Sunday, November 05, 2006
Stomping Through the Snow of Stockholm
How do you improve an already excellent city? Just add snow. And a Californian who will always revert back to five years old when it starts to snow. I love the majesty of snow. I love the beauty of a fresh snowfall. I just spent the weekend in the premiere Scandinavian city during the first snowfall of the year. I can just hear my native Sweden readers saying "You just wait." Well, I spent two years in Ohio and never lost the love, so hopefully, even in the cold and dark Swedish winter, my love of snow will remain. For those of you who read last week's blog, "Autumn in Linköping," imagine my shock to find out that autumn lasts only one week in Sweden!
Stockholm. Overlooked because of climate and size in relation to other European capitals, Stockholm is quickly helping me feel right at home in Sweden. Having grown up in Los Angeles, where the city never starts, never ends and you're never quite sure where you are in relation to everything else because of the sprawl and endless concrete, I've found that well defined and accessible cities such as Stockholm help me be oriented quickly and therefore able to grasp all the city has to offer (Seattle, San Francisco and New York City among others do the same for me). Stockholm has a few major areas and neighborhoods and one often feels like they are just around the corner from the next opportunity, experience or adventure. Add to this great transportation, a clean and orderly environment, design in form and function as only the Swedes know how, water everywhere you look and all the expected European history, culture, art and architecture and you have one great Scandinavian destination. Yes, even in wintertime.
My favorite area, you ask? Well, for an American, Europe is defined as damp, cobblestone streets lined with shopkeepers, people watchers from window sills, an historical church around every corner, alleyways where extended arms can touch both walls and squares that offer pedestrians (both native and foreign), cafes, unique shops, and basement dwellings from the 14th century for that much needed fika or beer. As much as I like Östermalm, Södermalm, Kungstradgården and Djurgården, I'm just continually drawn to Gamla Stan, the Old Town of Stockholm, yes despite the tourists, whom I have yet to disdain (half of them speak my language as their first language!).
In addition to walking streets and nooks of Gamla Stan, I went to the Aquaria, Stockholm City Museum and the National Museum (art gallery), as well as spending much time in cafes and a bit of time in pubs. And I bought tickets to Handel's Messiah at Storkyrkan (Gamla Stan cathedral) for December--that, my friends, is quintessential (and probably stereotypical, as well) Europe at "Jul," Christmas.
It was such a pleasure to read all the comments posted by various Sweden-based readers this past week. You just never know if anyone's reading or caring about your blog unless they tell you and the many of you that left comments, advice, encouragement and corrections just made my week. While I would like to respond to as many of you as possible, I realized that, despite the blog, I'm not very gifted at technology and was only able to trace a couple of you to reply. Know that your comments were valued nonetheless and it's a privilege to have at least a few native Swedes occasionally checking out my blog.
Back to Linköping tomorrow where I hear that the more seasonal weather will be returning in the coming week, probably a good thing.
Hej då, Stockholm, för nu. Vi ses snart!