After our visit in Bergs Slussar, we drove on to Vimmerby (Småland) where would be staying for the next couple of days in a small cottage. Vimmerby is where Astrid Lindgren lived and got inspiration for her books. There is an Astrid Lindgren theme park but we didn't visit it.
Tourist info: Vimmerby
60 km west of Vimmerby lies the village of Eksjö. It is another town that has been able to preserve many wooden buildings in the center. Most of these houses are built around quiet courtyards. One house is now a museum where you can see how a well-off family lived around 1900. Outside of Eksjö there is a nature reserve were you can walk through a small canyon, the Skurugata, and then on up the hilltop, the Skuruhatt. The trail that takes past both is only 4 km long, but beware not to wander of onto the longer hiking trails that cross it. Walking through the Skurugata is a little adventurous, especially if it rains and the rocks become slippery. From the Skuruhatt you can see the surrounding countryside and forests.
Tourist info: Eksjö
The next day, it was time to move even further south to our last stop in Sweden: Lund. On our way down, we made a detour via Ljunby to the West. There we wanted to visit the Moose Park in Lagan (Elkland), along the E4 highway. We found this so- called Moose Park a bit disappointing, as it was little more than a little patch of land with wire fencing around it and 5 very bored looking moose in the middle. The location of the Moose Park, next to a highway gas station, should probably have tipped us off, just as the impressive amount of merchandising in the shop. However, this is a place where you can see a living moose for sure. From Ljungby we took road 124 to Liatorp, then south on the 23 in the direction of Almhult.
Outside the village of Diö lies Linnaeus' Råshult, which is the farm where Carl Linnaeus was born. Today, the farm and surrounding farmland have been restored to their 18th century appearance. You can take a walk in the surrounding area guided by a map and a marked trail. We got to the furthest point on the map without incident, but things took a turn for the worse once we decided to take a shortcut (which was well marked on the map, though less well marked in the field). The trail led us to a wet and marshy looking field, were we could see a group of cows quietly ruminating their food. This sight was pretty unnerving (remember, city folks), what if these cows decided to get up and say hello? To make matters worse, the trail went dead in the middle of the field. According to the map, we had to walk right past the cows. We wavered in indecision for a while, but a sudden onslaught of mosquitoes hastened our decision: time to flee! Against the strict admonitions not to stray off the marked trails (what marked trails???), we cut across the field, balancing on tufts of grass trying not to sink too deep into the mud, and eventually found a fence which led us back to civilization.
We were clearly suffering from a nature overdose. As an antidote, we decided to drive to Älmhult, home of the very first IKEA. Sadly, we arrived to late to go in as the store closes at 18h on Saturdays. But driving through town helped us get over our ordeal anyway.
Tourist info: Älmhult
Our drive to Lund was pleasant and uneventful and in the early evening we arrived at Vragerup farm, on road 103 towards Lund. Vragerup farm offers bed and breakfast in style. The house has two nice gardens, a swimming pool and barbecue area. The rooms and facilities are very luxurious.
After a good night sleep and a fine breakfast, we set off to the Fotoviken Viking Museum in Höllviken. The museum is a reconstruction of a Viking or early medieval village. This is a living museum, which means a number of people live as Vikings on site throughout the summer. We met the village's blacksmith who told us of his life in the village and his work making cooking utensils, tools, nails etc. That weekend, the annual Viking market was going on. Vikings from all over Scandinavia, Germany, England, Poland and other countries were visiting and selling their wares. This went from jewellery, to pottery, clothing to swords and helmets. The Viking version of the Olympics were being held as well. First, the Viking had to aim one arrow into each of these bags.
Then, he had to climb up a hill, and shoot an arrow into a target some 50 meters away. The strong side wind made this very difficult.
Next, he had to run down the hill, put on a helmet and pick up a shield. Once he came out from behind the hill, he had to sprint for cover behind some hides, while a small squad of archers tried to hit him with their arrows (with blunt rubber tips). From there, the Viking had to aim at a stuffed Viking some 50 meters away, without hitting the child in front of him (also a stuffed doll).
The last part was running to take cover behind a pile of rocks, again under fire, and aim at another large Viking doll without hitting a child Viking doll.
The Viking village gives a very vivid impression of what life must have been like in that age. There was no allusion whatsoever to the Vikings bad reputation as ferocious warriors and pillagers. Don't mention the war, eh.
Our jump back in time hadn't wearied us too much, so in the late afternoon we set off to explore Malmö. It was too late in the day to visit the Design Museum or any other museum. Instead we followed the guided tour around the center of town. The old Saint Peter's church has a small chapel with old fresco paintings. The painting depicting the crucifixion of Christ is the most famous, though our personal favorite was the one with the cat and the mouse.
Tourist info: Malmö
On our last day in Sweden, we went to visit the University town of Lund. We started with a guided tour of the Dom church, which is renowned for its astronomical clock and for the peculiar pillars down in the crypt. All of the pillars have a different geometrical pattern on them, supposedly just like in the temple of Salomon.
Two pillars have a figure carved into them, the largest of which is called 'Strong Finn'. The legend goes that Strong Finn was a giant that offered to build the church for free if the monk could guess his name before the building was finished. If the monk failed to guess his name, he would take his eyes in payment. The monk was not too worried and accepted the offer, though worry soon set in as the building swiftly progressed. Just as Finn was finishing the tower, the monk happened to pass by were Finn, his wife and baby son lived. The monk heard the wife saying to her son that he shouldn't cry, because his father Finn would come that night with the monk's eyes. Promptly, the monk returned to the building site and called out to the giant: "So Finn, you must be glad the church is almost finished". Finn was furious that the monk had found out his name and ran down to the crypt, where he tried to pull a pillar from under the church to make it collapse. Right then and there, the giant turned to stone, and to this day remains holding the pillar in the crypt.
Next we went for a walk around town with the aid of a tourist brochure with the highlights. Lund has a nice botanical garden with a great variety of plants outdoors, and a number of greenhouses (which close early). There is also a very nice open air museum with old buildings which were moved there from various places around the countryside. By the time we got there, towards the end of our walk, it had already closed.
Tourist info: Lund
Sadly, our vacation in Sweden was at an end. We started our long trip back home with a drive over the impressive Öresundsbridge (toll) towards Denmark.