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Northern Lights Trip report

Remembering Stockholm

Civic sculpture near the ferry dock - first part of Stockholm city we saw.
Civic sculpture near the ferry dock – first part of Stockholm city we saw.

Written on the train from Stockholm, more on which in another post.

Stockholm was lovely. No actual snow, although the forecast did threaten a light fall at one stage, it must have happened somewhere else. I made good use of my heavy Norona jacket, but that was about it. Normal shoes and jeans, interchanging between normal leather gloves and hands-in-pockets, depending on how much camera-holding I was doing.

We’re now rocketing along to Abisko, backwards, in our little sleeper cabin. Actually just to the Kiruna stop on the train to Navik, so we have to keep an eye on the schedule, and be ready to jump off at about 10:11 or so tomorrow morning, for the train change to Abisko. We’ve just stopped at the Uppsala Central station, but a few minutes ago we were doing 150+ km/h, according to the Garmin. The Garmin is perched on a makeshift shelf made by Cath’s handbag, where she can see the satellites, out of the window, while still being plugged into the charger. The power sockets are high up on the utility wall of the cabin, and the USB cable isn’t long enough to reach any other resting spot.

In lieu of finding the bistro car, we’ve opened the bottle of Barbera di Asti that I bought in Amsterdam. Very nice, luckily. Well, it was a really nice bottle shop, so I expected well of it. We will probably have to brave the bistro car later, after this afternoon’s superb lunch wears off. I’m in trouble for arguing against collecting chacuterie or other picknic makings while we were at the Östermalms Saluhall, where we had lunch. Another of the great European covered markets, although this one seems to be adjusting to competitive pressure from local supermarkets by going up-market and providing a number of sit-down restaurants. We managed a pair of seats at the bar of (?Elsie Johanson’s?), and shared a Jansson’s frestelse (temptation) for starters (potato gratin with sprats), then Cath had the lemon-fried sole and I had the creamy fish soup. All superb. Highly recommended. For added entertainment, the restaurant kitchen was visible as an extension of the normal fish-monger display, along the back wall.

Lunch followed a morning trip to the Vasamuseut (Vasa museum), the site of the famously salvaged 17th century royal warship that sank on its maiden voyage, quite near our hotel. Apparently late alterations had left it with too little beam and too little balast, or perhaps the second gun deck was just a bit too close to the waterline. Anyway, it sank, and then was found in the 1960s, and made it back to dry dock in the early 90s. They’ve built a first class museum around it that makes everything about it very accessible and terribly entertaining. Lots of replicas and models and dioramas to explain the pieces that you’re not allowed to touch, and of course the ship itself is sitting there in the middle of the room. There are three stories of viewing platforms, so you can see all around it and into it from all angles. Fantastic.

Yesterday we slept in, recovering from the Julbord the night before, and only made it to the Mickelsgarten in the early afternoon. Of course we forgot that if you get there at two, you’ve only got half an hour of sunlight left. On top of that it was raining and blowing quite stronly. Strong enough to keep flipping Cath’s umbrella inside out, and I had to hold onto mine with both hands (which quickly froze.) Spectacular, sort of Roman-inspired bronzes. Didn’t take any photos because of the light and the weather: I’m sure there are many on flicker or wherever. The sculpture garden wasn’t the end of the story though: the artist’s house was open for inspection of their extensive collection of sculptures, and there was an attached museum with a display of findings from a Swedish-sponsored dig at Pompeii, which was really interesting too. Apparently Mickels and his wife were keen on Pompeii, and had (re)modelled their house in that style (sort of.)

We spent Tuesday wandering around Gamla Stan, to see the royal burial church (???), which turned out not be open. Very pretty cobbled streets. The afternoon cleared up, and we walked up to the (???)-veg, a cliff-top walk that looks back over the city. Fabulous idea, given the clear air and blue sky. Most of the photos will be from that walk. That also took us to an area of small wooden houses that are apparently historically preserved, now. Originally poor people who worked in the mills lived there, on the barren unprotected rock. Now I’m sure the houses, with fenced gardens, will be quite sought-after, protected from the weather as they are by enormous blocks of council flats… Still have that view though, and easy walking access to town.

Monday was the day we arrived from Amsterdam. Already mentioned that. Also had a nice afternoon walk around Gamla Stan and surrounds. Stopped for dinner in an appealing cafe “Muggens” in (??) Godgottan(??) and then cought the bus back to the hotel.