Monday, November 02, 2015

Sweden: Visiting My Ancestors

So after one long day walking all around Gothenburg, the next morning we slept in and then I met one of my college roommates for a traditional Swedish fika!  She lives in Gothenburg with her Swedish husband and two little boys.  It was very fun to catch up and actually discuss how she likes living in Sweden!  Quite interesting to hear an American's perspective on things from someone who's actually lived there for awhile with a family.

This picture is just outside my cousin's apartment, they have since moved (after being on a city wide waiting list for 5(!) years).

Then Clara and I took off for downtown again to walk through the botanical gardens and meet up with my in-laws.

The weather was pretty gorgeous this day so it was a nice walk.  This is the national theater as we're standing in front of the entrance to the garden.

Just to the right of the photo 2 above runs one part of the moat.  Here we are looking at what I think are some of the original city walls.

The garden was such a lovely park area right near downtown Gothenburg.  It was getting chilly after the first of September (and almost all the main tourist attraction type things close at the end of August) but I could see this place being very popular in the summer.  Also wondering if my brother would have tried to climb one of these structures!

With it being significantly into fall there I was actually quite surprised at how much was still in bloom in the gardens and how many tropical type flowers they had growing outside.  I'm not sure how they survive in the winter or if Gothenburg's winters are just mild enough because they have such a maritime climate even though they are pretty far north.

This greenhouse had very tropical type things in it like palm trees.  There is a balcony at the back with cafe tables and chairs, looked like a great spot to get some warmth in the winter!

Another view of the same wall as we walked through the garden.

Past the greenhouse were some formal gardens with lots of rose bushes.  These had mostly passed their prime, but it was still gorgeous.

Then we walked around the corner to the main square.  This is the train station where all the trains go to other parts of the country.  We came back through here on Saturday.

90 degrees to the left was another section of the canals and the bridge said the year 1873. I'm not sure there are ANY man made structures in my area that old.

Exactly opposite the main train station (and across the canal) was the hotel that we'd stayed in, the Radisson Blu.

Then we took a drive, where I promptly fell asleep, for about an hour and a half up to the family home of Skara.  It's also home to the oldest cathedral in Sweden!

This is the crypt under the alter area (above) which traces back to the year 1060!  Two former churches were on this spot before the current cathedral was built around 1250.  So much history!

It's not a super large cathedral, but in such a small town it feels really big.  The towers are 215 feet tall and the building is also 215 feet long.

The roof is green copper, but the spires roofs were replaced in the 80's and it since it takes over 100 years for it to become green they don't look the same as what Clara remembers from her childhood.

Across the street is a small library and historical society.  The Skara Missal or Mass Book is the oldest preserved book in Sweden.  It's over 850 years old!

This lovely gentleman helped us look up some of our family history on the computers.  I wish we'd had a LOT more time with him.  But I now have copies of the original ledger papers where my grandfather and his parents are listed, as well as the dates they left for America.

And then we went out to dinner at a Mediterranean place.  We were the only customers and after awhile we struck up a conversation with the owner/chef.  He was a Syrian and had been in Sweden just a year.  He said he actually wasn't a refugee, but I'm not sure what else you could call him.  I actually had a harder time understanding his English than Clara, not sure why, maybe because I was just so tired!

I then crashed at my cute little hotel where my room on the third floor was labeled 106 and the first floor rooms were labeled in the 300's.  Shower down the hall and motion sensor lights in the in room toilet which turned off if you sat still for too long!  Still a more comfy bed than I've ever slept in in any hotel in America.  The Swedes do beds right!

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