The Old and the New
For me, the most interesting thing in coming to Europe was the sheer age of the places. On the way to Sweden I travelled through Krakow, Poland, a city with cobblestone streets, marketplaces, a castle and lots of ancient-looking statues. The paths and streets were probably older than any in Australia, possibly built before our country was even colonised. They also looked like they had not been maintained for this same length of time.
I have some interesting photos showing the age of that city. This is not a photo of Krakow, though, since I have seen the same thing here in Umeå, but with an even more interesting twist:
For centuries, Umeå was a fairly small town in the sparsely populated north of Sweden. It was only in the past 50 years that it was strategically built up into a bigger city around this University where I am exchanging. The centre of town is thus filled with many delightful juxtapositions of old and new architecture as well as culture. This photo is showing a restaurant with a big spinning neon sign, which is built amongst several medieval-looking buildings like the one seen in the background.
There was an even bigger shock, though, regarding the intermixing of old and new; This came when I was admiring the large cathedral-like stone building in the centre of town. It had huge wooden doors and arched windows, pointed towers at the corners and a big clock tower in the middle. I asked a local what this building was: the church? Town hall? Nope, it's a nightclub.