A short travelogue (my tourist advantage)

Bustling activity of Arvika Town Square (5:30 AM)

Bustling activity of Arvika Town Square (5:30 AM)

I have a great advantage over most tourists. I often see the places I visit in a clearer— perhaps more “accessible” is the right word—aspect than most tourists. That is one of the benefits (there are, believe it or not, others) of having a sleep pattern that my neurologist insists on calling a disorder.

Arvika Music School

Arvika Music School

I’m up by 5 AM (often earlier) every morning. Perhaps not every morning. Let’s say nine out of ten. When I get up, I have two favorite activities, writing and walking. I have about a gazillion photos of Sweden, Finland, and Russia on my iPhone. Many of them I can’t identify (the ones with lots of people in them). However, many I can identify absolutely. They are, generally speaking, the ones I took while walking by myself around the places our group stayed.

Arvika Library

Arvika Library

At about 5:30 AM on June 22, I took a walk around Arvika, Sweden.  You can probably guess that I was pretty much alone. I said good morning to exactly four people (our driver had taught me a pretty good facsimile of the Swedish), and two of them said good morning back. One of them was a young man out for his morning run, and we had a delightful half English, half Swedish and – HA! – half Spanish conversation.

Just a street

Just a street

I saw Arvika as no one else in our group did, I’m pretty sure. And as few tourists ever do. This is the writing closest to a travelogue I will ever do, so listen up.

The bustling town square comes first. The square is surrounded by shops and restaurants, but it does not seem like a “touristy” place, even in the middle of the day.

Terraced apartments

Terraced apartments

As I returned to the street the hotel is on, I walked toward an imposing building at the end of the street. It turned out to be the Music School. I know nothing about it (forgot to ask the organist at Eda Church where we performed), but the building and grounds are certainly impressive.

Up the street to the right (north, I think), I came across the town library nestled among apartments – as a library should be, not off by itself somewhere. And the obligatory fountain in front.

A Swedish Italian Jewish restaurant?

A Swedish Italian Jewish restaurant?

Farther up the street I came to (perhaps) my favorite oddity in the city. The “Pizzeria Shalom.” An Italian restaurant with a Hebrew name in the middle of a mixed-use neighborhood in a small Swedish city. OK, so I’m easily amused.

Sunrise (?) over the lake

Sunrise (?) over the lake

One of the most interesting buildings I saw is an apartment (condo?) building built so each floor is set back from the one below, so the roof of the lower floor serves as a garden for the one above it. I don’t know how the back of the building is structured, but the front is certainly a place I’d like to live.

Then I wandered up a residential hill and down and around on city streets that look pretty much alike, and then retraced my steps and headed back to the hotel. In the block in front of the hotel, I discovered a couple of statues along the sidewalk. Although I could not read the Swedish, my guess is that this one is titled something like “Baby on Floor.”

[Obviously what follows is an error: the lake picture is from the next morning, when I began my walk at the lake. The sun did not, in fact, go back down after I took the pictures above.]

The best is last. I ended my walk at the lake which delineates the (I think) south side of the city. Lupen and other flowers, benches to sit and stare, formal gardens, a fountain – I cannot begin to describe the place. I more or less watched the sun come up (of course, it does not come “up” because it’s been close to the horizon all night, sort of sidling around until you can see it – very eerie for a Texan).

End of description of Arvika.Oh, and, by the way, I was walking with my cane. This was the morning I figured out how to take pictures with my iPhone holding it in one hand. Not bad, eh?

A baby in the street?

A baby in the street?

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