Weekend in Bohuslän

We just returned from a fabulous weekend in a part of the country we had not visited before. About 100 miles north of Halmstad is an archipelago called Bohuslän. Named after a Norwegian castle from the Middle Ages, the archipelago consists of around 3,000 islands and 5,000 smaller islets that jut out into the North Sea. An old friend of Mariette’s invited us up for the weekend and we had a blast.

First, here are Anca and her husband Magnus along with Prada and me.Image

They are laid back Swedes, which is not unusual when your taxes go to programs that take a lot of stress out of everyone’s lives. We drove up on Friday and stayed at their house which is on the island of Orust, the largest in the archipelago



Your typical beautiful, comfortable Swedish house. It was build in the late 1600s but the only part of the original house still there is a wall under the stairs. We should have taken some pictures of the inside. Oh, well.


Views of the nearby lake and surrounds.



After a Image

After a super seafood dinner and enjoyable conversation, we spent Saturday sightseeing around the island.



This was a resort area about a mile and a half from where we were staying. You can imagine why Swedes get so happy during summer, especially one like this where it has been nice for 2 1/2 months now, which is unheard of as far as I  know.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageThen we drove to the other side of the island to a fishing village called Möllesund. Notice the freshly painted buildings.

ImageIn fact, it looked to me that every building in the town had been painted within the last couple of years. There must be a city ordinance at work here or the city fathers embarked on a tourist attraction campaign to spruce the place up or something. It really impressed me at least. Möllesund is a really pretty fishing village.





After another fabulous Swedish summer grill fest we headed back this morning and happened upon a caravan of classic cars, which are quite popular in Sweden, towing some classic camper trailers. They pulled into the same gas station as we did and I got some shots. These campers are the real old style trailers and you would be amazed when you see them opened up how much more is in there besides a sleeping pad. 



Seeing these lovingly restored and maintained vehicles put the cherry on top of a fabulous weekend as well as a pleasant distraction from the fact that gas is 9 bucks a gallon here. Not even that can take the edge of this summer, though. And the forecast is for continued happy weather! I must remember to pinch myself.




Big Finish to the Week

Today was the last day of SM Veckan or Swedish Championship Week. There was a lot going on and I took in as much as I could. Much of it was happening at the Halmstad Arena so that’s where I headed.

I arrived just in time to see the conclusion of the Ultimate Frisbee title game. For some reason the photos on my cell phone are blurry when I zone in as I had to do here.

ImageImageAfter the game, both teams got together for a love fest. The camera crews caught all the action and interviewed players after the game.



But today I was after bigger game. I read up on roller derby before going so I could make sense of the chaos on the track. It helped. A little. ImageImageImage

This bout was clearly out of control from the early going.


I checked back later and the final score was something like 600 to 38. The other scores I saw recorded on a sheet were like 150 to 120. The roller derby culture attracts what Wikipedia called third wave feminists. What I noticed were tattoos, colored hair and a punk/goth vibe. 


Yes, that big guy is wearing a kilt but that is no tartan that I recognize.ImageImageImageImageThe other interesting carry over from the days when roller derby was more entertainment than sport are the skate names some of the girls go by. Check these out.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageNow, back to the action on the track.



The scripted wrestling type shows that I watched as a kid seemed more interesting but roller derby was one of my favorite events.

In the next hall down, all the weights still apparently had not been lifted and when I checked in the big boys were at it.


In case you are wondering that is 267.5 kilos or 588.5 pounds that guy is dead-lifting. That is a load.ImageOne more hall down from the power lifting guys I ran into the Brazilian jujitsu tournament. Totally different culture here as well. A lot of foreign looking and sounding people mixed in with the Swedes.

ImageImageImageThings had wrapped up in the center of town. The triathlon had finished and people were breaking down tents and barriers. Off in the distance, though, I could hear the whine of engines, so I biked down to the harbor where the last of the non-swimming events was taking place, the auto rally. Cars were smoking down the harbor but my camera did not do a good job of catching the show. Still, I will inflict these two shots on you.

ImageImageIt has been a really enjoyable week here. There were 5,000 people competing in 31 different sports, which made the week half the size of a summer Olympic games in terms of competitors. The different cultures surrounding the different events made an impression on me from the military types at yesterday’s obstacle course to the tough roller derby chicks to the aeronautic set in their planes. Of the 31 events I managed to catch 16 of them. There were several others that I caught on TV like inline hockey and swimming. 

My conclusion is that for a country with a population 1/4 that of California, Sweden is a pretty sports-mad nation. Just the sheer diversity of events all happening over the course of one week tells me that as a society Swedes try to include as many as can fit. Two years ago SM Veckan was held in Halmstad but with far fewer sports and we had just moved so did not hear about it. This time around you could not miss it. Oh, and next week the European women’s football championships start here as well.

To top it off, the weather has been spectacular for two months now with today being the best day of a really good string of days. They say that summer is short here but we have had two months so far and the rest of July is looking good too. We have learned to enjoy it when it comes and I along with many others enjoyed this past week enormously.






Swedish Championship Week

I know I promised to make some posts about the sports championship week here in Halmstad. Things got off to kind of a slow start but have picked up considerably in the past couple days. So, let’s have at it.


There was some good stuff on Monday but because I forgot the key to my bike lock, I could not take advantage of it without risking my bike being stolen. I realize Halmstad is not Berkeley where even stuff that IS nailed down gets stolen but I decided not to risk it. So, that leaves us with, basically, boules. Precision boules to be precise.


They set up the alleys in the central square. The idea is to hit the ball sitting their with your ball.Image

Each contestant gets one throw from each of  those circles and points are awarded for direct hits or hits on a bounce.ImageI went down to the arena where the inline hockey was taking place but thought the better of it, like I said. So, I decided to go swimming. But the swimming arena was being set up for the swimming that has been going on all week (swimming is a big sport in Sweden and especially here). Well, with the swimming pool closed, I opted for the beach and a dip in the sea, which is getting warmer. The water is 18 C. these days which is 64 F. and a good deal warmer than Half Moon Bay.


Today was rowing day. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


There was stuff happening on Wednesday but nothing I was really interested in.


Today was the beginning of the air acrobatics out at the airport. I went out there with Mariette’s dad who is a real airplane enthusiast. One of the highlights of his childhood was a German fighter plane that landed on the farm where he grew up. The pilot evidently saw the writing on the wall and deserted.



There were some planes on display and a glider. The public could sit in them and play with the controls. Mostly kids were doing this, including one 82 year old kid.



The air show started and was pretty impressive but the cloud cover was too low so the day’s show was cancelled after one exhibition. 😦

All was not lost because even if it is raining you can still play beach water polo. So, it was back to town for that.

ImageImageImagePicasso’s sculpture overlooked the scene.



I finished off the day by engaging in my own sporting event: mowing the lawn after two weeks of rapid growth occasioned by summer sun and intermittent rain. The lawnmower needed repairs and the landlord had just brought it back. That finished off my day, literally. 


Things started heating up on Friday, beginning with Frisbee. A lot has evolved with the flying disc since I learned to throw it in my dorm hallways in college many years ago. There are all kinds of games played with it from frisbee golf to a variety of football to this, called double disc frisbee.



In DDF, each two man team stands in a square and two frisbees are thrown so they land in the opponent’s square. You get points if it lands in the square or if both opponents are touching the frisbee at the same moment. 

The frisbee venue was near the airport but the morning was overcast so no air show in the morning. So, it was back to town to see if the 3 on 3 basketball had started (it hadn’t, though the court was set up and people were fooling around on it) and to catch some bike races.



Now that things are rolling Channel 1 is in town covering the events.ImageImageAfter this stop it was out to the Halmstad Arena (a very large multi purpose facility with space for everything under the sun). I missed the weightlifting on Monday but the power lifting was going on today, specifically the bench press.



Now, take a look at this guy’s back. It looked more massive in person, but you can see why this guy favors weightlifting competitions over marathons.



By now the sky had cleared and I was determined to catch some more air acrobatics so back to the airport I went. The show did not disappoint.



Not many photos from this so you will have to take my word for it that the stunts were pretty cool: straight up, turn, straight down, pull out, loop de loop, fly upside down, all amazing when seen from the ground but must be a spectacular to actually do it.

The final stop of the afternoon was the super endure taking place nearby the frisbee fields. When I was there in the morning I saw they wanted 20 bucks to watch but as I biked past I saw a lot of people on a hill outside the venue so I followed their lead and grabbed a place in the grass. Right next to Mariette’s mother whose bike I recognized when I parked mine and then went and found her. She’s a photographer who has had many photos published and true to form she was there with her film camera, so her shots will undoubtedly be better than these cell phone shots, but they will give you the idea.




Things were really cooking today. So much going on that I had to sacrifice some stuff (like the tug-of-war) to catch other events. First, more bike races.

ImageImageThen, the start of the women’s triathlon, which was about to start as I passed by.

ImageImageImageImageEasily as interesting was the guy on a Segway with his French bulldog.

ImageAll this was a distraction from where I was headed: back out to the Arena to watch track and field. I got there just as the 110 meter hurdles were starting.





ImageThere were mostly women’s events going on while I was there. Since the Area is nearby I ventured over to see what was going on. In one of the halls was something I was curious about: roller derby. I popped in for a look but it was so damn confusing I thought i better find out a little about it before going back tomorrow. It looks nothing like the roller derby I used to watch on TV as a kid with the Bay Area Bombers led by Charley O’Connell and Annis “Big Red” Jensen. 

But, in the next hall down was something I could understand: more power lifting. Today, the dead lift. This guy is lifting about 440 pounds. He looked like he weighs about 190.



The thing I was really interested in seeing today was the obstacle course run that is part of the 5 military event competition along with shooting and swimming and a couple others. This obstacle course intrigued me so I went to check it out. it did not disappoint. There are about 20 obstacles spread out over about 500 meters and the competitors are basically going over stuff and under stuff. 


When they get to the top, they don’t climb down but just jump down. Flat feet, anyone?



This guy might look like he was taking a rest and he probably wanted to by this point in the course but he kept chugging along. ImageImageImageImageImageMost of the competitors just collapse when they cross the finish line. It is an exhausting 3 or 4 minutes. The last guy I saw run the course looked like Spiderman as he bounded over and under the obstacles. It was really, really impressive.

Finally, it was back to town to catch some basketball finally. Lots of energy in evidence but not a lot of shooting touch from those I saw.



After dinner, we went down to the beach and checked out the beach handball action. Mariette said this looked more like some guys fooling around on the beach than teams competing for the Swedish national championship.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageHard to disagree, though team handball is the one sport I have come to enjoy since moving here. I had to get this post up tonight because tomorrow is the final day of competition and there will be a lot to see.