The weather had completely changed. There had been a lot of rain in the night (I heard it) and, when I left the guest house for the station, the temperature was a brisk 13°. While persisting with my shorts, I did wear a light fleece as I headed for the station.
I was on my way to Gävle – famous for the Christmas goat – to spend the day exploring the place. The first thing I discovered is that it’s pronounced Yervla. Or something like that. The automated train voice pronounced the ‘y’ with a shushy sound but the real human being called it Yervla. I also asked the woman who served me in Espresso House and she sounded like she said Yervla. So that’s what I’m going with.
Arriving at 9am gave me the opportunity to see the place still sleeping. I forgot that Swedish towns don’t really wake up until gone 10, even on a Saturday. So, a coffee and bun were on the cards. If I could find an open café, that is.
It took a long stroll up Drottningatan but, eventually, I found Wayne’s Coffee. I sat alone, sipping my latte and watching the homeless start to stir.
At least, I assumed they were homeless. Dishevelled individuals, clothes in various degrees of disarray, scrappy beards, lank hair…a bit like me, basically. Except they seemed to be hauling their worldly possessions with them and none of them were wearing shorts.
Having devoured a bun and knocked back a latte, I ventured forth and discovered Karolina Kristina Själander. She was born in Gävle on September 12, 1841. Her name may mean nothing to a lot of non-Swedes. And maybe not to a few Swedes either. She was a teacher and a suffragette.
She didn’t have the best of starts, being seriously ill in her twenties and having to go to Stockholm to recover. Then, returning to Gävle, she started teaching and went from strength to strength.
Eventually she ran the Elsa Borg School for Girls when Elsa went to Stockholm. Karolina served as director from 1874-1915. As well as teaching and running a school, she also worked towards women’s suffrage. To this end, she was one of the first women to be elected onto the Gävle city council in 1910.
She died in 1925 and is buried in Gävle cemetery. Her bust (the photo above) stands outside her old school, which closed in 1967, in the Rådhusesplanaden.
Intersecting Drottningatan, the Rådhusesplanaden is an esplanade that stretches from the town hall at one end to the theatre at the other.
The theatre seems to cater to everyone. The posters were advertising a show for kids, a singer and a drama. There was nothing on till September so I assume they close for the summer. Which seems a bit odd.
At the town hall end of the park is a river with many bridges crossing it and a lovely walk along side it. Except where the big houses are. When you get to them, you have to walk around the road because they’ve claimed the river bank.
It didn’t matter to me because I managed to find the Prison Museum and the slott (I’m saving both for a return visit with Mirinda) and a bridge back across to the centre of Gävle.
I then headed for the centrum in search of a coffee and the very convenient Clas Ohlson. I say ‘convenient’ because my phone was running down rapidly (I was taking a lot of video) and I needed a power bank.
Good old Clas Ohlson. I was soon enjoying a latte in the centre with my phone happily sucking power out of a little black box.
I suddenly realised that I’d missed the arrival of beer o’clock. I hastened outside in search of suitable liquid relief. On the way, I discovered a big town square, overlooked by the front entrance to the centrum. I’d obviously gone in the back way.
Having had a much needed Mariestad, I headed down to the harbour. I was in search of a seafood restaurant. As it turned out, I found a pizzeria disguised as a seafood restaurant. So I had a lovely pizza.
This area of Gävle was completely destroyed by fire in 1867 so it was all rebuilt to what it is today. In the 17th century they fished; by the 18th century they were dealing in iron. Now, I’m not sure what they deal in. Though, it’s very pleasant eating a pizza by the river.
The harbour was pretty useless come the 21st century, so they spent some time dredging and fixing it up to what it is today. Now, when they say harbour they basically mean lots of modern flats lining a waterway that empties into the Baltic.
I should add that I’m not talking about the Port of Gävle, which is further around and still operates extensively, with around 1,000 ships visiting each year.
I walked all the way down as far as the path went. After the path ended, there was a scrubby sort of track going further. There were some dog walkers heading down it so I assume it must go to the sea.
The whole place was remarkably quiet. Had everyone left for the summer? Gone to Spain, the Greek Isles or the Canary Islands? I don’t know but, I have to say, it was very pleasant.
As was this light ship moored just beyond the flats.
I managed to walk around most of Gävle, noticing how much they like public art. There are statues everywhere.
More than the art though, the council has also provided lots of seating all over the place. It would be rare that weary legs didn’t find relief on some sort of chair. Some even have tables and, a couple of them have high chairs for the littlest aching legs, complete with safety belt.
Extraordinarily thoughtful, if you ask me.
Eventually, though, I had to catch the train back to Tierp. The temperature by this time was 22°.
Returning to the guest house, I felt like I was coming home. Partly because I’ve been here a few days but also because all the staff know me by name and asked how my day had been.
They are all so nice. As was the beer that the tattooed barman placed in my hand before I could even ask.