Where's Sam the Man

48 countries, 12 months, one man, half a brain

Name: Samuel Hathaway
Location: Roaming..., Germany

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm sitting in the Oslo University library, trying to figure out this dang USB port. It appears that I won't be able to load up pictures of what I've been seeing, so tough it out and read my blog anyway.

The last few days have been spent in southern Sweden, in the region known as Skåne. Specifically, I was in the town of Helsingborg -- right across the water from Helsingør, Denmark. The area actually was under Danish control for years, so the region has a lingering flavor of Denmark (yeah, like I would recognize something like that). Well, either the flavor is of Denmark or of Danish alcohol. Apparently, alcohol is so expensive in Skåne that Swedes try to do their shopping across the border. Ironically, most Danes go across the border to Germany for the same reason. I bet you didn't know that.

The highlight of my stay there was a little jaunt on the island of Ven. Erik Åkerman (Swedish 16 year old third cousin on my mother's side) and I shipped off from Råå (Ha! Try and pronounce that! It can't be done!) huddled on the deck of a small fishing boat, in the midst of desparaging wind and drizzle. The dirty smudge on the horizen did not inspire me, either. Once we docked in the harbour, however, the steel grey sky melted away, and I realized that the land was remarkably beautiful. It was beyond beautiful, actually -- it was exhilerating! Spending time on the island that day was like drinking pure spring water; everything was raw and rejuvinating,
simple and sublime. No one element made it that way, but harmonious whole of the vibrant blue sky, the rippling gold wheat fields, the lush meadows, the multi-hued wild flowers, the white plaster cottages, the wooden red farmsites, the rolling hills, the sea, the cool breeze... Ven was a Swedish attempt at the Garden of Eden, and I think they got pretty close. The lovely landscape shelters small villages (not even Montevideo would be counted as small; we're talking Wagdahl, people). Every building was a gem, from the more humble gingerbread hut to the graceful red brick church.

Actually, the island has a fascinating history behind it, as well. Originally, in ancient history, it was used by simple farmers merely for sel-sustenance. During the early Rennaissance, however, it was given by the Danish king as a fief to a certain Tycho Brache. Mr. Brache was one of the greatest scientists in Europe, at the time, and on Ven he created the first scientific institution in Europe. With funds equal to 500 times a university professor's salary coming straight from the Danish treasury, Tycho built a fantastic estate dedicated to astrology. He was insistant on controlling every step of the process, lest his work be plagiarized, so he gathered blacksmiths to create custom instruments, masons to build observatories (and his magnificant Rennaissance palace), and even printers and book binders to publish his findings. Ven was a scientific microcosm. Tycho's fantastic allure, fueled by his mysterious scientific prowess and his elegant island estate, is said to have inspired Shakespeare's character Prospero in The Tempest.

Side note -- Mr. Hampton: you will be excited to know that I stood in the very church (St. Mary's, I think) in Helsingborg where Dietrich Buxtehude let it rip on the organ. I know! I couldn't believe it either!

In all, a wonderful stay. I will leave Sweden for Norway, soon, where I will tour briefly before starting my bike tour. I may have internet access during the next few days, but unless you want to hear about sweat, pain, and saddle sores, then I think I will hold off until Stockholm to post.

Take care.

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Blogger Megan said...

Sam, I have 2 ideas for you. (1)You should put a map on you blog. I'm sick of chaging back and forth from one page to another trying to figure out where you are. (2) You should arrange a medley of all the National anthems of all the countries you visit and sing it for us when you get back, in the original language!

July 18, 2007 9:12 AM  
Blogger Lyra said...

Perhaps you will read this...and well perhaps my words written down on this page will be a waste of time. However, i refuse to think that way and a small part of me hangs on to the small slice of hope that perhaps you will read my comments (which i am planning on leaving quite a bit of)and you won't forget about me while you are out gallivanting through Europe.
For starters I specifically created an account thinger only for the mere purpose of leaving you comments.
I'm going to be completely honest with you when i say i'm a tad...okay no scratch that i'm quite a bit jealous of your rendezvous through Europe however i'm a bit comforted by the fact that you will be bringing me back multiple souvenirs.
And that is all for now, well except that i miss you!

July 24, 2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger Samuel Hathaway said...

You insult me, Lyra. Of course I read the posts on my blog! I am honored to have you commentating. It's reassuring to know that I'm not forgotten in Montevideo -- it's easy to feel isolated in this foreign environment. FYI: the solution to being jealous about my trip and missing me is to come on over. Just thought I'd let you know.

July 28, 2007 2:10 AM  
Blogger Candice said...

Sam! How have you been? I hope you are having a wonderful time in Europe! Happy belated birthday by the way. The pictures you took are amazing! You are well missed back home! Have an unforgettable experience! :)

August 8, 2007 9:35 PM  

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