Värmland

21 07 2014

For quite some time my partner has talked about making a trip to visit friends in Kil, which lies in Värmland – a county in the west of Sweden. They had not met for quite some time and none of them ever seemed to be able to get started on the 370km drive. Their names came up again on Thursday so I said OK tomorrow we are doing it and got a hotel booked in Karlstad. We started our drive on Friday evening after I had finished work for the day and gone home and packed. There are several routes between Gävle and Karlstad and the one we chose was via Avesta, Fagersta, Lindesberg, Örebro then the E18 straight through to Karlstad.

We stopped in Norberg on the way so I could find an elusive cache. I have looked on two previous visits for Elsa Anderssons konditori. On the first attempt I used my GPS and on the second my iPhone. Both took me to completely different places about 30 m apart. I heard from one of my geocaching friends in Gävle that they had visited the cafe and quickly found the cache. Of course, I asked where and on this time it was a simple find – in a place I had not searched in that was half way between the places i searched in previously. Duh!

We then continued on non-stop to Karlstad so we could check into our hotel. We arrived at 10 pm and more or less crashed. As the goal for the journey was to visit people I wasn’t really expecting to find so many caches. Naturally I had made a PQ over the caches in the Karlstad area and loaded my GPS with all them all barring the mystery caches.

Most of the day was spent with my partner’s friends in Kil, but it included at drive over to Borgvik where there is an old ironworks and a culture house where there was an exhibition they wanted to see. It included photographs from Lennart Nilsson. Rather than write and include photos I took, I will just link to this blog. It’s worth reading.

Borgvik's blast furnace ruins.

Borgvik’s blast furnace ruins.

Tank barriers in Borgvik.

Tank barriers in Borgvik.

Information about the fortifications in the area from WWII.

Information about the fortifications in the area from WWII.

In return to being taken to an interesting place I took them geocaching for the first time in their lives. Borgviks kyrka. It was received with mixed reactions so I can’t see them running off in the future caching on their own.

From there we returned to Kil where we found Apertins Kapell at the chapel of the same name as the cache, where I swapped a geocoin I had been carrying around for a few weeks with another one. That gave me the borough of Kil.

A fantastic mossy wall all round the Apertin chapel.

A fantastic mossy wall all round the Apertin chapel.

A thunderstorm was breaking on the horizon so we hurried on over to Forshaga in order to grab God-Helg and a cache in the borough of Forshaga. We got there just as the skies opened.

Merry Christmas in neon lights at Forshaga

Merry Christmas in neon lights at Forshaga

As there was no point in hunting for more caches we returned to Karlstad where the sun came out and enabled us to have dinner outdoors at one of the many restaurants that there seem to be in the centre of town. On the way to dinner we picked up Karlstads Domkyrkan so Karlstad’s borough was also secured.

Karlstad town hall and square in the evening after the storm.

Karlstad town hall and square in the evening after the storm.

On the Sunday we visited my daughters mother in law who lives in Karlstad before starting our journey home. We even managed a quick trip to Mariabergskogen

We're just friends. The baby crow seems to have an identity crisis.

We’re just friends. The baby crow seems to have an identity crisis.

This must a a “wabbit” judging by it’s size.

and a shopping centre before leaving for home. Just to vary the route we chose to drive through Filipstad, Ludvika, Falun on our way to Gävle. From the geocaching perspective I found only five caches over the weekend but in four new boroughs.

As I have an APRS setup in my car it’s possible to see in real time where my car is (if the radio is on).

APRS trace from our drive home.

APRS trace from our drive home.





Gotland

10 07 2014

The first half of the last week of my vacation was spent on an island, Gotland to be precise. The first and only time I have been there was in nineteen eighty or eighty one so it felt good to revisit the place. Another reason of course is that it was one of the two remaining counties in Sweden where I needed to find some caches. I’m still wondering if I should have continued on to Norrbotten when I was in Västerbotten but it’s nice to have some challenges remaining.

The flight from Arlanda to Visby took less time than we needed to get checked in and through the security control and about two thirds of the time to drive from Gävle to Arlanda. The airport in Visby is tiny so getting baggage and a rental car was a quick process and we were soon on our way. It’s only a five minute drive into Visby but then the fun begins. More or less all parking is outside the medieval city walls and is quite expensive unless it’s Saturday afternoon or Sunday, when it’s free. I didn’t think about it when I booked the trip but it was the latter part of the Swedish politicians “summer holiday” in Almedalen where they all meet to try to outdo each other in promising things they cannot keep. Or something like that. It’s also the summer playground for a lot of Stockholmers who don’t want to travel too far yet visit a place that is a little exotic. The consequence is inflated prices for both hotels and restaurant visits. Even the petrol was more expensive than in other places in Sweden.

What I was looking for on the island was the geology and therefore earthcaches. I wasn’t disappointed as we found four of them and really enjoyed looking at the places they took us to. Surrounding the finding of the fours earthcaches was a bunch of 38 traditional caches, the most difficult having a D rating of three. On the terrain side of things the highest T rated cache we found was a T2.

The earthcaches were:

Langhammars
Självfrätstenen / The Self-Eroded Rock
Haugklintar
Kalkurfossar- Water from Lime

Gotland is comprised of rocks that were formed under millions of years through sedimentation on the bottom of different seas. The rocks were formed around 400million years ago in the period called the Silurian age. Animals that lived then were covered in further sediment and today are the fossils that are found, in principle all over the island. As the tectonic plates move rocks can tip, but Gotland has not been effected so much and after the last iceage the land was “polished” flat and remains so today.

There are some anomalies and one of them is the self eroding rock. This is an erratic block of Rapakivi granite from Finland that was transported to it’s present place during the last ice age. It’s a fascinating sight seeing how the block is crumbling into gravel on it’s own.

A Rapakivi erratic on Gotland

A Rapakivi erratic on Gotland

Rapakivi granite is known for it's self erosion

Rapakivi granite is known for it’s self erosion

ds8300 at Langhammars raukar

ds8300 at Langhammars raukar

You can almost see a face in this rauk

You can almost see a face in this rauk

GPS at Haugklintar earthcache

GPS at Haugklintar earthcache

Cliffs at Hoburgen

Cliffs at Hoburgen

176 km between the ends of the island

176 km between the ends of the island

Quarrying of millstone grit on the south of the island

Quarrying of millstone grit on the south of the island

Dry waterfall in Visby

Dry waterfall in Visby

The main part of the stay was for sightseeing and we were able to drive to most parts of the island from the lighthouse at the south end (Hoburgen) to the one in the north at the far end of Fårö. We were struck by the unusual churches, probably because everyone seems to have a geocache. We had to stop and pick up them up of course. Actually we only found thirteen of the ninety two that have been placed on the island.

One of the many churches we saw

One of the many churches we saw

Another of the many churches on Gotland

Another of the many churches on Gotland

The monastery ruins at Roma

The monastery ruins at Roma

Ruins of St. Görans church in Visby

Ruins of St. Görans church in Visby

Is this St Göran watching over his ruins?

Is this St Göran watching over his ruins?

As we were returning from Fårö I saw a sign pointing to the KA3 museum so had to make a slight detour and have a look. Even though the equipment was impressive it wouldn’t be much use today in the age of cruising missiles.

Artillery at the KA3 museum

Artillery at the KA3 museum

Old ground to air missile at KA3 museum

Old ground to air missile at KA3 museum

In some way Gotland seems to be still many years after mainland Sweden, but is probably what adds to it’s charm. There were many preserved buildings and relics of normal life in the earlier 20th century.

Preserved farm at Brattarve

Preserved farm at Brattarve

Esso garages disappeared decades ago

Esso garages disappeared decades ago

I love these old neon signs

I love these old neon signs

It was the politicians summer week in Almedalen

It was the politicians summer week in Almedalen

One of the squares in Visby

One of the squares in Visby


So, after this trip which netted over forty finds, I have found caches in twenty of the twenty one counties in Sweden. I suspect that the final county won’t be visited this year but who knows?





Västerbotten

5 07 2014

After a day at home after our trip to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria I decided to see what I could do about adding a new county to my Swedish geocaching map. A couple of months ago and unexpected trip to Halland allowed me to fill in the first of the four remaining counties where I haven’t found any caches. See post Halland.

I decided that I would add the county of Västerbotten to my list. It’s a 480 km drive from Gävle to Umeå, which is the county capital, so quite easily done in a day. It was also a good opportunity to find caches in new boroughs in Sweden as well. In hindsight I probably wouldn’t have taken the E4 both north to Umeå and back south again. It would have been much better to have taken an inland route and ticked off a few more boroughs. However, the preparation time was minimal as the journey was more or less made at a whim. In addition to that an inland route back would have added a further 300+ km to my journey as there are not that many major roads in the north.

When I was sitting in my hotel room on the Wednesday evening I toyed with the idea of continuing on to the county of Norrbotten so I could consider that “done” as well. A quick look at the map showed me that I would be adding another 450 km to my trip if I drove up to Piteå and back and that in terms of time would be over five hours. I think I will take the train up to either Boden or fly to Luleå in order to save time and the wear and tear on my car. The only downside to that is that I won’t be passing through new boroughs on the journey, at least not anywhere that I can stop.

My first stop was in Timrå at WHY. You can guess that by looking at the photo.

Y

Y

From there I continued on to Härnösand where I found Kriget som aldrig kom. I would love to see what is behind that door.

The door to the ex- civil defense control bunker. I wonder what is there now?

The door to the ex- civil defense control bunker. I wonder what is there now?

Then it was on to Örnsköldsvik where I was able to find my 100th earthcache at Giant’s Kettle” as well as a couple of other caches. The earthcache photos weren’t so good so I haven’t posted them.

I managed to drive right through Nordmaling without realising it but consoled myself by knowing I was going back the same way. Rain was forecast for the afternoon and sure enough as I approached Umeå it started and poured all night and into the morning which meant that caching in the city was called off. Some rain doesn’t bother me but it was torrential. Luckily I had stopped to find TB Hotell Hörnefors Södra just as I came into the borough of Umeå so I wasn’t too disappointed.

One of the caches I found in Vännäs, where it was also pouring down, was B 1219 an old goods class steam engine. I always wonder where the cache will be placed on such a huge piece of steel and hate it when the hint is “magnetic”. Luckily this was easily found. I thought that the station building was fantastic but there won’t be many travellers who will see it these days.

An old goods engine in Vännäs

An old goods engine in Vännäs

Vännäs station after restoration

Vännäs station after restoration

A completely different style of station in Umeå

A completely different style of station in Umeå

I stopped at Olofsfors and another spot in Nordmaling on my way back home and found the old ironworks to be interesting. The cache was Olofsfors.

One of the many building still standing in the Olofsfors ironworks.

One of the many building still standing in the Olofsfors ironworks.

I made a few more stops on the drive home and found a few interesting caches. Can you spot the one in this photo?

Can you spot the cache? It's in plain sight.

Can you spot the cache? It’s in plain sight.


My final stop was close to home. Futuro Just south west of Tönnebro is an area where the squadron F15 based in Söderhamn used to have target practice. It’s possible to go there, but never leave the roads. There are two really amazing towers that were used for spotting how accurate the bombing missions were. I was there some years ago before a cache was placed on one of the towers but now I had a new excuse to visit the place again. There are two barriers on the road. If the second one is also up expect muggles to be in the tower area.

One of the two observation towers at Norrbränning bombing range.

One of the two observation towers at Norrbränning bombing range.

The trip netted me six new boroughs and a new county thus filling in a large white area on the map of Sweden. The new boroughs I found caches in were thus: Timrå, Härnösand, Örnsköldsvik, Nordmaling, Umeå and Vännäs. The county was Västerbotten. That leaves me just Norrbotten and Gotland before I have a fully shaded map of Sweden, at the county level at least.

A couple of days after my return home it was time for a new adventure.





Geocaching finds in European countries

3 07 2014

I have to give credit to Hallén as I got the idea from his blog <a href="http://hallensgeocachingaventyr.com/ and thought that it was a good idea to show a "before" and "after" picture round our last European trip where three new geocaching countries were added to the map.

Before our CEE trip

Before our CEE trip

After our CEE trip

After our CEE trip

There are still many “white” spots on the map so I have plenty of opportunities ahead of me over the next few years.





Austria

1 07 2014

Well, by now you know that the third country on our Central East European (CEE) road trip was Vienna. It’s a city I have been to nineteen times before but always on business and never with time to visit any of the sightseeing parts in the centre. Back in the eighties it was also the gateway into the other eastern European countries and was my starting point for trips into the then Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Roumania.

Before we left Sweden I made Pocket Queries of all the countries we were going to visit and filtered for earthcaches, virtuals and caches with high favourite points. Based on the density of favourite points in Vienna I booked a hotel that was close enough yet not at an exorbitant price. The price level for hotels, restaurants and general merchandise is about double that in the Czech Republic and in the centre of Vienna it can be very expensive to stay.

We arrived mid afternoon and met my partner’s friends for dinner. I actually left my GPS at the hotel so I wouldn’t be tempted to go hunting for a cache. Having said that I remembered one car close to the hotel Rotes Telefon and just happened to pop in and grab the cache on the way back to the hotel. It was a net way of hiding the log book. I just need to see if we have any suitable telephone boxes left in Sweden. Most of them have been scrapped!

The day after was spent in the centre of Vienna looking for caches and sightseeing at the same time. The buildings are witness to a time where Austria was a great nation. It was interesting to find two earthcaches that doubled as statues at the same time! They were Das strahlende Denkmal / The radiating monument and Lapis lazuli both of which had an interesting geologica lesson attached to them.

Goethe the poet and writer

Goethe the poet and writer

A fantastic blue statue made from a 13 ton block of lapis lazuli

A fantastic blue statue made from a 13 ton block of lapis lazuli

As mentioned I only chose to list caches with high favourite points and that just about covered all the ones in the centre. They are listed below and the photographs, as they may contain spoilers, are not necessarily listed in the same order. The FP’s listed are from my latest PQ which was on July 1.

Burgtora 400 FP
VIENNA TOILET CACHE 86 FP
Philipphof 295 FP
Parlament (vormals:Euro 08 – Fanmeile Wien) 661 FP
You have got mail 490 FP

Mikaelerplatz

Mikaelerplatz

Yes, you can hide a cache in plain sight

Yes, you can hide a cache in plain sight

Gutenberg, the father of the printed book

Gutenberg, the father of the printed book

Hofberg as seen from the Burgtora

Hofberg as seen from the Burgtora

The Anker Uhr. This is similar to the astronomical clock we saw in Prague

The Anker Uhr. This is similar to the astronomical clock we saw in Prague

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Many buildings were embellished with amazing decorations

Many buildings were embellished with amazing decorations

Looks good doesn't it?

Looks good doesn’t it?

It was possible to sit on a small square and buy "biobeer" - environmentally friendy production

It was possible to sit on a small square and buy “biobeer” – environmentally friendy production

Of course we had to eat the obligatory Vienna Schitzel

Of course we had to eat the obligatory Vienna Schitzel

As we were staying just behind the Town Hall (Rathaus) we saw a little of the ongoing film festival and the refreshments area (of course). On the Sunday morning on my way to collect my car from the carpark I passed by the Town Hall which was draped in multiple swastika covered banners which I photographed but won’t publish. A new Disney film called “Woman in Gold” where a simulated Nazi invasion of Vienna was being filmed according to the security guy I talked to. That explained why we saw old motorbikes on a trailer the previous evening.

Film festival at the Town Hall

Film festival at the Town Hall

Parliament buildings

Parliament buildings

Parliament1You can see the cache, can’t you?

After a full day in the city which we found very pleasant, we started our drive back to Prague. Rather than drive back the way that we came, despite it being a quicker route according to Google Maps we chose to take the more direct scenic route. In that way we were able to travel quite a long way in Austria before crossing the border into the Czech Republic again. The whole trip was about 750 km and took us into three interesting capital cities in three days.

I'm just taking the tractor to the pub dear

I’m just taking the tractor to the pub dear

The route we took on our vacation

The route we took on our vacation





Slovakia

28 06 2014

After spending the night in Brno the following day started with two really great caches on the outskirts of the city that put me in a really good mood. I am starting to get a little tired with micros unless they take me to an interesting place. Finding creative caches give me much more enjoyment.

We drove south from Brno towards Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The last time I was there was either in the late eighties or early nineties and I remember the journey mostly for having to get off the bus at the Austrian / Czechoslovakia border as it then was and having to change money. The catch was that it was a non-reconvertible currency so you were stuck with it unless you could spend it all. But, that’s another story. Today there are no noticeable borders with the Czech Republic or Austria that I could see, other than the old buildings at the Slovakian / Austrian border where I had to change my money.

However, before we reached Bratislava I had localized an earthcache that I wanted to stop at and that gave me a great excuse to get off the terrible D1 motorway. It is a concrete slab motorway and each of the joins shook and rattled the car. Kerdunk, kerdunk, kerdunk. Monotonously, mile after mile. It was really bad but once we crossed over the virtually non-evident border into Slovakia the motorway became smooth asphalt.

We found the right exit off the motorway and shortly after arrived at the earthcache Artesian aquifer. There was an older guy there filling a water bottle. As the bonnet of his car was up I wasn’t sure if the water was for him or his radiator. He greeted me, assumably in Slovakian, but just waved when I answered in English. He left and I was able to do the measurements, take photos and taste the water, as required in the earthcache description. It was potable but I wouldn’t like to rely on it as my sole source of water.

ds8300 in front of the artesian aquifer earthcache

ds8300 in front of the artesian aquifer earthcache

From there we continued on and I stopped at the first traditional cache we came across, a micro in a parking lot, to ensure that we were able to log a find in the country. For all I know my earthcache answers could have been rejected and I could have wasted a new geocaching country opportunity. I was also uncertain about where in Bratislava we would find an interesting cache. Things weren’t as bad I was expecting though and we were able to drive into and around Bratislava with relative ease although their parking system is rather unusual. There are no parking meters but you have to display a ticket showing arrival date and time. Each ticket has a time duration and different values are used. However, to buy one you need to find a physical parking attendant who wanders around. We didn’t see one where we parked but a motorist I spoke to kindly gave me a couple of tickets from a pile he had in his car.

After that we saw parking attendants on just about every street corner on our walk across town from our parking spot close to (Modry) Kostol sv. Alzbety to Hradna vyhliadka (View from castle).

The cache at the church was placed in plain sight but of little interest for anyone but a geocacher. The church was, well, very blue. Both inside and out.

I have never seen a church like this - really blue.

I have never seen a church like this – really blue.

Deatils of the blue churches tower

Deatils of the blue churches tower

Even the inside of the church was blue

Even the inside of the church was blue

We walked along the banks of the Danube towards the castle then took the steep winding path up to the top passing by the more or less obligatory grafitti on the way. I didn’t know where the cruise boats were heading but subsequently learnt that there were cruises from Amsterdam to Bucharest and all combinations of destinations in between.

One of several tourist cruise boats that we saw on the river

One of several tourist cruise boats that we saw on the river

The Danube runs across Europe from Germany to the Black Sea. (Picture BBC)

The Danube runs across Europe from Germany to the Black Sea

Of course we passed grafitti on our walk across town

Of course we passed grafitti on our walk across town

The cache was quickly found. It was a regular in the hollow trunk of a tree in a high muggle area. Luckily all the muggles were enjoying the view over the city.

Cache on the parapet with a view over Bratislava

Cache on the parapet with a view over Bratislava

View of the Danube from the castle

View of the Danube from the castle

As my partner had arranged with some old Austrian friends to meet up with them at four pm the same day we didn’t have time to stay any longer. We then drove on to the centre of Vienna and checked in to the hotel before meeting up with her friends. Of course, during the couple of days we stayed there we found some caches, but more on that later.





Czech Republic

26 06 2014

The problem I find with being on vacation is that I don’t have enough time to write a decent posting. I didn’t do any caching during the second half of May and the first half of June but have made up for it somewhat since then.

I had booked a trip to Central Eastern Europe some time ago that included round trip flights to Prague and a rental car for a few days. We arrived in Prague on a wet day and took the airport express bus from the airport to the railway station in the centre of Prague then walked the few hundred meters to our centrally located hotel. As part of the preparations for the trip I had not only mapped out a route but I had, with the help of GSAK sorted out the caches with the most favourite points and mapped them on Google Maps that I printed out and had with me in my pocket, one for each of the cities we visited.

As I had my partner with me I knew that I would not be geocaching more than part of the time so I only chose a few caches to hunt for but ensured that there were some earthcaches included. In total we found just fourteen caches including two earthcaches. However, the total number of favourite points was 2818 or an average of just over 200 points per cache.

We took the airport express from the airport to the old main station and walked the couple of blocks to our centrally located hotel. That done we ate lunch in a nearby cafe and set off on a short sightseeing trip. I wanted to find geocaches and my partner wanted to visit the shops. I was able to find PORICI before we hit the shops. The first cache was in an inner courtyard and a guy at a reception desk had to be passed. Luckily the code word “geocaching” worked well. The next couple of caches were Prague, Staromestské námestí and Terezka on our way across Charles bridge and on to the Petrin Tower on the west side of Central Prague. The second cache was a virtual, of which there aren’t so many in Europe and the third was a rather simple micro.

House in the old town square

House in the old town square

Building in the old town square

Building in the old town square

Building in the old town square

Building in the old town square

Church in the old town square

Church in the old town square

Detail over a doorway

Detail over a doorway

View upstream in River Vitova

View upstream in River Vitova

On Charles Bridge

On Charles Bridge

The Petrin Tower - 1/3 scale copy of Eiffel Tower

The Petrin Tower – 1/3 scale copy of Eiffel Tower

View over Prague old town

View over Prague old town

The day after we picked up a Skoda rental car from close to the hotel and drove down to Brno where the two earthcaches on my list were found. One of them Ceská geologická sluzba Brno was at the Czech Geological Survey in Brno and was rather complicated but fun non the less. I learnt a lot from trying to answer the questions.

One of the large rocks at the Czech geological survey offices in Brno

One of the large rocks at the Czech geological survey offices in Brno


In my opinion the highlight of the trip was in Brno as we found two caches placed by berx.cz and were really deserving of their favourite points. If I were to be at all critical I would give these two caches favourite points but none of the others that we found. I don’t know if I have any Czech readers but if you are worried about spoilers read no further. The first of the two caches Pokojicek which was a birdbox but with a difference.

The cache Pokojicek was a masterpiece

The cache Pokojicek was a masterpiece

The details were amazing.

The details were amazing.

Vytah. Vytah, I learnt means elevator/lift. and yes there was one there, but not as I expected just from reading the description. When we arrived att GZ we came upon a local geocacher who was just signing the log. We said hi and then in order not to lessen our experience we let him replace and reset the cache before we moved in to find it. Yes, you have guessed it, this was a “gadget cache”

The Elevator in starting position.

The Elevator in starting position.

The Elevator after opening the cache

The Elevator after opening the cache

After a couple of days outside the Czech republic (more of that in the next two postings) we returned for a final day and found a further five caches, all centrally located micros bar one. Funnily enough it was the small cache that caused the biggest headache. We visited the spot three times before finding the cache. I was expecting it to be closer to the place it was named after Novomestsky pivovar and had seen it and discounted it on the first visit. However, on the third attempt I relied on the GPS despite us being in a street with tall buildings and arrived at the right spot.

I really like the old town in Prague as there is so much for a turist to explore and see at a pretty low cost.

A pile of bricks to be painted for charity

A pile of bricks to be painted for charity

A pretty decent painting on one of the bricks

A pretty decent painting on one of the bricks

Cache found at the Estates Theatre (NB Not in or on the statue)

Cache found at the Estates Theatre (NB Not in or on the statue)

Details on an old town building

Details on an old town building

Modern sculpture

Modern sculpture

No we didn't eat here

No we didn’t eat here

The second country that we visited was Slovakia.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 147 other followers