Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Goat-burg Part Two: Universeum

My main goal for the day was to get to a place called the Universeum. Armed with my hotel map, I continued along Nya Allén. Unfortunately, I missed my turnoff and ended up heading too far west. Instead of doubling back, I thought I'd take the next turn. That way I would see more of Gothenburg. I made a left at Södra Vägen and walked along past the exercise ovals. It was all terribly busy. It was not level of population density that I had been used to for the past six months. Eventually I reached the huge roundabout/traffic chaos at Korsvägen. There were cars and pedestrians going everywhere. So confusing. This photo was taken just south of there. You can see the towering spire of what I would find out later is part of Liseberg at the top, and the Universeum is at the lower right.And so I had arrived. I didn't really know what to expect of it, I had just seen it on one of the Gothenburg tourist websites as something good to do if you're in the city. I would describe it as a cross between Scitech and AQWA. It cost 135SEK (something like AU$24) to enter at the time I went. Their website is if you are interested in having a look. They even have lockers (on two floors!) for hire. Since it was much warmer inside than outside, I used a locker to store my excess clothes. Once I had worked out where the actual entry to the main part of the Universeum was, I used my entry pass to access these cool lifts. They actually travel diagonally, along the side of the building. They take you from the entry floor up to the Water's Way (Vattnets Väg) exhibit. It's about all the different sorts of water environments (and the life in them) around Sweden. The exhibit is not flat. It starts up very high and progresses downwards. This was done presumably to imitate the mountainous areas in the north of Sweden and the flatter parts in the south. Here is a view looking down on the exhibit from the top part, where you can learn about the Sami people and their eight seasons a year of reindeer herding.

And now some of the animal life you can see in the tanks. I think these are trout, but I'm not sure.
This little guy is a guzzler. His first name starts with G, but I can't recall it. Apparently he has something wrong with him and there are signs saying not to disturb him. He spends most of the time asleep. He can't swim properly.
How's this for a luminous fish!
Here's a lobster...
...and a crab.
Here's a bright pink sea urchin. This was in a tiny display in the mezzanine area. This had a touchpool, as well as some small exhibits about forests, fish and sharks. Coming off this area was the Deadly Snakes exhibit. There was a sign saying no flash photography, so I didn't take any in there. The snakes were all good at camouflage, because most I was not able to see (either that or they had been taken out of their enclosures).
The other exit from the mezzanine area leads to the rainforest exhibition. It was so humid in there! It was so misty, but the place was teeming with life. I found a little bird right near the entrance and tried to take a photo of it. If you look REALLY carefully, you can see it. It is hard to see because it was coloured green so it blends in with the plants, and also it was so foggy that my camera lens fogged up.

I didn't really know how to deal with the moisture on the lens. I just wiped it off. But unfortunately I didn't manage to get all of it, as you can see from this photo of an eel. There's still some fogginess in the centre of the lens.

The universeum has a family of monkeys in there. The other thing you notice a lot of are the butterflies. Sadly, I was not able to get a photo of the tops of their wings - they are such a brilliant blue - but they just would not stay still long enough for me to wipe the lens and take the photo. Here is the underside of the wing, though.

This one's just of the greenery in the rainforest.

On the lowest floor, there is this bizarre bird. I'm not sure where its other leg is, if it has one. The huge toes on the foot are designed so displace the bird's weight over a large surface area, so it is less likely to make the leaves it stands on collapse into the water below.
This is a photo of terrible quality, but it's of a turtle climbing through its lunch plate of lettuce.

The other side of the Universeum is the "Scitech" side. There were many interactive exhibits the Swedish instructions of which I could understand simply because I had seen similar ones at Scitech. One of the exhibits in the central staircase did catch my eye though. It was designed to show how positive whole numbers (besides 1) are either prime, or can be written as the product of two or more primes. They used a different colour to represent each prime. In this photo, you can see for instance that 71, 73, 79 and 83 are prime. Also, 2 is blue and 3 is yellow, so 72 = 2x2x2x3x3. The rainforest exhibit is in the background.

Later, I discovered where the Universeum makes most of its money - in the shop and the cafe. The prices were very high. I bought two of the cheapest things, which were a plastic keyring-type-thing and a pencil, for the equivalent of about AU$5.50. It was very easy to spend hours and hours there. It was getting late and I had a train to catch soon, so I left and started heading north towards the hotel again. More photos of this walk back will be in my next post.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Goat-burg Part One: Leaving Ronneby

After getting all of my office stuff tidied up on Wednesday 20th, and cleaning the apartment well into the hours of the following morning, on Thursday 21st I had my rent inspection and I was free to go. Here I am just about to depart with five layers of clothing on.
I walked into the centrum for the last time, dragging my suitcase behind me. It was considerably lighter than when I arrived, because I had organised to send a big box (11kg) of stuff home beforehand for 500SEK. I stopped at the turistbyrå (tourist bureau) for a couple of souvenirs. Then I walked along Strandgatan to the resecentrum to catch the bus to Bergåsa, which is just before Karlskrona. Unfortunately, I did not plan my day well at all. I arrived at the station at midday, and the Kust Till Kust train I had the ticket for was not due until 4:50pm. There really is not much to do in the town of Bergåsa, particularly when dragging a suitcase around. I did however manage to get a photo of the cemetery, since it's right next to the train station.
Apart from a visit to a deli to buy lunch, I spent the next five hours huddled up as much as I could at the open-air train station. It was 3 degrees at midday. If anything, I think it would have gotten colder as the afternoon progressed. It was definitely NOT a fun experience.
It was thus with great delight that I saw the train approach. You can read more about the train service at and there's also a map of their network. I was happy that I could say I'd been to Växjö (pronounced something like Veckwhir) because I think it's a cool name. The many Christmas lights impressed me as I passed through each town. They were in general a lot fancier than Ronneby's, because they were larger places.
Eventually, around 9pm I arrived at Gothenburg's central train station. The English name for the second largest city in Sweden is Gothenburg, while it is Göteborg in Svenska. It's moderately difficult to pronounce...something like Jerteboy is what I heard most. I have also heard it referred to as Goatburg. Anyway, after I disembarked from the train, I walked in the general direction of my hotel. I knew it was only about a block from the station. Travelling through the square near the station, I found the light displays so impressive that I wanted to take a photo...a photo I never ended up taking. As I was getting my camera out, I was approached by a beggar. Great! Been in the city all of two minutes and I'm already being hassled for money. I made up a story about having only Australian money and gave him the slip. I hurried off in search of my hotel so I wouldn't be confronted again. Fortunately it was not far away at all. Here you can see the sign for it - the Scandic Europa. In the lower right corner you can see one of the lit up trees. The blue lights looked really funky.
And here's my room. It was pretty good because it cost under $100 Australian a night. The bed was SOOO comfy. My major complaint was that I was unable to get the shower working. It was one of those contraptions where it's a bath, unless you do some special move on it and only then does it become a shower. Well I couldn't work out what that special move was. And the bath plug wouldn't fit in the hole! In the end I had a "shower" by using the water coming out of the bath tap. Best I could do in the situation.
The next morning, I set out to explore Gothenburg. I had obtained a map from the hotel. I walked eastwards on Slussgatan. Here is the Central Station seen from the south side of the river (Fattighusån).
The river seemed to use an elaborate system of lochs. There's also a tram in the background. This reminded me of Melbourne.

Walking south on Nya Allén, I found this statue of an engineer. Unfortunately, I didn't record his name anywhere.

My aim was to get to the Universeum. This will be the subject of my next entry, as there are too many photos just for one post.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Last Bus to Karlskrona

On my last Friday in Blekinge, we had the Christmas party for all of BTH. This was a massive undertaking, since there were three campuses (Karlshamn, Ronneby and Karlskrona) from which staff and students were travelling. They even put on a bus for us. Thankfully, a few of the PhD students from my department were still around (many people take leave early so they can head home for Christmas) so I had someone to talk to on the bus and at the party.
As far as the location was concerned, I don't exactly remember the name. It was a hotel-type place in the centre of Karlskrona, and it started with M, something like Military. The building was at the eastern end of Stortorget (the Big Square). It was a very cold day, and we were glad when we could go inside. Although we had to wait around for ages before being seated, the sheer volume of people kept us warm.
Our tables were up one flight of stairs, and there were at least three big rooms for us. Seating was at very long tables, like the one shown in this photo.There was quite a variety of food, mainly fish (this was Sweden, after all). However I think they under-catered as I did not get full at all. I remember they had Julmust, which is a drink you have at Christmas time, with a slight resemblance to cola. I didn't see any glögg though. I first tried glögg on December 1st I think. It's a type of mulled wine, and a Swedish tradition. In my opinion, it was great, and the name is so appropriate, because it sounds like you have heaps and heaps of it.
Due to the lack of food, I think a lot of people finished earlier than some people were expecting. They therefore left the party early to have a look around Karlskrona. We were about to leave too, but I decided I was going to wait around, just in case they had any more food up their sleeves. My hunch was correct. Eventually dessert arrived. It was rice pudding and coffee. Here's a photo of it.

Despite all this eating, the bus for our return to Ronneby was still going to be some time away. So, TSj and I decided to have a look around the parts of Karlskrona in easy walking distance from Stortorget...after all, we didn't want to miss the bus and be stuck 25km from home! Here are a few photos I took whilst strolling.

This one is of Fredrikskyrka (Fredrik's Church) in Stortorget. Rådhuset is in the background.

Here is a tower thing. I'm not sure what it's for, because we didn't go up to it. Karlskrona is a fairly heavily fortified city, because it's a naval base and holds a strategic location, quite near to the southeasternmost point of Sweden.

This is some kind of churchy-clock type thing.
Finally, here is a fountain on one of the main streets. The subject is appropriately a fish.

The bus ride back to Ronneby was just before sunset. I remember talking with TSj about how much PhD students earn in Sweden. It's really quite a lot by Australian standards, since they have a teaching component as well.
Although Karlskrona is much smaller than Australian capitals, the difference between it and Ronneby was tangible. There are so many more choices for things. It would be a nice place to go if you wanted to move to the country, but not TOO country.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

REaDy to Party

Tuesday 12th December (the night before Lucia) was the time for the department Christmas party. It was organised by four of the new PhD students in the department. It was held at Röda Längan (Long Red House), the same venue as B's party some five months beforehand. There was however no lazy evening between a BBQ and the river. It was too cold and dark for that.
Here is a photo of the Xmas lights on a tree near the volleyball court, just near Röda Längan. It is a little distorted due to the 'night' setting of my camera.
The meal was Thai food. An interesting choice, but quite yummy. I managed to get a photo of the table decorations. Everything was red and green. There were a few of these flowers (sorry I don't remember the name!) which fitted in perfectly.

The evening ended a bit before midnight with some lively discussion from IC about policy differences between Sweden and the USA. Thankfully, some of these were held in English, although many were not and I just had to stare into space until I heard someone speaking English.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Final Cycling Trip

Alas, I had come to the last of my Sunday cycling trips. My final Sunday in Sweden was spent packing, so I did not go cycling on that day. The person motivating this ultimate trip's location was T, who had mentioned the beaches near Millegarne as a great place to visit. Millegarne is located southeast of Ronneby, further than Aspan and Sandvik.
Here, then, is Ronnebyån as seen from the bridge near BTH. There is another photo in a previous post, where I show the same view in Autumn. In December however, the trees on the banks of the river are bare.

This semi-creepy scene is at a T-junction. To get there, take Heabyvägen southeast from Ronneby, then turn southwards at its termination as if you were heading to Aspan, but instead of turning west again to go to Aspan, continue on the road south. I do not use a name for the road because I cannot find one on any of the maps I have. After you go past the turnoff for St. Oxlaby, the T-junction is the next one on the right. The two pillars were interesting, however I decided to continue on the main road to the left.
These next few photos highlight why I went to the left. It allows you to go along the eastern shore of Bredasund (Broad Sound). This is a lovely calm and open lake located near the town of Korsanäs. I recall it ended up being a king of 'leapfrog' between myself and an elderly man on another bike. We would keep overtaking each other. I would stop to take photographs, and he would stop to talk to another of the people he knew passing by. I saw a kind of rest area and dismounted my bike to take some photos. Here's one which is of the biggest bird-watching platform (alternatively, insert other use for wooden structure here. Bird-watching is the best explanation that has yet been forwarded to me) which I ever saw.
This one is of a white bird (swan?) just taking off as I think I may have startled it.
I even summoned the courage to climb up to the bird-watching platform. This is a slightly more aerial view of Bredasund from up there.
On the way back to where I had parked my bike, I found this patch of mushrooms.
As I said, Bredasund is near the town of Korsanäs (somthing like Cross Isthmus). Here's the 'you are now entering...' sign. I am informed that the orange poles are for when it snows, so that the plow driver knows where the edge of the road is.
If you keep following the main road south, you eventually reach a junction where you can take Västra Köpevägen to the left, which goes to Köpe. Alternatively, going south past the road will lead you into the Bering Sea. I, on the other hand, again kept to the main road and turned right. This road leads to the town of Millegarne. This is a view from near the junction in a southwest direction. Note the sunshine and lack of snow which is somewhat atypical for winter.
I continued cycling west as far as I could go. Eventually I reached yet another T-junction. To the left (south) was Gö, the shortest name for a place I had ever heard. To the right (north) was Gökalv. Gö has about 25 houses, most of which could be seen from the T-junction. On the other hand, Gökalv could not be seen from the junction. It only contains about 6 houses and having "calf" in the village name seemed pretty cool. So, I headed for Gökalv. In the end, I never made it all the the way to the village on the coast. My attention was diverted by a small parking lot just short of the village. There was a sign, saying there was a gravefield 1km away. In my usual tradition of finding the "dead centre" of places, I decided to check it out. Below is a view of the bay near the parking lot. I actually slipped over on the wet rocks near here whilst I was exploring. That's one good thing about places with very small populations - there's hardly any chance someone will see you and laugh at you if you fall over!
Being just a week and a half away from the winter soltice, I needed to move quickly if I was going to find this gravefield and still have time to cycle the 25km or so home before it got dark. I worked out that the "signs" for the path to the gravefield were orange spots of paint on sticks in the ground. This confused me at first, and I ended up going the wrong way because I followed them to another start-point rather than the finish-point of the gravefield.

After negotiating my way around several trees that had fallen over blocking the path, I eventually made it to this gate.

The signs say "animals grazing" and "welcome to Nötanabben". You can see one of the guiding orange markers behind the slanting gate. Here is another of the information signs which I had become familiar with. I give a copy of the English text:

"The grave-field at Nötanabben contains some 90 visible prehistoric remains: stone ships, four-sided and round stone-settings as well as barrows and upright stones. There are also a cairn and a triangular grave. This type of grave-field is characteristic of parts of southern Sweden during the Late Iron Age (700-1050 AD).

During this period the dead were usually cremated along with some personal belongings, such as a knife, a distaff whorl, a brooch, some beads and the like. Five of the graves have been excavated. The finds are kept at Blekinge Museum, Karlskrona".

And now some photos taken at Nötanabben. Firstly, the sun disappearing behind the trees.
This would be the cairn mentioned in the information sign.
This is another spooky image for me. The stone at right looks very mummy-like in my opinion.
Here is another view of Ronneby Hamn. It's similar to the ones from Aspan and Sandvik, since Gökalv is located a few kilometres southwest of those towns.
It being 2:45pm at that stage, I was starting to panic as sunset would follow in under 45 minutes and I was a long way from home. I cycled back the same way I had come, to avoid getting lost. On the way back I did have time to grab a photo of the sign for Millegarne which I had forgotten to do on the way westward.

Here is another view of the coast at Millegarne as sunset approaches.

I was yet again fairly well situated in terms of getting sunset photos. These two were taken near the turnoff to Aspan.

Finally, this purple sky view was taken looking east on Fornanäsvägen, in the Ronneby suburb of Påtorp. I made it home just as it got dark. In the end, it was not of great consequence, since I knew the area (southern part of Ronneby) well as I had been cycling home from work in the dark for several months.

This however brought my Sunday cycling trips to a close, which was sad.