Archive for the ‘Skåne’ Category

Wierd News: I heart Tycho

December 1, 2010

Apparently :

Tycho Brahe could have been Claudius—and Kepler, a stark mad Luthern with a penchant for planets and possibly murder.

Alchemy was, also, probably involved.

Or, the astronomer’s untimely death could have simply occurred as a result of the all-too-ridiculous act of too much drinking and too little urination. What a pathetic end that would have been, especially after having survived a duel about mathematics in which he lost part of his nose.

The one thing the article gets wrong, though. Tycho was not Danish. He was born in Skåne, making him, like it or not 100% Skåning. And although Hven is technically Danish…we all know these things, like Tycho’s true history, are up for debate.

Från Rilke, med kärlek : From Berkeley, with love

October 10, 2010

I am working on a post about the walkouts at Berkeley.  Somewhat suddenly last Thursday I found myself challenging my professor to answer, in front of the class, as to why we in the Sciences do not stand with the Ethnic Studies and Anthropology and History and Political Sciences departments when they walk out in protest. I thought I already knew the answer. It turns out I only sort of did.

To be filled with ideas and words but not have the time or energy to write them because of a looming Quantum exam is almost as frustrating as being forced to write in essay about something an English teacher told you to write about while all you want to do is analyze semiconductor circuits. The timing always seems to be off.

So no post. Not yet. For now, the words of the German poet (written while he was living in southern Sweden, a mere 10 km from Lund) will have to suffice.  Having recently discovered these letters, and discovering that once, Rilke lived in Skåne, I’ve been reading them between each wave function I calculate. And as it always is with Rilke, it feels as if he is speaking directly to me.

To Clara Rilke, written from Borgeby Gård, Flädie, Skåne, Sweden.

“I am not idle, and there is nothing lazy in me; all sorts
of currents and a stirring that through depth and surface is the
same. A very good stirring. I am not even writing a journal,
just keep hoping to get through all sorts of letters yet to be
written and to read my way through all sorts of books yet to be
read….In spite of all this it seems to me that I am
building; at the invisible, at the most invisible, at some founda-
tion; no that is too much; but that I am breaking ground for
something that is to be erected there sometime; a perfectly in-
conspicuous activity for which day laborers and hod carriers
suffice (one thinks).”

A very good stirring. Like perturbation theory or like forcing nerds to talk about politics and philosophy or finally, finally starting to write.

med SunTrip varje dag!

May 30, 2010

Five different countries. Forty people. Two choirs. One Bus. It was epic.

Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, and Ireland. All in one day. All within a 20 km radius of Lund. How is that possible, you may ask? Well, my friends, in Skåne, anything is possible. Believe it.

Gudruns Kören (my choir) and Torne Kören (our sister choir) had some money to blow. So, naturally, we took rented a charter bus and drove around for an afternoon. Naturally.

The theme of the day was Sällskapsresan, which is a Swedish comedy film series about Swedish tourists on organized vacations with a hokey company called “SunTrip”. According to the English Wikipedia, Sällskapsresan “has reached cult status in Sweden, and a vaste number of the swedish people have seen it, and many of the lines in the movie is known and used daily by many swedes.” Maybe it’s a bit like “The Big Lebowski” or “Top Gun” or “Napoleon Dynamite.” We non-Swedes got to watch the first film at a choir-organized screening. Basically the running joke of it is that no matter how much the the dorky Swedish vacationers want to escape Sweden for a while, they will never stop being Swedes. Take for example the traveler who brings his roller-blade skis to the Canary Islands, or the fact that the hotel they stay at is called “Nuevo Estocolomo” (New Stockholm). Fortunately enough for the tourists Nuevo Esctolomo serves Swedish coffee.

Even more fortunate was that  this weekend was the weekend that my friend Isabella (who is studying in Berlin at the moment) decided to visit Sweden. She pretty much stepped off the train and into the bizarre word of Swedish student amusement and comedy films. The poor lass.

The first stop was on our own personal SunTrip was Lübeck, Germany. Which of course, wasn’t really Lübeck, Germany but rather Jarikborg, Sweden. Jarikborg is a ‘visionary’ housing community built in the middle of agricultural land in southern Sweden. The idea of Jarikborg is to build a safe, sustainable, aesthetically pleasing urban community. The city is built with the Hanseatic (Hansa) cities of Northern Germany in mind, and the architecture is unlike most Scandinavian traditional or modern buildings. Walking through Jarikborg is an awful lot like walking through a full-size doll house city, if that makes any sense whatsoever. And, as if Jarikborg wasn’t bizarre enough on it’s own, in the town square we happened upon a bunny rabbit jumping contest which involved small children walking bunnies on leashes. I kid you not. I told you anything is possible in Skåne…

Because it would just be unnatural not to add to the strangeness of Jarikborg, our choir decided to assemble for a spontaneous performance in the town square. We sang a beautiful traditional Swedish pslam called “Sommarpslam” or sometimes “En Vänlig Grönskas.” We must of been quite pleasant, because a woman offered to pay us if we continued to sing. Sadly, we couldn’t take her up on the offer, the bus, and our next destination, was waiting. SunTrip has to stay on schedule, you know.

Next up was Paris, France. Which of course, wasn’t really Paris, France, but rather Malmö, Sweden. The Paris of Skåne, perhaps? Turning Torso (the only skyscraper in Malmö) makes a rather good substitute for the Eiffel Tour, and we celebrated our arrival in Paris with brie, bageuttes, and some vin. We performed again, this time singing “Näckens Polska” – a traditional Gotland folk song about a water spirit who is tempted by the sea god’s daughter. The melody of this song is somewhat haunting, and it seemed even more so as we performed it in the harbor air on the shore of östersjön.

Next up on our Euro SunTrip: Spain. That’s right, La Costa del Sol. And the sun was even shining so much that I almost forgot we where really in Lomma, Sweden! However the water was still cold, which served as somewhat of a bittersweet reminder. “Det var precis som medelhavet, fast kallare!” *

Last but most certainly not least, we traveled to the green hills of Limerick Ireland.Which of course, was actually a grassy, hilly area just north of Lund. We enjoyed a picturesque hilltop fika (means coffee and cookie snack), raced through dandelion fields, and took silly pictures.

We made it back to Lund, and assemble in Kalmars Nation for a sittning, which is a Swedish student tradition that involves sitting down at long tables and enjoying a three-course meal together, all the while singing and toasting and entertaining each other. By the end of the night the effects of jetlag (after all we had traveled all around Europe in one day) had begun to take their toll and home seemed like a good choice. What a day.

Let’s just say that the 50 kr (about $6.25) bus ride was about the cheapest full-Euro trip I could have paid for. Who needs Paris when you’ve got Gudruns kören?!?!

More posting on Isabella’s Sweden visit to come later. Heads up!


* O my goodness, now I am referencing Swedish pop culture. If you guess this one, I will be extremely impressed. Even if you are Swedish. Except if you are Lena. Because I think she’d know it…

Lund – Mölle, tur och retur

May 12, 2010

The Bikes where packed. Annika and Johanna’s bikes looked like seasoned touring bikes, what with all the bells and whistles including bike computers, super-low gearing, map holders, and sleek saddle bags. My bike looked comically out of place—the poor specialized allez road bike looked like it had an enormous highlighter-colored tumor growing off the back of it instead of packing. Lena’s bike was just proud of the gears it actually had. All five of them.

And so began our journey up the west coast of Skåne early Sunday morning. The plan was 100 km to Mölle the first day, sleep at Annika’s family’s house, and then 100 km the second day. For the sake of brevity and laziness, I’m gonna spare you the play-by-play on this one and just go for the highlights – is that ok? Good.

1.100 km may sound like a lot, but really it’s not when your averaging 20 km/hr and stopping (what felt like to me) every 30 min to either pee or eat. I have to admit it took me a while to get over my silent frustration at the whole ‘bike tour mentality’, which I didn’t really understand at first. No, I’m not the fastest rider in the world, nor am I the most intense, but when I ride it is often for the purpose of exercise and fun and pain and painful fun. Anyone who has raced a bike or studied a hard science knows exactly what I mean. And sometimes this inexplicable and often unreasonable love of pain makes it inexplicably and unreasonably difficult to enjoy things that are purely pleasurable.  It’s weird, but it’s true. But I think after we passed Helsingborg on the first day, I finally began to accept the pace and enjoy the ride. It only took me 70 km.

2.The picture of the swan above is possibly my favorite picture taken yet in Sweden. So odd to see swans in the ocean. I held my own private memorial for Rupert, the Australian Black swan who used to live in the Bay near my house in SoCal and is possibly the mascot of my childhood. Love ya, Rupert.

3. Can I mention again how strange it is to ride through a place that is so, so old? On the same day I rode from the prehistoric cliffs of Kullaberg, through the modern city of Helsingborg, past around 7 castles, and by a viking grave site (which made me very, very happy).

4. We heard several good Cukoos from cukoo birds, or “görk” as the bird is called in Swedish.

5. Landskrona isn’t as boring as I judged from the first two times I rode (and almost got dropped by Lunedi) through there. Yes, it is still boring, but just not as much as I thought. They have a cool water tower at least. Sorry Landskrona, I didn’t mean to hate on you like that last time.

6. Annikas grandparents and Uncle Pele where really sweet people. They fed us cake, suggested walking routes, and let us sleep in their beautiful house full of wonderful and interesting curious from all around the world. Grandma even let me feel the screw in her arm from her operation! Joy!

7. Lena and I hiked out to Kullaberg while the other two slept. We climbed some cliffs and looked for the Kullaman, but only found some German toursits. Lame! Also, I discovered that Lena likes rocks (almost) as much as I do.

8. We walked home and had a delicious carbo-hydratic dinner, followed by more cake. And ice cream. Also, I discovered that I like cake (almost) as much as Lena does.

9. The next day was one of those days that makes me ask God: how could you have made the world so beautiful?

10. Lots of pretty, pretty cows and Raps fields.

11. Coming through Helsingborg again on the second day, Hamlet’s castle, Kronborg, appeared on the horizon. Suddenly I was drawn back to a memory of sitting on the train in Denmark five years ago, when I was fifteen years old and my obsession with Hamlet was still fresh (Although, if you ask my mom, she’ll tell you a story of how I quoted the play at a much younger age).  I remember hearing the words “Helsingør” announced on the loudspeaker. I pulled out my copy of the play which I had brought for the purpose of reading in Denmark (for atmosphere rather than authenticity, of course). Then, those five years ago, reading the Bard’s words even in the dimly lit train car seemed so utterly fantastic, simply because I was so near to where the action supposedly takes place. And now it feels like I’m due for another Hamlet reading. Maybe this is why only ever finish my real homework barely on time. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Methinks.

12. Sadly, we didn’t make it to the island of Ven to see Tycho Brahe’s observatory (where Kepler was a student). For someone who likes orbital motion as much as I do, it was kind of a letdown, to be sure. I’ll just have to ride there myself one day. Methinks.

13. Victory: I didn’t speak English for two days! Jeg talade aeven lide dansk…taka Annika (men det blev skånska egentligen)

14. Verdict: No, Skåne is not completely flat. But almost.

15. Can’t wait for Lund-Motala-Vättern-Stockholm, Summer 2010 (yes, that’s happening!).

For more photos, click on “The Sweden Files” on the side of this blog.

det visste jag inte

May 2, 2010

Pine forests and birch forests stand on opposing sides of the road. The birch are thin-trunked and chalk white: their leaves nearing golden, they assume a slender elegance of a storybook quality. The pines are darker. Not towering like the sequoias, they still do their best, casting cool shadows and concealing small red cottages and secret lakes. The forest floor is a patchwork blanket of white and green: The vitsippor have blommed at last. At the forest’s edge the landscape opens up into sweeping agricultural land, painted in a shade of green that doesn’t exist in parched California, punctuated by small villages with more Icelandic horses than people. As we approach the shores of expansive Vombsjön, the wealth of birdsong all around us becomes even more intense.

I never knew that the sun could be so mild, or that the light could look this way. I have said many times that the light, the air in here is just different. It is not as heavy. You don’t feel like you have to cut your way through it. It is just bit cooler, softer, both in temperature and in hue. It is harder to paint colors or in words, but it is easier to breathe.

I don’t care what the rest of Sweden says. Skåne is beautiful.

Rolling down the backside of a gentle hill I think to myself: This is why I ride.

And then I think again: No, this is why I live.

Ride Report: Skånes west coast and inwards

April 25, 2010

Today, I thought I saw one of my idols. Riding along the west coast with CK Lunedi, we rolled by the Hilleshögs road race, just to take a peak. As we entered the parking lot filled with cars with fancy Cervelos on roof racks, my heart began to long for the race days of last spring that seem so long ago. To qualm my nostalgia, I decided to keep my eyes out for Emilia Fahlin, Swedish national women’s cycling champion, winner of the 2009 Tour of California womens’ crit, HTC-Columbia team member, and my same age. Yup. I’m sorta jealous. I thought maybe she would be there because, well, what else is a bike-racin’ Swede to do on a warm Skåne sunday?

As we climbed the hill opposite direction of the course, several packs zoomed by. The first few where the men, and although I did my best to try and compare their speed with the Men’s A races I’ve watched back home, my breathlessness prevented me from making any sort of quantitative judgment. But those dudes seemed fast. Then came the women’s packs. There were fewer women, and they were strung out a bit more. I looked hard as I saw the rainbow of spandex approaching, and there she was! A woman with one heck of a race-face was pulling the leading cluster. She had a long blond ponytail and was wearing a Swedish-flag jersey. It has to be her, I thought. I don’t know how I found the strength to make it to the top of the hill and hold back my enormous desire to scream “EMILIA!” at the same time.

Good thing, because when I got home I checked Emilia’s facebook fan page, and there read an update stating “In Belgium (six hours ago)” and was reminded that Emilia Fahlin is a pro cyclist that probably has better things to do than zip around Landskrona on a warm Skåne sunday.

I, however, am not a pro cyclist (never happening) and personally think that the best possible thing to do on a warm Skåne Sunday is zip around on two wheels. So I did.

I showed up this morning in Clemenstorget, ready and willing for the proposed 120 km ride (around 75 miles). The ride leader looked at me sort of doubtfully, re-stated the terms of the ride, and asked “Är du med?” Are you still up for it? My answer was of course nothing other than a resounding JAAAAA!!! and we rolled out of Lund and into the expansive Skåne landskap.

The way out wasn’t bad because I could hang on to the pack. I actually felt as if I had gotten stronger since my last ride, a feeling I hadn’t experienced since a year ago during race season. It also help that we were ‘medvinden’ (the wind was with us). We headed North West until the sea became visible over the curvature of the potato fields, and then bent north along the gentle shoreline. We easily managed a couple hills, indulged in rolling spectatorship of Hilleshögs RR (and saw the Emilia-look-alike), climbed a seaside bluff, and descended one of the most beautiful roads I have ridden in Sweden (think gently curving, new asphalt surrounded by vibrant green fields and the two pure blues of the ocean and the sky meeting Danmark on the horizon) into the small harbor village of Ålabordarna. In Ålabordarna we stopped at the harbor kiosk were we bought coffee and freshly baked kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls).

And now I offer you photographic proof:

Kanelbulle: This beats blue-berry-pomegranate-pineapple-whatever GU any day.

Oh yeah, and I WASN’T THE ONLY GIRL! yayayay!

We sat there in Ålabordarna for a little bit, enjoying the sunshine, the bullar, and cracking up at a pudgy old man who walked up to the very cold ocean in a bathrobe, ditched the bathrobe, and dove in head first.

Soon it was time to stick iväg (get going) and the pleasantries of seaside pastries where soon forgotten during a steep (hey, it was steep, ok!) climb back up to the plain. The way home was tougher, longer, and we were motvinden (against the wind). We headed inland, where there rollers and some bigger hill-like creatures to fight with, and the wind was absolutely without mercy. Let’s just say ‘stay with the pack or die’ is a lesson I am still learning the hard way. We continued through pastoral land and climbed up a hill, at the top of which was a bronze-age mound burial site and an enormous pile of wood, in preparation for next week’s semi-pagan celebration of Valborg, during which all of Sweden is lit by bonfires and intoxicated young people.

After the grave sight there weren’t any serious hills to deal with (although nothing here is really a serious hill, I guess). But the wind, o the wind. It sucked the life out of me. I hung on as long as I could, but when Lund was finally in sight, a few others and I dropped back and took it calm for the rest of the way in. So the verdict for this time is: only sort of dropped.

On the plus side, someone who was along on the ride said his computer calculated an average speed of 29,4 km/hr (18.26 mph) which for me is not bad (actually quite good) over such a distance. No wonder my legs are tired. If only I could be like Emilia….

an open letter

April 20, 2010

Kära svensk himmel,

Det är ju april. Det var solig igår. Typ 24 timmar sedan.

Jag skulle vilja fråga bara…






Dearest Swedish Sky,

It is indeed April. Yesterday it was sunny. Like 24 hours ago.

If I could please just ask you…..






A true story about strange things in this land of Skåne, strange, strange things.

in these parts

April 18, 2010

The metallic emblem on the grill of 18-wheeler spells out SCANIA (Skåne in English) in thick, block letters. I just barely get a glimpse of the truck sitting parked and abandoned on the side of the onion field across from the gas station as our pack pedaled by. But the glimpse is long enough. Proudly displayed in a somewhat visibility-impairing location on the windshield is the one, the only, the Confederate Flag.

International redneck solidarity? I think maybe so.

Good Lawd, the marriage of two worlds ain’t never been so perfect.