Until I went for an afternoon walk in the city gardens, I was prepared to say Gävle was a fairly unimpressive Swedish country town. Yes, I’d had good experiences with the locals who have all been quite friendly. And I’d just had a lovely lunch in a local cafe. But the main centre of town is fairly unimpressive, with lots of shops you might find anywhere. Yet when you look more deeply, you see there’s a lot of public art around. The town’s major sculpture is someone lying down which I quite like as a town’s major public art work. And there’s also a really nice public art project they have where lots of trees without leaves have been covered in coloured feathers. In the midst of the grey, it seems to have a wonderfully cheerful effect on the vista. The old parts of Gävle and the city gardens are really beautiful too.
I spent maybe three hours this afternoon walking through the gardens, which feature lots of small bridges, lots of snow, and carved wooden troll guarding a bridge (I loved that!), amongst other highlights. The water runs quite quickly, as there’s a hydro scheme half way along the river. The water is also quite dark. As the river seemed quite shallow, I couldn’t quite work out why. Was it the tannins from the trees? Was it pollution? Or was it just reflection from the trees and the snow. Whatever it was, it was really quite beautiful.
In other ways, I guess Gävle is probably like many other country towns. Last night I saw young people lining up for bars, or doing blockies in their cars. I’ve seen quite a few quite drunk people here, including a couple of blokes today, but that’s not so unusual, I guess.
One of the most apparent differences between people here and people in Stockholm is their complexions. The snow is still heavy around town. And I’m guessing, they’ve had a tougher winter than people further south. Thus, most of the people I’ve seen have had an almost translucent pale complexion, brought about through months and months without the sun. I realised today that’s why I’ve been getting lost here. Without the sun to guide me, I’m losing my sense of direction.
I doubt I could live here. When it comes to Sweden, I guess I’m a Stockholm kinda guy. I’ll be back there tomorrow.