Gothenburg: countryside & castles

Though I am still in Gothenburg for another two weeks, I have moved within the city limits to stay with a family in a more suburban area (Askim) for the rest of my time here. They live in a lovely 3-story house with two small children, and I am super excited to experience Sweden in a new way: homestay-style.

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This new neighborhood is very family-friendly.
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Many of the houses are colorful and sweet with lots of flowers.
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The house is just a 5 minute walk from a nature reserve that surrounds this very calming lake.

On Saturday, my first full day with the family, we did a day trip to Tjolöholms Slott, a nearby castle built at the turn of the 19th century. Rather than being a royal property, the castle was commissioned by a very rich merchant who wanted an extravagant “country home.” It is a 30-minute drive from Gothenburg and sits very close to the water.

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Castle exterior and front lawn. Luckily, the weather was beautiful when we saw it.
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This is behind the castle, with the back gardens.
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A close-up of the back of the castle. Apparently this architecture is “Arts and Crafts” style, popular in Britain at the time (~1900).
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The back gardens as seen from the castle. I just couldn’t believe this view – how amazing to see the sea and those islands every day!
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A path along the gardens. The castle, now a Swedish heritage site, is occasionally used for weddings and parties. We saw a bride and groom doing their wedding photos while there.

I wish I could show you the inside of the castle, but photos were not allowed, and we were in a big tour group. The interior is fanciful, with every inch covered in highly detailed carvings, art, or wallpaper. There is a Queen of Sheba painting that was specifically commissioned for the castle interior and, with the way it was framed, can never be separated from the wall. The painting cost about $2000 then, which would be $56,000 now considering inflation. Also, the architect adding wooden carvings to the moldings and staircases in the form of characters from traditional Swedish fables and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. One room, the smoking room, used only Moroccan design elements.

Finally, the castle was also hosting a Jane Austen costume exhibit! Those of you who have known me since I was twelve or younger will know that I went through a serious Jane Austen phase, as I suppose many tween girls do. It was cool to see the same outfits worn by Colin Firth, Kate Winslet, and Emma Thompson in film adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility there at the castle. It was also a bit anachronistic – Jane Austen’s stories, and the respective fashions, were around 100 years before Tjolöholms Slott was built.

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I snuck one photo of the castle interior – the dress that Emma Thompson wore in Sense & Sensibility (1995).
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I couldn’t resist – here is a still from the movie with the dress (found on http://dannyreviews.tumblr.com/).
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Now, a picture to prove that I actually did go to this castle! (Thanks to Anna for this one).
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