Sunday, September 16, 2018

Solliden Palace, Öland

Road Trip 2018, Part 16

Solliden Palace, commonly just called Solliden, situated not far from the Borgholm Castle Ruin on Öland, is the summer residence of the Swedish Royal Family. It was built in 1903-1906 for Victoria of Baden, wife of the Swedish crown prince Gustaf. One year later Gustaf became king (Gustaf V), and Victoria the Queen of Sweden. They were the great grandparents of our present king. The property has been passed on in the family, and now belongs to king Carl XVI Gustaf.

The inspiration for the architecture of this palace was an elegant Italian villa. The palace is also surrounded by a beautiful park, which is open to visitors in the summer. Traditionally, the present Crown Princess Victoria (born 14th July 1977) always celebrates her birthday here, also including meeting “the public”. The event also involves an outdoors concert with well-known artists, held in a nearby sports field and televised nationwide. I watched this year’s event two nights before Per and I set off on our road trip. Our visit to Öland and Solliden was on the 18th. No sign of the royal family still being there then, I’m afraid. Or perhaps that was to our advantage… (I’m not sure if they can keep the usual opening hours in the park when the royal family is actually there!)

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Sign pointing to “Slottet” = The Palace

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At the entrance to the park. (Inside, I think.)

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For a palace it’s not really big, but it’s still grand…

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‘A tourist may look at a king’… or at least at his garden!

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This fairy tale cottage up on a hill opposite the palace used to be “playhouse” for the king’s four older sisters back when they were children. Perhaps still used as such when today’s generation of little ones are visiting? Anyway, besides the gardener mowing the lawn, there was also a very serious-looking guard keeping watch over the path up to that cottage, so that no visitors would dare go up there. (He looked so stern I did not even dare take a photo with him in it!)

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No walking on the lawns!

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Lots of sculptures, old and new, in the lower part of the park

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The name “Solliden” may translate “Sunny Hill” or something like that. It is situated on the side of a hill, and if you ever visit, you should be prepared for quite a steep walk down to the entrance of the park, and further down again into the lower parts of the park. And then all the way back up again… I’ll add a little “phew”, as it was another day with temperatures around 30’C (86’F). But it was worth it, to get to see this lovely green and flowering oasis in the otherwise very dry and brown landscape this summer.

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Also a lovely day to show off the Swedish flag!

Back up at the parking lot, I did not have the energy to also climb over a fence to go and pay my respects to the sculpture of old Queen Victoria who had the palace built.  So I just zoomed her in with my camera. (Yes, that’s the Borgholm Castle ruins in the background.)

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And below is a portrait of the present-day royal family, copied from their own website.

Kungafamiljen vid Solliden slott 2016. Foto: Jonas Ekströmer/TT


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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Blackout Week

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Yes, it’s been “one of those weeks” – and not only on the political level (see Monday).

On Tuesday I had a dental appointment, with the outcome that I had to book another one for Thursday, for a bigger job… (Just as with the election, I had pretty much expected that to happen, though.)

On Tuesday evening, my TV screen froze. It happened rather late and I assumed it was some temporary transmission problem, so I just turned it off.

Wednesday was Laundry day. One of my projects for this month has been to wash curtains – something I don’t do very often, but after the extremely dry and dusty summer with the windows ajar most of the time, I thought it seemed like a good idea. This week, the turn had come to my blackout curtains from the bedroom. That turned out not to be a good idea. Let’s just say that I’ll be buying new blackout curtains before next spring…! In winter I don’t really need those, though. So for now I have put up a pair of old lace ones. (Not ancient, but definitely the very opposite of blackout.)

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The TV, on the other hand, was still on blackout (now literally showing a black screen). I tried the classic “turn it off and turn it on again” trick with both the receiver and the TV itself, but all I got was the error message above: “Error 2: Could not get an IP address. Please check that your set-top box is correctly connected to the network. If the problem persists, please contact support.” Eh? The internet, also on the fibre cable, was working. So how could there not be an IP-address? My smart-TV was also working with the internet “play” apps; just not with the streaming channels. And “set-top box” – what’s that? What I call the “TV box” was obviously connected to the TV, as its name also came up wíth that cryptic error message. Checking the other end of the cable, there seemed to be nothing wrong there either. So what did they mean with not being “connected to the network”… What network? …

Okay. Problem obviously persisting, time to call support. But… What support?? … I read through various papers and websites again, and arrived at the conclusion that most logically it should be the company I’m paying to provide my TV channels. So I called them, and after the usual round of button-pressing and waiting and so on, at last I got through to a human being. But of course they denied this had anything to do with them; they said I had to call different company, whose role in the chain of technology I have to admit I still don’t get. However, this was about four minutes to six p.m., and that support closed at six… So I had to give up for the day.

On Thursday I had my second dental appointment – preparations for getting a crown on a tooth at the very back of my jaw; and having a rather small jaw + chronic neck problems, that’s a rather exhausting procedure. Almost had a “blackout” when I got back up on my feet (well – felt a bit dizzy, anyway)…

Back home, it took a few hours before I could speak properly again (half my tongue anesthesized along with my jaw). Again it wasn’t until the late afternoon that I felt up for another attempt to deal with the TV problem. But while rummaging through various old instruction papers and brochures, I found a  “TV emergency support” phone number to the housing corporation I’m renting my flat from. I thought that had probably just been a temporary thing in connection with the installation of the new cable, but decided to give it a try. To my surprise, it was still working, and I got immediate help: Besides restarting the TV-box, I should try restarting the main fibre cable box on the wall as well. This hadn’t occurred to me, as the internet (coming out of the same box) was working… The whys and hows are still beyond me, but the main thing is that it did work to follow the local tech guy’s step-by-step instructions: Unplug TV-box. Unplug wall-box. Wait a bit. Plug in wall-box. Plug in TV-box. And voilá!

It’s more for my own benefit than anyone else’s that I’m writing this down… Hoping that if it happens again, I will remember what to do!


As for the national Post-Election situation, that too is still as complicated as that Error message: What? Who?? How??? Re-count of votes still going on but even a slight adjustment of the numbers won’t really make a difference. It’s still a deadlock situation as to who will support whom, or just continue to blame everyone else.



Monday, September 10, 2018

It’s Complicated!

The Swedish Election 2018 – The Short Version:

Nobody won, everyone declared themselves the winner, and it’s going to take a good while to sort things out…

No automatic alt text available.


If anyone wants details, I suggest you go to:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45466174



Sunday, September 9, 2018

Borgholm Castle Ruin, Öland

Road Trip 2018, Part 15

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Borgholm Castle, originating from the 12th or 13th century, stands on the edge of a rocky precipice overlooking the strait of Kalmarsund. First mentionend in 1281, one of the oldest parts of the castle was a round defensive tower, from where lookouts could monitor the boat traffic. The city of Kalmar on the mainland also had its own fortifications. (We’ll be visiting Kalmar Castle in a later post.)

In the past, Öland was not an exclusively Swedish island. There were also Danish and German interests here, and from time to time the castle was under their control. When Gustav Vasa (Gustav I) was crowned king of Sweden in 1523, Borgholm castle lay in ruins. In the late 1500s, during the reign of king Johan III, it was transformed into a Renaissance castle. The old tower was restored; four wings were built around an inner courtyard; and facing inland, new defensive walls with huge bastions and platforms were added, from which every part of the castle could be protected.

In a war between Denmark and Sweden in the early 1600s, the castle again suffered serious damage. After the Peace of Roskilde in 1658, when Sweden’s border was moved further west, it lost its importance as a frontier fortress. There were plans to turn it into a baroque palace; but soon after this work was completed, it was left to again fall into decay; and in 1806 it was further destroyed by fire. In the 1880s, however, work was started to preserve the ruin and make it accessible to visitors.

What we see today is the ruins of the 17th century baroque palace; now owned and managed by the National Property Board of Sweden (Statens Fastighetsverk). It is open for visitors, and the inner courtyard is used for concerts, theater performances, and other events.

(Facts picked from a sign near the castle + Wikipedia.)


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Courtyard with stage and audience gallery

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“Upstairs”

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Zooming in the church tower in the town (from up on top of the castle).


Aerial view of the Borgholm castle ruins from 2013 ( Wikimedia Commons )



Saturday, September 8, 2018

Borgholm Harbour, Öland

Road Trip 2018, Part 14

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Borgholm is the main city on the island of Öland. It has only around 3000 inhabitants but attracts a lot of tourists in summer. The huge grey monstrosity of a building hovering in the background of the last photos here is the ruins of Borgholm Castle; first built in the second half of the 13th century, but destroyed in a fire in 1806. (We’ll be going there for a closer look in my next road trip post.)


Weekend Reflections

SkyWatch Friday

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