The old and the new
For me, the most interesting thing in coming to Europe was the sheer age of the places. On the way to Sweden I travelled through Krakow, Poland, a city with cobblestone streets, marketplaces, a castle and lots of ancient-looking statues. The paths and streets were probably older than any in Australia, possibly built before our country was even colonised. They also looked like they had not been maintained for this same length of time.
I have some interesting photos showing the age of that city. This is not a photo of Krakow, though, since I have seen the same thing here in Umeå, but with an even more interesting twist:
For centuries, Umeå was a fairly small town in the sparsely populated north of Sweden. It was only in the past 50 years that it was strategically built up into a bigger city around this University where I am exchanging. The centre of town is thus filled with many delightful juxtapositions of old and new architecture as well as culture. This photo is showing a restaurant with a big spinning neon sign, which is built amongst several medieval-looking buildings like the one seen in the background.
There was an even bigger shock, though, regarding the intermixing of old and new; This came when I was admiring the large cathedral-like stone building in the centre of town. It had huge wooden doors and arched windows, pointed towers at the corners and a big clock tower in the middle. I asked a local what this building was: the church? Town hall? Nope, it’s a nightclub.
Hi Stik — Never been to this part of the world (Sweden and Poland) — so I am experiencing it vicariously through your posts.
The history associated with these places is rather surreal. The narrow cobblestone roads, the architecture of the buildings, the urban landscape etc etc .. it is like you have been transported to another world.
What is the population of Sweden — and in particular, Umea? Are you riding bicycles everywhere? regards Tonia
September 26, 2010 at 10:04 pm
Hej! (That’s how you say hello in Swedish.)
I’m glad I can share some of my experience with you. There is so much history to be seen and experienced in Europe. I have met people from so many countries around here, and they continually talk about events that happened hundreds of years before we had any recorded history.
I’m having a strange multicultural experience here in Umeå. It is a town completely filled with University students. The population has grown from about 40 000 in the 60s to over 100 000 now, since this University became a major institution. A lot of them are not Swedish, so rather than experiencing one culture, I am experiencing loads of them.
And of course everyone here rides bikes. They thought it was the strangest thing when I told them that people rode bikes for exercise in Australia. Around here it is solely for transport, and pretty much a necessity of life. Much more fun than driving cars everywhere.
Well, I’m sure I have much more to say on the place, but I’ll leave it for my next blog entry.
September 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm