Autumn in Uppsala / Höst i Uppsala

“Höst” means “Autumn” in Swedish. While I’m far from fluent, my Swedish skills are definitely improving. I read the paper most days, though I understand only about 10% of what I’m reading unless I know the context beforehand. Today (the 18th) I spent 2 hours speaking only in Swedish with a friend who speaks very little English, and although it was very challenging, it was also quite fun and a terrific learning experience.

On October 6th, I woke up to a bright and sunny day, blue skies as far as I could see, and bright autumn leaves glowing in the sun. I ate my breakfast as quickly as I could, packed my camera into my backpack, and took off on my bike to take some photos around town and get some fresh air.

This is the front of Carolina Rediviva, the main library at Uppsala University and the oldest of the University’s buildings. It’s not particularly impressive in my opinion, but there’s something nice about it, sitting at the top of a hill overlooking central Uppsala.

Behind Carolina is Engelska Parken (The English Park) which is a small park with big trees, and a handful of buildings where we had most of our lectures last year. I often go there in the middle of the night (I have an after-hours entry pass) when no one is around, to be more productive than if I were to work from home. Looking West:

Right beside Engelska Parken is a neat cemetery with lots of old graves and some new ones too. This is the plot of the Hammarskjöld family. Dag Hammarskjöld was the Swedish second Secretary-General of the United Nations, who was killed in suspicious circumstances in a 1961 plane crash in what is now Zambia.

There’s quite a variety of tombstones in this cemetery:

Uppsala domkyrka (Cathedral of Uppsala) is one of the defining landmarks in the city. The two towers can be seen from kilometres away. It was built from the 13th to 15th centuries and is the largest cathedral in Scandinavia.

Near the cathedral, I’ve always liked walking through this tunnel – basically just a hole through a very old building (17th century I think – the year is on the building but I can’t remember off-hand; might be 1694).

On the other side of the tunnel, just before the river, is a restaurant with a very cool window:

The River Fyris runs through the centre of the city, and quite a long way outside the city as well:

It even goes under this building:

In Stora Torget (The Big Square), there are a few old buildings that I think are neat. Most of them are banks now:

A couple blocks away, the river is lined with big trees and neat buildings:

Uppsala is very much a cyclist city. Everyone has a bike, and almost everyone uses it. There are very good cycle paths in most parts of the city, separated from traffic for extra safety, and on roads the drivers tend to be fairly good about cyclists.

Crossing the river is the bus I used to take, on days/nights when I had to take the bus, to my old apartment 7km outside town in Sunnersta:

I decided it would be nice to cycle a little bit further, to a park just at the perimeter of the city centre, and then I decided I’d go just a little further. I ended up cycling all the way to Sunnersta along the river, as I used to do almost every day last year, when the river path wasn’t covered in snow and ice (then I would cycle along the road with my metal-spiked winter tires).

Cycling along the river path. The river is about 2-3 metres to the left of the row of trees.

The path goes past SLU at a certain point, and they have a little grassy area and football pitch. I never understood this thing though; it’s a big hole in the ground, at which five paths converge, filled with strange-coloured water. It seems to me like a wrongful death lawsuit just waiting to happen:

Lastly, cycling back to town along the road (Dag Hammarskjöldsväg), is one of the few remaining reminders of the Great 1972 Tremor – an earthquake that shook Uppsala so badly that some buildings, in the lowlying farmlands surrounding the city, simply sank. For many farmers, it was too expensive to dig them out and try to salvage the materials, so they simply shored up the dirt around the newly-lowered buildings and kept on farming.