For those not aware, I am in Sweden for 7 weeks right now for work and on the weekends I have been trying to get out and see Sweden as much as possible. Today was the start of my second weekend here in Stockholm.
I decided to go north today and visit Uppsala which is the fourth largest city in Sweden and is considered primarily a university town. The trip to Uppsala took about 55 minutes or so. I had to take a bus and then two trains towards the Arlanda airport which then connected to the central station in Uppsala. The train was pretty fast and I asked the conductor what the top speed was and he replied it was 200 km/h. Not bad at all.
I took the trip today with Adrian who is my colleague at the company and we started off from the train station. The first thing we saw that was unbelievable was the sheer amount of bicycles parked outside the train station.
There must have been at least 200 bikes all lined up for their owners. We first thought that there must be a good reason for this but throughout the city most bicycle stands (and I don’t mean 4-5 openings in a bike rack …. I am talking 20-30 openings) were full as well!! In general, I think that the fact Uppsala is a university town and the general culture of Sweden contributes to such a high rate. It was definitely impressive.
From there we headed towards the river that intersects Uppsala which is named the Fyrisån. It’s a fast flowing river that cuts the city in half with one side containing the older parts of the city (including the castle and the impressive church) and the commercial side with most of the stores.
The day was fairly normal for this time of year. Overcast and fairly windy with a hint of moisture in the air. I will be honest that I was a bit chilled from walking around all day but I will tell you why later.
Next stop was one of two dominant features in the city which is the Domkyrka (Uppsala Cathedral) that can be seen forever. I looked it up and it’s the largest church in Scandinavia and is the seat of the Church of Sweden. We had to go in and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s frankly stunning inside. We went in thinking that we wouldn’t be able to walk around much but we could pretty much go anywhere in the main portion of the church (the nave). The arches and detail work is unbelievable. To top it off there was a children’s choir practicing as I walked around so I sat in the pews for a good 10 minutes listening to them sing. Hear for yourself.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp6oWvYA_5Y Uppsala Church&rel=0]
I am a bit disappointed with the iPhone 5 in low light I have to say. I was looking at the pictures and I wasn’t too impressed. Anyway, I digress.
Within the church is buried the one and only Carl Linnaeus who was the father of binomial nomenclature (system of naming living species) and also modern taxonomy. His tomb is within the church which emphasizes his importance and standing within Sweden and frankly the world. A side story is that one of the guys in Ericsson here in Stockholm is a great-great-great-great-great grandson and still is active in botany apparently. That story was told to me last year and I will follow-up on that as I am more interested.
Next stop was the Uppsala Castle right near the church (Uppsala Slott in Swedish) which overlooks the city and is littered with multiple bastions that protected it from those darn pesky raiders. The castle is from the 16th century and it’s presence shaped a lot of the country’s past given the Church’s role in Sweden (as with every country during that time). King Gustav Vasa decided though that the whole country should move to Protestantism and not the dominant Catholicism at the time. Well, one way to stamp your authority is to seize all church assets throughout the kingdom and this castle pretty much was used to keep this decision enforced. Now here is a picture of what were called Styrbiskops at the time. The translation was Bishop Controllers. They literally are pointed at the Uppsala church that I just described. That’s one way of keeping things enforced by having cannons that could travel up to 1km from the castle. Those pesky Bishops would have to think twice about changing the service that day.
Around the castle are the Royal grounds which are now used by the university. The botanical garden was created by the aforementioned Linnaeus and it must be stunning in the summer. In the winter months you have to let your mind wander a bit.
It was getting dark as it was getting close to 3:30pm(!!!), so we headed back towards the centre of the city but I saw some stadium lights in the distance. We were headed that way anyway so we continued and I saw that it was a professional Bandy game about to start. I had read about this and it was in my to-do list so given I was already here I decided to stay and Adrian left. Pumped!!
The game is much like soccer with corner ‘kick’s if the ball leaves the playing surface which is on a large rink. The halves are 45 minutes long non-stop and it is unbelievably fast. Players are constantly trying to attack and use long swerving attack angles with the ball constantly being passed amongst the team. There is no hitting but just the usual boys will be boys type of action in the corners. I enjoyed it a lot. Who needs the NHL. The best part was the European football type of chants going on in the stands during the game. Non-stop drumming and chanting is awesome.
Here is some action from the side of the rink. There are no restrictions for just watching the game from here but watch out for the ball flying around.
From there I went on the train home. A great day to say the least. I don’t think my posts during the week will be so extensive but I will try to post something every day. I don’t know what I am doing today but I need to get out of the apartment. I allowed myself to sleep in to 9:30 today (I went to bed at 1am) which is unheard of back home.