Category Archives: No heritage

Making Swords for the Army at Wira


Some time ago I wrote a post about Engelsberg iron works, that is a world heritage site in the middle of Sweden. I mentioned another place in that post, namely Wira iron works, which I find as nice as the former one. So why is the former a world heritage site, but no the second one, nor the other places just like these two, that must also exist.


Green surroundings



Wira bruk or Wira iron works is a village and an historic iron works in Österåker, near Stockholm in Sweden. Wira bruk was founded around 1630. On the basis on a monopoly granted by a royal privilege it manufactured most of the rapiers and swords for the Swedish army into the mid 19th Century.

The royal privilege lasted until 1775, but the forge continued to supply weapons to the Swedish armed forces into the 19th Century and later manufactured civilian products, such as axes and scythes, into the mid-20th Century. Wira bruk is now a museum.


Inside the smithy


Inside the smithy

Sounds pretty much like Engelsberg, maybe even better, so why is only Engelsberg mentioned like special and unique? Is it because Wira is too close to Stockholm and someone wanted to spread the special places? I agree that today Engelsberg is better preserved, maybe due to the place being a wUNESCO World Heritage site. But back in the days life and work here were pretty similar.

The village looks pretty similar, they both have dark red houses where worker lived, both have a small museum, although the one at Wira is as interesting, both have an old smithy. The one at Wira is older and more destroyed by time, but you can visit it. Engelsberg have a mansion that is private and not possible to visit and Wira has iron workshop, where you can buy real iron stuf. From small hooks and can openers to larfe grills.


Mysterious grave inside the smithy


The water wheel

The both places are located by water and both places have water wheel. The mosquitos where larger at Engelsberg and we saw more frogs there, at least when we went there and Wira had more ducklings in the lake.  Wira have also Wira games at the end of each summer with dance, song and old music.

While being in Wira smithy we discovered an old, mysterious grave. Why is it here? Who was he? Why was he burried here and not, as others, by the church? Did he do anything wrong? It’s interesting, disturbing and I’ve been trying to find answers. Maybe one day I will find out.


Beautiful red smithy


In the village

I have no idea why the one is a world heritage, but not the other. I mean there is another site that contains over hundred old houses in another part of Sweden, several miles apart, so why not these?

I’ve been to Wira several times at least. It’s cute, picturesque and beautiful place. It’s perfect for a summer excursion with or without picnic and the museum is really interesting. Last time we were here we saw a family of duckling with mother duck and the previuos time we saw cows in the field behind Wira. So near city and in the nature.


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Is copper better than silver?


Sometimes I don’t get it. Two mines, two different points of view. Two different guided tours. One is a World Heritage Site, the other is not. I liked the both mines, I visited them with few weeks apart and it seems as the Copper mine in Falun is satisfied with the fact that they have a World Heritage site and don’t need to do more than exist. The Silver mine in Sala makes the visit there much more special. And both had almost the same information, but the guide in Sala made it very more special and interesting. I expected more of Falun, I got more in Sala.


An old building in the mine village.


A wagon used in the mine in the old days.

We went to Sala silver mine a rainy day at the end of September 2012. We drove all the way from Stockholm, nice and easy. We arrived a little bit before the pre-booked tour, so we had time for coffee and a visit to a very nice second-hand shop. The rain was pouring down, so the photos of the village are very few, quite dull, grey and wet. The village was very pretty. though with the Autumn colours and stillness of the great times , long passed.

When we went to Falun few weeks later there had already been some snow, the weather was quite chilly, but sunny and nice, so the experience had a chance to be nicer. You can read about visit there in Jany’s post here.




A building over one of the shafts.


Another shaft, the one we used to get into the mine.

And then there was the tour. An enthusiastic young man met us and showed us a map of the mine, we were about to enter. Everyone got to hold a big piece of stone, that conyained some little percentage of silver. Stones just like that one were collected by the miners and sent up to the surface in a little wagons. Not an easy work.

He told us about the mine using colourfull and powerfull words. He mixed facts with stories. When he told us about how the only light was from fires and how hot it was in the mine at that time, we could almost feel the heat, even if it was near 5 C now. At the beginning of the tour he talked about superstitions among miners: when you entered the mine you had to knock three times on the wall, you were not allowed to spit nor swear. If you didn’t obey you would see the mine lady, a ghost of the mine, and you would not get out of there alive. He had us to obey these rules too.


Map of the mine.


Our guide in old clothes, especially for the tour.

The mine in our days is cold. Water was dripping everywhere and the wind was blowing from the shafts. We were happy to have rain gear, helmrts to protect our heads and warm clothes. Helmets were given to all the participants of the tour as protection. Sometimes the corridors are low, sometimes a rock can fall down and sometimes the ghosts of the mine can hit you in the head. The protection is a good thing.

We visited Victoria’s chamber. She is Swedish crown princess and there is her signature in the mine. In Falun, in the Copper mine, there is her father’s, the Swedish king’s signature. It’s misspelled, this one is not. You can rent the chamber for a private party, or a wedding, since there also is a chappel down there.

We also visited the honeymoon suite, a cozy room, with absolutely no view what so ever. There is no mobile net here and the only communication with the world outside is an alarm phone that guests can use in case of emergency. Hopefully there is someone on the other side of the line and he is not taking the night off.


Telling an exciting story of the old days.


A room with no view.

In the copper mine in Falun our guide was just a guide. It was an older lady, maybe a teacher who have already given up on the kids. She told us facts and more or less only facts. She said that tgey believed that you have to knock on entering the mine, but not why. She said that they used fire as light, that’s it. The most interesting part was about a miner who died, fat Mats, and was found several years and was put on display at town square.  And that they had a misspelled signature of the Swedish king and a christmas tree that lost it’s colour, but not pins. But she said it before all the group was together listening. Not good at all. Pretty boring.

In the both mines we got the same facts, but so differently presented. But Falu copper mine is a world heritage, maybe that’s enough? A mine that don’t think that’s enough is Wieliczka salt mine. The tour is both interesting and engaging and it is a world heritage too. I think Falu mine could do better.

Check also out Jany’s description of the Falun copper mine.


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Ambitious security creates chaos


Looking for right flight

I’ve been travelling again and thinking about security. Is too much security good or just too much? Is over amitious security just creating chaos and uncertainty? I think so. And the rules are different in different places and that’s strange. Is it safer to fly with one bag then two? Is it better to take out everything slightly electronic? What documents do I need?


What terminal was it?

In the past two weeks I’ve been flying five times, so far and I needed to show an is once. Only once. Isn’t that strange? I could actually take someone elses boarding card and go somewhere in that person’s name. Nobody will notice at first.

Ok,all my flight the past few weeks were within Europe and Schengen area and maybe that’s the reason, but it is still strange. I think that it should be important to show that you are you and nobody else. It doesn’t seem to matter who is flying, but what he brings and in how many bags. Or?


People everywhere

My first flight on April 11:th was from Nyköping outside Stockholm to Warsaw in Poland. I had handluggage and since it was a cheap airline, Wizzair and only one bag was allowed I had one bag. Passport and boarding vard in my hand. I had to show my boarding card, but nobody cared about the passport. Otherwise it was easy and quite OK. Wizzair has free seating, so I just grabbed a seat. But what if they would like to know who was seating in the different places? No, wait a second, they just know names on the checked in tickets, nothing more. Safe and secure? Not really.

Then it was time to fly back. One bag is allowed, so I packed everything in one bag, my purse, my phones, my compact camera, everything. It was hard to close the bag, but I don’t give up that easily and I won. And it was time for the security check.

“Do you have a computer or any electronics?”
“Just my phone and a compact camera.”
“Take them out!”

So I had to unpack my bags, took out the camera and the phone and couldnt close the bag.

“Should I take off my shoes?”
“No need.”

My shoes beeped. All my stuffed went away and I had to take off my shoeas, go back and try again. Finally I could collect everything, closed my bag with everything, except for my wallet, passport and the boarding card that I had in a little plastic bag. And what happened there?

“One bag only!”

They must be kidding. I put my phone in my pocket, wallet as well, passport my my hand. It worked and I had to show my passport. The only time so far.


SChipol in the evening sun

Next trip went to Amsterdam. It was no problems on the way there. My shoeas (same shoes) didn’t beep, I didn’t show my passport and they let me in, no questions asked.

Was it as easy going home? No way. Didn’t have to show any passport. But waiting in the security line was told to take out everything electronic and they said: phones, cameras, computers, chargers, batteries, everything. So I unpacked my bags and took out my big camera, my small camera, my private phone, my work phone, chargers to all the devices and spare batteries for all the cameras. And it all went away in a plastic basket on the band with my jacket, my belt and… the security guy took my passport from my hand and put together with my other things. I asked about the shoes but they saud it was Ok. The shoes beeped, so I had to go back.

Meanwhile my passport, cameras phones and other stuff where out of my sight. The temperature in the area was pretty high, I was swetting, my stuff gone, I’m standing without shoes, trying to hold up my pants (belt was gone with the other stuff) and waiting for my bag. They stopped it. Why? Because of suspect content. After searching they found cheese (you can buy it everywhere and it is leagal!) and a can with hot chocolate. Ok, the powder maybe looked strange on the x-ray.

And the final comment from the security:

“You look stressed, what’s wrong?”
“Wel, my passport is gone”, (my expensive camera as well, I’m dropping my pants, it’s hot and I’m hungry and you treat me like criminal.)

I actually found all my stuff, but I almost lost my boarding card and my silver necklace. With the feeling of something else then security.


Bye bye, Amsterdam

My final journey was today. I went on a business trip to Östersund. The only document I used was my credit card to check in. I had to take out my computer and put it on the x-ray band. My shoes beeped, but it was enought to put my feet, one at a time in a x-ray machine next to my other stuff, it went fast and without any problems.

Why are some security checks safe and feel secure and others are just chaotic and create stress?

Finally something slightly different. Security in the computer world. I work with IT, so it’s my world. And I still believe that over-ambitios security create very low security. In my last wor, for instance, we had to change passwords every three weeks. My first password was strong, but after three weeks it was easier and simplier, and after three weeks, even simpler and three weeks later I just added a number to the password before. Security? I fon’t think so.

I think that it’s now time to decide what level is ultimate, what is security and what is chaos, and why we take the measures that we take.


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Proud Masai Warriors


Last year in July we visited Kenya and Uganda. We saw several World Heritage sites, like Rift Valley Lake system, Kasubi Tombs in Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It was both nature and  culture, gorillas, hippos and Bugandi kings. It was educational and interesting. But meeting Masais, although it’s not a world heritage was interesting, exciting and very nice experience. They are the people who choose to live in symbiosis with nature, in simple huts. They hunt, they have cattle and goats and they just live, like they always used to.


Masai warriors performing a traditional dance

We were previously told that Masais don’t want to be photographed. The explanation we were given was that some believed that we were stealing their souls. Maybe, maybe not. But it was OK if we previously payed and visited them in their village. Well, whatever the reason and explanation I’m not surprised. I would also be very unconfortable if everyone poited a camera at me, just because I had colourfull, traditional garments. And I would come up with an explanation, that at least some people, would respect. I admit that I took a photo or two in secret, and other people on the tour did as well, but we never put cameras in their faces.

When visiting the Masai village in Masai Mara we were allowed to take as many photos as we liked and ask as many stupid question. Happy hour for happy tourist.

Masais were traditionally dressed as they usually are, they were tall and gracefull and very friendly. They treated us with respect and accepted our cameras, our curiosity and our, sometimes strange, questions.


A Masai next to a hut


A Masai kid

The Masai warriors started with showing us a traditional dance. There was a lot of jumping, very high. I still don’t know how they do it, but they reach great highs from standing still, like there was no gravitation. Very fascinating.

There was also a kid running around the village. He abserved the dance and we all could see that he was learning. In a few years he also is going to be jumping, like the others.

After the dance it was time for women in the village to sing for us. They are as colourfull as the men and also short haired, but a little bit shorter. The little boy did not observe them as intensively, but he was running around with a stick. Future warrior.


Jumping high


Masai women

After dance and song we were divided in groups of two and went inside the huts. Why? To drink goats blood? No, Masai do that, we were just going to see the huts and talk to the warrior that the hut belonged to.

Our warrior was son of the chief, as several others, since the chief has several wifes and several children, and maybe future chief. He told us that not only humans, but sometimes also goats sleep in the hut. The village is moved every seven years, mostly because of the termites that destroy the houses. The Masais choose to move before the houses are destroyed and find a new place for a village.

We asked some questions and talked about their lifes. Very interesting. Finally we bought some necklaces. They looked like a lion tooth, but we were told that it was a soft rock, carved as tooth.


Masai kid observes and learns


One of the warriors and chief’s son

After visiting the hut we went out to the village again. The questions continued. Masais showed as a plant that was used as mosquito repellent and some other plants as well.

Finally the son of the chief showed us some fur. It was lion’s fur. Masais used to go out and hunt a lion to proove their manhood. Nowadays it’s a little bit different. Enough animals die because of the poachers, so Masais work as park rangers. When a lion has to be checked by a veterinary, or chipped, Masais help out and get to cut some of the hair from the fur. The tradition still lives, a little bit altered. Lions stay alive and happy and Masais as well.


In colourfull garments

The visit in the village was indeed interesting and giving. I would for sure go again and see these friendly people.

People are never world heritage sites. Should they? I think so. Entire cultures should be protected as well. It has today become survival of the one with most money and biggest gun, not the fittest, smartest and most connected to the nature.

I’ve read lately that there are plans in Tanzania to throw out Masais from their land to build a hunting ground for rich, spoiled people who want to kill lions and leopards. (source: Avaaz) I hope it’s wrong, but money talks. I hope that it’s not going to become reality.


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What’s a difference between two wooden churches?


Wooden church in Zakopane

I’ve written about them before, the world heritage site “Wooden churches of Southern Lesser Poland“. I’ve seen them, I’ve admired them and the one on the photograph is not one of the world heritage churches. This one in is the same one. Terrible misstake maybe. I still agree with the grade, but I will have ro show you acurate pictures another time.


Side view of the same church

Wooden Churches of Southern Lesser Poland and Subcarpathia of the UNESCO inscription are located in Gorlice, Nowy Targ, Bochnia counties, and Brzozów County and are in Binarowa, Blizne, Dębno, Haczów, Lipnica Dolna, and Sękowa. There are in fact many others of the region which fit the description: “The wooden churches of southern Little Poland represent outstanding examples of the different aspects of medieval church-building traditions in Roman Catholic culture. Built using the horizontal log technique, common in eastern and northern Europe since the Middle Ages…”

The wooden church style of the region originated in the late Medieval, the late sixteenth century, and began with Gothic ornament and polychrome detail, but because they were timber construction, the structure, general form, and feeling is entirely different from the gothic architecture.

The one that I have on my photographs is from Zakopane and, even if it fits the description is not a part of the world heritage. Shoult it be? I think so. Why was omitted? I have no idea. Maybe is not as great or maybe is not as old as the others? Maybe because it’s located in a place that every Polish tourist have visited at least once. I don’t know, but my goal the comming summer is to visit at least one and show you how great it is. Deal?

But while I’m writing I can tell you a little about Zakopane. It is a tiny town in Tatra mountains in Southern Poland. Not many people live here, but even more visit this town every year. In winter you can go skiing, in summer hiking. The mountains are high and majestic and I love them. Hiking here is quite easy and the best part is that you can stay in town and only make day-trips.

The culture here is colorfull. People have ships on mountain slopes, are great singers and have even greater temper. The food here is great and drinks even better. But don’t think that you can be better at drinking than the locals.

No grade today, but a recomendation to stop by Zakopane, when you are near.


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