Culture couple

Follow our fictional couple on a cultural journey through Östergötland.

After years of the daily grind, we finally retired. Look out, world – here we come! But when we sat down to plan where to go, we were almost overwhelmed by the freedom we had in terms of time and destination. In the end it came down to chance, and thank goodness for that.

We’re a fairly low-key couple, Leonard and I, but with a shared interest in the good things in life. The little things. Like a perfectly balanced beurre blanc, a freshly ironed shirt or a dead-straight drive on the golf course. Youth is but a memory, and we have to make the most of the time we have left. Carpe diem! We’re ready for adventure. But nothing too adventurous, of course; action-packed yet low-key. Hmm, would we find somewhere that ticked all the boxes? One morning the answer suddenly presented itself, in the middle of 8 Across in that week’s cultural crossword: Östergötland. The very next day we got into our Cadillac DeVille and hummed away towards our destination.

After a few hours’ drive, we checked in at a charming hotel out on the plain. We quickly made ourselves at home in our room, lined up our encyclopaedias on the bookshelf and hung our evening finery in the wardrobe. Then we each took a bow-wow under the arm and set out to experience all that Östergötland has to offer.

The tour of Vadstena Castle took us by storm, not least because of the generous 10 kronor discount for pensioners. Ker-ching, thank you very much! Afterwards, we strolled around the outside of the castle. We stopped at the harbour to admire the boats, which took us back to summers spent at sea aboard our beloved sailing boat, Alphina. If I closed my eyes, I could almost feel the salt spray on my face.

Our daydreams were interrupted by a charming German tourist offering to take a photo of us and the dogs. Leonard insisted he could remember his school German and stumbled through as best he could. I didn’t have the heart to point out that I’m fairly sure it was French he took. Ich will ein Foto s’il vous plait? Whatever, it was a lovely photograph, which I look forward to framing and hanging up in our living room at home.

Our boat trip along the Göta Canal took a dramatic turn when a gust of wind snatched Leonard’s hat, a priceless chapeau claque (opera hat), which has come down through the generations. As luck would have it, a young sailor quickly came to our aid and fished the hat out of the water. After such a turbulent journey, it was nice for all the family to take a trip into Linköping to relax in Trädgårdsföreningen park, where the beautiful Queen of Denmark roses brought tears to my eyes. Or perhaps it was the pollen – I’m never quite sure. Naturally, we rounded off the afternoon with a cup of java at the park’s café.

On our last evening, Leonard surprised me with tickets for an orchestral concert at De Geerhallen in Norrköping. We donned our matching double-breasted burgundy jackets and heels. Then we held hands from the start of Donizetti’s Chacun le sait to the final notes of the Flower Duet from Delibes’ opera Lakmé. What an evening, and what a trip. Thanks for everything, Östergötland.

  • Östergötlands museum
  • Ståhls collection
  • Arbetets museum (Museum of Work)
  • Östgötateatern
  • Linköpings Domkyrka (Linköping cathedral)
  • Vadstena slott (Vadstena Castle)
  • Norrköpings konstmuseum (Norrköping art museum)
  • Reijmyre Glasbruk (Reijmyre Glass works)
  • Norrköpings Symfoniorkester (Norrköping Symphony Orchestra)
  • Friluftsmuseet Gamla Linköping (Gamla (old) Linköping Open-Air Museum)
  • Löfstad slott (Löfstad Castle)
  • Ekenäs slott (Ekenäs Castle)

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