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Stockholm Joy

After I gave my talk in Helsinki, Sylvia and I went and spent five days in Stockholm. I had no idea what Stockholm would be like, but it was wonderful. The city itself is on a number of islands crowded together, and the sky—at least in the summer—is a lovely parade of clouds, very crisp. View from one island to another shown below.

The older Stockholm architecture has an Art Nouveau or Art Deco quality, which I like a lot.

There are really a lot of blond people in Scandinavia. In this shot, we’re riding on a city ferry route, a good cheap way to see the surroundings. We got a four day pass that worked on trams, buses, and ferries.

That’s the building with our Hotel Esplanade. I’d thought the whole building would be the hotel, but was only in two stories, only about thirty rooms. A pleasant place, on a canal where a lot of tour boats and ferry boats had stops. We were in the room at the left corner of the 2nd floor in the first white building from the left.

Our legs get tired from touring, and we often go to museums to dial back the pavement-pounding. The main museum had crafts along with art…something I enjoy. Dig the glass and the decanter. Martian martinis!

The museum had a show about “Swedish Beauty,” including work by post-Impressionist Swedes. I loved this self-portrait, by Bo von Zweeigbergkt. Amazing how he did those colored lines.

And Bo’s name kind of makes sense, as a name. Swedish isn’t as impenetrable a language as Finnish, but it’s enjoyably odd.

Here I am being all Jean-Luc-Godard-movie in our hotel room.

The main tourist site in Stockholm is an island called Gamla Stan. It was about half a mile from our hotel, and Sylvia and I walked there quite early one morning. We found an enchanting old world cafe in a corner of it.

Dig this old Svenska (Swedish) ocean-liner poster on a wall. If you’ve followed my blog, you know how I love rectangular blocks of color, preferably with some peeling plaster.

And, ah, the chestnut leaves overhead, quite wonderful. The living chaos, the peace, the life.

The cafe was actually a bakery. The classic Euro symbol for a bakery is a pretzel. They’ve been using that symbol since the 1600s. The sense of long time there…refreshing to be away from the frantic, tedious, today’s-news-breaks of our US life.

The funny thing about the Hotel Esplanade is that they weren’t super organized about the rooms. This is the room we ended up in, a dream come true. But the first night we were in a fairly crappy room next door to it, about a quarter the size. And in the morning I complained, and said we’d probably leave, and the woman at the desk said, oh, try the room next door, and we got this one. Same price for the two rooms. A stroke of luck, a gift from the Muse of travel.

Colored buildings in Gamla Stan. The museum of the Nobel Prize is in this same square…somehow I didn’t have the energy to look inside. I was more set on seeing old stuff.

A view of a tram perhaps being powered by those solid-looking whipped-cream Stockholm clouds.

Right behind Hotel Esplanade was an enormous city-block-sized Armory from the old times. Gorgeously intricate brick work with a few green bricks mixed in. Forget Legos, man, this is the true source of brickery.

Another cloud picture. At this point we’d gotten on a ferry that went farther than we expected…about ten miles out from Stockholm, weaving among dozens of islands and ending up at this kind dry-dock, ship maintenance, Antonioni-movie zone.

The ferry also passed a really gnarly amusement park with some highly elevated “Swiss swings,” those things that put you on a little board held by a chain—like a playground swing—and then the Swiss-swings assemblage rotates, and you’re completely unprotected, like a lure on a line that’s fishing for Death.

My reaction to Swiss swings. (An ad photo on some wall…I couldn’t tell what it was an ad for.)

The deadly amusement park also had a twisting DNA-molecule-type roller-coaster with no floors in the cars. Sylvia really wanted to ride on it—not. Neither did I.

I’m still recovering from my ride on the Santa Cruz Big Dipper this spring. Beautiful evening light here, and the Swedish evening lasts a long time, up through about 9:30.

We went twice to Stockholm a restaurant called Prinsen. They’ve been open a hundred years. Wonderful, wonderful food. Seems like I never get food even close to this in the US, and I do try. No corners are cut here, everything is perfect, and there’s no fuss about it. Sounds simple, but it takes real determination to follow through.

This bus-stop map made me laugh. As I tend to do, I then got fixated on the phrase Här är du, and repeated it very many times.

There are a few Black people in Scandinavia. They look relaxed. You see a lot of giant plastic bags like in the foreground. They even put bricks and rubble in them.

This building was also behind Hotel Esplanade, I think it housed a museum of theater design. Great cafe on the ground floor, the kind I long for, with the classic gravel garden outside with metal tables beneath huge trees.

More Stockholm clouds. Sylvia and I made friends with two local guys in a restaurant, and they were interested in hearing what we thought of their city, and I went on about the clouds, and they kind of laughed. “Very different in the winter,” says one of them, making a horizontal gesture with his hand. “Just one cloud then, very low. All day. And it gets dark at four.”

I’m thinking of a Sesame Steet routine here. “This scene is brought to you by the number 2!”

I mentioned the Art Nouveau. Wonderful ironwork here.

Sylvia took this photo of me looking out the corner window in our room. Kind of like a Magrite painting.  Looking at the water and the sky? Um, wait, maybe I’m looking at my laptop. Well, let’s hope I’m doing some creative writing.

My view out the side window. Definitely looking outside here. You know that condition they call Stockholm Syndrome? My version was that I never wanted to leave.

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