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Great Day on the Water

I just got in from my adventure today out on the Skärdgård (archipelago) outside of Karlskrona. It all started with an adventure of just getting the car. Last night, I did some research just to figure out where the car rental places where. They weren’t were the Tourist Bureau thought they were, so I had to do some investigating on my own. I ended up having to take the bus about three miles, and then the bus driver didn’t tell me to get off when I thought he would tell me, so I stayed on until the end of the line at Verkö, which I wanted to see any, as it’s the place where my grandmother’s brother Olof Algot Jonasson was born. Right now, it’s the main port of entry for ferries from Gdynia, Poland, and an industrial area. So that’s why there’s so much here in Polish.

Anyway, I went back and got off the bus, and then found that the Avis office wasn’t where I was told it was, but it was another kilometer away. That was frustrating, but I finally got the car, a Toyota, and I was on my way. The Swedish roads are in good shape, but there really aren’t any big highways around here, as this a big city. As I mentioned yesterday, I thought Karlskrona was a little scruffy, the outlying area is very beautiful. It’s a lot of low lying rocks in the sea, so there are about 1,400 islands off the coast. I drove out to Torhamn, which is where my mother’s mother’s family is from. Torhamn is very small, I’d say about 200 people or so, and about 20 miles from Karlskrona. It’s a very peaceful place that I can tell gets busier when summer hits, which for Sweden is after Midsommar this weekend. 

I looked around the graveyard to see if I could find any graves, and I couldn’t, but I talked to the woman who takes care of the graves and the church, and she gave me the address of the person at the central parish in Jämjö who should be able to help me. I’m email him when I get back. 

I then went out to Yttre Park to catch my first ferry of the day to Stenhamn/Utlängan. That was one of the islands where I know that my great-grandmother lived before she was married. I got off, figuring that there would be snack shops, etc., but there were a bunch of cottages, but only one woman got off with me. She has a house there and we talked as we walked the mile from the port village (which had only one person in it) to the village where she lived, which now had 3 people in it. I guess that everyone comes over for Midsommar and the rest of the summer, but there’re not there yet! Anyway, I ended up just sitting at her house, eating the breakfast that I brought, and talking with her. Her name is Eleanor, and she works in IT in Karlskrona, and she’s a native of the islands. She said that I should check up on a geneology of the main family that’s been done for the area, and my family is probably on it. 

It was so nice just to hang out there and to relax. I’ve been so goal oriented at seeing everything, it was just nice to relax. It was a sunny day also, so that was great. Even though the temperature was 65 degrees fahrenheit, it felt a lot warmer. I ended up going back to the harbor, and waiting for the boat to Unskär. There at the dock, I heard an American woman talking on a cell phone and talked with her. Found out, she married a Swedish man and has been living in Helsingborg for 1 1/2 years. She was as surprised as I was at meeting another American.

I got off at Ungskär, and as I had only a little over an hour until the next boat came, I had to make good use of my time. Ungskär is an old fishing village, and there are about 40 house/cottages there. I immediately met an nice man, Knut Andersson, who is 73 years old and a native of Ungskär. He also lived in New York when he was young and spoke English, although I think my Swedish was on par with his English. Anyway, he decided to introduce me to the oldest man on the island, who’s name is Einar Månsson, age 82. We went into his small little cottage where he and his eleven brothers and sisters grew up. He was eating dinner with his wife, and we started talking. Einar thinks that his grandmother was the sister of my great-grandmother Cecilia Pettersson. As the island only had about 500 inhabitants at it’s largest, that’s not a surprised, but I was really surprised to hit the geneology jackpot so quickly. I got his name and address, so I’ll be in touch. 

I also found out that a lot of people from Ungskär emigrated to Boston in the 1800-1900’s. I guess it was a popular place as they probably had other people they knew, and they had the nautical and sailing skills to work in the fishing industry.

After that, I took the ferry back to Yttre Park, and then drove back towards Karlskrona. I went through Ramdala, where my great grandmother Cecilia Pettersson was born, and then drove out to Sturkö to use the library to see if I could find that geneology that Eleanor mentioned. Unfortunately, there summer hours started today, and the library was closed there. The views out there are amazing, and I stopped a few times to sit and look at things. 

I then drove back to Karlskrona to drop off the car, and to also to do an errand of replacing the electric converter that I accidentally left in Helsingborg. I couldn’t get it there, but I was finally able to put gas in the car. This was a challenge as all Visa cards here use a PIN, and the automatic gas stations have you put in the PIN in order to buy gas. I finally found one that didn’t need that, and put in the 6 liters (1.5 gallons) to fill it up. My cost for that? SEK71 or about US$10.50. Be thankful that you’re only paying $3 a gallon America!

After dropping off the car, I went into the bathroom to see that I got an amazing sunburn on my forhead and my nose. I hope it calms down in the next few days. That was the only place I got it. I’ve already put the sunscreen on and will remember to do it more here. The sun is so strong, especially out on the water. 

Tomorrow I take the train to Norrköping to see if I can find out about my father’s father’s family. It will be three trains that I’ll take from here, as this isn’t the most central part of the country.

More adventures await. I’m having a great time, and I’m finally starting to feel pretty comfortable with my Swedish. I can’t wait until Midsommer when I’ve had lots of Akvavit!



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