Tuesday, June 26, 2007
This has been a very busy three weeks since my last report. But then again it seems like you should know that since most of you where here. Actually we have had six visitors and ... well, let me just cut out the excuses and tell you what we have been up to.
At the beginning of the month, (June 2) Kristina and I 'discovered' the east end of Djurgården. We took the bus out there and ate at a cafe at the Thielska Galleriet and then walked along the shore and canal. This is a walk which will reappear below. It is a pleasant and quite place, half the time along the harbor, half the time next to a canal. It is hard to believe that you can be only 4-5 kilometer from downtown, yet in such a pastoral landscape.
On Sunday (June 3) we took a boat out to Fjöderholmama, an island which Kathleen and Billy discovered for us. It is part of the Djurgården park system, but populated with a little art community. There is a glass studio, blacksmith shop, wood workers, textile and clay studios. Also there is a collection of old boat in various stages of repair and decay which I enjoyed poking around. They are stored, un-monitored, in an old dusty boat shed. The whole island takes five minutes to walk around and away from the buildings are good spots for a picnic. We sat up on the rocks and watched the boats and ships going in and out of Stockholm harbor.
Wednesday (June 6) was "National Day", in which most people sit out in the sunshine in the parks and picnic. Behind our house is a little green space and the police set up a bunch of tables with food. Every few minutes a patrol car would arrive and offices would talk and eat and some would leave. Kristina finally asked what was up. "It is National Day", she was told, "the left - the right - they fight." Apparently the neo-fascist had a parade permit between Vasaparken and Vandisparken. When the parade was to start hundreds of picnickers all stood up and blocked the way. I gather that the fascist were well outnumbers by the anti-fascist. The police seem to treat this as a normal day.
Thursday Robin's school had "Haga Park" day - where they all went for a picnic in the park and some swimming.
Friday (June 8) Robin had his last day of school and my parents and Allyson (my niece) arrived to spend two weeks here. Will also didn't have school, so we all went to Gamla Stan, to try and keep them awake, to get them use to the time change. We saw the crown jewels, the Hall of State.
Saturday we were invited to the christening of Joesph, the son of Nikolay and Natala (and brother of Kristina and Stephan). I liked the way that the priest used Stephan (age 4) to ring the bell and open the doors of the church and invite people in. The service was very multi-lingual, since the parents are from Ukraine. At one point the Lords Prayer was repeated in Swedish, Ukraine, English, French and one more language I did not recognize. The friends of the family are from all over! Afterward there was an amazing lunch which Natala had prepared!
Outside, getting around was a bit tricky. Today is the Stockholm Marathon and the race route has stopped a number of the bus lines. But the subways run under the runners, so we eventually got home and had a picnic next to the lake. Tomorrow is my dad's birthday, so we had a "Princess Cake", to celebrate.
Sunday (June 10) was another sunny, hot day. Robin had his last NSK fotboll game at Gubbängen. I thought it was at Gubbängen IP, so we took the bus and subway across the city to Gubbängen IP. When we arrived there was no one there. We learned that the game was at Gubbängen Skolan, a kilometer away. We got there at about half time. NSK did not do very well. That evening the kids (Will, Robin and Allyson) went to see the movie "Ocean's 13" at Hötorget.
Monday, Will went to school and Kristina went to work and the rest of us went to Skansen. Skansen is an open air museum which is over a hundred years old. It contains a collection of buildings (mainly farms) collected from around Sweden, as well as a zoo. My folks and I stuck to the farms, where as Robin and Allyson found themselves in the monkey cage! (Actually it was lemurs.)
Tuesday, Will's last day of school. Mom, Dad, Allyson, Robin and I took the boat out to Drottningholm Slott. We picnicked on the lawn, then I lay back in the sun and grass while Mom and Dad toured the palace and Allyson and Robin raced around the formal gardens and the hedge maze. Waffles at the China Pavilion, then home.
Wednesday, I wrote and my folks wandered around Gamla Stan. Allyson and Robin were buzzing around the city looking for a superior squirt gun. These hot days are brings out the "run-around, wild, get everyone wet" kids in our apartment complex, lead by Allyson and Robin. I think Allyson is fitting in just fine!
Thursday we explored Södermalm for a while. Robin and Allyson had weird curry-cottage cheese and chicken sandwiches. We eventually wandered up to the tops of the cliffs which overlook Gamla Stan and Riddarfjärder (the east end of Lake Märleren).
Friday (June 15), my folks boarded the "Wilhelm Tham" to go on the "Göto Kanal" tour across Sweden. I hope they write up what they did so that I will know more about it myself. I found a bench in the sunshine, up against a buttress of the cathedral which was very nice and I spent the morning there writing. In the evening some of us had further squirt gun battles and the rest of us had ice cream in Vasaparken.
Saturday the boys stayed in bed while Kristina, Allyson and I went to Vaxholm by boat. It is an hour and a half weaving through the islands to Vaxholm. The archipelago always reminds us of the coast of Maine. At Vaxholm we took the shuttle ferry out to the fortress. We had settled down to a picnic when out of a dark doorway in the side of a hill a dozen people came racing - shouting and talking all at once (in Swedish). They were looking at a sheet of paper (treasure map? scavenger hunt?) and then disappeared up a spiral staircase. We encountered two other groups like this. It remains a mystery.
Sunday (June 17) Kristina and I meet Helen and Roger in Odenplan. It looked like it would rain all day, so we put together an indoor tour. We went to Gamla Stan and went into the cathedral and then a café. The rain seemed to be letting up. Kristina called Robin and Allyson. They will meet us at the Vasa museum. We took the Djurgården ferry and stopped at the båthus (boat house) museum before going on to the Vasa. The Vasa is as ghost-like as ever, a massive piece of wood sculpture for another age. It is a very modern museum building which is build frames a time-wrap portal which allows you to see a surrealistic vision from the seventieth century.
Monday, Helen and Roger are on their own and I finally got Robin's NSK uniform.
Tuesday, Bill Snyder, a friend of mine from Brockport and our best man at our wedding, arrived. He is on an around the world trip from Korea, to the US to Sweden then Turkey, then back to Korea where we teaches. My folks also arrived back from their canal tour. This evening we (Bill, Dad, Allyson, Robin and I) went to a fotboll match between DIF (Djurgården IF) and Hammarby IF. It was a good game, and we were in the middle of some wild and passionate Hammarby fans (I am glad they won). More on that match in the separate essay soon.
Wednesday all ten of us (can you name who that would be?) went to Uppsala by train and rode the Linné bus. This year Carl von Linné would be 300 years old and there are a huge number of celebrations related to that (see Linné essay in next email). We went to his formal gardens in Uppsala, then the cathedral. Even Kristina liked this cathedral. It is much brighter and airer then the one in Stockholm. We had a picnic lunch in a quad of Uppsala University near some rune stones and then went through the "Carolina Rediviva", the universities library. They had some amazing material on display including music write in Mozart's hand, the "Silver Bible" in early Medieval Gothic script, an astronomy book owned by Copernicus - with his scribbles in the margins, and a beautiful, wall size map of Scandinavia, Olaus Magnus's "Carta Marina" from 1539.
In was hot in the Botanical gardens, but soon the Linné bus picked us up and took us off to Linné's farm - Hammarby. The word "Hammarby" means a rock slope, and so there are hundreds of places in Sweden which are "Hammarby"s, not just the hometown of a certain fotboll club. At Linné's Hammarby we walked through the groves and just sat about eating ice cream in the sun and listening to Will's guitar music.
Helen and Roger caught the first bus back and headed to Stockholm. This is the last night for their epic voyage. The rest of us caught the next bus into Uppsala and had dinner along the river which flows through the center of the town.
Thursday, Bill, Mom, Dad and I took the bus to the far, east end of Djurgården and walked west. Mom and Dad birded along the way while Bill and I talked. We stopped for lunch at Rosendal Trädgårdar cafe. Bill and I had really wonderful carrot soup! My folks caught the #47 bus home and Bill and I walked on to the ferry to Gamla Stan, and then we too wandered home. We all (except Will - who was at Jujitsu) went to an India restaurant for supper (Mom says it is too much work to cook the last night they are here).
Will went to the top of the hill behind our apartment to photograph the north sky at midnight.
Friday (June 22 - Midsummer's Day), very early, Allyson, Mom and Dad headed towards the airport. Just before the bus arrived Shino, Juyan, Jennie and Taro all showed up to say farewell. These are some of the kids which Allyson and Robin play with and some of the major instigators in the water gun wars. It was a nice thing for them to do so early in the morning (Robin was still in bed).
Later Bill and I were determined to spend some time in the old town. First, however, we went to Vasaparken to watch people dancing around the Mid-summers Day pole. Then we made our way to Gamla Stan and wandered the street and cafes. A lot of places are closed because of the Mid-Summers holiday. By the end of the day Stockholm was a ghost town and you could walk down the middle of streets without worrying about traffic!
Robin was off to a barbecue at Shino's Aunts house in Kungsholm, and eventually we all were invited. It was a wonderful meal. Half Swedish, half Japanese. Lots of pickled herring which reminded me of my Grandpa Messing. Will entertained us with his guitar.
Saturday (June 23) Bill and I sat around talking and then at midday he boarded the bus and headed to the airport. He flies to Paris and then Istanbul. Now doesn't that sound exotic!
The story of course continues, but this seems like a good spot to stop. We are back down to four of us - at least for a few days.