Saab History’s Former Residence – Trollbäcken, Sweden

Posted on 01. Apr, 2008 by in 2000-2009, Sweden

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Photo Credit: Saab History

In 2003 & 2004, I lived in a small town by the name of Trollbäcken, Sweden, not to be confused with Trollhättan, Sweden, the place where the first SAAB 92 was manufactured. While Trollhättan is located on the Western part of Sweden just north of the large city of Göteborg, Trollbäcken is located on the Eastern part of the country just South of Stockholm. I should also add that while Saab Automobile got their start officially as an automobile manufacturer in 1947, Trollbäcken was also established that same year.

There were a lot of similiarities in Scandinavia, and more specifically, this region of Sweden in comparison to New England. New England is where I grew up, the same region where SAAB USA began, and with these similarities, the transition was not as a challenge as one would have thought it would be.

The many activities that I have come to expect in New England, in my opinion were even more prominent in this area of Sweden. From bicycling & sailing in the summers to skiing & ice skating in the winters, and so I began to really see myself living in this region indefinitely as you will read below, but again there were differences.

Land:

Trollbäcken is part of Tyresö, which is a municipality that has a population of just over 40,000. It is 15 km south-east of Stockholm. By public transportation you can reach Tyresö in twenty minutes from Stockholm City and by car it takes you about 15 minutes. This hilly and rocky landscape was created by earthquakes and faults approximately 15000 million years ago and by the inland ice nearly 10,000 years ago. The village of Tyresö came to be populated with human inhabitants just over 5,000 years ago. Obviously this country is a lot older than the United States and you can see that in the landscape wherever you travel.

Here is a wonderful quote from the village in which I lived called “Tyresö”

land.jpgNatural scenery – Tyresö s greatest asset

“The beautiful natural surroundings, the fine hiking areas, the closeness to both lakes and the sea”. This is what many residents answer when asked why they have chosen to live in Tyresö. From the top of Tyresö’s highest hill, Telegrafberget (85 m above sea level), it is possible to see the steep cliffs of the Brevik peninsula, open sounds, islands, a chain of lakes connected by rapids, large deep forests, and meadows and pastures with grazing animals.

Tyresö has large open-air recreation areas and nature reserves with a flora and fauna of even national interest. Tyresö also shares part of Tyresta National Park, which is unique in its closeness to a metropolitan area.

People:

people.jpgThe people in Sweden, and of course especially as we get closer to goods and services in city centers such as Stockholm in this case, were very literate and well educated. That being said, I noticed an overall equality in terms of economic share across the board and education as well. The have and have nots dialog is not quite the disparity we have here in the United States and in my opinion, that is a good thing. I guess it goes to say that with an annual budget and over 50% of that budget being spent towards public mandatory education, you can’t go wrong. I also found that in my daily encounters whether for business or leisure, the friendliness was there although one had to make an attempt to take initiative to communicate with others, as in my opinion, Swede’s do tend to not go out of there way too often, but I found this was more of a cultural phenomenon although there were exceptions. Generally speaking though, I found that a strong ability to trust and be trusted with Swedes.

A good book I read about Swedish culture and social interaction in Sweden was a book called “Modern Day Vikings, A Practical Guide to interacting with the Swedes”.

Culture:

tyreso.jpgVisitors and locals have full access to Tyresö’s two libraries. One of the libraries that I visited frequently was at Tyresö Centre and was thoroughly refurbished in 1999, so I had the priviledge of using this new facility which was very convenient to other goods and services in the region. When business is in full swing at the centre, this library also acts as a cultural haven and venue. Close to the church and school of Kumla, is the Trollbäcken library, which was recently named Library of the Year. Both libraries have a rich selection of literature for children, young people and adults, complete IT equipment, WIFI, and halls for exhibits and lectures. I found the staff very friendly and helpful for those non-native Swedish speakers, although I was persistent in speaking Swedish wherever I could. I still have my library card for when I return some day!

Forellen, the assembly hall of Forellen School in Tyresö Centre, is also a cinema with over 330 seats. Here most films worth seeing are shown, so it is not necessary to go to Stockholm to see them. Forellen also has matinees with films and theatre performances for children. Although I did not get the chance to go see many movies, I did read wherenever and whenever I could to continue my thirst for learning the Swedish language.

Tyresö Bygdegärd, close to the castle and the church, was originally a school from the 1870s but is now a community centre for celebrations and other gatherings.

The variety and volume of ongoing cultural events over the year really separate this village from those much farther out from the city of Stockholm, but also make it a perfect location for those that want to feel close to nature without being too far from their goods and services.

simhall.jpgHealth & Recreation: Throughout Trollbäcken, there were numerous indoor and outdoor pool systems complete with gymnasiums and saunas as well as plenty of additional outdoor tracks and recreational fields free to use for the public.

My favorite locations were both the Tyresö Simhållen, as well as the nearby Erik dalsbadet.

It is important to note that all citizens as well as visitors receive “free’ socialized healthcare from Sweden.

architecture.jpgArchitecture: Having previously worked in the architecture field for a number of years, I have developed a strong appreciation for Swedish modern architecture & design. I think that the building methods and engineering applications in many cases are more harmonious with nature and as I see, many countries are now starting to adopt these methods today.

I was particularly fond of the residential architecture even in my immediate neighborhood as the homes were “appropriately” sized, the proportions were right and the “form followed function” much like the Saab automobile.

Education:

education.jpgAs I have mentioned, apparently it is mandatory that all villages spend at least 50% of their annual budgets on compulsory education.

This education system for the elementary and high school levels, is also free for the undergraduate level in Sweden. With priorities like this, it is no wonder that Sweden continues to lead in this area. I also think it is worth mentioning that education transcends all industries including automotive as everyone in Sweden who wants a driver’s license has to go through a rather rigorous theoretical and practical test driving program including ice driving, which is apparently equivalent to that of those in the United States attempting to go for a pilots license.

Food: falu.jpgInitially, I had some reservations in terms of different for different sake, but then I came around. My breakfasts or “frukost” usually involved a diet of yoghurt with a muslix mix. My favorite lunch usually involved Knäckebröd with cheese & ham (ost och skinka) with the FALU brand, now defaulting to the WASA brand offered by Whole Foods stores stateside here in Washington, D.C. Dinner on the other hand consisted of a wide variety, but I usually found my home with a plethora of choices in fresh fish including an abundance of salmon and herring.

Communications:mobile.jpg Amazingly enough, my move to Sweden also involved my first use of a digital mobile phone since previously owning an old analog one back in 1997 when I lived in Massachusetts. The 3rd Generation GSM network in Sweden was thorough and never once did I have a problem under tunnels in the subway (Tunnelbana) or elsewhere in the country. During my time in Sweden, I had a pay-as-you-go card called the Comviq Kontant Kort which worked well, and was far superior to the T-Mobile plan stateside as it did not charge you for receiving phonecalls. I also thought that it was equally impressive that there were never any visible telephone poles and lines as they were all designed well underground, far more progressive than what we have in the United States. I guess this is obvious since Sweden leads the world in telecommunications technology with companies like Eriksson.

Transportation:bus.jpg Although there were plenty of Saabs in close proximity to my daily life in Trollbäcken, Sweden ranging from the 96, rare 99 models, to even unique modern Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans, the public transportation system was especially impressive. Every other day of the week, I headed into the city of Stockholm to take Swedish classes with other visitors or immigrants by taking both the bus & train system. While the busses were modern and sleek of the SCANIA make, the trains were even more progressive and efficient. During my entire stay in Sweden, I never waited more than 9 minutes to catch either a bus or a train and when they state that they will arrive at 9:00am sharp, they will be there.

biking.jpgOutside of the public transportation system, I had the great opportunity to fully explore all of the paths and trails that were so well designed and layed out in Sweden for walkers and bicyclists as the bicycle is 2nd or 1st in terms of the main form of travel in Sweden depending on who you ask. Where in the United States, bicycling is generally still today unfortunately referred to as a leisure activity, bicycling in Sweden serves as both and is placed in a respectable and supportive infrastructure that those choosing to go this route, are not made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable by an impending automobile infrastructure system.

Taxes: Approximately 50% of your taxes goes towards funding these systems and services each year, but in comparison to what we see and have in the United States with an outdated communications infrastructure, a crumbling and obsolete transportation network to increasingly high and unrealistic education costs, to list a few, Sweden begins to show their strengths by design and management. I guess you pay for what you get.

saab.jpgAll in all, I really enjoyed my time in the village of Tyresö of Trollbäcken, Sweden. The land, people, culture, healthcare, education, food, communications and transportation system were all important factors for my moving to Sweden in the first place. In my opinion, although I appreciate where I grew up in New England, these aforementined factors were mostly far superior to what I have been accustomed to in the United States. These factors alone are contributing to Sweden’s progressive movement as a global leader that other countries now aspire to learn from.

Source: http://www.tyreso.se/templates/Page____5668.aspx


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