2015. Places visited


2015 was a great year for me. It was pretty good overall, but it was a particularly fruitful year for trips. I bought myself a new car, a nice, boring, reliable Renault Sandero, and pretty much for the first time felt like I really could go absolutely wherever I wish. Moreover, my financial matters improved a lot, so I could really afford a good bit of travel, even if most of it was limited to weekends.

So, these are all places, towns and the like, where I’ve been to in 2015, sorted by location. Very few of them are currently documented here in this blog, although I’m trying to improve. St. Petersburg (where I live), its suburbs, Yekaterinburg (where my parents live) are excluded from this list for obvious reasons.

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Sweden (actually Denmark) 2015. IX: Copenhagen (Part 1)

Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark

During the last year or two, I have gradually come to realize I’m not really a big fan of visiting big cities. Note that it is specifically visiting that I dislike; I’m perfectly fine with big cities in general. After all, I happen to live in one. It’s just that it feels like a day or two, or a week, or even a month cannot really do justice to a city like Stockholm or Copenhagen. And too brief an impression can be worse than none, leaving you unsatisfied.

Nonetheless, Copenhagen was the one new big city we visited in this trip, and I must say it was pretty good. It’s nearly as good as Stockholm, and Stockholm only wins because it feels “more Scandinavian” and has cool location on the archipelago. Copenhagen’s layout is more like St. Petersburg, flat with a single big waterway, many minor channels, and no real seafront.

We woke up in our hotel named Cabinn Scandinavia in the part of city named Frederiksberg, a quiet old neighborhood to the west from the city center, technically considered a separate municipality from the rest of Copenhagen. After we got up and stuff, we just walked in the direction of the center.

I won’t write a Copenhagen history essay here. A merchant and fishing town existed here since 11th century; the name literally means “Merchant Harbor”. Absalon, Bishop of Roskilde and a great figure in early Danish history built the first castle in what would become Copenhagen in 1186. Roskilde was Denmark’s old capital, and it was only in 1416 when Eric of Pomerania moved the capital of Denmark (and of Kalmar Union) here. In the coming centuries it suffered plagues, fires, sieges, and a Nazi occupation, but, well, here it is, beautiful and prosperous, population 580,000 Copenhagen proper, and about 2 million metropolitan area (35% of entire Denmark population).

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Sweden 2015. VIII: Isle of Öland: Långe Erik and Trollskogen

Långe Erik Lighthouse, Island of Öland, Borgholm Municipality, Kalmar Län, Sweden

After visiting Borgholm castle ruins, we’re driving on to the north on the island of Öland, 70 km more on a narrow road through peaceful resort villages.

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Sweden 2015. VII: Isle of Öland: Borgholm castle

Borgholm Castle ruin, Island of Öland, Borgholm Municipality, Kalmar Län, Sweden

The Castle of Borgholm was one of the sights we wanted to see on Öland. It is a ruin of an ancient castle, probably originally built in the 12th century, and rebuilt many times over. The purpose of the castle was quite simple: to defend the Strait of Kalmar, mostly from the Danes. Borgholm (Swed. Castle Island) saw most of its fighting in the Kalmar War of 1611-1613. The war was caused by the Swedes being unwilling to pay tolls to Denmark for ship passage through Öresund Strait (out of the Baltic Sea, basically), and attempting to establish new land trade routes far in the north, through Norway, which was a part of Denmark at the time. The Denmark had the upper hand in the war, but their victory was far from certain. In the end Denmark agreed to grant free passage to Swedish ships, and Sweden paid ransoms for castles conquered by Denmark, and renounced its claims to the Norway north. The castle of Borgholm in particular was conquered by the Danes, reconquered by the Swedes, reconquered by the Danes again, and then ransomed by the Swedes after the war, taking heavy damage in the process. After that, the castle took its modern shape, designed by architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, but fell into disuse soon, and was destroyed by a fire in 1806. The castle ruin remains a popular tourist destination. Like Vasa Ship Museum, we found the castle more interesting than we originally thought.

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