August 19, 2007

Scandinavian Pictures - Day 4 (August 17)

Swedish Excursion...

August 17 - Got up late, downed a latte and a croissant, and bought a ticket to Lund. (You'll remember that Lund won out over a visit to the castle that inspired Shakespeare's Hamlet. Mostly so that I can check off another country on my "have visited" list.) Crossing the Oresund Bridge, which is apparently some amazing Scandinavian engineering marvel (built in 2000 it's about 16km long and crosses the strait that separates Denmark and Sweden) was not as exciting as I thought it would be, because trains travel on the lower level while cars get the better view from the top. Arrived in Lund and had no idea where to go, since Erik had only told me that there was a tourist office near the cathedral. Fortunately, the city is small, and I wandered until I saw the cathedral and tourist information office.

The cathedral (Lunds Domkyrka) was quite nice. It was built around 1100, although it was restored to its present appearance in the 19th century. There is an astronomical clock in the interior. Even though it was supposed to do its thing at 11am and 3pm, I arrived just before noon, which is when it went off. It was a brief display, but the guide did give an explanation in Swedish and English before the clock chimed. The clock was made in 1424, although it too has been restored, and it helps tell when holy days (like Easter) are to occur. The crypt was also nice. It was created shortly after the founding of the cathedral, around 1123, and has not been restored much. One column is partly composed of Finn the Giant. The wikipedia page says that he was the builder of the church, but Erik told me the real legend is that he is trying to pull down the column and thus topple the cathedral.

Outside the cathedral is Lundagaard, a large green space with a fountain, some of the university buildings, and the historical museum. The top two floors of the museum were unfortunately closed, so I could only view their exhibit on Barbarians. It was, however, quite good and makes me want to take up Swedish archaeology now. The exhibit displayed a lot of artifacts from Uppaakra, near Lund. At the university, I saw four people dressed in capes, sunglasses, and funny hats. I have no idea what they were doing - perhaps some kind of graduation ritual? I walked around town after that, accidentally stumbling upon a cemetery while looking for the botanical gardens. Unlike Danish cemeteries, in Swedish ones (or at least in this one), there isn't grass in a burial plot but small stones, like gravel. Someone comes by and combs the stones - I saw the cemetery's caretaker doing just this as I walked through. It was an interesting effect.

The botanical gardens (Botaniska Tradgaarden), where Linnaeus once studied, were lovely and nearly deserted. I also walked over to the Stadsparken, a larger park in the west of the town. It had a cute little pond with well-behaved ducks, and also a tree whose intertwining trunks were painted a variety of pastel colors. On the way back to town, I noticed a plaque commemorating the place where August Strindberg lived (miseryyyyyyy!). I shopped a bit in town, buying some strange t-shirts with Danish on them and tights, and I ate lunch in the Saluhallen, famous for its local sausage. I, however, had an amazing amount of tasty Thai food for only 50 kr. (Lund has no fewer than 3 Thai restaurants and at least one Mexican restaurant, making it infinitely more diverse in food choice than Rome, a city probably 10 times its size.)

It got rather cold by the late afternoon, so I headed back to Copenhagen on the train and spent the evening staying off my feet and eating Plopp.

1 comments:

Erik said...

Finn did indeed build the cathedral, but then he got mad and decided he would destroy it. So he ran down into the crypt and tried to undo the foundations. God intervened and turned him into stone before he could do it. Hence why he's in the crypt "hugging" a pillar.

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