Browsing "Miscellaneous"
Dec 7, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Supper out tonight

We went to a restaurant near Gamla stan tonight. It was recommended by someone at work who apparently likes lots of whiskey! They had lots of whiskey; I think six or seven pages of whiskey.

We didn’t arrive there until about 8 PM. I was starving after working so late. I ended up ordering some mussels and they were fantastic. Time to go to bed as I have to get up early to go to the largest IKEA in the world

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Dec 6, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Snow and other observations

The last 24 hours or so has seen a lot of snow being dropped here in Stockholm. With this snowfall they closed the schools at 1pm and then also shut down the buses on the street at 3pm. Arlanda airport also essentially shut down as only 3-4 planes landed and nothing took off. This is abnormal for this time of year to get so much snow but based on the news, Europe is getting hammered right now and we are seeing part of that here in Sweden.

It’s quite mild here today as it is hovering around zero Celsius but it’s supposed to get cold again by tonight. That’s ok with me as the snow makes everything so much brighter with the limited sunlight.

So, looking at how things are done here with snowfall made me think …. what do we do right and wrong in Canada? Here goes:

1. Snow Removal

In Ottawa, at any hint of snow we send out salt trucks, snow plows, the army and a food drive just to get back to the pavement so the dog walkers and other people don’t slip . In Sweden, they don’t salt the sidewalks and let the snow trample down and subsequently they drop gravel on top so that you have some grip. In my mind that is a waste of money and people can adapt to this while saving money. (Especially my $8K tax bill!!)

Verdict: Sweden

2. Bathrooms

North America has an approach with public bathrooms whether in a mall/business or an office tower. One big room each for males and females. Here in Sweden, they only have private bathrooms about the size of a closet. I can now say after 5 weeks I prefer the private bathrooms. The privacy obviously is the winner here although you are at the mercy of what the previous person leaves for you but I haven’t seen any of those problems.

Locks on the bathrooms are interesting as well. To lock the door, you push the handle up towards the ceiling which causes the outside lock panel to turn red which indicates it is in use. A neat little system.

The only problem I see is that in the city centre you have to pay to use these stalls which sucks. Equivalent of $1 CAD. :-(

Verdict: A tie. The problem of paying is overwhelming.

3. Transit

I am not even going to write much on this one as it is so lopsided. From digital signs on buses, bus stops, subway trains to on-time arrivals destroys anything in Canada. We are completely backwards with our approach to transit in Canada because of the dominance of the car culture. In Europe they love their cars but they love efficiency more and thus transit is given such a boost here.

Verdict: Sweden in a landslide.

Well, rant over. Need to go to bed early tonight.

Cya!

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Dec 2, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Weekend Fun

I did quite a bit this weekend ranging from an archipelago tour out towards Vaxholm on Saturday and then walking around Stockholm again today.

I woke up pretty early today to try to get my butt in gear as the weekends are dwindling down and I want to make sure I see everything. I had a great long talk with my parents last night and it was good to have some conversation while I am in the apartment. It inspired me to make sure I see everything that I wanted to while I am here in Stockholm The list is as follows:

- Go out to another island in the archipelago. Vaxholm probably is my target as you can walk around the entire island in less than an hour plus it has the fortress that looks interesting. I really would like to see Visby which has a UN acknowledged world heritage site but it is pretty far away and the flights are not that conducive for a day trip. I will look into it more

- Go to the Vasa Museum. This is a must apparently. I don’t know why but on this trip I have been avoiding museums for the most part as I have enjoyed walking around so much more.

- Make sure I go to the Royal Castle here in Stockholm. There is a lot to see there and I need to make sure I get in there before I leave. (UPDATE … I went today and boy am I glad I did!)

- Go to another bandy game. Why not? I really enjoyed it!

- Go to a hockey game. I have been planning for this but never got around to it. I have two more chances before I leave. I think in a couple of Sunday’s is when I will go. (A 4pm game which is a good time.)

- Go to the largest Ikea in the world. I think it is more of a t-bana trip then anything. Go and take a picture, have a cheap lunch and then come back. :-) Let’s face it, I don’t like shopping THAT much!

- Go see more of Lake Malaren. There are some Royal residences I wouldn’t mind seeing.

- Possibly go to Ricky Gervais. My ambivalence is now going to cost me $100 for a ticket when I could have booked something for half that about 3 weeks ago. :-)

So back to my day today. I went to a Christmas craft show (don’t ask me why … I felt inspired but more to the fact I wanted to go somewhere different in the city) out in Telefon in Stockholm. It’s a university area and the show was broadcast on the visitstockholm.com website that I monitor. To be honest, it was a waste of time. It was fun to see what people were creating at this design school but it was awful in terms of what I was looking for. I didn’t buy a thing and used the warmth of the building to plan my next stop. I decided I would go look around some other parts of the city centre and made off towards Gamla Stan. (where I take tons of pictures I know!)

It was pretty cold today with the wind and the temperature (I think it was supposed to be a high of -7 today with a wind chill) so I thought I would finally go to the Royal Palace on Gamla Stan. The day was really sunny due to the cold which is pretty rare here in Stockholm. I bought my ticket which was about $20 CAD (140 SEK) and it was reasonable. I could go see the Treasury, the Royal Apartments, the Tre Kronor museum and an exhibit of the one of the royal family’s christening ceremony. (one of the children of the Crown Princess was born this year).

I went to the Treasury which was deep down inside the Palace. The palace was built in the 1760′s I believe and it was rebuilt from scratch after the original palace burned down. When they rebuilt the palace, they based it upon the French palaces (like Versailles) and it shows. Anyway, the treasury was very cool but I was not allowed to take pictures. I asked one of the guards later in the palace why that was the case and apparently people were taking videos of the palace and selling them online. The palace didn’t like that idea so they restrict photographs. It sucks as in the treasury there was the real Crown regalia they use for ceremonies. Interestingly they do not wear the crowns etc during the ceremony as it is now considered too religious for the nation. The last time they were used was in the early 1900′s if I remember correctly. Anyway, really neat stuff and very expensive! There were two guards wandering around with us in a room the size of my basement.

I left there and went to the Royal Apartments in the middle of the palace. There was hardly anyone there on this day which turned out to be great. I chatted it up with one of the guards/guides and asked a lot of questions and it turns out she was a student from Upsalla and was very interested in talking history. She also told me she was bored as well and didn’t mind answering my silly questions. The apartments are still used today for heads of state when they visit Sweden on an official visit. I really lucked out as a lot of the rooms and halls were going to be closed down for most of this month due to all of the official events going on. For example, the Nobel Prize dinner is Tuesday and they shut down a lot of the best rooms because of the events. (There are also lots of head of states coming this month plus Xmas events so time is tight.) One of the rooms is the Hall of Mirrors which is almost exact to Versailles. It was really cool and brought me back to my trip to Versailles. Now, I have to admit something. I actually snuck some pictures because I couldn’t resist. It ended up being a game to me as I saw there were no video surveillance cameras (that I could see) and I took pictures when the guards did their rounds and I knew their routines! I know I shouldn’t but I wanted to show you the rooms.

 

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Looking at the pictures, they aren’t the best as I had to take them as quick as possible before getting caught which sucks!!

Oh well … it was amazing and I will go back next Saturday as I didn’t get to the Tre Kronor museum in the Palace. This is where a lot of the military hardware/regalia is located and I have until next Saturday before my ticket expires.

I then went to the stores again after a quick lunch and returned a sweater I bought. I called Barbie at the free wi-fi and had a quick chat before heading home. I have just been relaxing all night and of course decided to update this blog before going to bed and now it’s late. :-)

One last thing. I called Carter at his hockey tournament and I was SO happy to chat with him! He assisted on the winning goal in the semi-final game after defeating the opponents who hadn’t lost yet in the tournament!! They are off to the finals and were chilling out at East Side Marios with Nanny and Poppy. I FaceTimed with him and I was sure excited to talk with him. For those that don’t know, Carter really misses me (and I miss him so much as well!) and can’t talk very long without starting to cry. We had a fairly long chat by his standards and I felt really happy!!

Well … should go to bed. It’s a big day tomorrow as I am attempting to change Sweden in 4 weeks and on the 5th week I decided to go for it!

Night!!

Nov 28, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Cruising along

Days seem to fly by here during the week. It’s mostly due to the fact that work is insanely busy and I honestly come home around 6:30 most days. Work is a simple 5 minute walk to the apartment which is part of the problem. If I had to hop on the metro every day it would be a different approach.

I am slowly getting sick of my routine of waking up at 6:55 (thank you alarm), having a shower, eating my cereal (two bowls every day as I am starving all the time … blame my tapeworm), watching Discovery channel (seems to be the only interesting thing on) program and in this case Dirty Jobs is on starting at 7:15 am. I then meet my colleague downstairs at 8 am exactly and then walk to work. It’s beginning to be too routine. I am on the back-end of the trip with 3.5 weeks to go so I should just enjoy it I guess.

Funny story to leave you for today. When I was coming back from the city centre in Stockholm on Sunday (I didn’t post as I was tired) in the train, I smelled some earthly products all of a sudden. Now, on a subway you see lots of things. For example, right before getting on my last train I saw a guy with a fridge on a dolly. Something you wouldn’t expect but that is what I saw. Anyway ….

I looked up and saw these two guys with pieces of sod on top of some orange/pink slabs. I assumed they were coming back from university or something like that and just chalked it up to one of those strange things you see on a train.

Well, later that night I was watching the news (ok, I look at the pictures and try and pick up words in Swedish) and saw that the old AIK football stadium (soccer for you North Americans) was being torn down and people were allowed to take things for 2-3 hours on Sunday before demolition. So it suddenly dawned on me that these guys had cut up some sod from the football stadium and the slabs were seats from the stadium! Who would have guessed!!

Here is the picture I took surreptitiously while these guys were on the train.

 

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Nov 25, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Skeppsholmen and Djurgarden World Tour

I must admit. I shouldn’t be staying up so late. It caused me to miss my planned adventure today as I couldn’t get my rear end in gear fast enough to make a 12:00 tour down in the city. I was planning on going on an archipelago tour but missed it by about 7-8 minutes which I suppose is my own fault.

So I was standing here wondering what to do on a gloomy overcast day. Well I decided to just go somewhere I hadn’t been before so I headed east past the National Museum (which is still on my list to see). I eventually got to the island of Skeppsholmen which was an army base for one of the kings and is now an assortment of museums and a hotel. I continued walking and eventually got to the next small island called Kastellholmen. This island was a citadel overlooking the entrance of the Baltic Sea into Stockholm and over 200 years was blown up once, rebuilt, exploded again due to fire and then finally rebuilt the way it looks now.

From there I walked around and took some nice pictures of the water between the island of Kastellholmen and Djurgarden where Skansen is located.

I had planned on walking around elsewhere but there are water taxis moving around this area and my fancy transit pass paid itself off again and I scanned my way on to the bus across to Djurgarden. From the side I was on, I just saw the amusement park which is closed at this time of year. I kept walking past it and saw the entrance to Skansen. Skansen was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius to show the way of life in the different parts of Sweden before the industrial era. It’s pretty cool to be honest. All the buildings (less three) are original buildings that Hazelius dismantled and built back up on this plot of land (which is huge by the way). There are native animals to Sweden as well living in the area which was interesting. You can see below some of the pictures I took on this journey and it was a lot of fun.

One video that I took that made me laugh was a bear getting rid of an itch. He actually did his front the first time which I didn’t get (maybe for PG reasons).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N3vcEyh2GU&rel=0]

 

In the end, it worked out to be quite a good day. It sucks it gets so dark at 3pm or so but that is life in Sweden at this time of year. The best part is how the sun stays up for 18 hours in the summer I am sure so this is short-term pain.

The last picture is a shot of Sergels Torg at night which is one of the main plazas near the T-Centralen (main train station). It’s all decked out in Xmas colours and the pictures don’t do it justice. I walked around for a bit and of course saw more shops etc to see which I am planning on doing on Sunday. I am finding that the time is ticking away on my desire to see everything so I am having these long 7-9 hour days trying to soak things up.

Snow is forecast next week finally so it will be interesting to see how different everything looks when that happens.

The decision for Sunday is whether to go on the archipelago tour + hockey game or archipelago tour + shopping  + F1 race at 5pm. I think the latter will win as I can’t wait to see the F1 race and I will have at least 3 more times to go to a hockey game.

Chat later.

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