Sunday, June 29, 2008

The bus ride from Flogsta

JenniferThis post has been a long time in coming—sorry about that!—but with the move to Flogsta, I have whole new bus ride to describe, and I guess I better do it before we move again... which is in two days. The two points marked on the map are our Flogsta apartment, on the left, and work is the marker on the right. You can see that the two points are not really so far from each other, but there is no direct route between them. Hence, my long and twisting path to get to work. The time it takes me to make this journey (about 40 minutes in the morning, but up to an hour in the evening if I don't catch just the right busses) is both a blessing and a curse.

View Upplands Lokaltrafik Bus Map in a larger map

Here's a shot of my morning bus stop. There is some graffiti on it—this is actually some of the better stuff, I'm afraid—with few exceptions, the tagging and graffiti in Uppsala is not impressive, and looks like it was done by nervous and unimaginative kids in their tweens. My journey now starts with the bus stop only a 5 minute walk from our apartment. Before the summer bus schedule started, I had a choice between two busses, the #2 (in green on the map above) or the #22 (in blue), which take quite different routes into town. The #2 leaves more frequently and is a slightly shorter drive into town; however, the #22 got me a tad closer to the next bus stop, and also ran directly to the train station, which was handy. I refer to the #22 in the past tense because unfortunately it doesn't come this way in the summer, but it was pretty ride, so I'll describe it first.

The #22 goes past some student dormitory housing first, and then veers off through the countryside a little on its way to some even suburbs even further-flung than Flogsta. It includes a bus stop that must surely be one of the most forlorn looking in all town (see the upper-left photo), although people do get on and off there occasionally. Some of these areas are quite lovely, and each apartment complex includes little parks or playgrounds or other open spaces, my favorite of which is close to the Rickomberga stop, which has some park benches and nice old granite boulders sticking up out of the ground (photo upper right).

The #22 continues to wind its way through some of the fancier neighborhoods, with attractive apartment buildings to either side. The route crosses the river on a different bridge than the #2 does, quite north of downtown, and looking northwards upstream one sees an iron railroad bridge, and the construction of new apartment buildings. The bus goes all the way to Kungsgatan, the main street through town that parallels the railroad tracks that divide the city. We drive up Kungsgatan for a ways, and I disembark at one branch of the Stadshuset stop, a "stop" with 8 different physical stopping points that covers about two square blocks. From there, it's a short walk to Vaksalagatan, where I turn right and have a two-block walk to the Stora Torget stop, where I get on the #6 or #7 (the orange line on the bus map at top)... and see the previous bus ride post.

The #2 starts with much the same route, but then goes through some more densely-packed neighborhoods, and some student housing, so it is always more crowded than the #22 was (anther reason to slightly prefer the #22). Still, the little rowhouses are very well-kept and attractive, and at this time of year, everyone has flowers out on their decks or balconies. This route has to navigate three roundabouts, which, depending on the driver, can be rather exciting at times, as the road engineers seem to have made the roundabouts just barely big enough for the busses to fit around. On Sista April, some enterprising youths had set up couches and a day-long party on this particular roundabout.

The bus also passes a small corner of a very large and very beautiful old cemetery, filled with trees, including this avenue of birches. We plan to take a stroll through it and picnic near it later this summer. Joe has made an exploratory venture into it, and reports that there are wonderful old monuments and gravemarkers in it. More on this lovely area in the future, I think.

We don't drive past the graveyard for too long, though, turning right at the corner of the cemetery and then immediately swinging left into town. We pass close to the cathedral and the Gustavianum (the building with the onion-topped-with-a-globe on top), and a market hall that burned down a few years ago and has only recently reopened. We cross the river on the S:t Olofsgatan bridge, which is properly right in down town, and the one from which we watched Forsränningen on Sista April. Right after crossing the bridge, we pass by several other landmarks, including Missionkyrkan, the public library, and, directly across the street from that, Lustgården, the local sex shop (right-hand picture).

My ride on the #2 ends at a stop called Klostergatan, which is a block further away from Vakasalagatan, and gives me the opportunity to walk to the Stora Torget bus stop through town a little. I am not an early bird, but neither is the city of Uppsala: usually when I walk through town, the only thing open is one cafe, and it has usually just opened a few minutes ago: most stores don't open until 10:00. There is also a tiny bakery that I like—it smells wonderful inside—and it's nice to know that I can pick up some pastries on the way in to work if I need to.

I also pass a fountain dedicated to Celsius, and a downtown berry-monger stand is right near the fountain—in this picture they are setting up for the day, and the truck passed me as I was walking up the more-or-less pedestrian-only street, as it does every day. They started selling strawberries in May, I think, but those were from Spain. Now they have been selling local stuff, and business seems to be brisk. The strawberries are just starting to fade out here; luckily for a berry-lover like me, just this week, the stand has started selling cherries. I expect blueberries will be along in due time... the temptation to hijack a truck known to be full of berries is high, but so far I have resisted.

From the fountain it's a right-hand turn onto Svartbäcksgatan, the main pedestrian street in town, and another block or so walk to the Stora Torget bus stop, where again, it's onto the #6 or #7, and back to the previous bus post.

When I come home after work (I almost said "at night" but there is no such thing anymore), the directions are exactly reversed. And there's home, as indicated by Joe standing on our balcony.

There are more pictures of the ride, and town, and people on the busses and at the bus stops in the gallery for this post.

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