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!


Elin said...

It's so much fun reading your blog about my beautiful hometown Linkoping! Im in London for the moment and I love your explanation about our three letters in the alphabet..I've been trying to find a way to explain how they're pronounced and now I have! Thank you!

Hillevi said...

Hello !
Nice to hear that you like Sweden and the snow so much. I dont like snow at all (besides on x-mas eve) =)

Its really fun to read about how people from another city and another country look upon Linköping and Sweden. I'm looking forward to reading more about your stay here.

I gave the readers in my blog the adress to yours so maybe now you'll get readers from other swedish cities as well =)

// Hillevi

Andrew E-Low said...

Hi Sean
From one foreigner in Linköping to another, even though I am still european, yes, Sweden and it's people are very particular. But who isn't? You go to France or Spain, Germany or the UK and everyone has their quirky little ways of doing things, although the Swedes do it with style. You really should check out this book by Colin Moon called "SWEDEN, The Secret Files." It's a great laugh but very true and honest. But obviously us Brits are the best at making fun of ourselves so we love it when others make fun of their own cultures too. Anyway mate, I'll see you later this week for en står stark. And keep the blog going. Looks like it's a real hit!!
And Stockholm is a fantastic place, I know. I would live there but they don't do full undergraduate courses in English and this learning Swedish. Oh I don't know.
Take care dude

Conny said...

Hello!! I read the article about your blogg in Corren and thats why Im here reading your experiences in Linköping.

Im a girl from Mexico living also here. I live in a small town near Linköping called: Åtvidaberg but I work here in Linköping.

See you soon!!



Todd said...

Sean - Yeah, yeah, yeah...Stockholm is beautiful. Can't wait to see it. There's only one thing missing from your pictures...the swedish woman. Given your "I'm a single American" article in the local paper, I'm sure this will change.

Look forward to it.

Caroline said...

You will never grow tired of the snow itself, but the various stages that it goes through between being snow and not being at all (mainly in springtime) are not nice. At. All.

Claytor said...

I know you have a better hat than the one you are wearing?

Karen said...

Hello, I read the article in Corren with interest. Although I'm very familiar with computers and messaging, I have no experience with blogging. I just wanted to inform you that I am a fellow American who has been living in Sweden 20 years now. I grew up outside of Boston, MA. I visit the U.S. quite regularly as I have my sister and my father back in the U.S. on the east coast. My sister and I have actually discussed the Swedish jante law and the effect it has on the giving of compliments. I would be happy to talk more but I don't want to give out my e-mailaddress here.

Naemi said...

How refreshing - someone who's amazed by "fika" ;) Born and raised in Sweden, fika comes as natural to us as.. well.. breathing. I hope you realize also that fika can be had any time (which puzzles me even though I'm Swedish), night or day, instead of food - so be prepared for that and act like you're not surprised at all.

maria said...

okey you are not the only one who gets excited about the first snow .. it's the best time during the whole year. but then when it starts to melt you won't love it as much trust me.. I know.

love the blog

Skhor said...

Sean - In case no one's told you, its flooding here in Western Washington - like even for Seattle, its raining pretty bad. Enjoy the snow for all of us!

Malin said...

Hi there! You can't imagine how fun it is to read your blog. Im in the oppisit sutiation, you see, Im from Linkoping and now im in seattle for at least 6 months. It's great hearing about sweden and the snow, I really miss it. Looking forward to more reading in your blog. Thanks,

Anonymous said...

Saw your article in corren, just had to check it out. Oh my god, I couldn't stop laughing!! Read all your posts and loved your way of describing Linköping and the swedes. I didn't know we were so strange ;P
never stop blogging!

hälsningar Hanna

cisly said...

Found your blog through a friend whos reading it because it so intresting, and she was right, im hooked on your blog! :)

ciao bella baksmälla from Stockholm
( good swedish sentence you have to know...:))

Snöskottning said...

Hello !
Nice to hear that you like Sweden and the snow so much.

fax to email said...

nice pictures...i love snow