Monday, May 19, 2008

Swedish Meatballin'

I finally understand why so many Swedish immigrants to the U.S. found their home in Minnesota: Obviously, one can easily draw a parallel to the weather between the two locations (especially in wintertime), but I believe the real draw of the upper Midwest for the Swedes of old is the abundance of water (i.e. the 10,000 lakes), which must have made the new country feel just like home.

Stockholm is a grand city, and was a recent stop on our European travels. It's absolutely exquisite in its beauty. But make no mistake about it—for all of the lovely buildings, palaces, and parks, Stockholm's soul is the water that surrounds the city.

On our archipeligo boat tour, we experience the water up close and personal as we gazed over the inlets at a handful of the over 30,000 islands (150 of which are inhabited) that dot the waterways around Stockholm.An overriding impression of Stockholm is that it is a “lovely” city. I tried on other adjectives, but non seemed to fit as well. The contrasting colors of the buildings, contrasted further against the black tin/lead rooftops, is visually striking. In the oldest parts of the city, the grand castles and palaces that sit on the water's edge look out over harbors that house boats of every imaginable size and use, ranging from personal kayaks to gigantic cruise ships. In the middle of that spectrum, a large selection of fishing, pleasure, and ferry boats would titilate a fan of all things nautical. Study up on your knot tying skills and book your SAS flight now.

In addition to the archipeligo boat tour, our 4 days in Stockholm were filled with fun activities. Highlights included a tour of the Vasa Museum, which houses a huge 17th century boat that was raised from the bottom of the sea in the 1950s. It's considered the world's most well-preserved ship of its age. Junibacken, a children's museum/playhouse based on the story of Pipi Longstocking, was a fun few hours for the kids. We followed that with a visit to Skansen, a collection of old buildings, animals, an aquarium, and working farms. We saw an amazing glass-blowing demonstration here and some great views of the city. Maya, who had been studying vikings recently in school, enjoyed seeing one of the over 2500 rune stones left by vikings as memorials to a friend or family member. A short walking tour of Stockholm's old city cemented why the city is so wonderful. Winding, narrow streets lined with shops (including plenty of gelato stands) took us back in time to old Scandinavia, when tourists came onshore only on sailing ships, perhaps to trade or conduct other business.

The general cleanliness, friendliness, bright sunshine, and general Scandanavian hospitality made Stockholm, Sweden a wonderful place for us to spend a 4-day weekend.

HERE is a link to all of our pictures from Stockholm.

1 comment:

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

you all look so, so happy:)