If you Google Uppsala, the only images that come up are of the Cathedral and Gamla Uppsala. When you are living here for six months, it would be rude not to make it to the only two tourist attractions. In today’s low of -3 degrees I decided to tick Gamla Uppsala off Uppsala’s bucket list.
Gamla Uppsala, or “old town,” is considered one of the most important historical settings in Sweden. Tradition has it that this was the chief cult site of the Swedes and the seat of their Kings from as early as the third century AD. Despite the rich history and heritage, all that remains to be seen today is three giant grass mounds (the knowledge that these are graves form the sixth century makes them slightly more interesting), a stone church and an alarmingly empty cafe.
These photos depict just how eery the whole place felt –
Now, we all know that every cloud has a silver lining. This silver lining was Olle Engstrand, who I stumbled upon as I was leaving. I got talking to Olle and quickly discovered he was such a gentle and humble man that I couldn’t resist but ask him if he wanted to be in The Great Men Series. Contrary to the Swedish stereotype of being reserved and private, Olle was eager to be a part of it.
“We lived in the US with this dog a few years back so she is a seasoned traveller. I live here in Gamla Uppsala in the little yellow house. I’ve been living here for 10 years and for a few of those, yes, we were in the US. I was born and raised in this town. I have been a Professor of Phonetics at Stockholm University and I have since retired. I adore travelling so I am going to avoid this place in the deep winter, which I have done for the last few years. This dog is called Unni, the name is Norwegian, a common girls’ name there.”
Upon asking Olle his favourite quote or motto to life, he smiled and replied –
“Life is OK, my favourite quote changes from day to day.”
– Olle Engstrand