Thursday, July 17, 2008

Old City Stockholm (Sweden part four)

Our hotel was on the top of a hill, right on the main shopping and restaurant street of Old Town. We set off to do some sightseeing and exploring. We wanted to see the Nobel museum, and the Palace, and the Vasa museum, and shop and eat and more. The air in Sweden is crispy clear and the sunshine is a little brighter, or so it seemed to our sleep-deprived eyeballs. Our first day was glorious: high sixties, brilliant blue sky, lovely light breeze.

We could tell right away that we were someplace else. The streets were narrow and clean. It was our second realization of how uncivilized America is. You don't see trash, litter, anywhere in Sweden. No honking horns, either. It was peaceful. But the red lights in Sweden are only red for a minute, and the traffic keeps moving.

The shops were mostly tiny storefront boutiques, although there were some larger department stores. We tried to figure out the prices, and realized that our basic unit of currency was the cup of coffee at the airport.
"Hmmmm. This shirt is five cups of coffee. That's a lot for a tee shirt, don't you think?"

We found a royal blue baseball hat with bright yellow yarn braids and Viking horns and considered getting it for our friend Carolyn who's getting chemo and is in the market for hats. But, thankfully a couple of neurons connected without the benefit of serotonin, and we decided that she might not ever wear the thing.

We boarded a ferry (for the price of four cups of coffee) which we hoped would take us to the Vasa museum. The boat. To a number, anyone who had been to Stockholm said we had to see the boat.

We got off at what we hoped was the right island and found an Airedale!

There were also English Cockers and a Parson Russell puppy, and every dog I saw made me ache for my waggle. But my brain was too sleepy (I had now been up for something like 28 hours) to focus on anything for long and we went into a little boat museum. Not the boat museum, but fun anyway.

[Crystal reads about a Royal Wedding Boat]

Then we found it. Holy Father of Neptune this boat was everything it was touted to be and more. My photos were all too dark and too close to give any sort of perspective, but here's a link to an eight photo slide show. Somewhere in the early 1600's they built a four-story warship, carved with incredible workmanship and loaded to the gills with 700 men and canons and more. Too much more, it turns out, because its much heralded maiden voyage only lasted about 1200 meters before it, well, sank. It was discovered at the bottom of the harbor 300 years later, dragged out, and a museum was built around it.
We were fascinated, and enjoyed all five levels of the museum so much that its five cups of coffee admission price was well worth the money. (We both nodded off a few times in the movie, but not due to lack of enthusiasm for the subject matter.)
We managed to get on the right ferry back to Old Town and looked for a restaurant. We found a charming Italian place (I know, I go all the way around the world and eat Italian) and the menu boasted main courses for the price of about six to eight cups of coffee, so we sat at a lovely outdoor table. This was the view:

We settled down to some people watching, and we both noticed two things
  1. Swedish people were gorgeous
  2. Everywhere we looked, there were men with babies. Without a woman in sight. Men with backpacked babies, babies in strollers, babies in buggies, babies in arms.

We put the meal on our respective credit cards, noting that the Swedes use commas, rather than periods. So, we noticed, 160 Kroner was written 160,00 rather than 160.00. We left a tip of 10,00 Kroner. Nervous, I asked our waiter if I had done that right. He blushed. "Oh, thank you so much!" Now I was more nervous, so I asked again, "Is it right, though?" He backed away, blushing, smiling, nodding, and thanking us. Crystal said, "Oh boy, we might find out we were really nice when we get that credit card statement!"

That hill we walked down from the hotel had suddenly grown much steeper on the way back. We went to the Palace (a real palace where the King and Queen of Sweden live) but were too late for the tour. It would have cost us another cup of coffee anyway. We did see the guards. They were dressed in royal blue and yellow uniforms, with ancient spiked gold helmets. And in a paradox which I found hysterical, they carried modern OOZY looking machine guns with bayonets. Like, if you had shot the OOZY, what would be left to stab with the knife on the end?

And every so often, three guards would come flying out of a Palace door and run, hell bent for leather, across the courtyard, stamping their feet, and then have a brief word with the OOZY toters, and then take off stamping and scampering back into the Palace. Crystal and I found this behavior ever so entertaining, and just stood slack jawed in the center of the courtyard for a long enough time that the OOZY bearers started looking at us with Secret Service eyes and we thought we better mozey on along.

The hill back to the hotel had now taken on Everestine proportions, but we made it, and climbed the three flights of steps rather than brave the scary little elevator again. "We should stay up until at least eight," we agreed. I emailed Lisa to tell her we had made it, and received an instant hooray reply, with instructions to be ready at the front of the hotel at six-thirty in the morning. She had kindly volunteered to pick us up in downtown Stockholm and drive us to the World Dog Show, to save us having to figure out how to get there on mass transit. I emailed Bill, and Crystal's friend who would call Crystal's non-computer hubby, and let them know we were safely arrived.

"I think I'll take a shower before bed," I said. It was six-thirty and we needed to stay awake for another hour and a half. Crystal was lying on her bed. "Mmmmph." Oh, forget it. I sank into the clouds of soft white bedding on my little twin bed, and the next thing I knew...

to be continued...

hug your hounds


  1. I'm so enjoying reading about your journey. Keep it up and thanks! :)

  2. how lovely - i too measure prices in units like cups of coffee, or tea, r indeed glasses of wine...

  3. This ismost as good as being there myself, and saves me a ton of cups of coffee!

    Small correction - the terrier in the photo is an *Irish* Terrier, not an Airedale (which are bigger and black and tan). Redheads rool!

    Annie & the Ragtag Horde

  4. I bet those buildings were awesome to look at. Looks like great architecture!

  5. Sweden sure is a very beautiful place! I feel as though I was there with you for the trip.


  6. I love the idea that you are pricing everything by "cups of coffee." My standard is bully sticks.


  7. We keep watching for the next installment. Thank you for taking the time to blog and share your journey! YEs, we are hugging our hound.

  8. It's great to see you and Crystal having a blast and enjoying your new surroundings. Looks like a fantastic trip full of friends, dogs, food, scenery, history, culture and more! r

  9. oh my, sounds like it is an adventure just to eat!! haha. The pictures are great, 60 is a little chilly for me though!!!

    We posted about our collars today!

  10. what an interesting place. i love it that it is so clean - why are we such pigs here?

  11. Ooh it all sounds so wonderful, makes me wish you'd had more time here when you came to England. Can't wait for the next installment.

  12. I can't wait for the next installment! The pictures are gorgeous. Keep them coming! I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip.

  13. Now I want to go to Sweden!I love the way you measure in "cups of coffee"...and notice the dogs wherever you go.

    I could be standing next the Eiffel Tower for the first time and go, "oh look at that beautiful Poodle!" How could anything compare I ask?:)

  14. Looks like you had a great tour! And I see that the Irish terrier pretending to be an Airedale have been corrected. LOL.. Irish terriers are much rarer to see, though, so you should be happy! I grew up with both breeds. ;)



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