Several (for small values of “several”) days have passed since we returned from Stockholm. With the thawing of my corporeal form (which includes the return to nominal temperatures of my forehead, ears, nose, face, , hands, knees, toes, and the bottoms of my feet [Vans are not appropriate walk-around-on-snow-and-ice shoes]) I am left with mixed impressions of Stockholm; while it is highly probable that I could be convinced to go back (most likely in a season other than winter), I’ll likely forever remember the place as a) incredibly fucking cold (-15C) and b) incredibly fucking expensive (this is 18€ dinner sandwich territory).
Flying into the city was largely uneventful, save for having to use Orly airport as opposed to Charles de Gaulle; for all of the tourist whining about how bad CDG is (hint: it’s not), at least it doesn’t look like it would be at home in one of the early seasons of Mad Men.
Our hotel, a converted barrack/plague hospital/administrative building dating to 1699, was modern, warm, and large; having lived in one of the more humid levels of hell prior to our tenure in France, I had largely forgotten about cold floors and the miracle that sub-tile heating represents when padding around barefoot in a cold climate.
We had two goals for this trip: first, we wanted to see the Vasamuseet, home to a massive, poorly-engineered ship that sat at the bottom of Stockholm harbor for 300 years before being refloated in the early 1960s and plopped into a striking, purpose-built museum in the late 1980s; our second objective involved procuring a dalahäst, a traditional toy horse, for the Purrito.
It would not be inaccurate to say that we accomplished our goals; we did indeed visit the Vasa (I feel compelled to report that we did not buy a plush rat, though they were available at the museum’s gift shop), and the Purrito came back with not one, but two dala horses.
Along the way, we
- were served food by a California-surfer-dude bartender (right on);
- rode so very many esalators. (the Stockholm métro is deep);
- froze, thawed, and froze again;
- avoided taking many pictures (this trip, by a significant margin, resulted in the smallest number of pictures taken) because taking my hands out of my pockets or pulling off my gloves was of a sufficient pain level that I simply said “screw it;”
- annoyed a group of stout seabirds who were only trying to take a nap;
- wandered into the royal palace’s gift shop, but not the palace itself;
- purchased mittens and a hat (both have reindeer!);
- wandered through the ABBA museum (yes, that is a thing);
- failed miserably at finding a suitable place to eat on the second night. We thus dined in the romantic fuorescent light of the Stockholm central train station;
- nearly fell on our asses several times due to ice in unexpected places and;
- agreed that paris would be well served by a train like the Arlanda express (180 km/h for a 20 minute ride from the airport to Stockholm central.
Thus we have two lessons learned:
- Go south for the winter, as opposed to north;
- If there is a reindeer pelt for sale, just buy the damn thing.