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04 August 2011

A piece of North

Back to reality. Back to routine. Back from a wonderful tour around Western Scandinavia. It was great, beyond any expectations. I always thought Norther countries weren't my element. I was wrong. I enjoyed the coziness of Sweden, its attention to details and its stylish people. I admired Norwegian efficiency and awesomeness of the nature. I liked Danish organization and aperture to the world. This trip gave us a general idea of what's like up there and definitely motivated us to go back. Exploring countries you didn't think you could love is really changeling.

We had problems, though, all related to the massacre in Oslo. It messed up everything because we were supposed to spend our first 2 days there but the bomb first and the nosense slaughter caused paralysis in the city center. We had to find two last minute hotels as an alternative, rent our car 2 days in advance and pay for our taxis to new hotels, not to mention buses to travel from local to international airports. It was a little disaster for our finances. I know our extra euros are nothing compared to all those broken lives, still, it sucks.

Carpet of flowers and candles for the innocents
I saw a city in sorrow. What a nosense act, in name of preservation of our society. The killer insists it was necessary. I can only see immense pain and no good. He just lost big time. People won't change because of this fanatic's attack. He didn't stop the country's proverbial openess to immigration. He didn't start an anti Islam crusade. He just traumatized a normally peaceful Nordic country. I feel the shock but I don't even want to imagine what it's like to lose a child. A teen with a whole life ahead who had only just joined a summer camp in an idyllic island. It's a fear that touches my inner and deepest chords. I'm not sure I'm ready to venture along the dark and face it.

So we started our tour after the worst attack Norway faced after WW2. We cut the long drive South from Norway to Denmark by stopping in Goteborg and in between we also admired the coastal towns along the provinces we crossed. It's the beauty of these little places that charmed me the most. Starting from Fjallbacka, a lovely fishing village where Camilla Lackberg's books are set. She was born and raised there, and the village also was Ingrid Bergman's favorite place on earth.

The light rain didn't stop us from walking around town, which looked like a Hitchcock film scenery at times, full of lovely wood houses decorated and embellished with flowers and outdoor chairs. It was impressionist and myserious at times. Wouldn't be lovely to spend a whole week in the summer there, having fika in cafes (fika is a traditional snack in Sweden) in the afternoon, sitting in chalets reading and watching boats sail, enjoying endless sunsets and taking lovely pics at twilight? I would adore all this, preferibly in the company of my best soul mates. Or simply alone, away from everyone and chaos for a good while.

Another little place I loved was Varberg. The most impressive views could be admired from its top fortress, which instilled peace and calm and left you breathless in admiration, like in front of paintings.

The Fortress is very old. Originary it was a castle built to host Norwegian Princess Ingerborg and her son Magnus, king of Sweden and Norway at only 3 years old. First redevelopement to turn it into a Fortress date back to 1610.

Varber is also famous because of its reputation as a health resort. The first hot bathhouse was built here in 1823, while a cold one followed and was completed in 1866. I read this was destroyed in a very severe storm that wreaked havoc along the entire west coast and reconstructed, only to be destroyed again by the "Christmas storm" of 1902, the worst storm to hit the West Coast in living memory. The newest cold bathhouse was erected in 1903. This is the one that is still standing and that we saw.  

Not to mention Ribe, which is said to be the oldest town of Scandinavia. They celebrated its 1300th anniversary last year, go figure! All streets are of irresistible beauty, I could stroll in them astonished for hours. I was deeply in love ...

This trip will be impressed in me for a long time. And I still have to blog about Goteborg, Copenaghen, amazing Legoland and the impressive cruise from Copenaghen to Oslo. Please stay tuned!

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