Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More on Stockholm

Stockholm has really been the highlight of our trip so far. The weather was very sunny with a cool breeze. Stockholm is built on a bunch of islands, so there are bridges, canals and boats everywhere. When the sun comes out, the whole city sparkles.

It has been 6 years (!) since I did my field research in Stockholm, but all the places I liked to visit in 2001 are still where I remembered them being. My favorite places in Stockholm are the marketplace at Östermalmstorg, the Vasa museum, and the open-air museum (Skansen).

The market at Östermalmstorg has all kinds of food. The fish counters were amazingly well stocked with all kinds of marinated herring, shrimp, octopus, huge salmon and other fish I couldn't identify. The cheese counters are pretty impressive, too. I love all the colors and smells at the market.

As Greg described earlier, the Vasa museum presents a warship that sank in 1620. There were too many canons on the boat and not enough ballast in the bottom, so it tipped over and sank before it even got out of Stockholm's harbor. So much for projecting power in Europe. The museum is built around the warship, so it's possible to look at it from many different vantage points. My favorite part of the museum is not actually the warship, but the parts that describe life in 1620s Sweden. This was shortly after Sweden became a Protestant country and during the time when Sweden dominated Finland and was competing with Denmark for dominance in Northern Europe.

Skansen claims to be the first ever open-air museum. It's a big nature park dotted with old houses from around Sweden. During regular business hours, the houses are opened and staffed with historians reenacting life in the place and time that the house would have been used. When Greg and I visited we saw a woman knitting a sweater based on a pattern from the 1920s. It was very colorful and thick with a complicated pattern.

Skansen also has a zoo with nordic animals -- my favorite are the reindeer, but they also have bears, wolves, otters, and seals. When I went there in 2001 it was the day of summer solstice and they had people in traditional costumes dancing around the maypole.

Skansen is on a hill, so it has great views of the Stockholm skyline.

Here's a reindeer.

This specimen is double-salt licorice. It's a very popular kind of candy in Sweden. Most Americans have difficulty eating it because the taste is very strong. Imagine being bludgeoned in the head with a brick of salt and black licorice sticks. In our experience, it induced nausea that lasted for hours. I guess we shouldn't have eaten it on a high-speed train.

I thought this advertisement was interesting. Who names their blue jeans company after acne? Did they mean acme? Does acne mean something else in Swedish? The mystery continues.

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