You know, I had this idea that I would blog during my trip to Stockholm and Amsterdam. I even brought along my iPhone to connect to various wi-fis and to maybe capture my off-the-cuff thoughts about traveling, Scandinavia, the perplexing ubiquity of 7-Elevens in Stockholm, the akvavit, and Hell and Gore (or was it Helan går?). But it wasn’t to be. How do you say mas cerveza por favor in Swedish?
Now that I am back in ridiculously hot, sweaty, dirty, and Augusty New York City, I’ve had time to reflect on my week abroad — long enough to wish I was back in Stockholm or Amsterdam, probably because I had zero responsibilities apart from figuring out the next cafe to drink a beer in. Also it should be noted what Scandinavia calls Summer is what we call late September/early October. The temperature when Ms. K and I got off the plane at 7 am in Stockholm was a brisk 52 degrees, which was a little shock to the system after 89 degrees in New York with 80% humidity. Thankfully we packed jackets.
The day after our arrival, we were introduced to many Swedish customs while attending Beth and Nils’s wedding, which was held in a church in Södermalm followed by a boat ride to a reception held on the small island of Fjäderholmarna. Specifically, we learned that Swedish weddings are enjoyably long (11 hours! Drinking!), entertaining (many many toasts as if attending a roast instead of a wedding), and punctuated by drinking songs and shots of akvavit (More drinking!). If only all weddings could be Swedish. Skål!
Then we were onto warmer Amsterdam and to the comforts of posh hotel bed at the Grand Amrath. A vacation is only as good as the bed you sleep on, right? The rest of the time was filled with walking around between meals of Indonesian food and lager and canal boat rides. Surely I gained 10 lbs, but I am afraid to look at the scale. August is a sleepy time in Amsterdam as everywhere seems to be closed for an extended holiday including the restaurant we really wanted to try. Guess we’ll have to go back.
Someone previously commented that they were interested in knowing what I thought of the Swedes and Sweden. To answer, I thought Sweden was a lovely country, immaculately clean compared to New York, and wonderfully environmentally conscious, which translated into a no frills, utilitarian culture where nothing goes to waste. This is by no means a slam. In fact I think it’s a quality that all of us Americans could stand to emulate.
Finally, one of the most exciting things about the trip was that I saw Greenland from my window seat on the plane. Greenland! And not some tiny speck on the horizon, but the high peaks of Mount Gunnbjørn, the coast, and icebergs. Icebergs! How cool is that?