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Stockholm, Sweden – August, 2018August 8th Flight to Stockholm
Jenny gave us a ride to the airport at 4 P.M. for a 6:50 flight. Georgia likes to be early! We paid $37.53 for chips, dips and drinks called “Margarita & Tequilla Sunrise.”
A serious rainstorm began at 5:45! Sheets of rain blowing across the runways! The weather delayed our flight till 8:45 which means we’d miss the flight to Stockholm. So we were moved to a 7:30 flight to Dallas, then London to Stockholm.
It was a miserable 24 hour flight (in all) from Lexington through Dallas to Heathrow to Stockholm. From Dallas to London we were crammed in a thankfully dry sardine can back by the crew’s seats. Then the six or seven hours in Heathrow was like being bivouacked in a tin drum. As we finally walked to our finally announced gate we passed an area called “the quiet area,” where people were relaxing in lounge chairs and sleeping on sofas. Why didn’t we know about this?
We arrived in Stockholm about 11:45 P.M local time and collapsed unconscious at the Clarion Arlanda Hotel right at the airport. “Silence of the Lambs” was on with Swedish subtitles. We fell asleep to the hissing of Hannibal Lector and dreamed about Swedish Modern everything.
Thursday, August 9th, Stockholm
Georgia bounced awake about 8:30 anxious to take part in the free breakfast. She had to drag me up from my dreams of Ikea.
Desperate for coffee she led me down to the second floor buffet. Expecting mushy self-made waffles and coffee I was blown away by the artisan breads, all the juices and fruits you could imagine (including kiwi), five or six kinds of sausage and pate, bacon, omelets and some sort of jellied scrambled egg. Then there was smoked salmon, dilled herring, 5 or 6 kinds of cereal, yogurt, toppings (seeds, nuts) and a coffee maker to die for producing individual cups of heaven.
There was a nice crowd of breakfasters in the ballroom disappointed when the curtain closed at 9:30. What a grand start to our European adventure.
The train to Stockholm took about 40 minutes and the metro to our neighborhood and Airbnb took about another 30. Each way I looked I felt like I was looking in a mirror. A clear, waterly reflection of myself in my genepool, as I felt in Switzerland.
The Airbnb was not as nice as some we’ve stayed at. Helena is pleasant enough in her worn frumpy housedress but I can’t help but long for the elegant room we stayed at in Durham, England. This is more like a step up from the 2-star room we had at the hostel in Barcelona.
We walked down toward the harbor where we can catch the boat tour. We passed a huge indoor food market we definitely want to visit later. I nearly fell asleep on the boat ride. We saw 10 – 12 lake beaches with citizens enjoying the water. The lake is about a meter higher than the Baltic sea so we had to pass through a lock going and coming.
We met a couple near the Jewish Synagogue from New York City. He seemed pleasant. She sniffed at everything, especially at the idea that you could see Stockholm from a boat.
Then we sat in the park nearby eating ice cream (after I found a bankomat and got 600 swedish kroner, about $75.00!) We then walked down to see the King’s Garden and the opera house. Then we back tracked to the market down the street from our room. It was like an indoor farmers’ market and little shops. We ate salads on toast and lemon meringue pie to die for and I had a double scotch on the rocks at Texas Longhorn. Our server had a handle-bar mustache!
On the way back to the room we stopped at an ICA grocery store for crackers. Back at the room we collapsed asleep almost immediately.
Friday, August 10th
We walked toward the dock again and stopped for coffee across from an Art Deco building under renovation. I thought it was an old convent but it was actually a residence of A Anderson from 1912.
Then we went to the train station to get confirmed seats for our trip to Copenhagen Monday. Another American tourist in front of us was very needy and took almost forever. Probably first time traveling?
The Milles Garden on Lidingö Island is the big thing today. (Millesgården.se) We used our 3-day bus, train, tram, etc pass. At the terminus I thought we were looking for a bus #21. There was only 3 digit numbers. An old man was trying to tell me we only needed to get over the bridge. No problem. The ticket agent was telling me I’d have to take one bus then transfer to another. Then Georgia saw a sign to Lidingö just past the last subway stop, Ropsten. It was a tram we wanted and the first stop was just over the bridge. Then there was a hike up a steep hill to the garden. As we reached the top I noticed a lot of little white “M s” or “W s” stuck everywhere, on people’s shirts, on walls, light poles and posters. Some surfaces were completely covered with them to the depth of 4 inches. It finally dawned on me that they must be stickers for the Milles Garden. They were! We went to the café first as a reward for making it up the hill. More salad on bread followed by dessert. This time licorice-flavored ice cream on a stick. I thought it was dark chocolate. Wish Dad could have been with me. How he did love licorice.
Buying our tickets we saw that there was a special exhibit of Milles and his friends, Picasso, Miro, Rauchberg, Henry Moore, etc. I especially loved the Giacometti man! The Carl Milles house and studio was well worth the trip to Stockholm. Amazingly blue skies with his statues perched on stilos.
There was whimsey and profound understanding and ancient works of art providing inspiration and a movie of one of his muses/helpers telling marvelous stories about his interactions with other luminaries. Especially the “poisonous” Frank Lloyd Wright.
The outdoor statues and fountains were marvelous though the fountains were only turned on for a few minutes once an hour or so – I guess to help preserve them.
Carl Milles’ wife, Olga was from Munich and the Catholic influence was everywhere. Their tomb was in a little alcove garden in a little glass fronted structure with a pieta on top of it.
We walked back to the tram DOWN hill. Hope I don’t lose toenails. Back at the room we picnicked with the bees in the little garden space shared with surrounding apartments and fell asleep soon afterwards.
Saturday, August 11th
Today we went to try to find Clason Glass studio. It was a nice walk and subway ride into the “trendy/arty” part of Stockholm. There were many young families with lots of fathers pushing prams, children playing in neighborhood playgrounds and lovers smooching. We passed through another street market and bought some sausage sticks made of “reindeer and moose.” Then stopped at a bagel shop and had a lovely soft bagel with cream cheese.
Being Saturday, Clason Glass was closed. It was a very tiny shop. Hope she gets lots of commissions. There’s no way she’d get enough foot traffic to keep her in business.
We bussed and metroed our way to the Royal Palace. It was a madhouse with crowds trying to watch a brass band on horseback at the changing of the guard. We ate nearby, visited the oldest church in Stockholm (“liberated” from the Catholics) and visited the Nobel Museum. That was moving, seeing all the instances of human achievement. We are a remarkable race – almost godlike with the emphasis on “almost.”
Then we found the Catholic Cathedral. They’ve added on to the back and there is some lovely etched flashed glass but I couldn’t get up into the balcony to see it.
We had time to kill before Mass, so we visited the “Beefeaters bar/pub” to sit and study the situation, as Dad used to say.
We sat at a table out front and noticed two women sitting next to us. Georgia looked at the menu board and said she wanted the ______, which was some sort of champagne-like wine. I went in to get our drinks. The bartender said it was either by the glass or by the bottle. I got a bottle. It looked huge! I asked how many glasses that would be. He said 4 to 6, so I asked for 2 more glasses saying I’d invite our table mates to have some. He smiled, took my card and invited me to put in the amount. I looked quizzical. I guess because he said “in case you want to give me some as well.” I smiled and said, “Then add on 100 ___ for you.” He did a double take and looked very surprised, (that was about 11 dollars) and called over a waitress to carry the tray out and pour for me.
The ladies outside were very surprised as well. We toasted each other. Turns out they were a lesbian married couple from San Diego, California who’ve moved to Sweden for jobs. (Celia and Claire) Because one has a job offer the other was able to get a work permit too. There are many Swedish peculiarities they are having trouble getting used to. Their studio apartment costs 1200___($1000 a month). They can’t buy any electronics (including TV) until they have their residence cards. They were so surprised at the restrictions. “It’s un-American!” We laughed. We wished them well and said it sounds like they’re on a grand adventure (one a blond Nordic-looking woman and the other a short dark Filipino who grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi).
The Cathedral of St Eric was 19th Century and added on to in the 1960s I think. The glass in the old building was competent but uninspired. The new area had some etched flashed glass that looked interesting but we couldn’t get up in the balcony to see it up close.
We were only able to follow along in the Mass because of the Kyria, Lamb of God in Latin and knowing the identity of the structure.
We went back to the room to finish up the food we bought on Friday, but this time inside – away from the bees. Somehow the bottle of champagne made us tired so off to bed early.
Sunday, August 12th
We took the Ferry, free with our bus pass, as Celia and Claire suggested for a cheap trip around the water. Loved it! Just as we got out in the middle of the harbor a Japanese warship came in. All the sailors were standing at attention along the rail saluting. Then “boom!” the cannons starting firing a salute to the royal family. We couldn’t count how many but it was a lot! Then from the opposite direction came the answering shots from the Stockholm fort! In the middle it felt like we were under attack. Children came spilling out of the cabin to the stern where I had the place to myself. (There was a light rain.) It was very exciting as the gunsmoke rose over the water.
We passed the Tivoli, an amusement park very popular with the Swedes. It had an amazing “drop” ride and “spinning round the tower while dropping ride” and spinning upside down, rollercoaster rides. All kinds of ways to lose your lunch.
We rode the bus back to the Vasa Museum. We might have been able to get off the ferry and walked but couldn’t be sure where to get off.
Looking for the Vasa Museum we stumbled onto the Nordic Museum which had exhibits on the Nordic peoples since 1400. The 1950’s exhibits looked like my home in Asheville, North Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.
For lunch we ate a “French” hotdog and fish and chips. The hotdog looked sort of like a corndog but the “dog” is cooked separate from and then inserted into the “bun.” The fish & chips were delicious.
I asked Celia how to cook "pomme frits". She said set the oil at 230 degrees, cook fries for 5 minutes, then remove and drain. Then deep fry at 375 to brown. Can’t wait to try it.
We found the Vasa Museum and walked through the drizzle to get there. The long line moved quickly. The Vasa is beautiful, but too narrow and top heavy with two courses of cannon. Poor sailors. I wonder how many knew it was a death trap. It sank 20 minutes after launching. A breeze caught it and it tipped. The crowd on the dock gasped, but it righted itself. They then started to unfurl the sails and a little breeze caught it and it rolled over and capsized. It sank in minutes.
It was raised again in 1960-61 and saved. It’s a terrific tourist attraction now.
We stopped at a fancy restaurant without a reservation for supper. They put us at a tiny table beside the short flight of stairs leading up to the kitchen. I ordered the stuffed quail, stuffed with truffles. Georgia ordered mussels in cream sauce and wine. I got a local vodka. It was an excellent meal!