August 2019. I think I could live in Stockholm. Not year-round, but definitely for a summer. If possible, I’d like to be here for the summer solstice some year. Are you in?
I’m not even sure why I say this; maybe because it reminds me of Wisconsin – in fall. Here it is, the very beginning of August, and there are leaves on the ground already. The air is crisp and clean. It’s clear that the residents consider this summer. They are in shorts while I’m bundled up. One early evening as the temperature dropped, I was wearing a sweatshirt, rain jacket, big scarf and gloves; at the same moment, the locals didn’t seem to mind the chill in the air at all.
It’s a vibrant city, growing, with lots of construction cranes in the air. The architecture is a nice mix of old and new. The city covers 14 islands, so we see water everywhere. People seemed happy and hopeful and relaxed. They look me in the eye and smile.
There are parks everywhere including one on either side of our flat. And the parks are full, with people playing boule, a game where opponents throw or roll a heavy ball as close to a target as possible. In one park on an early Friday evening, there were so many boule teams playing on the crushed gravel walkways that people who were just passing through had to walk on the grass. Of course it was still light out at 8:30 pm. Locals also gather on the grass to eat picnics late in the evening.
The food was great everywhere we went. I think my favorite restaurant was a place called Meatballs for the People. Basically it was meatballs, meatballs and more meatballs, but such a variety: beef, beef and pork, veal, moose, wild boar, and vegetarian. We ordered the moose and the beef. I asked if they had any vegetables and the waiter looked at me a bit confused. “There are pickled cucumbers and lingonberries on the plate.” Very reminiscent of my Czech upbringing with pickles considered a vegetable.
And I got my fill of really good black licorice (lakrit): licorice ice cream, licorice cream inside of chocolate squares, salted licorice; it was everywhere. The next place we go is Finland where they eat tar ice cream. As a representative of the Dairy State, I’ll be checking that out.
But Stockholm’s appeal is more than all that. There’s an atmosphere of inclusion that I’m enjoying. The Vasa Museum integrated an exhibit about the role of women in Sweden’s history of boat building. We also happened to be here during their Pride Fest, called Rainbow Weekend. Pride flags flew everywhere, including buildings, buses, street cars and statues. The population is somewhat diverse, though not as diverse as London. And I loved the fact that the Swedes are so tall. I almost felt small while among them.
Finally, there is SO much to do and see in Stockholm. They have so many museums and we barely scratched the surface. I can highly recommend the Vasa Museum. In 1628, on its maiden voyage, the King’s warship, the Vasa, newly built to support the King’s war against Poland, sunk in 30 meters of water soon after it blasted the 64 canons on board. The boat was top heavy (the guns) and tipped, allowing water into the gun ports. It sank almost immediately, where it was preserved in the brackish water. In 1961, it was raised, nearly intact. They sprayed polyethylene glycol on it for 17 years to replace all the water in the structure of the wood. It stands four stories tall – impossible to capture in an image that really shows the scale. A model displayed how it would have been painted and gold gilded on the many statues.
But this museum is only one of 53 in Stockholm! There’s so much more to see and do. So yes, I’ll be coming back here someday.
For other essays about my summer 2019 Europe trip see:
If you like this essay, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book, Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.