Friday, August 16, 2013

Skelleftea Sweden - Part 2

This is part two of our visit to Skelleftea, Sweden. To read part one, go here.

I know I wrote about it in part one but the 24 hours of daylight was truly awesome. I wasn't sure what to expect when we went up there. Would I be able to sleep? When do you know it's time for bed?

I remember hearing a story when I was a puppy about the kids who live up in Alaska where they have 24 hours of daylight. During the summer the kids would stay outside all day and their parents would let them sleep (outside) where ever they ended up falling asleep. I'm sure that someone somewhere allowed their kids to sleep outside but I'm guessing now that it's not a widespread phenomenon. All I could picture in my mind was random kids laying in random spots throughout suburban neighborhoods in scenes like some post-apocalyptic movie or something.

Well, let's just say that, although the idea of sleeping outside on the grass all night was definitely appealing, I was afraid of being carried off by Wizard-Of-Oz-flying-monkey-sized mosquitoes so inside the summer house it was.

A ~2am shot I took out the bedroom window one night (or was it morning?):

Skelleftea, as I mentioned in Part 1, is a fairly small town but it's been one of the bigger towns in the region for a long time owing to its success in mining and having a port nearby. The town has served as a social hub for the outlying areas for a long time as well.

Toni and Lena took us to Bonnstan, which is a village that developed around one of the community's churches. During the time when everyone was required to go to Sunday mass, farmers would build small living quarters near the town's church (and river) that they could use when they and their families made the trek into town.

The wooden structures, which sometimes are only one room, are fairly simple and have no bathrooms. We got lucky and were able to go inside two different Bonnstan (bonn = farmer and stan = town) residences, which are still mostly privately owned. As with the outside, they're fairly simple but that simplicity and utility is what makes them so nice. If you've ever stayed at a cabin when camping, I think you'd appreciate their design.

Skelleftea is located on the banks of the Skelleftea River and its core radiates out from the central plaza where Lena and Toni have their apartment. In a lot of ways, including the architecture, cold-weather-ready designs, bicycle friendliness, and overall livability, it reminded me a lot of Boulder, Colorado in the United States. My guess is that, if a resident of Skelleftea found themselves in Boulder, they'd feel particularly at home.

As in the U.S., pretty much every country in the world has televised game shows "where contestants compete for cash and prizes". They're just as popular in those countries too. But, do you ever wonder what happens to the folks who win a whole boat-load of money on one of those shows?

Skelleftea is home to one of those fortunate folks and, if he's not a local celebrity, he's at least very well known. So, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself with enough money to "follow your dream"? Well, this guy built his own museum and toy shop that occupies a couple of store fronts in Skelleftea:

The highlight, at least for me, is its collection of museum-quality LEGO dioramas featuring Star Wars scenes. These dioramas along with a whole bunch of other displays are a nerd's wet dream.

Welcome to Skelleftea's own LEGO Hoth:

One of the first things that I noticed in Skelleftea was that almost all of the parking lots have charging stations. I was really excited when I found out that Sweden was so green that they provide free charging for electric cars. Very cool!

Until I found out that they're not. What I thought were electric-vehicle charging stations are electrical outlets that people plug their cars into while parked SO THAT THE CAR DOESN'T TURN INTO A CARSICLE during the winter!!! Seriously? Does it get that cold? Well, in a word, yes. Actually, I found little things all over of how they're set up for some serious winter weather. Take for example these heaters below every pew in this church:

Lena or Tony, I can't remember which, at some point told me that it sometimes gets down to something like -42c (-44f) during the winter. Having lived in San Diego for almost 20 years, I have no idea what it's like to be somewhere so cold but it just doesn't seem possible. That's cold. In spite of the lovely winter weather, I still want to go back one day to experience the northern lights, the 24 hours of darkness, and, yes, the absurdly-low temperatures. But I may need to install one of those car heaters in my myself so that I can plug in at every opportunity!

One other random note. Yes, Sweden is probably most famous for its confusing-to-assemble-but-comes-in-a-flat-box-furniture-hometown-hero IKEA. Even though I didn't see one IKEA the entire time I was there (again, Skelleftea's a small town), I did see lots of examples of Swedish design and many, many things built from wood. I especially loved this built-from-wood parking structure in the center of Skelleftea. I wonder if it too came in a flat box with confusing instructions? Either way, I'm sure that Ingvar Kamprad would be proud!

Our trip to Skelleftea was pretty amazing. Not only did we get to experience 24 hours of daylight and eat a bunch of antlered animals, we got to hang out with Lena and Toni again. They're awesome. Thanks Toni and Lena for the great time. Hopefully we'll see each other again soon. Maybe in Barcelona? Or the U.A.E.?? Or perhaps even back up in Skelleftea???

What it looks like when you mix raw ingredients from four different countries with the loveliness that's Sweden:

One last note. Even though I still can't quite process how cold it gets up there, when Toni mentioned that the entire bay in the photo above freezes into a block of ice, I started to get the idea. Brrrrrrrr!!!

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