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27 Europeans in Sweden

Posted 5 May 2009 - The Hague (NL):

Here`s the announcement of the upcoming photo exhibition `Europas ansikten` in Sweden.

If you happen to be near Stockholm between 8 and 13 May, you may want to look up Knivsta on the map to go see the 27 portraits which were on display in The Hague earlier and will be exhibited in Luxembourg later this month as well.

Book news: working on getting it available at

(© Knivsta - SE, May 2009)
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Silence inbetween the storms

Posted 13 August 2008 - The Hague (NL):

It may seem like nothing is happening in The Hague, but I am actually quite busy with lots of things. My camera is being cleaned at the moment, so I have to resort to archive photo. Although the archive is pretty full after such a long trip, I don`t want to give everything away at once. There are some photo exhibitions on the way, I am trying to organise my life in such a way that I can keep a high rate of production after 1 September, even though I will resume work on that datum. As a part of those preparations, I have organised quite some meetings here and there to try and get a couple of writing assignments and exhibition opportunities. I will try to also keep working on DailyPhoto - which should become a lot easier once I have internet access at home again...

(© Varnhem - SE, June 2007)
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Looking for St Nicholas

Posted 13 November 2007 - Madrid (ES):

Salamanca and the surrounding region are meteorologically weird. Temperatures rise high during the day (+15°C today), but fall low during the night and the morning hours (-2°C). The sun is warm, but the air is cold. I walked around Salamanca in the morning and had a nice ham sandwich. Tried to talk to somebody but hardly anybody spoke English, not even the people who looked like they would speak English (I trained the skill of recognizing English-speakers by the face extensively during my stay in Lithuania). I still got my stories collected and am now heading for Spain`s capital Madrid.

I could and should have visited Madrid in February of last year, but the circumstances weren`t favourable and so I did not. All I have seen of Madrid until now is the airport – a transfer on the way to and from Ibiza on a job excursion in 2004.

Anyway, I was browsing through my photo archives of this trip and then found the one below. I like it lots but hadn`t posted it yet: la voici..

(© Umeå - SE, October 2007)
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Bye bye Sweden

Posted 15 October 2007 - Stockholm (SE):

Back to travelling alone and away from Sweden.. I first joined Sanne to Arlanda airport, 25km north of the city, before moving myself to Skavsta airport, 150 km south of the city. Altogether it was quite a tiring day and I couldn`t wait to get to sleep when I finally arrived in the city centre of Glasgow (which in turn was about 50km on the bus from Prestwick airport). It was about 3 o`clock Swedish time when I touched my pillow and I fell asleep instantly. It`s exciting to be in a new country again, but I first need to collect my courage and motivation. And catch up with the writing because I am to days behind (again).

(© Stockholm - SE, October 2007)
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Stockholm nr 3

Posted 14 October 2007 - Stockholm (SE):

We left Eskilstuna behind and got back to Stockholm in the afternoon. The sky was grey and it started raining every now and then. The last evening in Sweden was nice though, with a lovely dinner marking the end of the `holiday season`. Below photo is from the first evening in Stockholm, when the weather was much better.

(© Stockholm - SE, October 2007)
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Two more days in Sweden

Posted 13 October 2007 - Eskilstuna (SE):

The Sweden adventure is slowly coming to an end. Yesterday night, the youth hostel kitchen was filled with some German employees of the local Volvo factory and a Finnish theatre group. The theatre group were drinking a lot and being loud. The Germans joined in and Sanne and I mainly sat there to observe the funny behaviour on display.

Today, we amused ourselves walking around the peculiar city of Eskilstuna. It was not particularly pretty, but still nice to walk around, drink coffee and eat carrot cake. Dinner consisted of Pasta con Aglio e Olio and a very nice salad. Jummy and a healthy bit of aroma therapy for everybody who arrived in the kitchen after us.

We will be heading back to Stockholm tomorrow, and go separate ways on Monday. Destinations: Amsterdam Schiphol from Stockholm Arlanda and Glasgow Prestwick from Stockholm Skavsta.

(© Eskilstuna - SE, October 2007)
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Finnhamn > Eskilstuna

Posted 12 October 2007 - Finnhamn (SE):

We left the Stockholm Archipelago this morning to get back to Stockholm and from there to Eskilstuna. We had some difficulties finding a youth hostel that was not fully booked but did find one in Eskilstuna and that`s why we are here now. Still having fun and the weather is getting better. Here`s one photo some islands in the archipelago. To me, they all look like giant whales backs, covered with trees.

(© Finnhamn - SE, October 2007)
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Halfway of Almost halfway

Posted 11 October 2007 - Finnhamn (SE):

I`m running behind on Us Europeans again, shame on me. The island we are on is quite small, only one kilometre wide, and there are not so many people. I will catch up during the days to come. Here`s two photos of a morning training for the guards of the Royal Castle.

Plans for the coming days: to get to Eskilstuna tomorrow, a city west of Stockholm. Then from there back to Stockholm and out of Sweden next Monday. That`s a bit of a shame.. I did buy a DVD with a Swedish film, which I will use to practise my Swedish pronunciation during the remainder of the trip. Still 9.5 months to go, even though it somehow seems I am already halfway. Well halfway until Christmas, yes. But even Christmas is not yet halfway...

(© Stockholm - SE, October 2007)
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Hostel night

Posted 7 October 2007 - Uppsala (SE):

Another jump south, and I am now in Uppsala. It is slowly starting to get colder, which is especially noticeable on cloudy days like today. No special news today, except that I finally found a DVD with Alle vi är barn i Bullerby, a book my grandparents used to read me when I was younger.

Tonight will be the first hostel night in a month`s time. I have been staying at people`s places ever since I crossed the Gulf of Finland now 3 weeks ago. Thanks to Teemu, Johanna, Panu, Patricia, Mari, Jussi, Philipe, Etienne, Susi, Leena, Elin, Jenny, Mats and the other people and cats living in their apartments!

Photo: residential area in Gävle this morning:

(© Gävle - SE, October 2007)
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Children`s books

Posted 6 October 2007 - Gavle (SE):

I could easily keep writing about the weather, because most days go by without any major excitement. Nevertheless, I am still enjoying my travels a lot. I keep meeting interesting and hospitable people, I spend a lot of time outside in the open air and every now and then, I cook for people or sing along with them or whatever.

Today, I was listening to a girl playing keyboard and remembered that I should be writing children`s books. Just like my chef in the photo shop, now almost 10 years ago, used to tell me. It almost sounds strange among all these oceans of time that I should just find some spare moments to do it. And whenever that occasion occurs, I should write some song lyrics too. Well, there`s a time for everything and there will be a time for that. We will see when that is.

Photo: this afternoon in the city park.

(© Gavle - SE, October 2007)
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Another sunny day

Posted 5 October 2007 - Gävle (SE):

I stuck to the plan to descend to Gävle and was treated an excursion to the local newspaper of Härnösand in the morning. On the way there, I took a photo of the lake, which for most of it was covered by a big layer of fog. The sky cleared up later during the day, making room for sunny day number 3-in-a-row.

(© Harnosand - SE, October 2007)
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Chocolate cake

Posted 4 October 2007 - Härnösand (SE):

I was planning to move on to Gävle today but was a bit late applying for a couch there, so stayed another day here in Härnösand. For the fourth consecutive day, I had quite some exposure to Swedish and reading is already becoming easier. I walked around the city with Jenny, Mattias and Daniel in the morning, had tea and chocolate cake in the library and watched Shrek 3.

Tomorrow I will take another leap south: 4.5 hours to Gävle. From there on to some place near a lake called Falun, then to Stockholm via Uppsala followed by a few nights in the archipelago before heading to Scotland! All great here!

(© Härnösand - SE, October 2007)
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Ski jump underneath railway

Posted 3 October 2007 - Härnösand (SE):

After three days in Umeå, it started to become time to move again and so I did. Destination: Härnösand, where I was invited by Jenny, a friend of the girls I had coffee with the day before yesterday. That`s where I am now, three hours south and a little bit closer to the final destination for Sweden, which is Stockholm.

The bus journey was full of pretty sights. Autumn lasts a little longer here than it does in Lappland and so I am back in the yellow and red colours. Which are particularly amazing when reflected in a lake that looks like it has just been ironed. No wind, completely flat and with a small red house somewhere dotted along the water.

Another thing that struck me was to see people ski-jumping at this time of year. I had gotten used to seeing ski jump slopes on hills, because they have them all over the place in Finland. But this no-snow ski-jumping was entirely new to me and I am happy I did not see anybody smash him/herself on the railway bridge crossing the runway.

(© Ornskoldsvik - SE, October 2007 )
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Swedish city and language

Posted 2 October 2007 - Umeå (SE):

Another day in Umeå, because it turned out to suit my next host better. No problems here, it is nice to be in Sweden and I`m not so much bothered where. Swedish cities are not very exciting, mostly even slightly boring in the Northern-German sense of the word. But the language is just lovely and the people are nice and interested about my project, so that largely makes up for the buildings. Below ones are the most recent addition to the local `skyline`.

I will move on to Härnösand tomorrow. That is three hours south of here, next to a place where I will supposedly find beautiful cliffs over the sea. Will let you know more by tomorrow.

(© Umeå - SE, October 2007)
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Subtitles rule

Posted 1 October 2007 - Umeå (SE):

Day two in Sweden and I did my best to learn a few new words. Beside the travel project, I will aim to speak a bit more Swedish before leaving here. I`m happy to find free newspapers and subtitles programs on my way, it is really great and I keep being surprised about how some countries keep dubbing TV-programs because it is such a useless thing to do. It doesn`t help anybody. There is hardly a better way to learn more languages than by being exposed to them as much as you can. Germany, France, Poland, Italy, and all others, please do something about it.

Otherwise (sinon) I have no special news today, I had a good day and that`s about all there is to say. I`ll probably be moving south a few hundred kilometres tomorrow, trying to find my way to Stockholm.

Photo: another crossroad

(© Umeå - SE, October 2007)
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Arrived in Sweden

Posted 30 September 2007 - Umea (SE):

I got up early this morning and walked to the ferry in Vaasa. It was a bit further than I expected so I was happy to get a lift by a Swedish Finn guy who happened to be a semi-famous singer and musician. There was no border control whatsoever and the ferry was far from confomartable. I had already been warned by various people that it was not a fun crossing, like the Helsinki / Turku - Stockholm crossing is. There is no tax free shopping, just a bunch of chairs and a restaurant to keep you busy for 4.5 hours. I slept most of the time, because the three hours of sleep at night were largely insufficient. There was nothing to see on the way anyway, just fog.

Arrival at Umeå was interesting (photo below), 20 kilometers out of town but I got a ride again and made it to the city in no time. I sat down at a supermarket to check my e-mail and see if I actually had a place to stay and I got an e-mail from Elin (see photo at Us Europeans) inviting me to meet in front of the tourist office within 15 minutes of the moment I was reading the email - and I was sitting only 2 minutes away from the town hall. So that was arranged and we spent talking most of the afternoon.

(© Umea - SE, September 2007)
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Stage 5: Sweden and Crossroads

Posted 15 July 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Time for another edition of the Us Europeans project. After Finland, I will go to Sweden. Unlike previous visits, I will now spend most of my time north of Stockholm. Apart from portrait photos, I got caught by the idea of photographing combinations of roads, crossroads and traffic signs. So that is something additional I will do. I find infrastructure quite fascinating and there's a lot of graphics and logics involved on one hand. On the other hand they are very typical for each country.

Here's a link towards another photo that I referred to before. I find it wonderful for its simplicity and the eery atmosphere it breathes. Below is just an ordinary Swedish road:

(© Vällingby - SE, January 2004)
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Stage 3: Latvia

Posted 7 July 2007 - The Hague (NL):

After visiting Lithuania, I will have one week in Latvia. It's a country I don't know lots about. Hardly anything I must admit. So here's some facts from Wikipedia. I will be happy to add some of my personal impressions to that once I've visited. I imagine some places look a bit like the photo below, but that one could have been taken pretty much anywhere up north.

I am very happy to see many positive and enthusiastic reations coming in. Both spontaneously from people who happen to find out and from magazines and organisation. I hope all that will lead to something solid before I leave. So what have I got left to work on?

1) Writing a detailed questionaire. Not as an aid for the interviews, but just some qualitative support to help me understand more. I will send out this question list to everybody I know and would be happy if they could in turn forward it to their intra-European friends.

In order to provide external websites with continuously updatumd data from my website, I am building a small tool that any website can just integrate in their code. Their website will then automatically show the most recently added portrait, together with a link to the corresponding article. Interested in that? Keep an eye on the log or send me an e-mail.

(© Varnhem - SE, June 2007)
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Out of Sweden, into Norway

Posted 16 June 2007 - Svinndal (NO):

After all this time of having wanted to visit Göteborg, I think I got a bit more excited than I should have. Well, it was nice getting an impression of it, even though that impression was a bit disappointing. I found it to be a bit of a combination between a typical border city (like Venlo or Heerlen in the Netherlands) and a typical harbour city like Rotterdam. And altogether not as similar to Amsterdam as promised. Anyway, the photo below is the one I ended up liking most.

In the meantime, the B&B travel circus has moved to Svinndal in Norway. We are visiting Siri and Mladen and it's really nice to see them again!

(© Göteborg - SE, June 2007)
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European newspaper tour part II

Posted 15 June 2007 - Göteborg (SE):

After a first appearance in a local Polish newspaper in 2002, we now made it to a local Swedish one, at the noble occasion of Bas and me testing alcohol free wine at a stand in front of Skövde's Systembolaget:

(© Skövde - SE, June 2007)
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IFK och Ullevi, vi är i Göteborg

Posted 14 June 2007 - Göteborg (SE):

Another photo of the Swedish landscape. I took this photo on the way back from the lake where we went swimming the other day.

I'm now reporting from Göteborg, where we have arrived a few hours ago. We will move on tomorrow in the afternoon, and head for Moss in Norway to visit Siri and Mladen. But first we need to get a good impression of Göteborg, which is said to be similar to Amsterdam. Twentyfour hours to check whether that's true..

(© Varnhem - SE, June 2007)
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Sweden so far

Posted 13 June 2007 - Varnhem (SE):

This is a photo of the road to Fallsköping, just outside the house. It doesn't really get dark here at this time of year. Thanks to the fresh air and exercise, we do not have any trouble sleeping.

Yesterday, Espen - Folkert and Geertje's son, took us to one of the lakes to swim. The cycling route was nice and allowed for some nice photos.

Today in the afternoon, Folkert and Geertje took us to a nice restaurant in Skövde for lunch. We then went for a walk in the forest and took the bus to get back to Varnhem.

(© Varnhem - SE, June 2007 )
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Du gamla, Du fria

Posted 12 June 2007 - Varnhem (SE):

This is a portrait of our backpacks, sitting in front of the stuga I mentioned yesterday.

It's very nice to be back in Sweden, and its the first time I see Sweden in summer (except a morning trip to Malmö in 2001). Lots of green, lots of lakes, and lots of red wooden houses. Very Swedish. People speak Swedish, which I can definitely handle a lot better than Danish. It's nice to hear those sounds again! Our stuga is really nice and I will try to post some photos of it tomorrow.

So what are we up to while in this part of Sweden? Some cyclying, some walking and some swimming. And enjoying the sound of silence.

(© Varnhem - SE, June 2007)
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Posted 19 May 2006 - The Hague (NL):

I generally tend to like countries where the language people speak is nice. I like Poland and the sound of Polish, France and French, and especially Sweden and Swedish. It's like singing and it sounds very happy. Swedish does not have any cases for nouns and it hardly conjugates verbs. On top op that, they have a variety of cool words like 'tidtabel' (time table), 'pappaledig' (time off work for fathers), 'jordgubbe' (strawberry but litterally meaning small earth man). Also they have very close definitions for family relations. A grandmother from mother's side would be called 'mormor' which litterally means mother's mother. Farmor is father's mother: the other grandmother. And barnbarn is grandchild, also very logical.

Beside the linguistic interest, Sweden is also a very stable country. They co-operate with nature rather then gradually destroying it, they are technically very advanced and they generally take a neutral position in military crises. Sweden is a bit less exciting than France when it comes to 'joie de vivre' but they do have a well-organised country.

If you're in any way interested to know more about Sweden or its language, take a look at Sweden's main newspaper or listen to NRJ Radio (click: Lyssna live).

(© Stockholm - SE, January 2004)
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Posted 13 December 2005 - The Hague (NL):

One year ago on this day, in Vetlanda (SE). Sweden celebrates Saint Lucia today, a party that honours 'light' and comes with nice cookies!

(© Vetlanda - SE, December 2004)
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Posted 12 December 2005 - The Hague (NL):

I spent most of Sunday afternoon on the design of my christmas cards for this year. The result is surprising, although I can't tell in which way yet. In contrast with the photo below, there's no ice and snow in it nor anything that refers to winter.

(© Stockholm - SE, January 2004)
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