Uppsala

Pedantic animal that I am, I should correct my description of the soprano in the role of Rosina in my last blog. I wrote:

“The singing and action is up there too! A wonderful lyric tenor and a bel canto soprano, belting it out!”

The correct singing style was “coloratura” not bel canto! Indeed both tenor and soprano demonstrated remarkable coloratura singing!

Yet again apologies as the picture yesterday was on its side! They are ALL of perfect orientation on the iPhone 4S! Would an iPhone 5 be the answer?

Anyway…..to my day in Uppsala

Sweden or at least Stockholm does not go in for bilingual signage – why should they, you may well ask? Well it is not easy for foreigners when the Swedish language is made up of words that have a minimum of 23 letters with jaw breaking, tongue twisting runs of vowels and consonants!

Most Swedes seem to speak excellent English, thankfully.

Yesterday was the first day in six weeks of atrocious winter weather so I wandered aimlessly through the equivalent of a Westfield shopping complex sitting on top of a train station. If I can get lost on a bike….

Who needs to venture into a natural wilderness when one can enter the retail equivalent via a cavernous street entrance with McDonalds on one corner and The Body Shop on the opposite and some hours later try to leave via a train platform that indicates the next express to Copenhagen departs in 23 minutes.

This intercity train to Uppsala is, as with all the trains travelled so far, moving at an extraordinary speed! Passing a train of equal speed in the opposite direction is scary!

Whereas the Spanish countryside was a blend of yellow/brown harvested cereal crops, green vineyards and olives trees, in Finland there are fields of harvested wheat, the vineyards and olive trees replaced by pine forests.

Uppsala is a delightful university town 80 km to the north of Stockholm. The oldest part, that on which the university is laid out, is a quiet, leafy cobblestoned village with a river meandering through the centre, extensive pedestrian thoroughfares lined with giant oaks all showing a tinge of autumnal colour. Millions of bikes! Lots of cafes, bookstores and in the very centre the oldest and one of tihe largest cathedrals in Sweden.

Being Saturday the village streets along the river and square were lined by a typical street market and fair with flower, craft and food stalls.

It seems to me, as a general rule, in Sweden, all ancient buildings, follow the same historical time line. Finished sometime during the 15th century each and everyone was subjected to destruction by the invading hordes of King Haaselblad the Photogenic.

They are rebuilt, then destroyed by the great fire of 1756 or thereabouts. The great grandson of King Haaselblad, Prince Ethelred the Unready, is crowned King and raises taxes to not only reconstruct the old castle but adds a cathedral and it is completed in 1861, give or take a few years.

Sadly King Ethelred is poisoned in the very year before completion, so his son, Crown Prince Eric, orders a mausoleum built in the gardens to bury his father. The new young King Eric, marries the Sultana of Arabia and fathers 38 children. He becomes known as Eric the Erect, an indication of the awe and respect of his loyal subjects due in no large part to the prodigious building program of castles, cathedrals and palaces. Indeed during his long reign he had built countless edifices which sadly were also subsequently plundered and destroyed then ravaged by fire in succession over the next few centuries.

King Eric the Erect, with his 38 offspring, not surprisingly set up the first child minding facilities to keep the children safe and well guarded – in Swedish “Kunder-garten” – hence the modern English term Kindergarten.

Returned back to Stockholm around 3pm to witness the Sweden half marathon starting with more than 20000 entrants!

For the last two evenings I have utilized the Sheraton gym and worked out for an hour on one of those computer exercise bikes. I set it up for an hour of “Aerobic” exercise . Fascinating and I may well consider investing in such a contraption upon my return to Adelaide, the more so as even after an hour of riding I did not get lost once!

Sunday I fly to Dublin and prepare for my County Cork Cycle adventure. I am looking forward to it the more so as after about 5 days in one spot especially a big city, I need to move on!

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