History day: From prehistory to the 17th century
Today our family left the Åsleröds Caravan Club, heading north – east of Bohuslän, in the great lakes area, first passing through the Tanumshede rock carvings site in Vitlycke.
Rock engravings of Vitlycke:
The Tanum region is particularly rich in prehistoric vestiges, dolmens and burial vaults from the megalithic era, rock engravings and tumuli from the Bronze Age, “Domar-ringar” (“judicial circles”), and much more.
At Vitlycke, some frescoes were engraved on granite slabs at the beginning of the Bronze Age, between 1800 and 500 BC.
To be easier to read, most of the engravings were highlighted by red paint, but nobody knows how (or even if) they were originally colored.
The patterns depicted are indicative of the beliefs of men in this region of southern Sweden. The ship, agricultural and hunting themes are numerous. The engravings are usually grouped into small separate paintings, but there are also large scenes.
We see in particular many ships, animals, warriors, … and the famous couple of “newlyweds” that you’ve definitely seen in pictures at some point in your life. And there it was!
With Abby, we went up to the top of the hill, where the engravings are. She was very happy to climb “higher! Still higher “(Abby’s words). At the top, there are 2 tumuli (burials of stones). From this height one understands very well that at the bottom of the valley, several thousand years ago, there was the sea, and that this highest spot was made to mark, for any travelers on the seas, that here lived a civilized population who buries his dead and who is ready to defend his territory; This sensation was really very strong. Like when you climb up some castle’s ramparts, you immediately understand that it is both a watching station and a demonstration of strength for anyone who looks at it from below.
Lunch in Grebbestad:
After that, we went to Grebbestad. Another fishing village on the coast above Fjällbacka. Much more popular, but also very charming. Nick spotted on Yelp a perfect coffee shop/bakery for Lunch. This is the first restaurant we did on our trip. So far we always had the pleasure of cooking in the tiny camper van’s kitchen…
We had lunch at the “Sjögrens I Backen“. The setting was beautiful, like a modern Marie Antoinette boudoir. Very cozy, with lots of small decorative details, old tapestries, two old earthenware stoves, an old baking fireplace, lace curtains, all in a perfect balance with just the right touch of kitsch. Delightful!
I took a plate of Swedish wild salmon, Swedish shrimp, salad, eggs… A Swedish brunch, apparently. Nick chose a kind of sandwich halfway between a burger and toast, with generous proportions. All the products were fresh, friendly staff, and self-service coffee! What could be better?
Oh yes! Coffee! Next to one of the imposing stoves, you could take tea and coffee at will. This is not very original for many of you, I assume, but for me, the surprise was more about all the different kinds of sweet things you could add to your drink. There were various kinds of sugars (white, red, aspartame, agave syrup…) so far nothing too surprising, but more fascinating were the various kinds of milk! There was, of course, some regular cold and hot milk, but also hot milk infused with cinnamon, and another infused with cardamom. I have turned my attention to this last one. So it was with great pleasure that I discovered the cardamom coffee latte. Delicious! Especially when taken with a Swedish pastry named “Chokladbiskvier”. A kind of macaroon biscuit, topped by a chocolate shell and filled with a hazelnut praline cream – it’s also known as a “Sarah Bernhardt” when it is filled with a dark chocolate ganache.
Before we left, we did some shopping and headed for Lake Vänern. We arrived at Läcko Castle in the late afternoon. Just in time for a visit. We were the last visitors of the day and the castle was all ours.
It is a very beautiful castle located to the south of the lake, at the end of a peninsula. It is a medieval castle, but much of its current appearance is from the Renaissance and is largely inspired by the French Ideal movement. Apart from its bland exterior look – rather neutral (a white building topped by small red roofs) – the castle is quite remarkable for the amount of paint on the walls and ceilings, which was created for the Magnus Gabriel De La Gardie’s renovation project, in 1654. (That’s enough history).
It was the first time that Abby and Josephine visited a castle – or at least a castle with rooms totally preserved with furniture and decorations, and with recreated life scenes to illustrate the utility of each room. They were totally captured by the atmosphere and wondered on each piece. They were amazed by discovering a “real princes and princesses universe” (their words).
The last piece is the one that most fascinated them. I think it was a ballroom or a performance hall, with a ceiling mixing woodwork, paintings and even sculpture (there were some cherubs hung there).
As we were leaving the castle, while passing through the courtyard, we noticed that they were preparing a demonstration. A scene had been set up there with musicians practicing. The actors were out reading their lines. They had their ghostly makeup finished, but they were wearing street clothes. It was a peculiar sight. All the same, Abby and Josephine stared at them! It turned out this was an Opera Troupe. Without knowing it, we arrived at the beginning of the season of the Läckö Castle Opera, a festival set there every year.
Josephine said to me: “Tell me mom, is she a lady or a gentleman?
Me – It’s a gentleman!
Joséphine – But he has a lot of makeup !!
Me – Yes, it is for the show that is preparing.
Josephine – … No, I’m sure it’s a woman!”
And the man started to vocalize, with an otherworldly voice that could make windows tremble, and it left Josephine completely stunned.
We didn’t see the performance. It was time to find a green place for the night. Close to the castle was a very simple campsite in a splendid pine forest. The perfect setting to end the day.
Lakes, flowers, lakes, cars, and lakes again.
Waking up this morning, we enjoyed the beauty of nature. The smell of pine and moss, the noise of jackdaws and seagulls, and the sun that slips between the trees … I said to myself: “You know what Kat, THAT is the real life!”
The time had come to return to Denmark, with Copenhagen in the spotlight. Upon leaving the campsite, we realized that the place behind us was occupied by a little special camper group: Lovers of retro camper vehicles. There were hot rods, old camper vans, old caravans … all beautiful. It was impressive!
On the road we had become aware of several things:
1 – At some point, the landscape looked like the north of the United States or Canada. Several times Nick said to me: “Look, we could be in Michigan here!” Add to that the large number of American cars in this area, and we could think we transported over the Atlantic!
2 – When you look up Sweden on a map, it looks like a large country mostly covered by forests. But In crossing it, you realize what a web of lakes and rivers really make up the area. It’s a land dissected by a large number of small and large lakes and a network of canals, and rivers.
And 3 – I do not know if it was exceptional this year, but there were wildflowers EVERYWHERE !! Much like the Danes, Swedes are crazy about their fine cut grass. But unlike the Danes, they respect the wild vegetation. We loved how this tended to provide us with bursts of color along the route. I became so lost in admiration of these wildflowers, I didn’t even think to take a picture!
In Sandhem we had a picnic on a reserved site, next to a small group of houses, and a lake (Yes! Again…). The shores of the lake were strewn with wildflowers and – guess what – A couple was mowing their lawn just near us, in their (already) perfect garden!
When we were ready to leave, a man came to meet us. He was a Dutchman who had been living here for 20 years. He noticed our license plate from Belgium and was hoping to talk a little about the Flemish with us … Oops! But he seemed very happy to have been able to speak with us nonetheless.
To have a happy ending for the day, we used good old google to spot a discreet corner, to spend the night. After a methodical search with zoom on satellite view and back in the map mode, we finally found the ideal spot, next to the lake (promise it is the last one) of Vittsjö, in the natural park of Ubbalt. After some research, we thought we had found a corner away from everything and above all civilization. In the early evening we saw two young Danish guys come to settle their tents by the lake; Then at nightfall a German couple with their dog… We thought we were original when, in fact, we were on a site well known by campers. Fail!