Sunday, July 24, 2011

Medieval Festival at Bohusfästning

You know you've been living in Sweden too long when the 750-year-old fortress on the hill by your house just becomes another building on the landscape.

We are lucky enough to live on the hill 'nextdoor' to Bohusfästning - The Bohus Fortress - that stands majestically above the convergence of two rivers and a historical strategic defense site (Sweden was perpetually at war with Denmark and Norway and whoever else wanted to have a go at the time). Each year the fortress hosts Medeltidsdagarna - Medieval Days - and my clan made our way over this year to enjoy the sights and sounds, despite the rain and chilly weather (not so uncommon for a Swedish summer).

Get ready for our H Clan at the Medieval Days pictorial - starting with shots from the fortress, looking down over our town of Kungälv (King River).

I love the 'old town' area of Kungälv. There are the most simple and beautiful old buildings, many that are now homes, and a couple that you have to see to believe - the outer walls of the homes are slanted. Really slanted! I'll try to get some good shots of them up one day.

The fortress recently celebrated 750 years as a fortress, prison, and abandoned rock pile. Incidentally, you'll find rock foundations on some of those homes in the 'old town' that exactly match those from the fortress...hmmm.

One of the best things about the festival were the 'characters'. While we didn't talk with each and every one of them, we did run across two American guys and one Scottish woman (all fellow transplants in Sweden) who seemed to be enjoying their life as medieval actors or craftsmen and travel to various festivals around Sweden and Europe.

If I were called to the 'mission of medieval', I would most certainly have a stylish black and white cloak like that one at the top left. But I absolutely LOVE the look of the girl in the middle. The sweet little girl with the red cape was playing hide and seek behind a sign when she saw me trying to get her photo from a distance (something that doesn't creep out people here like it might in other countries - more on that in another post one day). She finally stepped out for a pose.

These are some of my favorite shots of the day...the wares of the middle ages! Armour - rustic scissors (which I like to think were for some kind of medieval crafting if you know anything about my other blog, Blue Velvet Chair) - real and authentic swords - leather and furs - and gorgeous wool clothes in the most vibrant colors.

Here's my 10-year old H Clan family at the 750-year-old Bohus Fortress.

The original spice girls were there, but they haven't made it big yet. One of them didn't even have shoes on! And check out the 'package protector' on that character in the bottom (middle) photo! Had I not been on my best behavior today, I would have asked for a side view photo so you could see how hilarious that fabric cup protector was - it went out and up! I should've gone for it! Life's little regrets.

Clockwise from upper left:  One of the best signs of the day...the Medieval Bus Stop. Hilarious!  My middle-aged man at the middle ages festival. Little-big-man K having a go with a real sword (yes, I am that kind of mother that lets her son play with swords). Medieval photo props. And finally, Medieval Days also means people walking around the streets of Kungälv for 3 days all kitted out in their woolen capes and cloaks. Yes, that's possible in the Swedish summers!

More characters from the festival included the adorable baby with his little knitted knight hood - the medieval photographer sitting on a 1604 stone marker (something I'd never seen in the U.S.) - the guy who embodied what a Swedish king might have looked like - mother and child in brilliant colors - and bare feet...lots of bare feet! When we asked the king-looking guy if his feet were cold, he said the mud was like a natural sock to keep them warm...ok, never thought of it that way.

From upper left:  I don't know what they called it, but I call it the 'original babysitter'! Of course the women still had to do all the work (said with a smirk and a smile)! A witch/magic booth, a fun water drop game if you hit the target (little big man K did his part to hit the target!), a treasure hunt (that's our divine little miss M in the red jacket) where they disappeared with our children for like 30 minutes around the fortress (again, something you could only do in Sweden), and other fun medieval games for the kids.

As we were leaving the event, we were reminded of the loss of our fellow Scandinavian neighbor, Norway, and the terrible loss of lives at the hands of one of their own (flag flying at half-mast)

It was a really fun day, despite the gloomy Swedish summer weather. But as they say in Sweden, "There's no such thing as bad weather...only bad clothing!"

Until next time...

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