An idyllic roadside picnic spot

Full size cow at glassworks but fibreglass we think

One of hundreds of windmills on Oland Island

Lynn checks in at Hotell Halltorps Gästgiveri

"The guide says there's a ruined castle near here"

The church mentioned in the story at right

Probably Lynn's great, great grandparents

Old windmill behind a field of flowering canola

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20th May 2007
Today is a special day for Lynn for reasons beyond her gastronomic flirtations back at the Konditori. During the next few hours we will be visiting some world famous glassworks factories such as Kosta, Afors and Boda to name but a few. They are all located in small villages along today's route. Or perhaps it would be truer to say that Lynn has planned today's route so as to pass through these glassworks villages.

Then, this afternoon we will leave the Swedish mainland and cross over onto Oland Island and the town of Borgholm where Lynn's great grandfather Edvard Nils Olssen (Olsson) was born and raised.

With the aid of our trusty little TomTom navigator we have no trouble navigating our way to the individual villages where the glassworks are located. We visited five in all this day but we both felt it was fairly disappointing. Although we did see a sprinkling of incredibly creative and incredibly expensive art pieces, for the most part it was just like being in a gift shop with a particularly large array of mass produced glass plates, glasses and vases, many of which looked decidedly kitch to our admittedly untrained eyes. Sadly the glass factories were a big let-down, especially given our earlier high expectations.

The weather was absolutely perfect and we had purchased the makings of a picnic from a supermarket in Vaxjo. In due case we spotted a pullover with toilets and picnic facilities beside a pretty lake. We spent a very pleasant hour beside the lake. We restored our spirits with a ham and tomato bagette, some cheese, grapes and a glass of Chardonnay before resuming our journey in a positive frame of mind. The road had little traffic, the roadside trees and pastures were picture book perfect and yet another pretty lake popped up every few kilometres or so.

In due course we reached the small city of Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. It was now late in the day due my inability to tear Lynn away from those cakes back in Vaxjo, so we just spent 30 minutes checking out Kalmar Castle, a citadel guarding the straights between the the mainland and Oland Island. We then crossed a six kilometre bridge onto Oland Island, a place much mentioned and discussed in our home during the last 12 months or so whilst Lynn has been researching her great grandfather and her Swedish roots.

We find the Hotell Halltorps Gästgiveri with ease and are pleased that it lives up to our expectations. A photo of the spacious reception area appears on this page.

This hotel very much prides itself on its cuisine so we decided to give the restaurant a fling. The food was indeed the best we've experienced in Scandinavia to date but instead of it being just very expensive it was knee trembling expensive. Before leaving Australia we'd been well and truly warned to raise the limits on our credit cards and try not to look at price cards but it still comes as a shock. Belgium was pricey, Denmark was more pricey, Sweden is worse again and we're told you aint seen nothing until you go to Norway! We've been regaled with stories of $17 for a Big Mac and other colourful shockers. Well, we're not exactly looking forward to that but I suppose we'll just press forward like lemmings until we throw ourselves over the cliff onto the sharp edge of our Visa card.

21st May 2007
We spend a few hours just meandering around the back roads of Oland Island so that Lynn can get the general feel of the place. The weather has remained remarkably sunny, warm and still. On the face of it, this is a great outcome but we have become increasing concerned that the clothing we brought with us is quite inappropriate if things stay as warm as this. Notwithstanding today's weather, the hundreds of old (and new) windmills along the coast of Oland attests to the fact that this must be a really windy place most of the time.

Lynn has been working with a genealogy researcher on Oland Island during the last few months attempting to find her great grandfather's birth records. This task isn't helped by the fact that Olssen is one of the most common names in Sweden. Nor is it helped by the fact Olssen is often changed to Olsson and vice versa. Anyhow, the researcher emailed Lynn with some info on her probable great, great grandfather Olaf Olsson and the location of his grave. Our sterling little TomTom guided us unerringly to the church where we soon found the grave stone. Photos of both appear on this webpage.

Lynn's great grandfather came to Australia at about the age of 19 and never returned to Sweden. Unfortunately not a lot is known about his Swedish past but Lynn has unearthed quite a lot of info and will continue her research. She is the first person in her family line to have visited Sweden since Edvard Nils Olssen left here in 1873.

Comments  on Sweden thus far
As the depth of our photos seems to have outstripped our commentary, perhaps some general comments about Sweden are not out of order in this location.

The Swedes have been unfailingly helpful and polite. And although we've seen less visible evidence of the English language compared to what we noticed in Belgium and Denmark, almost everyone speaks reasonable English if you ask a question and many speak excellent English with the greatest of ease. Amazing!

Road Conditions are excellent. Although the roads are quite narrow by Australian standards they are well maintained with good signage. The traffic density has been extremely light throughout most of our route to date and other drivers seem very patient, courteous and law abiding. Speeds of 70 kph to 90 kph is the norm on most country roads. Freeways vary between 90 and 110 kph. All roads are raised at least one metre above the surrounding countryside. It means one cannot usually pull over to take a photo. There are small pull-offs every one to two kilometres for other purposes however.

Swedish Food is extremely expensive by our standards. Supermarket prices are around 70% to 90% higher than in Australia. Restaurant prices are a good 120% to 200% higher than in Australia. It's a similar story for wine which is a Government controlled monopoly at retail and wholesale levels. Wine costs between $20 to $30 per litre in cardboard casks at a Government liquor shop. We're carrying so much paraphernalia in and out of hotels that a small cask of white and a small cask of red is better alternative to heavy glass bottles and there's less chance of a nasty accident along the way.

Towns and small cities are invariably neat and clean and with very little traffic compared to similar cities like Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie. I don't know where they hide all the cars and people. One sees the occasional piece of graffiti but it's much less in evidence than in Australia. We haven't seen any squalid looking towns or suburbs but some may well exist nevertheless.

Toilets and Restrooms are so important to travellers and never more so than when in a foreign country. The good news is that Swedish toilets are exceptionally clean and fairly plentiful. Some Park toilets require 5 kronor in the slot to gain entry however (about one dollar).

Scandinavian Hotels are run with minimal staff. No porters to be found in any of our Danish or Swedish hotels. Reception staffing is minimal and many small hotels are totally unmanned overnight as previously mentioned. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on one's circumstances of the moment.

The Police - What police? We've seen two police cars in 1200 kilometres to date and seen no police on foot either. Our TomTom has fortunately alerted us to about 15 speed cameras so far however.

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