Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Logbook: Stockholm

Stockholm1The train ride from Oslo to Stockholm last Thursday was indeed very scenic, and I had an easy, enjoyable six hour journey. My friend Inga met me at the station in Stockholm and guided me on the subway and bus to her flat where we dropped my gear then hit the town. After a brisk orientation tour around part of the city, we went to dinner at her favorite local pub where, of all things, it was "Oktoberfest" night in honor of a friend of the owner who was in town from Austria. We dined on authentic Bavarian food and enjoyed traditional beer, music and dancing. Some folks were even dressed in appropriate costumes! It seemed just like the celebrations I've been to in Bavaria, except of course for the fact that I was in Sweden. Honestly folks, you can't make this stuff up.

Stockholm2For the past five days -- which Inga was kind enough to take off from her work so we would have plenty of time together -- we did a pretty thorough exploration of Stockholm and some of its environs. When the weather was good we were outside, roaming around the city and enjoying its many charms. When the weather wasn't so good, we stayed in and had long conversations or went out to enjoy authentic Swedish meals. Inga was quite impressed that I eagerly ate and enjoyed everything she ordered for me, including blood pudding which has a less than popular reputation with most visitors. All in all I found Stockholm to be a pleasant place to be, quite attractive in many ways, and relatively calm for a large city.

Stockholm3One of the highlights of our exploration was a day trip out to the "archipelago." I was completely unaware that only an hour or so by boat from downtown Stockholm there are several thousand small islands, many of which are privately owned either for seasonal or full-time use. Some of them are so tiny that they are barely big enough to build a cabin on, but some of them are large enough to accommodate several substantial houses. A variety of companies offer regular boat and ferry service to the islands, so it is an easy place to get to and an wonderful place to be. The fantasy of owning one's own private island is actually possible in the archipelago... for a price, I am sure. We docked at one of the larger island villages, had a delightful lunch then enjoyed the boat ride back. It was a perfect weather day, and I enjoyed both being on the water and the crisp fall air.

I really don't have a lot of insights to offer about Stockholm. Mostly it is a large, historic city with a distinctive Scandinavian style. It seems a little dirty and I sensed that it might not be completely safe to walk around late at night, but it is otherwise quite comfortable. Stockholm is less expensive than Oslo, but it still is not cheap by any means.

Inga is going back to work tomorrow, and I am going to be moving on. My swing through Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm has been very brief and has given me just a glimpse of Scandinavia. I could see myself coming back to enjoy the country side sometime, but for now it is time to continue The Voyage. I've been as far north as I will get for a while, so I'll be heading generally southward as autumn moves into winter. Tomorrow I'll be on my way to Gdansk, Poland.

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