Monday, August 27, 2007

Le Tour de Sweden, Stage 3: Undeniably Uppsala

Stockholm, while amazing, was a bit of a whirlwind tour, so I was happy to take an hour-long train ride north to Uppsala for a few relaxing days. This time around, our oh-so-gracious hosts were my mom’s Swedish “host sister,” Christina, and her daughter Matilda, who is living at home for the summer.

Matilda served as a fantastic tour guide for our first day in Uppsala (August 14th) and helped us plan out our second day as well. It was so fun to see Matilda again -- the last time was when she was 13 year old (and I was 10) and she stayed with my family in California for the summer.

Day One:

The Domkyrkan! Our first stop in Uppsala was the giant domkyrkan, or cathedral. It seems that almost every city in Sweden has an ancient church in the middle of downtown. Uppsala is no exception. The Uppsala Domkyrkan, however, has earned some bragging rights – it is the largest and tallest church in Scandinavia. The building’s construction began waaaay back in 1245 and it absolutely towers above everything else in the city. It’s also home to the relics of Saint Erik and Carl Linnaeus’ grave.

Everything Linnaeus. Every town, city, and state in Sweden is celebrating the 300th birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the world famous Swedish scientist and botanist. Uppsala, dubbed “the city of Linnaeus,” has really pulled out the stops because it was this city that Linneaus called home for much of his life. There is even a special Linnaeus Bus to take you from one Linneaus attraction to another!

We visited the Linnéträdgarden, and I got my first glimpse ever of a REAL Linnea flower, linnaea borealis.

It was dried, not alive, but I have only ever seen the tiny, pink bellflower in pictures, so it was a bit of a thrill to see it in person and not just on paper. The garden was beautiful, as was Linneaus’ house. It’s the oldest botanical garden in Sweden, with about 1300 species. Not bad. I love that my name is connected to such an interesting and famous scientist.

Christina took Max, Matilda, and me out to dinner on Lake Mälaren. The food and the view were fantastic, and we had a brief celebrity sighting: Thomas Fogdö, a very successful Swedish downhill skier who, in a training accident in 1995, became paralyzed from the waist down. He’s still in great shape and uses his fame to motivate others and economically support the rehabilitation of injured athletes – pretty cool.

Day Two:

Uppsala’s History and Culture.We spent the morning walking to Uppsala Castle and meandering through Uppsala University’s Botanical Gardens – magnificent. Over 9000 species, several fountains, and, you guessed it, more exhibits on Linnaeus.

We also went to University of Uppsala’s Museum Gustavianum which was full of interesting things, including objects created (or belonging to) famous Swedes like Carl Linneaus and Anders Celsius, as well as Egyptian artifacts and an anatomical theater (where medical students and the general public could observe the dissection of corpses – mostly executed criminals – until the late 1700s!).

Later in the day, we went to the Museum of Uppland. The price was right (free) and they had some great exhibits on indigo, the history of Uppsala from the Viking Age until today, and a children’s corner where I introduced Max to some of my favorite Swedish books: Sven Nordqvist’s Festus and Mercury, the adventures of a funny old farmer and his cat.

We wrapped up our day in Gamla Uppsala (“Old Uppsala”), where the history of the city really begins. There are three huge 6th-century burial mounds, and the Old Uppsala church, which was built on top of the ruins from a pagan temple.

A few other fun snapshots from Uppsala:

The sign is supposed to say, Turistbussar (“tourist busses”) but someone has edited it so it now reads turistpussar (“tourist kisses”). :-)

At the botanical garden there was a huge bench -- definitely an opportunity for silly pictures. Even Max's legs were dangling (he's 6'1"!) .

Last but not least…

Our visit to Uppsala, by the numbers:
Pictures taken: over 200
Designated “Sightseeing in Uppsala” landmarks visited: 9 out of 13
Delicious dinners: two (thanks Christina!)
Liters of ice cream consumed: several
"Fun" rating (out of 10): 11

The next installment: Gothenburg!

‘Til next time,

1 comment:

Sally said...

Love the huge park bench! Looks like you could be on a shot for a GAP ad or something.

Hey, great close-ups with the new camera. (Love the bumblebee.)

Hej, Christina och Matilda! Jag önskar att jag kunde ha varit med!