Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer 2010 European Tour with My Father

All my life I have heard my father talk about his time in the army when he was stationed in Berlin. It is a place I have always wanted to visit with him and I regularly wear his jacket commemorating his time there. I thought I would finally get my chance four years ago and then our plans fell through. This summer I finally got my chance.

It will take me quite awhile to get all the photos edited and posted, but as I do I will index them here.

July 27 - Almost in the Air

July 28 - Salzburg, Austria
July 29 – Salzburg, Austria, and Berchtesgaden, Germany

July 30 – Salzburg and the Austrian Lake Country

July 31 – Salzburg

August 1 – By Train to Berlin

August 2 – Berlin Germany
  • The Reichstag

August 3, 2010 – Wittenberg, Germany

August 4 – Berlin

August 5 – Potsdam and Berlin

August 6 – Spandau and Berlin

August 7 – Berlin

August 8 – Travel to Finland

August 9 – Kronoby, Finland

August 10 – Kokkola, Kronoby, and the surrounding area

August 11 – Traveling through Finland by Train and Ship

August 12 -
August 13 – Touring Rural Sweden

August 14 -
August 15 –Trip Details

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Previous post: War Graves

Tivoli has changed since either of us was last here 25 or 30 years ago. It’s still a weird mix of cheesy buildings and carnival rides set amid gardens, but most of the open space I remember has been filled with restaurants.

It’s a good, funky place to photograph.

Dad's photo

Next post:

War Graves

Previous post: Grimeton Station

We have said good-bye to most of the cousins, but haven’t yet completed our on-line check-in for tomorrow’s flight (no internet access at the stuga) so we make a stop at Tommy’s office on the way to the train station.

Tommy is a manager at a very large cemetery in Falkenberg.

My father only discovered my fascination with cemeteries on this trip, but he shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, it seems to be genetic: I have relatives on both sides of the family on both sides of the Atlantic who work as morticians or are responsible for cemetery upkeep.

So we get a bit of a tour of the cemetery, which includes seven Commonwealth war graves – the remains of servicemen from around the world who died along the Swedish coast during World War II.

The simple marble slabs are adjacent to another casualty of that war: A Polish woman who survived the horrors of a concentration camp, but then took her own life not long after the war as an immigrant in Sweden.

I can’t imagine the despair she must have faced, to give up here after surviving so much.

There are many more stories here, but now we must leave.

Next post: Tivoli

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grimeton Station

Previous post: Timmerkullen

My cousins have taken us to the Varberg Radio Station at Grimeton because it seems like the kind of place my father (a former telephone man) will find interesting.

I’m not sure how interested he is, but I see that whatever weird magnetism has brought me to the remains of various Marconi stations and similar sites around the world is still at work. I have no idea why I end up at these monuments to dead communication technologies, but it seems, almost invariably, to happen. It’s weird, but the advantage is that I actually understand most of the context in which this particular station was built.

This was part of a short-lived long-wave radio system that relayed messages between Sweden and the United States in the days before and through World War II - in the space between the telegraph and the ascendancy of short-wave radio.

We are lucky and get a guided tour in English, so actually learn how all this equipment, including the Alexanderson alternator and tuned antennas, actually worked.

Dad's photo

It’s pretty cool. The station has been totally preserved – literally frozen in time – to try to give a sense of what this place would have been like when it was operating. . . despite the fact that it was only fully operational for a relatively brief period and would have been deafening loud.

Today it is still and quiet, making it hard to imagine what it really was like to work here in the frantic days when the daily news to New York might include a report of another victory by the German forces.

The whole place evokes tidy Scandinavian efficiency, right down to the cooling pond that doubled as a decorative fountain.

But what I like best are the towers. At 415 feet in height, they are slightly eerie, almost alien examples of industrial sculpture that is both massive and delicate.

(The station still broadcasts occasionally. It’s SAQ at 17.2 kHz CW.)

Next post: War Graves


Previous post: Rolfstorp Church

Timmerkullen is the farm where my grandfather was raised, the farm that was sold about the time he immigrated to America. I think the house and many of the sheds date back to that time and beyond. I wonder how different the scene before me is from what my grandfather would have remembered.

Rolfstorp Church

In a Family Garden

Previous post: Långasand Beach

We are to spend today with a different set of cousins and have lingered too long at the beach. When we pull up in front of the stuga, Ann is on her cell phone trying to locate us: time to get going!

We start with coffee with a few of my cousins. Margit has set a lovely table in the sunroom of their house. It is a good place to sit and catch up on the last 10 years.

We take a few minutes to tour Margit’s beautiful flower gardens and photograph the flowers (and each other) before heading out for the day.

I need to come back more often.

Långasand Beach (Long Sand Beach)

Looking for a Summer Cottage in Sweden?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Train Stations

Previous post: Morning Fog

There is no time to tour Stockholm (another elegant old city of interesting architecture, museums, and wonderful shops), but I appreciate the fact that the transfer to the train station is smooth and fast. This is our tightest connection on the trip and it had me a little nervous, so I am grateful to have plenty of time to sit on the platform, take in the limited scenery I can, and wait for our train to arrive.

The train itself is clean enough inside, but filthy outside, the scenery almost obscured by dirt and grit. (Thus no scenery pictures from the train.)

We have one transfer, which goes smoothly. (Always a concern when dealing with luggage and my father’s limited ability to manage long walks and stairs. By now I have become very good at locating elevators and being aggressive enough to get us on them in a timely fashion.)

Then it is on to Falkenberg and our cousins.

As we arrive, cousin Kerstin appears on the platform as if by magic, an angel arriving at our carriage door so quickly that handing the luggage down to her is seamless.

There is no time for hugs until the train begins to pull away, but already it feels good to be here again.