Day 3

Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Start: Malmö (S) 10:00
Arrival: Gränna (S) 17:15
Total: 392 km


Fotevikens Viking Village

Our first stop the next morning was another open-air Viking museum south of Malmö, called Fotevikens. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the place was very calm, no noisy throngs of tourists or queues in sight.
The young woman at the entrance explained to us that, in Scandinavia, the summer tourist season is already over in mid-August. Also, apparently we had been very lucky, because this was the first warm, sunny day this month. We would hear the same thing everywhere on our way up to Northern Finland. Also, everyone in Sweden and Finland spoke really good English, so there was no problem chatting with people.
Fotevikens consists of several reconstructed living and working quarters, gardens, a tower and public places. You enter through a wooden gate and the whole thing really gives you a feel for what a Medieval Scandinavian village might have been like. Most of the houses were open, and you could try out the chairs and fur wraps and hold kitchen utensils in your hand. Some living quarters were dug lower than the ground, but inside it was actually quite pleasant, as you can see on the picture from the intro text.
There were even a few "real Vikings" to be seen, like this shepherd watching over his herd, but I'm sure that during the holiday season, there would be a lot more of them around.
After we had visited the execution place, climbed up a mound and enjoyed the view from the tower, we still had plenty of time before we needed to head north. So we set out for another Viking attraction close by. This one was called Trelleborg, just like the one we had seen the day before in Demark, Actually, Trelleborg means "ring castle fortress", it's a type of settlement that was common in this area in Early Medieval times.
So we were on the road again, following the signs leading us along a very busy coastal road. According to Google Maps, there should also be a four-lane-highway between the two places, but for some reason that was beyond me, the local authorities preferred to guide the tourists through every little village on the way. I wonder whether the people living there appreciate the unnecessary traffic noise. I know people in Luxembourg wouldn't.



So we trundled along behind a truck, when suddenly even this slow progress was put to a halt by a busy road construction site. The 16 kilometers between Fotevikens and Trelleborg took us a lot longer than expected, but finally we arrived.
We paid the small entrance fee and headed for the reconstructed longhouse. This one was much more airy and bright than the one in Denmark, where you practically had to grope around in the dark. A "Viking lady" was sitting there, doing some sort of textile braiding. Curious, we got closer and struck up a conversation. She showed us how to make tresses out of seven threads, instead of the usual three. I got to try it, and it's actually very easy, once you know the moves.
Then she got Sonia and me to do some sort of cross-weaving. I suppose such activities are a highlight with school classes, but as there were no tiny visitors around, we were allowed to try. We both held a stick with an attached thread in each of our hands. Then Sonia swung the stick in her left hand towards me, while I pushed the one in my right hand towards her. Thus we cross-swapped sticks and wove a braided band in the process. We seemed to be naturals and soon were swinging the sticks ever more speedily. Which, of course, was exactly when things became completely muddled up. So we took it slower and completed a very nice, long braid, which we were allowed to take home as a souvenir. We were dead chuffed. Brings out the kid in you.
The second highlight in Trelleborg was a reconstructed part of the high fortress wall, complete with a little fort. We strolled over the battlement, then back down through the park, towards the café, where we rewarded ourselves with a soda and a delicious coconut chocolate cake, seemingly a Swedish specialty. Around half past one, we were on our way to Gränna, a town famous for another well-known Swedish sweet, namely Polkagris, a sort of red-and-white-striped rock candy.
Before setting out in Trelleborg, we had called our Swedish friends from Gothenburg, which we wanted to meet in Gränna. My sister and Babsan had met on the Iron Maiden board more than a decade before, and even though we're not active on that forum anymore, Sonia and Babsan still entertain a busy email friendship that would have made Goethe and Schiller proud. After more than ten years, we were finally going to meet her and her husband Jon in the flesh. I must admit I was more than a bit nervous. Would we "click" in person?
This time we found the highway without trouble, and headed back north to Malmö, then Helsingsfors and Jonköping. This was the main road connecting Malmö to Stockholm, the sun was smiling down on us, there was not too much traffic and so we made good speed. At a gas station, I paid with my credit card at the pump and again the machine refused to spit out a receipt. Odd. Maybe they just need to replace the paper roll inside the machine from time to time?
Near Jönköping, there was a road sign for Huskvarna. Funny name, sounded vaguely familiar. I rummaged around in my brain and finally remembered: Husqvarna - those were tractors and heavy-duty machines. So they were probably made here in this suburb of Jönköping. We wondered why the brand was written with a "q". Maybe to make it appear more exotic? I for one had always thought that they were Canadian or Alaskan, because of this Eskimoic "q". But I'm certainly no a specialist in Arctic languages.



The town of Gränna greeted its visitors with a large model of Polkagris, so we were in a sweet mood when we reached our hotel for the night: Gyllene Uttern (the golden otter) looked like a charming old English country pub, with thick stone walls and a thatched black roof. Splendid! Unfortunately, we were not sleeping in the wonderful main building, but instead were allocated accommodations in the new outbuilding, a functional, not to say quite ugly, container-like building from the 1960s, by the look of it. The room however was very nice, and we had a spectacular view over Lake Vättern.
Waiting for our friends on the hotel veranda, we enjoyed the warm summer sun and the peace and quiet of this beautiful hotel. Around 6 PM, Babsan and Jon arrived and I need not have worried at all. We immediately clicked and spent a wonderful evening, pleasantly chatting about all and sundry. They grew up in Falun, a Swedish town famous for its rich mines. We didn't think we would have enough time to visit it, but we spontaneously changed our mind: instead of taking the main highway to Stockholm and following the coast road, we would head North right away and drive inland towards Falun.
Babsan and Jon told us a lot about Swedish history, and we also got a little lesson in Swedish pronunciation. Many town names end in -eå, like Luleå, and they are not pronounced Loo-lay-ahh as I thought, but rather Loo-lyo. Sounds actually a bit Spanish to me. This also explains why the Swedish/Finnish border town of Torneå is called Tornio in Finnish. Neat.
We had an excellent dinner in the hotel restaurant and around 10 o'clock, our friends returned to Gothenburg, while Sonia and I got ready for bed. Tomorrow would be a long day, and we wanted to make an early start.


Day 2                              up                              Day 4