Saturday, October 25, 2014

Härnösand - Umeå

Autumn is here, and it is time for another trip to explore Sweden by train. This time up north towards Umeå.
With stop in Härnösand in Ångermanland. Härnösand is sometimes called Northern Athens, due to its temple like architecture style, also known as neoclassicism. 
Buildings around the main square, Stora torget.
The smallest Cathedral in Sweden from 1846.

 The city has many old and beautiful wooden houses, which are well preserved.
 St Petri Logen house is a restaurant and entertainment place.
 Public library and university building.
 Building of provincial government.
 Winter birds.
 Ådalen is a fjord like river valley of Ångerman River. The boat cruise is offering 2 hours trip to Höga Kusten bridge and back.

 Town hall.
 Interesting mosaic like decoration on one of facades.
Probably the most fancy public employment agency office "Arbetsförmedlingen" in Sweden.
 "Sparbank" has changed name to "Swedbank", but the old engraving is still visible.
 "Form för kunskap" by Olof Hellström.

 The symbol of Härnösand, is a beaver with a pike in its mouth.
 Östanbäcken area in Härnösand, has wooden buildings from 1700 and 1800 century.
 Some are painted in colours of Swedish flag.
 Some are for sale.

The memory plate for celebration of town's 400 years is decorated on one of the bridges.
"Containers as artistic expression" has painted several waste containers in town.

 This one is unpainted, and it is how it looks normally.
 Härnösand is a harbour town and has a long history of shipping. This monument is a reminder.
 As well as this anchor.
 A typical view in Sweden on a Saturday noon, people are carrying bags from Systembolaget (the government owned liquor chain store).

 Public art is never too far in small Swedish towns.
 Here is an artwork by Carolina Falkholt in memory of the 71 people who were burned to death on charges of witchcraft in 1675 in a village nearby.
Hotel Royal
One of the favourite meals in the North of Sweden is the hamburger. There are many chains that only exists here in the North (have never seen any of them in Stockholm). Big Boy is one of them.
 Frasses is another one. And by the way, this restaurant is occupying Härnösand central station building.
 All stations along new Botniabanan and upgraded Ådalsbanan have been renovated and modernised.
The platforms along Botniabanan are very long, 450m and the main reason is the night train Stockholm-Luleå which has 17 wagons.
One day there will be a post about the night train, but now it is time to continue from Härnösand to Umeå by local commuter train Norrtåg, which are using new Coradia Nordic X62 from Alstom.
The trains are actually same as Stockholm Pendeltåg (commuter train) is using, but the comfort inside is much better due to of course much longer travel distances.
 The trip Sundsvall-Umeå takes 3 hours (or 2 hours from Härnösand to Umeå).
The new Botniabanan starts from a little bit north of Härnösand, and of course the train speed increases immediately from 80km/h to 200km/h.
Due to such a long distance from Stockholm, the best way to return back would be the next day, so what could be better than to spend a night in a "prison" in Umeå.
Umeå old prison is the oldest remaining building in Umeå after the city fire in 1888. Now it is a national monument and it has been rebuilt to a hotel.
The street nearby is called Prisonstreet.
 Umeå old prison main entrance.
According to New York Times "52 Places to Go in 2014" Umeå is number 31, hotter than Athens!!!
Of course, since my main interests is in trains, I had to visit all available train stations in Umeå (2 of 2). Starting here with brand new Umeå Östra station.
Umeå Östra pedestrian tunnel is looking very familiar to T-Centralen walk in Stockholm, the only difference is the absence of people.
"Norrlands university hospital" is the biggest one in the North region of Sweden, and the Umeå Östra station main purpose is to have a close connection for people travelling from the region.
The station was projected by famous White architectural firm. Check out their project for new Kiruna town.
Umeå Östra has won several prizes for its design. This prize from Trafikverket is awarded every two years to highlight examples of how a modern and good infrastructure looks and interacts.
 The station has a mini library for waiting passengers.
 Norrtåg X62 is arriving.
 Umeå Östra is not only a train station, but an art gallery. Here is "a monument without home".
 The monument is made by Knutte Wester and represents an adopted latvian girl.
Cargo trains are normally not allowed to use Botniabanan, due to its high standard ERTMS system which basically requires top modern trains only, which most cargo trains are not. This one is probably only heading to Umeå harbour nearby.
 Umeå Östra glass building and the small river Sandbäcken.
 The new infrastructure projects does not only include railways, here is the new Kolbäcksbridge from 2001 for cars.
 A walk from Umeå Östra along the Ume River.
 It seems that the prizes for art and design are all over this town. Here is one for best pump house design.
 More art along the river promenade. "The uninvisible Koja"
 Modern architecture in Umeå
 "Konstnärlig campus" building (to the left) from 2012, and "Umeå träsliperi" building (to the right) from 1909.
 Logotype for "Unander Scharin" at the Umeå träsliperi old papper factory building.
Umeå Arts Campus has many departments.

Seems that the new design can not avoid Ikea.
Office building at Umeå Arts Campus.
Monument of Georg Carl von Döbeln who was a Swedish war hero in the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia (1809-1809).
As Umeå is European Capital of Culture 2014, the art is located all around the town. Here is sculpture "Hoppare" by Mikael Åberg.

The new cultural center "Kulturväven" will be opened in November 2014.
The center will have several cultural institutions including public library.
The new design for outdoor lighting.
Old and new mixed up.
At the rooftop of Kulturväven building.

The oldest and one of 4 existing bridges in Umeå
Gamla bron is from 1863, today used only for bikes and pedestrians.
Despite the new high speed train connection with Stockholm, the flight to Umeå is still an attractive way of travelling with 7 airlines operating, including popular low cost airline Norwegian. The airport in Umeå is just 4 km from the city centre.
Umeå Central station was modernised after opening of Botniabanan.
With art project at the pedestrian tunnel. "Lev!" is made by art collective FA+.
Christmas trees are already up.

Norrtåg has also a diesel Itino Y31 train service operating to Lycksele.
888 km from Stockholm says this sign. According to website Tydal the current distance thanks to Botniabanan and other railway modernisations is now "only" 709 km, while it is 513 km "as the crow flies".
The square "Järnvägstorget" outside the train station.
Umeå is know as "City of Birches". The silver birch trees were planted along many streets to prevent fires from spreading, keeping in mind the big fire 1888, when almost all city was destroyed.
Now it is just a very beautiful decoration.
The brand new shopping mall "Utopia".
Old shopping street
Train is leaving Umeå, passing through some small stations on the way back to Stockholm.
Nordmaling station.
Also passing by some parts where Gulf of Bothnia can be seen. Wikipedia is saying following: "Bothnia is a latinization. "Botten" in the Swedish name "Bottenviken" originally meant "gulf" or "bay"; hence "Bottenviken" means "the Gulf-gulf"."
Husum station.
Travelling by plane does not provide this kind of views.
Höga Kusten Airport station (also called Västeraspby) must be the most bizarre station in Sweden. Located several km from one of the smallest airport in Sweden, there is nothing around this station.
At the end of the trip, a nice northern sunset picture.
After changing in Sundsvall, to X55, the three course dinner is served.