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Winter in Visby

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Before I came to Visby, I read that Gotland is the part of Sweden which counts with more light hours, and probably one of the best climates. But unusually, this winter is being one of the coldest and snowiest for the last 30 years. It is curious since something similar happened the year I lived in Finland, they had the warmest winter for the last 20 years. Anyway the city snowed is lovely and that is why I took a bunch of pictures to show you. It is not so unusual to have sunny days here. Do not compare it to Spain though.

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Taking into account that Gotland is not a capital, the winter here sometimes can be a bit boring. Gotland is specially known by Swedish as a summer place. Actually it is very popular and many people from Stockholm and other parts of the main land come to spend the summer here. For those who stay for the winter we recorded a funny video with some activities you could try…

Nobel Prize

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DSC06501 (Copy)In 2007 I traveled from Finland to visit Stockholm with couple of friends. Right after visiting the National museum we saw a row of cars with the sticker that you can check in the picture on the left.  We were in front of the hotel which usually hosts all the candidates for so known Nobel prize. It was the week in which the Nobel prizes were given but we did not know. Lets take a look into the history of this prize. Did you know that was established by the inventor of the dynamite?…

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“The Nobel Prize (Swedish: Nobelpriset) is a Sweden-based international monetary prize. The award was established by the 1895 will and estate of Swedish chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel. It was first awarded in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace in 1901. An associated prize, The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was instituted by Sweden’s central bank in 1968 and first awarded in 1969.[1] The Nobel Prizes in the specific disciplines (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature) and the Prize in Economics, which is commonly identified with them, are widely regarded as the most prestigious award one can receive in those fields.”

Alfred Nobel

Alfred_Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel (Stockholm, Sweden, 21 October 1833 – Sanremo, Italy, 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. He owned Bofors, a major armaments manufacturer, which he had redirected from its previous role as an iron and steel mill. In his last will, he used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. Nobel was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1884, the same institution that would later select laureates for two of the Nobel prizes, and he received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in 1893.Alfred Nobel is buried in Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm.

The Prizes

The erroneous publication in 1888 of a premature obituary of Nobel by a French newspaper, condemning him for his invention of dynamite, is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death.[2] The obituary stated Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”) and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”[3] On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. He died of a stroke on 10 December 1896 at Sanremo, Italy. After taxes and bequests to individuals, Nobel’s will gave 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to about 1.8 billion kronor or 250 million US dollars in 2008) to fund the prizes.[4]

The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work “in an ideal direction” and the fifth prize is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses. There is no prize awarded for mathematics.[5]

The Formulation about the literary prize, “in an ideal direction” (i idealisk riktning in Swedish), is cryptic and has caused much confusion. For many years, the Swedish Academy interpreted “ideal” as “idealistic” (idealistisk) and used it as a reason not to give the prize to important but less romantic authors, such as Henrik Ibsen and Leo Tolstoy. This interpretation has since been revised, and the prize has been awarded to, for example, Dario Fo and José Saramago, who definitely do not belong to the camp of literary idealism.[original research?]

In 2001, Alfred Nobel’s great-grandnephew, Peter Nobel (b. 1931), asked the Bank of Sweden to differentiate its award to economists given “in Alfred Nobel’s memory” from the five other awards. This has caused much controversy whether the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is actually a “Nobel Prize”.

Photo0458 (Copy)On the right, a picture of the Nobel prize Museum in Stockholm. If you are interested you can find lot of more information on the website of the Nobel prize organization (click here). There are many recorded interviews to the Nobel prize awarders. I found interesting this one made to Professor John Nash (click here). The author of the Nash equilibrium and the character on whose life is based the popular movie “A wonderful mind” with Russell Crowe and Jennifer connelly.

Did you know that…

The Nobel Prize amount for 2009 was set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 10 million/1 million (EUR)  per full Nobel Prize. Who finances this extraordinary amount of money? the Nobel Prize is financed by the Nobel Foundation, a private institution established in 1900 based on the will of Alfred Nobel. But, it does not go into detail to explain how do they generate such amount of money for each one of the 6 categories:

Physics (decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)
Chemistry (decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)
Physiology or Medicine (decided by the Karolinska Institute)
Literature (decided by the Swedish Academy)
Peace (decided by a committee appointed by the Norwegian Storting)
Economics (decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)

As I read “The economics prize has no foundation in Nobel’s will, and is not paid by his money, it is technically not a Nobel prize (and the present Nobel family does not accept it as such). It is however awarded together with the other Nobel prizes.The prize was instituted in 1968 by Sveriges Riksbank, the Bank of Sweden, as the “Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences”

I was interested in knowing more, so I contacted the Nobel foundation. They answered the following:

” The Nobel Prizes are financed by the funds which Alfred Nobel left in his last will. These funds have successfully been managed by the Nobel Foundation and they finance the prize amounts and the work of the different Nobel Prize Awarding Institutions. The prize amount is the same for each prize category – 10 million SEK in 2009. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel is financed by the Swedish Riksbank. They give the same prize amount – 10 million SEK in 2009.”

In conclusion, the nobel foundation distribute, only in main prizes, 50.000.000 Kronor/ euros. excellent job with Alfred ´s last will.:)

In 2009 the Nobel Peace Prize was for Barack Obama: “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. Although some people argue that Nobel foundation gave the award to Obama to force him to differentiate himself from the predecessor governments characterized by warlike approaches. A nobel prize in peace promoting the war would not be very well regarded. Anyway, if that is the real reason, BRAVO! By the way, for those who think that it is unfair that a President of the government win  $1,4 million, do not worry, he donated it to charity.

Barack Obama
Photo: Pete Souza, Obama-Biden Transition Project, licensed by Attribution Share Alike 3.0
Barack Obama
44th President of the United States of America
b. 1961

Stockholm – European Green Capital 2010

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Välkommen till Stockholm!

Around the end of October, I took the ferry to Stockholm with couple of friends for second time (I already was there in December 2007, when I lived in Finland). We were lucky since  we had a great sunny weekend. I uploaded photos from both trips, so you can appreciate the contrast with the dark winter. At this time, I got a better overview of the city since I did not go to any museum (I already visited the most important ones on the first trip). The city is not as big as the great metropolis like London or Paris but for those of us who do not like huge masses of people is perfect; I would  also say exclusive. It is surrounded by water, many bridges and archipelagos that make it really nice. Some people say that is one of the most beautiful archipielagos around the world.

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The subway works really good. It does not travel always underground;   sometimes it travels through bridges over the water so you can appreciate nice sights of the city. It is clean, fast and pretty silent (people included). Some stations are decorated by different artists and they are pretty impressive (I uploaded some photos). Although the subway is rather expensive you can buy a 72 hours ticket by 200 kr /20 euros and it works for buses, trains and boats which connect the different islands. By the way, for those who plan to party, it also works at night on the weekends, it  is much slower though. If you are planning to stay, you can find good prices for hostels by 20 euros per night (if you reach couple of weeks before, of course). You can find it in Hostel bookers or Hostelworld, I enclose the website addresses at the blog roll.

Below, I enclose some more information about the city, for those who are most interested (Great tool Wikipedia; warning for children: it is not the most reliable source):

“Stockholm (help·info) (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈstɔkːɔlm]) is the capital and largest city of Sweden. It is the site of the national Swedish government, the Riksdag (parliament), and the official residence of the Swedish monarch as well as the prime minister. The Monarch resides at Drottningholm Palace outside of Stockholm since 1980 and uses the Royal Palace of Stockholm as his workplace and official residence. As of 2008 the Stockholm metropolitan area is home to approximately 21% of Sweden’s population and contributes to 28% of Sweden’s gross domestic product[citation needed]. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden with a population of 825,057 in the municipality (2009), 1.25 million in the urban area (2005), and 2 million in the metropolitan area (2009).

Founded c. 1250, Stockholm has long been one of Sweden’s cultural, media, political, and economic centres. Its strategic location on 14 islands on the south-central east coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, has been historically important. Stockholm has been nominated by GaWC as a global city, with a ranking of Alpha-.[3] In The 2008 Global Cities Index, Stockholm ranked 24th in the world, 10th in Europe, and first in Scandinavia.[4] Stockholm is known for its beauty, its buildings and architecture, its abundant open water and many parks.[5] It is sometimes referred to as Venice of the North.[6] Stockholm is the second most visited city in the Nordic countries, with around one million visitors in 2006.”

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European Green Capital 2010!


Stockholm has been selected as the European Green Capital for 2010 by the European Commission. This is the first year this award is given and it is based on recognising the important role that local authorities play in improving the environment, and their high level of commitment to genuine progress. According to the European commission “The award marks a city’s wish and capability to solve environmental problems in order to both improve the quality of life of its citizens and reduce the contribution it makes to the global environment as a whole”. Thus, one European city will be selected each year. The award is given to a city that:

  • Has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards;
  • Is committed to ongoing and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development;
  • Can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices to all other European cities.

The next candidate selected for 2011 is Hamburg. I think it will take a long time for Madrid to get it, first we have to get the Olympic games…¬¬

Why Stockholm?

“The Swedish capital – which will be the first European Green Capital in 2010 – has the ambitious target of saying goodbye to fossils by 2050

‘The Venice of The North’ is a term often used about the Swedish capital Stockholm, beautifully situated on the Baltic coast. Ten per cent of the city area is water, and the many lakes and water sheds are highly valued for recreational purposes. In fact, 95% of the population live only 300 m away from green areas, thus augmenting recreation, swimming, boating, better well being, water purification, noise reduction, enhancement of biodiversity and ecology.

That is why, in 2006, the City Council adopted a water protection plan setting standards for cleaner water and outlining methods by which this could be achieved. The ultimate goal is that all water in and around Stockholm should meet the requirements stipulated by the EU water directive by 2015. This should be done in a manner which preserves the recreational value of the lakes, water sheds etc.

Fewer green house gases
Stockholm has just under 800.000 citizens but is growing rapidly. The city council’s holistic vision combines growth with sustainable development and includes the ambitious target of becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

The amount of green house gas which each inhabitant of Stockholm releases is 50% lower than the national average, and emissions per person have, since 1990, been reduced by 25%. Transport emissions are relatively low, and all public transport (all trains, and all inner city buses) run on renewable fuels, although the buses are not strictly classified as ‘low emission’ vehicles.

Sharing of experience
Through its well-conceived communications strategy, Stockholm has shown its commitment and eagerness to share their experience and act as inspiration for other cities.

Strong networking and the involvement of local and international stakeholders will ensure that Stockholm and other cities further their efforts and boost environmental awareness across Europe. A separate organisation will be established to monitor the communications programme as a Secretariat.”

European Commission



I also would like to mention about and interesting project which is also involved in all that environmental issue. In the south of Stockholm in Hammarby Sjostad there is an urbanization named Symbio city. It is not exactly the name since Symbio city is a sort of commercial brand but this one in Hammarby is the first one built. It was built over an old port zone and it can be considered as the first example of self-sustainable urbanization. For instance, the rain water is used for the toilettes and the garbage is burnt to give heating to the houses. More information at, find it on the blogroll.


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Welcome to Högklint Nature Reserve!GEDC0440

Yesterday I visited this Nature Reserve that is roughly 8 km far away from Visby centrum. You can easily get there by bike in 20 minutes and is a perfect place for preparing a barbeque while you appreciate the sunset. Is such a calm place where you get quickly relaxed. Below you can find more information about the place. It is interesting the story about the thief Jonass Nilsson Lilja. For those who are lazy to read I marked it in bold type.

This reserve comprises a roughly 1.5 kilometre-long section of the steep and high oastal cliff south of Visby. The cliff is 48 metres above sea level at its highest point, which is known as Högklint at the north end of the area. Högklint offers a magnificent view across the sea in the west and towards Visby in the north east.

From the clifftop, steps lead down to a ledge, known as “Getsvälten”. Goats which once grazed at Högklint sometimes managed to jump down to the succulent grass on the ledge. Unable to climb back up, they gradually starved to death. The sea has scooped out several caves in the cliff by “Getsvälten”.

A path leads from Högklint southwards through the nature reserve. In the middle of the reserve, landslide has resulted in two clefts in the cliff.

Further south, an entire piece of cliff has broken loose and slid down to form an almost 20 metre high “false sea stack” on the shore.

The cleft cave, which has formed behind the “sea stack” is known as “Lilja the Bandit’s Den”. This refers to the thief Jonas Nilsson Lilja, who used the cave as a hiding plae and base for his looting raids in the Gotlandic countryside in the mid 18th century.

Natura 2000

Högklint nature reserve is part of the EU’s ecological network of protected areas, Natura 2000.

Högklint was designated a nature reserve in 1969, but certain parts of the area were designated a natural monument as early as in 1919 and 1931. The reserve has been extended on two occasions, in 1979 and 1988.

Information by Gotland County Administration Board

It is almost October but look how sunny is still. The Weather in Gotland it changes fast but we still have sunny days often. Although we can not generalize the climate to the inland. For instance Stockholm is quite rainy.

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Volvo & co.

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Old 1950´s American cars are very popular in Sweden. There is a sub-culture called “Raggare” which involves driving around in the old cars and listening to old American music. Old Volvos and other European cars are often also used. Due to this culture, there are more restored American cars from the 1950´s in Sweden than in the USA!

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Moreover, you can also find a lot of harleys and choppers. The island is very flat so is a perfect place for ridding motorbikes. Moreover, there are many military boats in the little harbour. Sometimes they organize it so that you can get into and take a look.

Paying special attention to this dressed bike….funny!!


Sunset & beers

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Swedish beer is cool…

A nice Swedish beer, face of such a wonderful sunset, brings up the benefits of living in Scandinavia. Below I enclose some photos, specially for those who hear Sweden and automatically think of cold and snow. It is not that cold always…

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Gotland’s newspaper

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Gotlands Tidningar

This is one of the Gotland’s newspaper. Yesterday, a few international students who are already in the island got a call from International Relations for having an interview. I didn´t even know for what it was. Today I realized that we appears on Gotlands tidningar. A whole sheet for us.

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In brief, the article talks about the difficulties that International Students find to rent a house. Also it talks about the wide variety of nationalities coming for studying to Gotland.  I will translate more when my Swedish improves…


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This is my house in Visby. It is like an studio, very cozy from my point of view. Everything is new, the building were constructed in 2004. Usually, they are  used as summer flats but students rent it during the year. The facilities that surround the house are pretty nice as you can see in the pictures. It included every kitchen settings you need, even microwaves and coffee machine. The apartment also has a storage where to save the suitcase or the bike for instance; it is pretty big. Right in front of the building you can find the laundry room.  It is not the cheapest flat you can get here but  is not that expensive for living alone. It has 25 m2 and heating, hot water, electricity, broadband and tv cable are included in the price. You can rent a TV by 10 euros per month.  Housing prices  for students  in Visby roughly vary from 2000 – 4000 SEK.

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If you would like to have a house like mine, contact Gotlandsresor. Anyway there are several places where you can apply to a house in Visby. For more information visit the student association website (click here). The private landlords are usually the cheapest ones, If you look up hard you can find really good prices.