Reports from Sweden 8 - May 10, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hello People,

Part of this week essay is a photo tour which is only available on the website. Email me if you do not have access to the website.
username: Sweden
password: Stockholm
(capital letter required)

Reminder, past letters, essays and better photos are on on the website. Also there is a calender which tells you who is visiting us when, weather in Stockholm, and maps. There are also links to places mentioned in the report There is an essay at the end:The Place We Call Home

NSK Fotboll Robin's Team

Drottningholm Slott

To be a "Fotboll" parent in this city means riding the buses and subways. Practice on Thursdays are at "Stora mossen IP". An IP is a Idrottplatser which is a sports park. Stora mossen is west of city center by about 5-6 kilometers. I contains a track, two ice rinks, a scout house and three fotboll fields. There is a constant parade of different clubs coming to practice and compete here.

Friday (May 4) meant a game at our home field at Östermalms IP. There is a little practice field next to our house (200 meters away), but our "home" field, where we have home games is 2-3 kilometers away.

It was a vicious battle between Robin's team (Nortull or NSK) and Brommapojkarna. Brommapojkarna has a reputation as one of the best clubs in the city, so it was good to see NSK score the first goal. BP came back to tie the game - but it was well fought. I am putting on the website the letter from his couch, which I ran through an "automatic Swedish-English translator". One note is that the coaches' names are Per and Bjorn. Per gets translated as "Per", but Bjorn is "Bear". Some day I'll figure out the idiom which translated "Dom här tvålar vi till lätt" to "these soaps we to easy". Actually I'm sending these because this is a glowing review by the coach, and because it shows how subtle translations really are.

Billy and Kathleen arrived in town today (May 4) so we all converged at their hotel in Gamla Stan after the game that evening, and made plans for the weekend.

Saturday (May 5) we walked with Kathleen and Billy through markets, street and parks. That evening the boys went to see Spiderman III. The movies here generally come out in English - sometimes with Swedish subtitle - but not often. The rest of us took a boat from downtown across Strömmen and east of Stockholm to Nacka to the "J" restaurant. This place specializes in a yacht theme, with big windows on Stockholm harbor.

Sunday (May 6) we all were of on a again boat. We took an old steam boat to Drottningholm. It was fun watching the boat come into a landing because one of the crew would man the boiler and engine, turning valves as the captain on the bridge was ringing bells with the "telegraph". Drottningholm Slott is a seventeenth century palace. The grounds near the Slott are laid out in formal geometric patterns - like a mini Versailles. But they are too formal for a picnic. So we walked past them and picnicked near a pond full of swans, ducks and other birds. Bread, cheese, fruit, fish and cookies. we also had orange soda, mineral water and tea. It was a feast!

Toured the Slott. One room had a mural of a battle from the thirty year war. What was curious was that it was covered with little letters and at the bottom was a key and caption put there by the original artist. I also enjoyed the old library where Queen Kristina use to study science!

We then walked out to the China pavilion - a play house where the king or queen could escape when the slott was too noisy and busy. Here we had waffles at a cafe with cream and strawberry sauce.

Monday (May 7) I worked in the morning and then Kathleen, Bill, Will and I went to the Vasa Museum. Will has the day off because his classmates are in exams. You can go back and read the first report for more details about the Vasa. I still think this old ship, which spent 300 years at the bottom of Stockholm harbor, is a bit ghost-like and surreal. Afterward we went to the Botanical Gardens, getting there just as the the green houses were closing.

Tuesday evening (May 8) I cycled 20-25 kilometers through the city. I am continually amazed as to the extent of the bike network in this city. I was also interested to see how bikes and cars treat each other in traffic. If there is a bike lane, bike use it and cars never touch it.

On Wednesday Kristina and I went to a reception on the top floor of the Wenner-Gren Tower (28th floor), right next to out apartment. It was a pretty evening to see Stockholm from this elevation. Afterward we went to Gamala Stan to hear jazz with Billy and Kathleen.

Today (May 10) Kristina met Kathleen and Billy for a last boat ride to one of the islands in the harbor. Tomorrow they fly back home.


NSK at
Stora MossenIP

Ost at

Hot Dogs in
Langholmen Park

Billy and Kathleen

On the
Drottningholm Boat

Drottningholm from
the boat



The steamboat

The Place We Call Home

[Click here for Photo Tour]

I realized that I have probably spent more time in these letters describing Drottningholm Slott or the cathedral in Uppsala then in describing the place where we really do spend a lot of time. So I will tell you about our home and apartment. We live in the Wenner-Gren Center. Wenner-Gren was the founder of Electrolux and in the 1960's he agreed to support this center whose purpose is to bring scientist from throughout the world to Sweden. The center has three parts, office, conference and living area.

There are 145 apartments and people from 38 countries here (see the list on the website). I sometimes feel like we don't live in Sweden, we live in the UN. English is the official language of the complex.

The building is build as part of a helix, which is interesting from an architectural point of view but it also means that no two apartments are the same size. In addition most of our walls are not parallel!

We did get broadband partial to keep connected to home. We have also learned about "Skype" - talking into your computer. Kristina runs her group meetings in Hanover via the computer's video, and Will has even participated in a quiz bowl at Hanover High via the internet. When I come out of the shower I am careful that they may be a camera connected to viewers across the ocean.

It is a small apartment - about the size of the apartment Kristina and I had when we first were married and living in Lowell. But its size forces us to get out and enjoy the city.

Kristina and Robin go to "Cooking Class" in the common room downstairs. It is one of the major social activities of the place. One week it is curry and the next week potatoe soap, because any food it exotic to somebody from someplace.

Number of families from
different countries at
the Wenner-Gren Center

Australia 6 Belgium 1 Bulgaria 1 Brazil 1 Canada 3 China 15
Chile 1 Denmark 1 Egypt 1 England 7 Finland 7 France 9
Germany 11 Greece 2 Holland 4 Hungary 3 India 11 Iran 1
Island 1 Israel 1 Italy 8 Japan 15 Kamerun 1 Korea 1
Mexico 2 Marocco 1 Norge 1 Poland 1 Portugal 1 Romania 1
Russia 8 Saudi Arbia 1 Spain 7 Sweden 4 Switzerland 2 Turkey 1
Ukraine 1 USA 13