I have only the NRM in York, England to compare it to and whilst this one is smaller (but still full of impressive goodies for the buffs), it has a better feeling of "pioneering" about it. Sure enough the real railway pioneers came from England but here in Sweden, they battled with a totally different landscape when building the railways and that's what shines through this exhibition. Building a railway line north of the Arctic circle and in bedrock is not the same as the limestone of the green and pleasant land. It also shows just how important the railway really has been to the development of modern Sweden. Suddenly, all our iron ore and wood could be exported and we were off!
The museum is a bit of a trek from Gävle railway station, backtracking towards Stockholm along the railway line, but you do it in maximum half an hour's walk and there is a bus. In winter, there is only a coffee machine and some biscuits in the reception but in summer, an old buffet car is open as restaurant/cafe and there is also a barbecue area and lots of playing activities for children both indoors and outdoors.
If you want to see some of these trains in action pictures, have a look at my Lund page travelogue where some of them came for the 150th anniversary of the Swedish railways in 2006 - Lund to Malmö being the first proper passenger stretch to open.
Gävle suffered badly when a great fire swept the city in 1869. Most houses were wooden and the whole northern part of the river disappeared. What is left of the wooden town today is the Old Town to the south but it gives you a good enough idea of the place. In winter it is quite deserted but the locals are artists and the Christmas decorations are abundant. In summer, the artists' galleries and cafes are open and you stroll from one to the other in the alleys. There are also strong links with the USA here, and especially Utah. The first Swede to emigrate and come back as a Latter Day missionary came from here and so too did ironically the more famous Joe Hill. Born here as Joel Hägglund, he emigrated to Utah where he was later executed for a murder he probably didn't commit but as he was a syndicalist trade union leader, he was never believed. There is a museum in his house today, run by the trade union (summertime only).
All Swedish counties have their County Museums and this belongs to the better ones if you're interested in art. The reindeer in the picture has rotating antlers all around it (click on pic to see properly). It was inspired by the famous angora goat with a car tyre around it, found in Moderna Museet in Stockholm. There are also local art groups and thanks to the late local business magnate Rettig, a decent collection of famous Swedes such as a Carl Larsson painting and a Milles sculpture. There is also glass and other food related art by the creator of the Nobel prize dinner service designer Cyrén. Finally, the museum has a section on local history, including some local viking finds, farming, G?vle's maritime history and pictures from the great fire.
The Castle does not look anything like what it did in medieval days since it is totally rebuilt and resembles a great mansion today. However, the grounds still fascinate as they house the typically Swedish looking prison of 1847 and the county jail from earlier days. Since the prison closed, this has all been co-ordinated and made into a prison museum and as it has only been done in later years, they are still working on both the museum and its website which will be more of a National Prison museum in future they hope. Then, they will also follow the Stockholm idea of opening a hotel in some of the old cell blocks.
Bönan is a 19th century fishing village in this part of Sweden so famous for its Baltic herrings. You can of course try them here, both in the harbour and in the Strandg?rden restaurant. There are also sometimes guided tours of the lighthouse and a generally nice archipelago feel and small beach. There are buses here but in July, the tourist office organises some boat trips too.
Axmar is another place where you can buy fish and rent boats.
Finally, Gåsholma has both cafe and boat rental as well as famous fish sandwiches.
On the south side of the river, just across it from the train station is the old area in Gävle.Here the little wooden houses crowd the cobblestone streets, and just as you would expect, there are many handicrafts places and small exhibitions directed towards tourists. Of course the tourists are numerous as well. Tour buses seem to make a routine stop here on their way through Gävle, but so is the case with any other old style town or compound. I definitely recommend a stroll through old Gävle, it is not large, easily covered in 15 minutes, unless you want to spend time in a coffee house or at an exhibition. Dont wear stiletto heels, they get stuck between the pavement stones...
Such beautiful statues. Angels playing instruments. You meet then at the beginning of your walk through Boulognerskogen. When looking at them fce on, you have the Concert house in the background, on the other side of the river. The angels were created by Carl Milles, a famous sculptor, whom you can also meet at Millesgården in Stockholm.
Old town of wooden buildings that survived the fire that destroyed most of the town in the 19th century.
If you are a photographer enjoy an hour or two walking the several streets checking out these quaint and cute Swedish wooden houses - and use your observations skills to note the Swedish quirkyness here and there!
A WALK THROUGH THE CITY'S FOREST
Gavles own Bois de Bologne is called just ? Boulognerskogen (the Boulogne forest).
It runs along the river Gavle?n in the west part of town. You enter it gradually, at the western end of the pedestrian street, and soon enough you have left the city behind and it only makes its presence known through a faint roar far away.
Close around you all you hear is the trees wispering, the birds chirping and and your own footsteps on the gravel paths.
Several paths rund alongside each other parallell to the river and combine through connecting paths or steps. At one spot a natural staircase has formed out of the roots of several large pine trees and if you are not prone to spraining your ankles you can climb down through the shade of the pine trees' needlefilled branches.
The vegetation in the park varies from wildly growing grass and meadow flowers to more arranged flowerbeds with a thought-through design.
The river meanders through the forest. (see the picture) Here: one wide stream, there: several smaller torrents separated by natural islands and running over stoney riverbeds. The water is shaded by the grand trees, the brinks of the river are filled with fern and reed. Still, here and there the sun breaks through and glitters on the water surface.
The park Boulognerskogen runs from the outskirts of town right into its center, and is thereby a sort of tounge of savage (albeit sometimes alterad) land stretched into civilization.
Fjärran Höjder means Far away Heights and is the name of the huge bath-relaxation complex located quite centrally in Gävle. OK, now "huge" may not be the adequate description if you compare to some aqualands in the States for example, but for a place like Gävle, it is huge. There are indoor and outdoor pools, the indoor area is warm and humid and has tropical plants, streams and little bridges over the water. Outdoors there is a wide grassy area where you can sunbathe and perhaps bring a picknick. But prepare to fight for the food with the seagulls. I once saw a sea-gull almost attacking a kid to get to his french fries. There was a huge commotion. good to know is that there is also a cafè/restaurant inside.
I drove on up to Gavle to see its old town of wooden buildings that survived last century's fire and arrived in the midst of the city's annual City Fest.
There were loads of people cramming the streets in the city centre with a busy amusement park area, a belly dancer in one of the park's pagodas, and across the canal a gospel group commanding attention from the stage in the park there - despite the intermittent rain showers.
This is an old preserved area by the river where old homes for forge workers is located. They are still private homes but its nice to go there and have a look.
There was an steel industry here from 1645 to 1896. For example anchors were made.
200 terracotta soldiers (replicas of the famous Terracotta Army found in China) are now standing in Sweden! Dragon Gate opened its doors a few weeks ago and I visited shortly after. I have always wanted to see the Terracotta Army (but time and money has so far delayed me) so when I discovered that I could take a 40 minute long car journey south to see exact replicas of 200 of the soldiers I just had to go. Dragon Gate is still under construction (it will have a hotel, a kung-fu school and more shops once they have finished later this year), but the restaurant and the Terracotta Army Museum is open.
The toilets were quite appalling when I visited but I guess (hope) they will be much better once everything is in place.
Entrance fee is between 100 SKR to 200 SKR - the lower price for entrance, guided tour and a taste of tea - the upper price gives the same as the lower plus a small staty of a terracotta soldier. We managed to come on a day/time of day when they had a guided tour in Swedish, but the main languages for the guided tours are either English or "Chinese" (Mandarin?)
Due to a redevelopment plan of the municipal government the centre of Gävle was started to reconstruct during the 1950’s. But you still can find some old architectural highlights like this church near the train station.
Check out the rebuilding of the last Swedish brig Gerda.
Some history of the original brig: She was build in Gävle in 1868. She have sailed to Australia, South America and Africa, but then she aged the journeys become shorter and shorter and at the end of her days she sailed mostly to harbours around the Baltic Sea and Denmark. After her duties she became a museum ship from 1936 until 1959. But due to lack of maintenance the ship decayed, and in 1959 the ship was burnt.