Quite frankly, I really didn't like Umeå when I arrived. Then I had just left picturesque Zurich in the most exquisite of summers. I simply had no idea what to expect. Umeå presented itself as a cold, grey and windy city with boring square brick buildings. But then the autumn came along and the city of the birches transformed into this stunning jungle of colours.
Walking down the streets feels so different. The sunsets go on for ever and dip everything in lush golden light. This is an autumn unlike any I have seen before. As I was strolling through the city's avenues I started wondering why there were birches everywhere. It turns out this dates back to the huge city fire of 1888 when most of the cities inhabitants were rendered homeless over night.
It turns out they planted silver birches not just for their aesthetic value but as a measure of protection from future fires of spreading. This may make as little sense to you as it does to me. The only reason for this seems to be that back then the neighbourhoods spared by the fire had a lot of silver birches. It probably also helped that birches thrive on, well, literally burned earth.
Although I got a bike recently, I still find myself walking a lot despite this city being amazing to bike in. Rather walking gives me time to listen to my daily ration of podcasts and audiobooks be it the newest 99% Invisible, The Economist or The American Life podcasts in my ear. And the scenery gives me plenty of reasons to always have my camera on me.
Locals are telling us that we are having an abnormally mild and dry autumn here. Usually autumn lasts days rather than weeks and the first snow usually comes quickly in October. It can stay away if you ask me. I'd rather be spending more time outside with the scenery looking like this.
Two weekends ago I went exploring the cycle paths around the city. Temperatures were mild and the sun even made the temperatures bearable. We cycled to Holmsund. What a nice way to spend a saturday afternoon. Even if there is absolutely Holmsund's only cafe closes at 2 in the afternoon and locals recommend a kebab place as the best restaurant in town.