It's still a popular spot even in November, as there were a lot of cars parked near here.
An overturned picnic table on Lindaslättsvägen, prompting memories of a long-ago summer.The village between Skönevik (something like Beautiful Bay) and Spjälkö is Dragsnäs, which means something like Lure's Isthmus. The view below is from Vierydsvägen at a point where it gets very close to the water. In the distance, on the left side of the small passage of water, is Dragsnäsudde, which is the headland. There are only a couple of houses there.
I finally cycled back through the now-familiar towns of Spjälkö and Saxemara, then northwards home to Ronneby. The birds on Härstorpssjön seemed to be congregating in groups (maybe it was time for their town meeting, where they would discuss why the days were so short at the moment?), so I took a photo of one such group as the sun set.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Next is Nässjön

The following weekend, I decided to reattempt making it to Nässjön. It is perhaps the biggest lake in the area. Translated, its name means Isthmus Lake. You'll see why if you can look at a satellite image. It is located at approximately 56.23ºN, 15.19ºE. It is almost V-shaped, with a big land mass splitting it just about in half. Unfortunately, I can't find any maps with many street names in this area. A general description of the route will have to suffice.
After the unfruitful journey the previous weekend, I decided I was going to attempt this one on foot. I set out northward through the western suburbs of Ronneby, past the industrial area and onto Karlshamnsvägen. This hiking took quite a while, as there is no path, and most of the time I was walking in ditches. About 2 km north of the E22, there is a turn-off for Bräkne-Hoby. I turned left. Here is a view from that road back towards Ronneby. You can see how cloudy it was getting - it was after all coming to the end of Autumn.

This westward-heading road seemed to go on for ages. There were a few bridge-like objects constructed where the land fell away sharply on either side of the road. There were also no streetlights. This meant I needed to keep moving. After a while, I reached a T-junction. Continuing along, I would have eventually reached Bräkne-Hoby. But it would be dark by the time I reached it. Therefore, I turned southward, along the road to Kättorp and Nässjön. Here is a photo taken along that lengthy and winding road. I remember feeling particularly lonely there, as there was no traffic, and not really any noise to speak of.
Eventually, I reached some farming properties which were near the lake. Here is one of the fields which had recently been dug up. A tiny house is visible in the background.
A large majority of the farm houses I saw in Sweden seemed to be painted red. I'm not sure why. Anyway, here is one flanked by two very large and bare trees. The smell at this point was almost unbearable. I was starting to think it was a manure factory.I hurried along quickly to escape the smell, around a corner and up over a hill. And then I saw it. I had arrived at Nässjön. Unfortunately, there were fences everywhere so I could not get very close to the water. In this photo, the main part of the background is the isthmus itself, dotted with trees.
This one is of the western branch of the lake, with some of the isthmus in the background.
Hidden in this photo are a boat and a jetty. I wonder what fish one could catch in the lake?

More of the lake, with some interesting tree branches in the foreground.

This is the southernmost point of Nässjön, looking westward.

The following is the result of my efforts to put together a panorama of the lake. You can see that there are many trees there, and the grass is very green.

I then had a quick bite to eat and headed home quickly before the light completely faded.