Reports from Sweden 9 - May 22, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hello People,

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.
username: Sweden
password: Stockholm
(capital letter required)

There is an essay at the end:"On Your Toes" and Cafes in the Park

On Saturday (May 12) Robin had a hard fought fotboll game at Östermalm IP. Kristina and I went to the Medieval Festival on Riddarholmen, but the big news is that Will performed at an open mic at "Stumpen". I know he was very nervous and said he was shaking (see his blog for details), but I know that I personally would have been petrified with fear. I'm very proud of him.

Sunday (May 13) I took a long bike ride in the morning out west of Stockholm, past Drottningholm Slott. There are a series of island I cycled across, eventually taking a ferry to the mainland. Then worked my way home. Robin had another fotboll match today. The club he plays for (NSK - Norrtull Sports Klub) has two "94" teams and Robin was loaned to the other team. Again a hard game they lost. Today is also Mother's day. The boys gave Kristina a flowering plant, and I sent my mom an electronic card which I designed.

Monday Kristina left for a whirl-wind tour of the east coast of America. Wallops, Hanover, Easton, Maryland. She will be gone for eleven days.

As many of you may know I am working on writing a book about the size of the Universe and quarks and all sorts of things in between. This week I have been working on describing big numbers like how much sand is on a beach. So here is a problem;

      The Walrus and the Carpenter
      Were walking close at hand;
      They wept like anything to see
      Such quantities of sand:
      "If this were only cleared away,"
      They said, "it WOULD be grand!"

      "If seven maids with seven mops
      Swept it for half a year,
      Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
      "That they could get it clear?"
      "I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
      And shed a bitter tear.

	       -Lewis Carroll
	       Through the Looking-Glass

So could they get it clear? I calculated how much sand they could move if they used shovels instead of mops. The answer? 1 hectare half a meter deep, or 36 trillion grains of sand, if the sand is course. If you use Archimedes's' sand ( less then 10,000 per poppy seed) you get something like 40 quadrillion. Archimedes liked to make his numbers big. If the beach is small enough - and much of the sand has been washed away by winter storms, and they use something besides mops, they just might get it clear.

Back to Stockholm. That past Thursday (May 17) was Ascension Day, a national holiday, and so the boys had Thursday and Friday off. On Friday it was a very nice day. In the afternoon I took my writing to a cafe in Haga park and wrote and sipped coffee. Later Robin had a match and then we went to the Texas Burger Cafe for dinner and then a movie.

Saturday we were going to go to the amusement park but it was raining, so Will and Robin went to the climbing gym and I ran by their gym and then through Haga Park.

Sunday, we finally made it to the amusement park - Gröna Lund (Green Grove). This is a nice and old park - dating back nearly a century. We rode lots of roller coaster (all very modern), bumper cars and chair swings. I think I am getting too old of this. I was dizzy and had a head ache for a long time afterward. Still it was a beautiful day and nice to be next to the harbor, and well all enjoyed the rides.

Monday (May 21) Will tested for his yellow belt for Jujitsu and passed. He really does execute some very shape moves.


Bike Trip Map

Robin in Action

NSK Robin's team


Ferry boat on
the bike trip

NSK team 1

Gronna Lund

Roller Coaster Mess

Boys on the
Roller Coster

"On Your Toes" and Cafes in the Park

When I left Hanover people asked me what I was going to do in Stockholm. I would tell them that I was going to write, and "do a statistical study of all the cafes in Stockholm". Now a statistical study of all the cafes of Hanover would take a mere afternoon, but I knew that if I scaled 10,000 Hanovites to a million Stockholmers I needed at least a thousand afternoons, and that only with a lot of dedication and an unusually high tolerance for caffeine. I also think Swedes hold the cafe as a uniquely important institution, and I fear I may not succeed in the stated goal, even if I don't try to compensate for old ones closing and new ones opening all the time.

So in this essay I will confine myself to reporting upon a small sub-class of cafes - cafes in parks. Two weeks ago we were walking with Kathleen and Billy in a park when we decides it was time to get something to eat. Kathleen pointed towards the exit of the park. But Kristina and I convinced that it would be just as easy to find food in the park as outside.

Cafes are all over the place. One of the thing which many indoor cafes will have is outdoor tables and chairs with blankets! This always looks inviting, thick wool or fleece blankets, but somehow if it is cold enough for a blanket, it is also so windy that I would rather be inside.

You will notice that in my rating things either have 2 or three stars. Stars are assigned based on the ambiance of the place. The coffee is actually pretty similar across the city. One star (*) is of course the starting place - an acceptable cafe. Two stars (**) means that they is somewhere nice. All the cafes in this sub-class are in parks - therefore they have managed to win the second star. Three stars (***) means something sets them aside.

Koppertälten "Copper Tent" ** - is a curious place. When Gustav III build Haga Slott and park naturally his bodyguard needed barracks, but that particular corp had prided themselves for living the hardy life in tents and always ready to go. So the barracks were build to look like a tent. The Cafe is a bit to busy, but it has a nice location on the top of a lawn looking down on Brunnsviken Lake.

Lilla Haga "Little Haga" ** - is a nice little cottage-like building in Haga Park. I really don't know its name but think "Lilla Haga" is descriptive. I spent last Friday afternoon there writing and think that in good weather I could become a regular.

Observartorie Cafe *** - was a good find. It is high up on a hill in the heart of the city, next to the old Stockholm Observatory. Because of the hill it can be windy up there. But on days when it is not windy it is beautiful and it is quite. The problem with sidewalk cafes in the city is that they really do have a lot of street and traffic noise. Not up here.

Drottningholm Kine Cafe "Drottningholm China Cafe" *** - this cafe gets its extra star due to the waffles. Served with cream and strawberries! It also happened to be a very pleasant day.

Långholmen Cafe ** - an average hot dog stand that happened to be in the right place at the right time (see story above with Billy and Kathleen in a park).

Kungständgården / Karl XII ** - I think this is one of Kristina's favorite places. It is on a city park in the center of Stockholm. If you are to meet Kristina in downtown - this may be the place she will pick for the rendezvous.

Kungliga Borgen ** - Nicely located on a little knoll overlooking a very large field (2 km by 1/2 km), often with horses.

Stora Skuggans ** - A place where the birds clear the table for you. Stroll out of the woods and find yourself in a wide open field - with a cafe. It can be very busy on a very nice day.

Bergianska Växthus *** - Okay, so really this cafe is inside, but I list it as outside because it feels that way as you sit in the Mediterranean room. The word "Väx" mean "growing". Sometime these are also called "Orangery", "orange" in Swedish means the same as "orange" in English - so now figure out why a greenhouse, which is not either or orange is called an orangery.

I was writing about biological scales and so spent the afternoon once here being inspired. On the coffee pot it said "påtår", which I have seen elsewhere, so I asked the cafe attendant why. He said he didn't know but had often wondered. In this case it mean free refiles. Sometime it will say "påtår 5K", or 5 kronners for a refill. He says that it literally mean "on your toes", "på tå". Two people have told maybe the origin is "tår" which is tear. So the the origin of påtår may be closer to our "have another drop (tear)"?

Doing research is a tough job, but somebody has to go out there and drink the coffee.

Map of Cafes
in Parks

Lilli Haga Cafe

Observartorie Cafe

Långholmen Cafe

Växthus Cafe

In Search
of a Cafe