...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Up the brick tower we go

(P.S. Added on October 9)

On the last Saturday of September, Norrköping celebrates the Culture Night (Kulturnatt) – a misnomer actually, for the celebration doesn't actually take place at night but throughout the whole day. It is a day when the city showcases – well, as the name suggests – culture, but in all it's broad meanings and expressions. On this day, the local aikido club has a demo the same time the symphony orchestra offers a free performance; a vernissage takes place at the Museum of Work in the same block where a student pub blares out invasive techno music; art and sneakers alike sell on the streets. "High art" dissolves with "low art", and if you're anything like a culture snob, perhaps you'll even think "Culture Night" is a misnomer for more reasons than one.

I think it's a good opportunity to walk around town people-watching, and to snoop around otherwise off-limit places that have their open house on Culture Night. ;-) This year, we managed to get tickets to go up the city hall tower, the highest structure in this part of town, probably comparable to the Quezon City memorial. After climbing to the fourth floor of the city hall and up 160 more steps of a winding staircase, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of the city from all four directions – that is, a view from behind a chicken-wire encapsuled balcony. The wire was presumably put up there to prevent suicidals from doing their stuff, but it also unfortunately made it hard to capture the view in pictures.

Hmm... okay, you don't see the chicken wire in the overexposed picture above...

... so here's a picture just to show that the bell tower could double as a prison tower. :-)

According to the city hall pamphlet, the largest of the 15 bells up there (not shown in the picture) weighed as much as 700 kilos. One of the medium-sized bells is programmed to ring once 15 minutes past the hour, twice thirty minutes past the hour, and thrice a quarter before the hour. Of course the bells can also play music, but the mechanism for this is now programmed electronically; no one actually "plays" the music but one more likely presses a button for a tune.

On the roof of the city hall sits Saint Olaf of Norway (Sankt Olof in Swedish), the patron saint of Norrköping. Or rather, as you can see, it's a golden statue of him – dubbed "Gullolle" (Golden Olle) – representing the saint with an axe on one hand and a ball on the other. In the tower then, one walks literally under Olaf's golden thrown.

Aside from this trip up the tower, we were invited into the city hall cafeteria where we had coffee and cookies. They hang a collection of coins on the cafeteria wall, containing coins that foreign visitors have left them as souvenirs. Surprisingly, there were a few from the Philippines! However, only after having taken this picture and resizing it at home did I notice something out of place: they lumped a Spanish peseta with the Philippine pesos!

We also toured the city hall's tapestry room (in which eight 4x2-meter handwoven tapestries are hung, which show the history of Norrköping), and we enjoyed the occasional free candy from the city hall's candy bowls. And oh yeah, and we even had a very short encounter with the city mayor herself who by tradition (surely only on special occasions?), dons a thick golden chain around her neck and shoulders that meets at her chest in a bling-bling of a pendant as big as a credit card!

P.S. Back to the Caribbeans, at least gastronomically. In tune with the chilly "-ber" months, we're already planning a repeat performance of last year's Christmas julbord experience at the same place (Rimforsa Strand) with the same people (Mats, Margareta, Marcus and me). We got a surprise when looking into the restaurant's website: my food entry last year made it to their promotional material! Click here, scroll down, and you'll find my article there under the rubric "Kuriosa om vår karibiska julbuffé!" Maybe it will even inspire you to eat there for this year's julbord :-)


Anonymous Cheryl said...

hey joy! dropping by from my new office ;)

i like your picture of Saint Olaf, ang ganda ng color ng sky. ganyan ba talaga ka-blue dyan?

and congrats on having your article in rimforsastrand.se kahit na di ko maintindihan, hehehe.

anyway it's good to know you're still leading an exciting life exploring sweden. :D

3:09 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hi Cheryl! Sumweldo ka na ba? Heheh!

Yeah actually if it's not cloudy the sky is like that. Winter afternoons are a bit different though; then the sky is whitish (which I found alien at first).

1:11 PM


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