Tag: excursions

Back to Loka

One of the houses at Loka Brunn, with the yellow house “Finnhyttan” behind.

I’m here for the second time this year, but this time at a two day diabetes conference. It’s still winter, the snow is deep, the air crisp and icy, but the days are thankfully getting longer. Its evening and I am sitting in my room, one of 150 (Loka Brunn can house up to 300 guests) hotel rooms in the scattered buildings of this old spa resort. The building that contains my room bears the name Finnhyttan, and is a big old yellow wooden house dating back to the 19th century. But the history of Loka Brunn goes much further back, at least to the 1600s. Even in mediaeval times the springs of Loka were a much appreciated resting place for pilgrims travelling to the holy shrine of St Olaf in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, the most important pilgrimage site in Northern Europe.

Loka really took off as as a health spa in the 1760s, when the king of Sweden, Adolf Fredrik, came to drink the waters. The king had long suffered from migraines which were cured after a two week stay at Loka following a prescription of 4-6 liters intake of spring water per day, as well as mud baths and cold water bathing. Massage was added later as part of the standard treatment regime.

The area grew into a little colony of houses during the 18th and 19th centuries, and new buildings were added throughout the twentieth, so that there are now over 50 buildings her, one of which is the spa centre or “Water Salon”. Although contemporary medical treatment is far removed from the treatments of the 1600s, Loka is still linked closely with health care through its use by the Örebro Health Authority for conferences and educational events, like the conference which I am currently attending.

And there are the added attractions of a relaxing spa or massage in the evening, and an excellent restaurant which serves gourmet meals, to look forward to after a long day of lectures and discussion.

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Conference centres in Sweden

I am staying at Båsenberga  Hotel and Conference Centre, near Vingåker in Central Sweden, about an hour’s drive from Örebro. This is my third visit here, this time for a 2-day GP training seminar. Once we came here with the vårdcentral (health centre) where I work for a 2 day professional development retreat. Båsenberga is a big old mansion, by a lake, in the Swedish countryside. It is one of many such grand old houses which are scattered across Sweden. Most were used for quite different purposes in past days but now they really only lend themselves to being used for conferences. The Swedes are good at conferences, and just in the area around Örebro there are several large venues like this with hotel facilities in beautiful locations. In the last year I have been to several others – Loka Brunn, Hennickehammar Herrgård and Kåfalla Herrgård – for various events. But there are others too: Karlslund Herrgård, Bredsjö Herrgård to name just a few.

Herrgård could be translated “manor house” but Båsenberga has never really been a manor house in the generally understood sense of the term. In fact, Båsenberga was the poorhouse for this area in the 1870s, but it later became an old people’s home. It has been a hotel and conference centre for many years now. Hennickehammars herrgård  where we had a vårdcentral meeting about 3 weeks back, was a real manor house. It is beautifully located in the forest of Värmland by a small lake. I am not sure of the history but I think it dates from the 1700s and was originally the home of a mine owner. Many of the big houses around this part of Sweden were associated with iron ore mining.

Loka Brunn, which is a favourite for conferences from groups in Örebro, was previously a health spa, built in the 1700s. People with chronic pain from rheumatism, arthritis and such diseases, went there to “take the waters.” Loka is still a popular brand of mineral water which can be bought al over Sweden.

Kåfalla Herrgård is near Lindesberg, north of Örebro, and was the location for the annual meeting of the Christian Doctors and Students Association back in April this year. The house itself is owned by the Evangelical Free Church, but it too was previously owned by a wealthy landowner. I am unsure of its history.

Karlslunds Herrgård is the local manor house in the west of Örebro, on the road that heads out towards the Kilsbergen hills. It is used for conferences, but it is many years since I was there for that purpose. It has a nice café which is open in the summer, and has some lovely walks in its grounds along the river and through the forest. It is also used for Christmas dinners and other large functions. It is beautifully located near the river, Svartån. Bredsjö  is another old estate, up north near Nora. We were there for a vårdcentral function some years ago.

The other manor house that remains a lovely memory was the one where Maria and I stayed the night after we married. It is called Svartå Herrgård.  It was cold when we were there, in April 1993; the snow was still disappearing. It is beautiful in summer. But now I imagine that it is like all the other mansions, fading into the autumn grey.

Summer memories: a slow start

Its grey today, overcast and chilly. But I shouldn’t complain. Its been a perfect Swedish summer and it has pushed on into September, with lots of sunny t-shirt days making cycling to and from work a joy. But just as autumn seems slow to really establish itself, summer was slow in coming. In June the temperatures were struggling to get above 15, and our senses, jaded from a long, bitter cold winter, were longing for sun and warmth. Early June we headed up to Kilsbergen with the canoe and some friends for a barbecue and a paddle. The kids went swimming, but the water was cold. It was peaceful up in the hills, there was no-one around and our voices echoed across the still waters of the lake. It seemed no-one much had noticed that summer had come…

Maria and Suzie
Maria and Suzie