A beautiful day in Skåne

Hello again, and sorry for the delay in blog entries. It seems that broadband internet access is so prevalent here that everyone has it in their homes. However, there is no internet to be found in public. When I ask if there are any coffee houses or the like where I can use my computer, I get blank looks. "We don't need that - we have it at home." We did manage to check our email once by parking outside a hotel, though. Anyway...

Lund is situated in Skåne, the southernmost province of Sweden. Cousin Tommy and Maria offered to take us on a driving tour of the area. The land is quite beautiful, with rolling hills and fields that empty out as you approach the Baltic Sea.

Rapeseed field in Skåne

Our primary destination was Ystad, a coastal town on the Baltic Sea. There are many palatial homes in the woods just off the beach, but we were taken by the colorful stugas that pepper the area. Many Swedes head for the ocean in the summer. Instead of carting all of their gear from the car each time they arrive, however, they buy or rent a stuga. This way, umbrellas, clothing, food, etc. need only be carried in once, then you're set for the summer.

Stugas along the water in Ystad, Sweden

Before we left Seattle, Monika had borrowed a Swedish travel film from the library. It was made in the 60's, and was hysterical in that it made what we thought were absurdly broad generalizations about the culture. Among these was the assertion that Swedes enjoy ice cream so much, it could very well be considered a national obsession. It was so boring, in fact, that I fell asleep on the couch before it was over.

Well, when we left the beach in Ystad to get some food, what do I see a few feet off the boardwalk? Yup...

The Swedes are nutty for ice cream.

We laughed, remembering the travel film. But the further we walked, the more people we saw eating ice cream. It became kinda spooky. There must have been hundreds of ice cream eaters, of all ages, in Ystad. We've been to several cities and towns since, and I've noticed that every little corner store has a gigantic clown-shaped sign on the sidewalk advertising the presence of ice cream inside. I've also had the chance to ask several people: is it true that Swedes love ice cream? The answer? Yes. Yes, it is. Monika and I now refer jokingly to Swedes as "those pathological ice cream eaters"

We eventually found a lovely spot to grab a bite to eat, where Monika snapped this shot of Maria and I:

Maria Nyström

Cousin Tommy and I have known each other for some years, as he often came to Seattle on business. Our arrival in Sweden marks my first meeting with Maria, and we have hit it off famously. She has a wicked sense of humor; look closely - you can see it in her eyes.

After lunch, it was back to the beach, where I wanted to dip my toes in the Baltic Sea. Anyone who lives on the Northwest coast of the United States will tell you that the ocean is, to put it mildly, very cold. It has a way of curling your toes and cramping your feet. Well, if that's the case, then I have to believe that too much time spent wading in the Baltic Sea will make your feet snap off your legs entirely. Holy crap, was that cold!

A leisurely walk along the Baltic Coast of Southern Sweden

The next stop on our tour was the ancient town of Kåseberga, which is situated on a high hill overlooking the Baltic Sea:

The road from Ales Stenar down to Kåseberga

Kåseberga is a fishing village known for the Ales Stenar, a viking rock formation placed on the hilltop. It is 220 feet long, 62 feet wide, and is the shape of a sailing ship. It was erected 1400 years ago, and it's not known how the rocks were transported up the hill. It takes about 40 minutes to make the steep climb to the hilltop, and all i was carrying was my camera...

Ales Stenar in Kåseberga

Ales Stenar in Kåseberga

Cone crazy in Sweden

And that was our day in Skåne. Next up: the province of Dalarna, and the town of Borlänge.