Blast from the Past:Bee’s Travel Thursday ~ Sweden

June 2019

I know it is nowhere near Christmas but you have to mention it when you blog about Sweden. It was originally posted in December 2016 and you could, of course, say that I should post it again in December. But where would the fun be to do what you are supposed to do???? 😉

Have fun!!!!

December 2016

Ok my dear readers, not even I who has become a descendant of the Grinch 😉 since I work in retail, can escape the magic of Santa Claus especially not as I am a huge fan of Sweden.

I had the luck to visit Sweden twice: Once in 1989 on a holiday with the church I volunteered for and in the mid 1990’s. To my sadness I never made it to Lapland where Santa is supposed to reside but I am determined to save up and get my family and me there one day :-).

Video credit Visit Rovaniemi via YouTube

Uhm, to Lapland not necessarily to Santa’s many homes :-). Yes, it looks like Santa is a rather industrious creature as he has at least two homes in Scandinavia. One close to the arctic circle in Rovaniemi, Finnland and the other at Lake Mora in Dalarna in the middle of Sweden.

Video credit Tomteland via YouTube

Well, some little elf has told me that there are few other places too where they are busy creating every child’s Christmas dreams but we are not going into that today.

No matter if you are a child or an adult if you like theme parks then either Santaworld in Dalarna or SantaHouse in Lapland seems to be a great place for a fun holiday.

And it looks like the Swedish have a love for theme parks because there is also Astrid Lindgren’s World, Katthult and Loenneberga to be visited. Well, I suppose you cannot count Katthult and Loenneberga as a theme park but they are places that feature in films made from Astrid Lindgren’s famous Emil series and the Six Bullerby Children.

Video credit Astrid Lindgren Vaerld via YouTube

Both were favourite books of mine as a child. My mum had a very old version of “The Six Bullerby Children” which she gave me and I really loved the book. It was great to read how life used to be in Sweden in the early 20th century and I loved how those six kids got on with each other.

Both the Emil series and The Six Bullerby Children were much-loved children tv series in Germany in the 70’s and most of us never missed them. So, of course, when I went to Sweden in the mid 90’s I had to visit Katthult where the Emil TV- series was filmed.

video source: DooDCVIL via YouTube

Unfortunately, that was before digital photography and I actually didn’t take many pictures anyway because I was just so engrossed in the charm of the location and my memories of reading and watching Emil.

We also drove along the place where Bullerby was filmed but people still lived there so we did not stop out of respect for their privacy.

However, if you are not a fan of Santa or Swedish Children’s book then you can find a lot more in that lovely country: Stockholm is one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe comprising of diverse architecture, little streams and lakes, brilliant restaurants and cafe’s and history wherever you look.

Video Credit BookHunterTV via YouTube

And nature lovers will find so much nature they want to come back time and time again. In 1989 we stayed at one of the traditional red wooden houses close to a lake in the middle of woods.

One day we were asked to have a meditation day where we would go about the area we stayed in but completely on our own. I chose to go into the woods (;-) I did not know Thoreau yet) and found a place to sit under a tree surrounded by blueberry bushes. I heard birds sing, snakes rustle around and maybe that was the beginning of my meditation and mindfulness journey.

(no that’s not me but it shows Sweden’s nature wonderfully 🙂 ) Video credit Stephanie Margeth via YouTube

As Sweden isn’t a very populated country you can find solitude very easily but beware of wild animals. There are some elks about and they can be quite dangerous :-).

I will come back to Sweden throughout the “Bee’s Travel Thursday” series but for now, I leave it at these small glimpses of a great country for a holiday!

Video Credit Exposa Travel via YouTube

Resources and further reading:

Santa’s Home on Smithonianmag

Santa World on VisitSweden

Santa Claus Village in Lapland

Katthult where Emil was filmed

Astrid Lindgren on Wikipedia

Astrid Lindgren World

Pictures of Bullerby (in Swedish)

Official Sweden page

Bee’s Travel Thursday ~ Borkum

April 2019

A visit on Borkum is always worth it 🙂

December 2016

Today I want to whisk you away to one of my most favourite places in Europe. I am speaking of a little island on the north-western coast of Germany called “Borkum”.

Borkum ~ a part of the East Frisian Islands and it’s Nazi past

It is part of the East Frisian Islands and used to be one big island together with Juist and a part of Norderney called Bant. It got destroyed by huge storms in the 18th century and I am not sure if that meant the end of its reputation for piracy and whaling.

My American readers who are interested in history might know the island for its massacre of seven American airmen in 1944. Their plane crashed on Borkum and they were taken prisoners. They were supposed to be brought to a camp in central Germany but the commanding officers decided to walk the prisoners through Borkum town where they were objected to abuse by the citizens before being shot.

I never knew anything about this before I researched Borkum for this post. It reminded me however of a pretty spooky experience in December 2000 or 2001. I stayed on Borkum for recovering from stress. At the beginning of December, a more or less ancient tradition takes place on the island which is called “Klasohm (this is a German link. There are no translations)“. “Klas” refers to Santa Claus and “Ohm” means uncle. It is a mixture of an ancient tradition of the men coming back from whaling taking back power from the women on the island and the benevolent Santa who brings presents.

Klasohm on Borkum ~ a strange ancient tradition

It is a tradition that is very sacred to the Borkumers and they don’t really like to have tourists around even though they can’t avoid that as tourists are their main income today. What happens is that seven young men from a men’s club run around dressed as “Klasohm’s” who hit women on the buttocks with horns. Local women do not mind so much. It seems to be an honour even though it can hurt quite badly. I was warned to keep away from the action as far as I could as they are not gentle. On the other hand, they also throw presents or sweets around for onlookers to catch.

I found the whole experience extremely spooky. Borkum was rather sparsely lit and suddenly I was reminded of Nazi hunts of people who were not liked. Then I thought it quite strange that I was reminded of Germany’s Nazi past.

Today though I read not only about the massacre of the American airmen but also that Borkum was one of the places who kept Jews away on purpose and were famous for it. And suddenly it made sense.

 

Borkum Island war crimes trial A008309a

(Defendents at Borkum Island War Trial in Ludwigsburg, by Seventh Signal Corps Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

It makes me sad that a place that is very dear to me as it is a beautiful spot especially healing for people with breathing and lung conditions as the island is low in pollen and other allergens has such a nasty history. Borkum has the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen (well maybe Norfolk can compete 🙂 ) and the people are very friendly and open.

You can’t avoid Germany’s Nazi past when visiting

I suspect you cannot go to any place in Germany without the possibility of discovering some atrocity that happened in Nazi Germany. The country I come from has a gruesome past however it is a beautiful place and even though there are still those around who believe Hitler to be a hero most Germans are open minded and fight for civil rights, for equality and most of all are welcoming to strangers no matter if they are refugees, immigrants or tourists.

Even though I have a rather split relationship with the country I come from and its politicians  I am proud of how it welcomed so many refugees in the past year. I am aware though that such an immense influx of people from such a different culture creates problems and many who are afraid for their own well-being are easily lead backwards to racism and xenophobia.

Well, I did not plan to make this post such a history lesson and political opinion piece. When I write this it is the end of November and we hear an awful lot about Brexit and what US president-elect Donald Trump wants or doesn’t want to do. I am rather disillusioned about the future and fear for the young people all over the world. Where on earth can all this “we do not want immigrants” lead to?

Life is a cycle ~ the bad will end

To me, it seems it can only go in one direction and that is pure racism and atrocities never heard of. I am scared. I am shocked. I do not know how to deal with this. However, I am a survivor of abuse and if there is one thing I have learned in life and learned from looking into history then it is this: Life is a cycle. There have been times of freedom and civility and times of becoming cavemen and -women and atrocities. But none stay forever. History changes time and time again and some of us learn and some don’t.

We won’t stop the wheel of time or the wheel of change. I suspect the only thing we can do is cling to our values and do as much good as we can in the immediate area of our lives. And we can be grateful for the beautiful places given to us no matter how their past looks like.

Attention: this video is in German, however, Tobi mainly describes what he is seeing. I chose this video because it gives you a good impression of Borkum even if you do not understand what he is saying.

Video Credit: Tobi Lang via YouTube

Borkum is long walks on sandy beaches

When I think of Borkum I think of long walks at sunny sand beaches. Even though I mainly stayed on the island in Winter the weather can be stunningly nice and still warm. Even at the beginning of December one day, I sat at the beach in a protected spot and I could take my jacket off. That was brilliant.

Borkum is also known for a sort of beach seats made of Wicker. It is like a wooden bench with wicker protection around and some lovely colourful cloth protection from the sun. You can rent them at the beach and have the time of your life ;-).

On that particular stay, I spoke of earlier I had the chance to breathe freely and to let go of many of my self-set limitations. Borkum is one place where I discovered and re-discovered my love for poetry and where I started to believe that I could make my dreams reality. And look at me 16 or 17 years later: I have made many of my dreams reality and that makes me proud and happy.

Borkum’s sometimes quirky restaurants and cafes

But Borkum isn’t only about going to the beach. There are many lovely restaurants and cafe where you can for example experience a genuine northern German tea ritual. The northern Germans brew their tea very strong. You get it served in a previously warmed cup and add a huge piece of sugar called Kluntje. When it hits the hot tea it makes a crackling noise which made children giggle. And you let cream run into the cup from the side which makes the cream “cloud” up in the tea. No stirring. You drink the rather bitter top first and then enjoy the very sweet bottom with all the sugar at the end. A great experience for tea lovers!

Speaking of cafes: there is one little cafe that is quite quirky. It has attached a model train to its walls which go from room to room. Yes, you are right there are holes in the walls where the train comes through. You can imagine how children love that place :-).

Borkum ~ a lovely place for a family holiday

Borkum is lovely for a holiday stay for families anyway as driving your car is very restricted in Borkum town. You are only allowed to got to your B&B, holiday apartment or hotel and then have to leave it and do all on foot or with the little island train that takes you practically everywhere. But the Island is so small you can reach everything easily on foot or by bike anyway.

One thing that would either excite or scare children are the two lighthouses on the island. The younger one in the middle of Borkum town is a real feature and you can walk up and look over the Northsea and Borkum itself. A real treat.

Borkum lies within the Wadden Sea

And last but not least I have to mention that Borkum lies within the Wadden Sea an area of shallow sea, tidal flats and wetlands. You can find it on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list and any bird watcher and nature lover will find a diversity of flora and fauna that will excite. There is also a colony of seals living close to the beach and in good weather and with binoculars you can watch them all day long. Or you take one of the tourist boats and get real close.

(it says in the text: Island faces, you’ve forgotten everyday life, the air smells of salt, there is sand stuck to your body, the new borkum film, 2011, part four, watching seals, video credit Borkum Fan via YouTube)

Did I make you curious?

There is, of course, much more to say about Borkum but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own :-). So if this post has made you curious then take the time to visit Germany and go to Borkum and find out for yourself what the charm and spell is that it puts on you :-).

Resources and further reading:

Borkum on Wikipedia

Borkum Island War Crimes Trial on Wikipedia

WikiVoyage East Frisian Islands

Borkum on Germany Travel

Borkum on Borkum.com

Borkum on LanceWadPlan

Borkum on DW Made for Minds

 

Bee’s Travel Thursday ~ The Swabian Alp ~ Eastern Part

February 2019

They certainly do something to attract tourists these Germans 😉

March 2017

I am taking the time to tell you a little more about the area I was born in. It is in the South of Germany in the county of Baden-Wuerttemberg. It is a hilly area which surprises with solar panels on even the smallest farmhouse, blooming meadows and affordable delicious food in restaurants.

There are many scenic routes signed out like the Baden Wine Route, the Black Forest Panoramic Route or the Hohenstaufen (A royal house in Swabia) Route which are a great way to discover this beautiful part of Germany.

If you are a car fan then you cannot avoid Stuttgart with the Mercedes Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen. But there is also the Auto and Technik Museum in Sinsheim where they now house a fully accessible Concorde and a Tupolev TU-144.

If you are a writer and poet then you can find out more about the German romantic period on Heidelberg and authors and poets like Berthold Brecht, Herman Hesse and Marie Louise Kaschnitz. And I must not forget fairy tales. Not only the Brother’s Grimm collected them Wilhelm Hauff wrote a few interesting ones.

Baden-Wuerttemberg is a wine growing area and if you like to come in Winter you might have the chance to visit a so-called Besenwirtschaft or Straussenwirtschaft. It is a restaurant only open for 4 months a year owned by winegrowers. It is meant to sell out the old wine but you often can have new wine too. They are only allowed to serve cold food or simple food and no beer or other alcohol besides home brewed spirits. But I suppose the rules change from county to county.

My parents used to go to one where they bought their wine every February but I have to admit I have not been in one yet. However, if you want to get an insight then see if you can watch the Hairy Bikers Bakeacation about Germany where they visited one.

Ah, I am tired now and a little homesick which is a new one. I have never been homesick since I moved to Britain ten years ago. However, Brexit has change literally everything. I am much fonder of my country of birth even though I know if Germany allowed a referendum about the European Union it would go exactly the same way than here.

But as things stand both the European Union and Britain use their expats as pawns in their negotiations and if they make it difficult for us then I have to think about going back because I do not want to become a citizen of a country that runs away from his neighbours when things get difficult (sorry I know it is just half of the country that voted that way but the politicians just run with it). And the best husband (Jeremy Clarkson voice) in the world feels the same and wants to leave. House or no house.

Maybe I am not homesick. Maybe I just long for the “good old days” when things seemed to have been easier and more settled. Never mind…… 🙂

Related articles

to travel or not to travel that is the question…

January 2019

That’s even truer for me today…

March 2016

I used to love travelling. I felt that I needed to get out of my daily routine and the places I used to live to get some new ideas. Since few years, that has changed. Yes, there are still a few locations that I really want to see ~ Norway, Iceland, Finland, Canada, Alaska and New Zealand ~ however I feel a slight reluctance actually to do it.

It is not only that it seems so much more dangerous to travel nowadays even if you do not go into any country that is connected with a political or terrorist crisis. It feels like I lost my inner traveller and want to settle down. Only travelling in my mind with books and the telly.

Description for visually impaired readers: sand beach in shadow on bottom of picture. To the left a wooden goyn going into the sea. Calm sea with little waves at beach. Light blue sky with greyish clouds on horizon and white clouds above.

Bee’s Travel Thursday ~ Easter Island

January 2019

I have decided not to fly anymore as environmental issues have become much more important to me. It’s not that much of a sacrifice really because I am rather scared of flying and haven’t done it much anyway. However, I would get over myself to see some places. The Easter Islands are one of those places and I wrote about it in March 2016

March 2016

Maybe I would have become an explorer if I would have been born 200 years earlier. As a child, I loved to read my parents encyclopedia and learned about other countries. My grandparents had a globe made out some sort of plastic, and I loved it.

I am a huge fan of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and one of her exercises to be more in tune with our artist’s nature is to write a list of imaginary jobs or professions we would like to do and guess what? One of mine was “Explorer”!

Of course, I was lucky that my parents and grandparents loved travelling, so I had the chance to go to half of Europe before I was 20 years of age. I’ve never made it outside of Europe though.

There are a few destinations outside Europe that I would love to go to as I told you last week. And to be honest: The more I write about travelling, the more I want to get out and about again and at the same time I am happy to be soon able to settle down and get a beautiful home.

“Funny creatures humans are” as Yoda would say.

The last destination I have on my travel bucket list is “Easter Island” and it somehow fits perfectly to write about it in Easter Week.

Easter Island map-en
Eric Gaba (Sting), translated by Bamse [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I have wondered a lot why Easter Island is called that. It belongs to Chile but is West of South America, so it can’t be the direction that gave it its name. Reading up on Easter Island Wikipedia told me that Mr Roggeveen from the Netherlands “discovered” it on Easter Sunday in 1722.

That’s somehow fitting because they must have felt like finding an Easter Egg in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. According to National Geographic the “next door neighbours” to Rapa Nui as it’s original inhabitants called Easter Island are at least 1000 miles (!!!) away. Most of them rather more than 2000!. Incredible!

How incredible must those first settlers have been who managed to travel that distance with canoes between 700 and 1100 BC. Yes, I know opinions are divided about that. Some say it was a lot earlier but never mind.

I have heard about Easter Island and its monstrous statues which are a sign that their inhabitants were great builders. Not so great environmentalists though unless some rodents were the reason. The reason for the decline of almost all trees on Rapa Nui. There is the theory that the first settlers had some stowaways in their canoes (maybe those boats were rather ships and not just canoes????!) and brought in rats which might have eaten all seeds of the Easter Islands trees. Therefore no chance or growing their forests.

Moais, Isla de Pascua. - panoramio
Horacio_Fernandez [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D

No matter how it came to be: In the end, the trees were gone and soon arable soil too. You can imagine how the storms might be in the middle of the Pacific ocean. There is no chance anything stays put on a volcanic island.

I am sure there is a lot more to tell about Easter Island but in the good tradition of searching for Easter eggs, I let you explore this on your own. But are there any exotic destinations you would like to go to?

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Go explore Easter Island with

Easter Island Travel

Wikipedia

National Geographic