July 11, 2015
Stockholm by Foot and Boat
We all slept well in our cavelike hotel rooms. The Japanese would find the rooms to be normal sized. We were to tired to care. Showers were hot and the gigantic breakfast seemed totally incongruous with rest of hotel. The hotel is conveniently located and Cousin Cristina found us to begin our adventure.
We drove to the family flat occupied by daughter Linda. We were there primarily because it matched the type of flat that my grandfather lived while he was in Stockholm. The visit explained almost everything. The street entrance looks upscale. The flat is part of what we would call a condo with homeowners who run the place and approve tenants and sales. Despite being over a hundred years old, the place is spotless. The entrance opens into a courtyard that in the old days housed the toilets and washing facilities. Those have been moved into the flats and you don’t need to find the WC in the snow.
The flat is tiny. I would guess about 15 by 15 feet. Small kitchen and smaller bath. A place to sit and a Murphy bed. There was a small crawl space up high for kids to sleep. It was in a flat like this that my grandfather decided to leave the other four members of his family who lived with him and head for America. Grandpa Benson had lived part of his youth in Virestad with his grandparents but was educated mostly in Stockholm.
We toured the neighborhood park and a garden that was designed for Alzheimer’s patients who lived in nice looking care facilities surrounding the park. Christina explained that Grandpa Benson would have used this park when he was a child. We figured that he didn’t use the skateboard part but could easily imagine him on the football (soccer) fields that become ice rinks in the winter.
We needed to meet Lena and Vlva downtown so we started walking fast. At least there are no homicidal bicyclists and the cabs slow down for pedestrians. We made it to the tour boat dock but needed to delay our ride as the first boat was full. Not wanting to waste an hour, the cousins decided that we could squeeze in a tour of city hall. Not just any Rathaus. This is where the Nobel Prize dinners are held.
The structure was designed in the Swedish Romantic style. It incorporates architectural elements from all Swedish history. Christina’s mother sang in a choir when the place opened in the early 20th Century. Peggy managed to pose by the podium used by the Nobel recipients. The tour guide was actually animated and good. His English was much better than mine. The city chambers for the 101 representatives was nice. A majority of the city council members are women. I think he said they were members of the Feminist Party. Need to,check on this. Perhaps this is why the city is so liveable. The “Golden” room was a bit over the top but interesting. The woman who represents Sweden was glorious in same was as Athena is to Athens
Made it to the canal boat tour. Rode by plenty of kayaks and people relaxing. People fishing in the clean waters was really impressive. Usually harbors have their collections of trash. None in Sweden. The little wooden pleasure boats were a delight. We even passed by where Alfred Nobel figured out how to make dynamite. Luckily, his factory is still there despite some miscalculations.
We walked through a rather joyful park re joint what cousin Christina referred to as noise pollution. I wonder what she would think of Burnt? We had a lunch. I ordered a Feta salad. I did not figure on a pound of cheese. It was very good. We headed via tram to the Mansion of the art loving Prince Eugens. The German Expressionist Emile Nolde. Hitler hated him but he survived the war painting and sketching in secret. We loved the Prince’s private toilet and his belvedere walkway next to the harbor.
Next on the list was a visit to the Skansen. It is a gigantic outdoor museum and handicraft venue. We wandered around and loved the sugar coated almonds. Dave has a mission to figure out the recipe. Found a few items we couldn’t live without. Some great traditional buildings and structures. Even enjoyed the lemur cage. There something for everyone. We walked through the nearby amusement park but passed on the rides. We found the harbor ferry and were able to sit for a couple minutes.
We spent some time in the old medieval city center. We got a chance to watch the changing of the guard at the palace and enjoyed a brief shower. We managed to escape the clutches of the art dealers and antique stores. When we reached the center, there was a military band to listen to. Christine wanted Dave to do the Tango with her but he declined. It would have made a great uTube upload. We passed by the shop where Vlva and Lena had their artwork for sale. They made no big reference to it and we were in the middle of the tourists throngs. Vicki tried on a variety of Viking helmets.
We found our restaurant for the night up a three foot wide alley and around a few corners. The dinner was fine and the political discussion about immigration was interesting. The waiters even joined in with their opinions. Yes, Sweden is different. All of us travelers were floored when quiet Lena hands us original pen and ink drawings as gifts. It was an amazing gift that will soon be hanging in Columbia. There was no good way to express our thanks other than a thank you hug.