Either Side of the World

It was about a month ago now. My wife and I were walking along Prins Bertils Stig, an 18km pathway that begins at Halmstad Castle in Sweden and runs along the coastline for the most part. We had been discussing (for some months now) what our next move was in life. We had been mostly focusing on moving to the UK, because it was closer, easier and it seemed to make the most sense. We had been avoiding the idea of leaving Sweden for Australia because, well, I’d been there and done that and she doesn’t like the heat, so the idea seemed ridiculous.

Then this conversation happened.

“You know, even though it doesn’t make sense, maybe moving to Australia would be the best option right now for us.”

“…You wanna do it? You want to move to Australia? Like…now?”

“…Yeah, alright.”

That was all there was to it. A week after this conversation, we bought plane tickets to Australia. 12 days after that (I won’t fill you in on the multiple breakdowns of those 12 days as we attempted to pack up our lives in Sweden), we jumped on a plane, and then another plane, and then another plane (the joy of 27 hours of travelling, and to think this was the quickest possible itinerary – we literally got off one plane and ran onto the next) and last Friday we found ourselves back in Australia, only a few months after we were last here.

To say it is a little surreal would be an understatement. I for one never thought I would be here again for anything other than a holiday, but considering we have planned to be here for at least a full year this is no vacation. And for my wife, well, she’s a true Swede through and through who was born in a snowstorm, loathes the heat and is terrified of spiders, so living in Australia for a long period of time probably wasn’t on her agenda. Not to mention that we are going from Spring and Summer back into Spring and Summer (and a real Summer too…no offense Sweden).

Still, we’re going to enjoy it and make the most of our time here. We already have a car (a super old Audi…guess we’re clinging to our European-ness in any way we can), we’re slowly finding our way around the supermarkets to find food for my wife’s very Swedish palate (and, to be honest, my tastes in food have changed in my absence from Australia), and we’ve already squeezed in a couple of trips to the sea. Australia is a beautiful place, and if this really is going to be the last time I consider myself as living in Australia then I want to make the most of it and show my wife the wonders of the place I grew up, a country I will always consider a home.

After this very approximate year here, we’re going to swing back by Sweden for a month or so to say hello to everyone (especially all the people we never even said goodbye to – good grief folks, whatever you do don’t leave a country at such short notice like we did because it’s far too upsetting) and then we’re going to head to UK to spend some time (at least a couple of years I suspect) there.

So, for the time being we’re back down under. I miss Europe already, but if all goes to plan we’ll be back around this time next year. It had better not snow too much up there this year, otherwise I’ll just have to post lots of pictures of the beaches here to make you all jealous.

In my next post I’ll discuss some plans I’ve had brewing for the blog to keep this going while I’m down here! These plans even involve books…remember when my blog used to be mostly about books? Yeah me neither but anyway let’s see if I can return to those days.

Goodbye Sweden, for now. We'll be back soon. I took this photo at Galgberget in Halmstad just a few days before we left.

Goodbye Sweden, for now. We’ll be back soon. I took this photo at Galgberget in Halmstad just a few days before we left.

Ett år i Sverige (One year in Sweden)

Three hundred and sixty five days have passed us by since I landed in London worried and several hours late that eventful day (thanks to the extreme heat in Australia delaying take-off), suddenly changing my flight destination from Gothenburg (a couple of hours north of Halmstad) to Copenhagen in Denmark (which is a couple of hours south) to at least regain some lost time. Fifty two full weeks have gone since I held the love of my life in my arms and knew that it was finally over – after two years of dating with half the world between us (only seeing each other once each year), we would never have to be apart for a long period of time ever again. Twelve months have gone by since I said goodbye to my parents, sisters, future brothers-in-law, friends and colleagues, as well as the never-ending heat of the Australian summer sun and those glorious beaches.

It’s been a whole year since I moved to Sweden, and it’s been one of the strangest and most unpredictable years of my life. Approximately nothing went according to plan, but I guess that’s been the fun of it all. My Swedish language skills are still very basic. My job is unstable and I’m only just earning enough to survive. My integration into Swedish society has been a bumpy bureaucratic road on which we are still travelling, but it is slowly coming together. However, I have grown to love the people and the place, and I was lucky enough to go on an amazing road trip around Sweden in which I saw various sides of the country from the big cities to the endless forests and lakes of the north (for pictures and stories from that trip, start here). I’ve made some great friends, learned about some fascinating history and culture, and 2014 by far was one of the most memorable years of my life.

Immigrating has to be one of the weirdest and hardest things you can do, especially when moving to a country with a very different culture and language (had I moved from Australia to England, say, it would have been a lot easier. Mind you, I might move to England (Or Scotland) down the track anyway. But that’s much later). That feeling of nothing at all being familiar takes getting used to, but you also have to go through the process of distancing yourself from your old country to an extent because if you try to stay in both worlds mentally and emotionally you’ll just burn out. At the start of my time here I kept checking on Australian news and I tried to keep up with what all my friends were up to all the time. In the end, I stopped paying attention to the news (which I got in some ways through the few Aussies I have on my Twitter, and in other ways through friends who text me or my mother who likes to chat while playing Wordfeud games against me). I stopped going on Facebook so much, because where my blogging and Twitter is mostly connecting to people all around the world, my Facebook is almost entirely Australian – I have all but quit that site now. It’s not that I don’t care for a lot of those people – many of them have been in my life for over a decade – but I think as a human being we don’t have unlimited energy for others. I try to get news about lots of people from a smaller minority, I guess, and when I go back to visit Australia (likely in May for my sister’s wedding) I’ll get a chance to catch up with those people properly then. It’s something I have to accept – I can only do so much when I’m 18 000 kilometres away. Besides, as I draw dangerously near my thirties, a lot of my friends are heading off in their own directions anyway which makes me wonder how different it would have all have been if I stayed.

As I have slowly learned to let Australia go a little, it has given me more energy to embrace Sweden properly. I’ve stopped being frustrated by the overwhelming introversion of the populace and started to find it quite endearing. I’ll give you an example of what I mean here: in Australia, before I became a teacher, I worked many years in retail in a supermarket in a wide variety of positions, many of them lower levels of management. We used to make a big point there of encouraging the staff on the checkouts to talk to the customer – not just hello, but asking them how their day was, talking to them about something, anything really. If I was on the checkouts I used to try and see how many bad jokes I could tell on any one day, and silly things like that. Anyway, I digress. In Sweden, the people here are so shy they only say hello and then at the end tell you the price. What’s more, if they did strike a conversation, most Swedes would be horrified and wouldn’t even know what to do. The idea of talking to somebody you don’t know when you have no reason to is not something that crosses most Swedes’ minds. If you stand in line waiting for a bus, don’t be surprised if the next person stands a good metre or so away from you at least, just to ensure no conversations strike up and personal space is preserved. And in apartment blocks, it’s not unusual for tenants to glance out of their peep-holes into the stairwells before leaving, to avoid the terrifying event in which they should bump into and have to talk to their neighbours! It’s funny, because I have brought it up with a lot of people here and they all giggle and admit it is true before saying that they wish it wasn’t. But it is, and if you come from a more extroverted country like Australia or many parts of America it does take some getting used to, but it’s good to remember that they don’t mean any offense by it and there are certainly positive aspects to it all as well.

There are other things about the country I have grown to love. I actually like the wild differences in daylight hours – in Winter we only get about 7 hours of daylight, while in Summer we get more like 18 or 19 hours a day (and up in the Northern most parts it’s more extreme, with total sunlight in Summer and total darkness in Winter just about). But there is something nice about wandering around at night in Winter, especially when it’s snowed (something it hasn’t done too much of, sadly, but I have had a bit of snow to lose my balance on). Likewise, going out for dinner and then coming out to several hours of more light is pretty cool in Summer, and despite how much the sun is in the sky I don’t ever have to worry about experiencing the extreme heat that Australia has ever again – Swedish Summer is actually everything I like about summer: mildly warm long days. I also like the welfare system here overall – not that I am getting much out of it myself, but I feel like it is a much better system than many around the world. In fact, a lot of things in the country do work quite well. Internet is cheap and amazingly fast (5th best internet in the world, apparently, compared to Australia at number 44 in the rankings…awkies). Transport is expensive but very reliable and quite comfortable overall. The health system, from what I have seen, works well. I quite like the education system from what I understand about it and what I have experienced – even if it is far from perfect and many argue far from what it once was, there are a lot of good things happening in education here.

There are a few dislikes, of course. Alcohol is a pain to buy (all the bottle shops are run by a government controlled chain…so weird) and impossible to buy on Sundays without going to a pub, and drinking at a pub is insanely expensive. The food here is up and down – I have eaten a lot of great food but a lot of restaurants have very boring menus as well. Surprisingly, the most boring food menus I have discovered so far were in Stockholm – along the entire waterfront was a string of restaurants which all offered the same things that every typical Swedish place offers. On the whole, eating out here is a little bit more expensive than I’m used to back in Australia, although groceries probably cost a little less so eating at home is cheaper. Dangerously, chocolate is a lot cheaper here. And of course, my biggest dislike of all is the slippery ice – I make Bambi look graceful!

IMG_20140930_215315

The happy (silly) couple. I believe this was taken in England a few months ago, actually!

However, everything I have been through, everything I feel about the country, the ups and the downs – they are all worth it for one very big reason! I have spent a full year with the girl of my dreams, and today is also our three year anniversary! This year is going to bring even bigger things for us, some of which I will be sharing with you guys when they happen. But to say this might be the biggest year of my life is probably an understatement – I’ll leave it at that for now.

Now, if you’d excuse me, I have to go and cook a Saffron and Lemon Chicken dish for dinner (I’m completely out of my comfort zone cooking Persian food like this but I’m confident I can make this a heck of an anniversary dinner. And if all else fails there’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert, so, you know…). Also, yes, we are taking pictures of it and I will be putting this one up on my recipe blog some time next week.

Year two of my Swedish life….bring it on!

Sweden Road Trip #10: Ytterhogdal, Sveg, and back home again

YtterhogdalOur plan after leaving Norrland for Halmstad was to travel the 1000km (approximately) in two days, stopping over about halfway overnight. Of course, this didn’t happen at all. The first day we got going quite slow, and after only an hour or two of driving we were all quite hungry. We kept our eyes peeled for a McDonald’s, on the rather foolish assumption that everywhere has a McDonald’s eventually. But alas, we were so much in the middle of nowhere that there was no such place to be found. We eventually stopped in the tiny town of Ytterhogdal, and were going to go into a restaurant nearby that IMG_20140719_152757was probably going to be expensive when I found a Thai food place hiding on the side of a building. I thought it was too good to be true – real and good Thai food is a rarity anywhere in Sweden (especially coming from Australia where every third building is a Thai restaurant). But when I looked at the menu, it looked like legitimate, real Thai cuisine, so we ate what turned out to be an amazing lunch that will always be what I remember about Ytterhogdal (sorry any Ytterhogdalites who read my page…all three of you). My other half jumped in the water for a quick swim to get some respite from the heat, and then we got back in the car again.

IMG_20140720_085747We didn’t get much further though, and decided that evening to pull up in the town of Sveg and settle in for the night. This was a double edged sword – it was nice to rest but it may have extended the travelling by another day. We just didn’t know at this point. We didn’t even set up the tent we were so exhausted, but it barely got dark at all that night so sleeping outside was fun if a touch on the dewy side. IMG_20140928_151654Stopping to relax was something we oddly needed – the last few days of the road trip had taken it out of us more than we realised, so sitting down with a good book, coffee, and a simple pesto pasta meal was the perfect way to unwind. After a while, we decided to go exploring around the campsite. We found a little walking bridge to a tiny island, with a nice water fountain in the water nearby. But what we found on the island was actually quite interesting.

IMG_20140928_151938It turned out that there were a lot of beavers in the area who would often come up the river at night and run riot on this little island. They were almost never seen during the day, sadly, although there was an awesome statue in the middle of the island of a IMG_20140928_151810beaver chomping away on a tree. But what was visible if you looked closely was the damage to the island caused by the beavers – tree stumps that had clearly been gnawed away at over time. A part of me wanted to go and see if I could see any beavers later that night but then I was overwhelmed by a fairly excusable desire to sleep during the night instead. Oh well.

IMG_20140721_111412The next day we shot off again, but after only a couple of hours we were already struggling. About halfway through the afternoon we decided to do something drastic and unexpected – we stopped. The driver of our group decided to sleep for a couple of hours, while the rest of us chilled out by the side of this mountain with an amazing view of the lake and forests in front of us. The reasoning behind this was so that we could drive at night, when it was cooler, and just push on through until we got home in the early hours of the next day, which is exactly what happened – we did get home just as the sun began to come up.

It had been a long trip home, and I would guess the road trip itself was somewhere around the 3000km mark, but it had been an amazing two weeks that I’ll never forget. Sweden is an amazingly beautiful country and I am incredibly lucky to have seen so much of it with my own eyes. If you ever visit Sweden in your life, I urge you to go and see more than just the obvious places like Stockholm. I love cities, but the real Sweden is up north, with the trees and the lakes and even the moose. Go on, go visit it there. You won’t regret it, I promise you.

Sweden Road Trip #9: Östersund, the middle of Sweden

Östersund Town Square at 10 at nightÖstersund is a city almost perfectly in the middle of the country of Sweden, and was our last major stop on this road trip. It is the capital of the country of Jämtland and is kind of considered an unofficial capital of Norrland (Northern Sweden) as well. It has only about 44 000 inhabitants, and is promoted as a winter city due to its love and history of winter sports. It even hosted The Nordic Games (the predecessor to The Winter Olympics) often early last century because Stockholm didn’t have enough snow some years. While I don’t think The Winter Olympics have been held here or organised here yet (despite applications from the city), it has hosted a number of other championships in skiing and snowcross. In the picture to the right of the town square, taken at 10pm I might add, you can see behind the town on the hill a great skiing slope cut out between the trees. Apparently one day I have to ski on them. Oh joy. (I can’t even walk on ice…I’m like Bambi, it’s tragic).

Moose!We were only there for two nights, during which we met up with some of my girlfriend’s family who live up in the area (she herself was born up here, in a blizzard no less. No wonder she likes the cold). One of the first things to occur though, around the time they were helping us to set up the tent, was that a female moose appeared with its two moose children (what is the word I’m looking for here? Someone?) and started running around the outside of the camping site rather confused. Most people in the site stood up and watched with interest, not venturing to get any closer to it as it desperately tried to find more forest to run back into. But, I’m not most people and I decided in a slightly dangerous moment of David Attenborough-ness (it should be a phrase) to carefully, quietly chase after it. I tip toed as I got myself as close as I could to the beautiful animals without scaring them away, or attracting attention of a more violent nature (neither of which I wanted), and took a bunch of photos. It was great fun and I genuinely am happy to have finally seen a moose – I know this shows how utterly Australian I am, but oh well.

Östersund CountrysideAfter the moose incident, we finished setting up the tent (on a hill which led to us getting a bit wet…not the best camping site of the trip) and then went out for a dinner in the town with the family. The next day, we decided to go exploring around the area we were camping on, a little island a few minutes out of the city centre that housed a few Östersund Cute Houseresidents and a lot of beautiful countryside. We ended up walking much further than we intended, but we got to see some beautiful houses including one little cottage tucked away behind some trees, and I also loved the view of the mountains in the distance. Being here was Norrland Mountainsvery serene and calming, although it did seem less isolated than The High Coast felt earlier with the people and houses around here. The water constantly nearby also added to the atmosphere – I’ve said that I want to always live near the ocean (because I always have, despite moving nearly a dozen times between 3 countries) but I think I could live inland somewhere like this if there were lakes and rivers nearby – it turns out I just want to be near water. Also, this north, it would almost definitely freeze over during Winter for a few months.

Östersund TownThat second evening we went back into town. We wandered around the city a bit just to explore – it’s only a few centuries old, so it still looked nice but it’s not even half as old as a lot of cities in this country (including our home city, Halmstad). We found an Australian Pub, or so it claimed to be anyway, which after looking at the menu I decided we had no choice but to walk away from (I mean, the “Aussie Burger” was something like beef, egg, coleslaw and Sir Winston Pubpickles…sorry but where’s the normal salad like lettuce and tomato? The bacon? And most importantly the beetroot? Without beetroot you cannot call a burger Australian. End rant). So we left the unAustralian pub and ended up eating a really tasty meal elsewhere at a nice little beer garden before going for dessert and a cheeky cocktail drink at an English pub called Sir Winston which, as you can guess, was dedicated to Winston Churchill.

Östersund YoshiThe next day we would begin our drive back home, which after a couple of stops ended up occurring mostly at night out of exhaustion and desperation to not drive in the heat of the day anymore (stop laughing those of you from warmer countries – Sweden just had its hottest summer in decades okay? And Australian heat is just insane…nobody should live in that). I end this post with a couple of Östersund Yoshi againpictures of YOSHIS! Okay it’s not really Yoshi but you have to admit there are some similarities. These dinosaur looking statues are based on a local mythical creature of the water here not unlike the Loch Ness Monster. Much like Nessie, I hear this creature is quite elusive as well, but the statues are a lot of fun all the same.

 

Sweden Road Trip #8: Döda Fallet (The Dead Waterfall)

Dead Falls 1Now considered a natural wonder of the world, Döda Fallet has become a nature reserve and a major tourist spot on the roads through Jämtland in Northern Sweden. But this beautiful place is the site of one of Sweden’s biggest natural disasters, and as its name suggests it was once a powerful waterfall, known as Storforsen (which translates roughly as big whitewater rapid), with a fall height of 35 metres (115 feet) coming from the Indalsälven river and the 25km lake Ragundasjön. Now, that lake is dry and is used for farming (it looks like a field), the river has a different course (which some speculate may be similar to its course before the ice age), and the waterfall is non existent, with nothing but collapsed boulders and ground and a few ponds to hint at what was once here.

Dead Falls 2The disaster occurred back in the late 1700s, when logging was becoming a major industry in this part of Sweden. Storforsen was a bit of a problem for the loggers, as the logs often would not survive the sharp drop down the waterfall. In 1793 a man named Magnus Huss, later nicknamed Vildhussen (The Wild Huss), was given the task of solving this problem by trying to construct a new canal to bypass the waterfall. The forest was cleared out in the area but attempts to build the canal were repeatedly sabotaged by angry locals who objected to the whole project, and construction wasn’t started until 1796.

Dead Falls 3Despite a couple of delays and stoppages, work on the canal had begun and slowly it was being built backwards towards the lake Ragundasjön. But the canal was built on porous ground, and this became a major problem on the night between June 6 and June 7 of 1796. The spring flood that year had been much heavier than usual, and on this night the lake began to leak into the canal at an alarming and uncontrollable speed as the canal couldn’t hold together. Within only four hours the entire lake had emptied itself out, sending a 15 metre (49 foot) wave of water down the river, causing much destruction. Storforsen, the once powerful waterfall, had been silenced.

Dead Falls 4Amazingly, it seems nobody died in the wave that resulted from this accident. A lot of the soil and sediment washed down the river ended up forming new land near The High Coast which now hosts an airport, and the lake was turned into agricultural land which was actually useful in the aftermath of the disaster. A new waterfall also formed at the bed of the lake and that is now a hydro-electric station. Logging did become easier, but the river itself never became fully navigable. Storforsen completely dried up, along with the old path of the river in this area, and it became known as The Dead Falls.

King's RockAt the time Magnus Huss received the scorn of a lot of locals, as his ideas were both genius and disastrous as this event indicates. There are even rumours that he may have been killed – the following year he died on the river on a boat trip, but some say that locals stole his oars and pushed him out into the river. These days, however, there is a statue of him to commemorate his work (or attempts at it), and Döda Fallet has a 2.3km walkway with information on him and the disaster (the walkway you can see in some of these pictures). Some Kings and Queens have also visited and carved their visits on a rock now known as King’s Rock in the area too.

Dead Falls TheatreWhile it felt in the middle of nowhere (and it kind of was), this little brief stopover at Döda Fallet was worth it, and was a fascinating experience learning about this natural disaster from so long ago and seeing the obvious devastation it caused. If you’re ever up in Northern Sweden, this is definitely worth checking out. There’s even an outdoor theatre here and once or twice a year they put on a play about these events (presumably during the tourist season in Summer).

Sweden Road Trip #7: The Village You Could Only Enter By Foot

I’m not 100% sure where this village is, but Bönhamn is somewhere along The High Coast of Sweden and we discovered it while out adventuring one day. It’s one of the most unforgettable days of the entire trip for me, which is why I feel like it deserved its own post even if I don’t have as much to say about these pictures (so I’m mostly just going to list them with captions – sorry). One of them is the art experiment to do with the land rising as I promised in the last post, though. Enjoy!

This seaside village, which I assume is only even occupied in Summer (as it would freeze over in Winter) is blocked at the entrance by a sign which says "Welcome By Foot". In other words, you have to park outside the village and walk in (unless you live there, I guess).

This seaside village, which I assume is mostly occupied in Summer (as it would freeze over in Winter) is blocked at the entrance by a sign which says “Welcome By Foot”. In other words, you have to park outside the village and walk in (unless you live there, I guess).

As you can see a lot of the houses here have their own jetties or boats, and the people who do stay here in Winter would use snowmobiles to go across the water to the other side of town, or even to nearby islands. I suspect a lot of the houses are rented each Summer to tourists who feel like getting away from the big cities for a while.

As you can see a lot of the houses here have their own jetties or boats, and the people who do stay here in Winter would use snowmobiles to go across the water to the other side of town, or even to nearby islands. I suspect a lot of the houses are rented each Summer to tourists who feel like getting away from the big cities for a while.

There's a lot of boats in this village. I daresay almost as many boats as people.

There’s a lot of boats in this village. I daresay almost as many boats as people.

As I said in my last post, the land around here is rising by about 8mm a year (or a third of an inch). So a century ago, these rocks here would have been mostly underwater, and all the nearby islands would have been substantially smaller. Amazing when you think about it. I wonder how far back you'd have to go before these islands just weren't here at all? I suspect not very...

As I said in my last post, the land around here is rising by about 8mm a year (or a third of an inch). So a century ago, these rocks here would have been mostly underwater, and all the nearby islands would have been substantially smaller. Amazing when you think about it. I wonder how far back you’d have to go before these islands just weren’t here at all? I suspect not very…

This is the art project I was telling you about. These steps go into the water a fair bit as you can see, and the idea is that each step is measured with regard to the land rising speed so that each new generation will have a new step above the water. Really cool way to illustrate this geological phenomena!

This is the art project I was telling you about. These steps go into the water a fair bit as you can see, and the idea is that each step is measured with regard to the land rising speed so that each new generation will have a new step above the water. Really cool way to illustrate this geological phenomena!

This back yard rocks! Get it? ...moving on. But seriously though a lot of the houses around here had great gardens too, built around some of the nature such as giant boulders. I like this a lot.

This back yard rocks! Get it? …moving on.
But seriously though a lot of the houses around here had great gardens too, built around some of the nature such as giant boulders. I like this a lot.

This sign translates as the following: "If you want to be happy for a day, drink wine. If you want to be happy for a month, read a book. If you want to be happy for life, grow a garden."

This sign roughly translates as the following:
“If you want to be happy for a day, drink wine. If you want to be happy for a month, read a book. If you want to be happy for life, grow a garden.”

That’s it for now. In the next post we’ll head inland through the north of Sweden before beginning our trek back home in the South. I’m not 100% sure right now but I think I have three posts left in this little series, and I’m working to try and get them up quickly because I have other things to blog about too (like my trip to England this coming week, and of course, as always at this time of year, NaNoWriMo).

Sweden Road Trip #6: Höga Kusten

IMG_20140712_233923We spent about five days in Höga Kusten, making it the longest stop of the whole road trip. I’m going to cover most of those few days in this post, but there was one day on which we ventured out and discovered an amazing little seaside town which will get a blog post of its own (and you’ll see why when we get to that, too). But our arrival to The High Coast was a nice one – the weather was perfect for setting up the tent in our incredibly awkward spot IMG_20140713_094109between a bunch of trees not designed for 4WD’s with caravans attached to them. By the time we set up everything, we had some dinner and wandered down by the lake as the sun was going down. The next morning, also clear and sunny, we could really appreciate our view from the tent (pictured on the left – I stood just outside on the deck as I took this photo. Not bad, eh?).

IMG_20140713_184805The next couple of days are a blur, and I think possibly the next day we went on our random adventure I’m covering in part 7 of this series before the rain settled in for the week. At some point in those first couple of days, anyway, we began to explore the place, from the little pub and the couple of restaurants, to wandering past the other parts of the camping site, the mini-golf, and various other attractions. The camping site had the lake on our side, but behind us was the ocean, and there we found a sauna which we decided to go to before leaving this site. We also found a beach with lots of trees. For some reason I found this endlessly fascinating.

IMG_20140714_000129One fairly big world event that happened while we were at Höga Kusten was the World Cup Grand Final between Germany and Argentina. The only place you could see the game on the camping site was on your phone (if you had decent coverage, which most of us didn’t have) or the pub, which was showing it on their televisions. So we went down to watch the game, but about halfway through an enormous storm passed over us, quickly killing the television IMG_20140715_123419reception as we were smashed by violent rain. We then spent the next hour or so running between a group of 20 or so people huddled around the one phone that could show the game and outside to watch the lightning lashing across the sky. After the game, when the rain slowed down, we made a run for our tent again and warmed up inside. When we awoke the next morning, the site was starting to flood – a problem that wouldn’t go away until just before we left. It also turned out that a lot of Southern Sweden, where we’re from, was also flooding after almost a solid week of rain.

IMG_20140717_124803On the last night before leaving Höga Kusten and heading inland, we finally went to the sauna. It was free for anybody to use, and wood was provided behind the sauna – or rather it was supposed to be. After a little bit of investigating the wood allocated for use in the sauna was sitting behind a truck out of sight, about maybe a kilometre away. I volunteered to carry the bulk of the wood, slinging it in a big bag over my shoulders so that my IMG_20140926_204935back could take the strain. Once inside though, the sauna was nice and relaxing and had a great view of the sea and the bits of peninsula jutting out in front of us. Saunas are very popular in Sweden, both in Summer and Winter months, but I guess for me my experiences are limited because in Australia Summer is a kind of sauna, with high temperatures and high humidity for around half of the year. So it was nice to do this in a country where the whole thing is a bit more, well, warranted I guess.

IMG_20140717_125537The last day, before leaving, we went wandering around the edge of the camp site along the water, through a bunch of rock fields. It was quite interesting to find places where forest and rocks sort of intertwined, and in these areas the rocks were covered in this light white and green mossy stuff. It added a sort of mystique to the area, but the reason behind these rock fields is fairly well known. IMG_20140926_205325Back in the ice age, this area of land was pushed down by the ice significantly. After the ice age the land began to rise back up again very quickly, and today it rises in places here at around 8mm (or a third of an inch) a year. So these rock fields, not too long ago, were underneath the water. The land is constantly going through dramatic changes, even in the space of a single human lifetime, and there’s a great art experiment about this that I’ll show in the next post.

IMG_20140716_001048I leave you at the end of this episode with my favourite picture from Höga Kusten – one evening, as the mist rolled over the hills surrounding the lake, a German ship floated in the middle of the water. For some reason this reminded me of a certain scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which long-time readers of my blog will know is one of my all-time favourite movies). Anyway, it was eerie but awesome and I took about a dozen photos that all look the same and I’m not really sure why. Next time, I show our random adventure beyond the campsite area before we head inland and then back south toward home.