This last weekend we finally left Göteborg for further Swedish adventures. A long but comfortable bus ride took us to Linköping, an old town with more of a feel of the market towns I’d seen in France, than I’ve seen so far in Göteborg. Winding cobbled streets led to a market square, or Stora Torget, full of stalls selling lingonberries, open air bars and herds of parked bicycles.
Some research (Google translate and my partner) revealed that the köping part has something to do with markets, and when you see the area around Vättern (a really, really big lake), scattered with köpings a pattern develops, a sort of line from east to west around the lake. Further research (my mum) revealed that Linköping had been around since Viking times, on the route from the east coast to the west. Just outside of town is Göta Kanal, about 200 years old and stretching from Stockholm to Göteborg. Which means you can now cross Sweden on the water, though it being a canal full of locks, it would take some time. Quicker than sailing around the long way though, those poor Vikings, a few centuries too late…
The main reason for the trek inland was to visit a friend of my partner, who kindly showed us around his new town. Vadstena is even smaller than Linköping but I much preferred it. It had the same cobbled streets, happy crowds and old buildings as the other town, but had more charm. It also had a castle. A proper one, with a moat, towers, turrets and a basement. Exploring it was a lot of fun, experiencing the cold and dankness of the lower floors, where the soldiers were billeted and canons were kept versus the relatively light and airy upper floors, with tapestries, high windows and painted walls. As was pointed out by our host, it was no Versailles, but it was proud and simple, and not as dour as it could have been.
After leaving the castle (via a bridge over the moat, did I mention there was a moat?) we had lunch, delicious and Swedish, and wandered some more. The wandering took in Sankt Birgit Kyrka, an ancient church, quite large and grand and containing possibly the remains of Sankt Birgit as well as unknown others, though one assumes they also are holy in some way. As with the cathedral in Linköping, the building seemed timeless and not overbearing. They towered, and I imagined generations living in their shadows, staring up at their towers thinking in awe of the deity for whom it was built.
Our wanderings lead us back to our friend’s house, then his car and after some slightly too fast driving watching the clock, the bus station, where we jumped onto the packed bus to take us home. And it did feel like coming home. When the landscape became familiar and I recognised the Liseberg Wheel I was surprised by the feeling of homecoming, it’s only been two weeks today but I suppose people do like to put down roots when they can. Part of me feels a bit disloyal to Australia, but when I think of the highway going up to the hills, the beach and the calling of magpies and black cockatoos, the same feeling creeps in.
Other than adventures to giant lakes, the last week or so has been mostly taken up by the everyday stuff involved in setting up a new home, and waiting for the gears of bureaucracy to get moving. I’ve settled into a schedule of sorts, from running in the forest, shopping if needed, looking after the house and sorting out travel and work. The only very interesting things have been purchasing my new bike (excitement!) and last night when the extra luggage we’d arranged to be shipped over (finally) arrived. The apartment is now looking considerably more cosy and I can feel myself settling in further.
The weather has now cleared and I imagining how green and quiet the forest must be, I think it’s time for a run.