Dec 8, 2012 - Miscellaneous    No Comments

Change of plan

No, I have not been asked to stay longer. :-)

It’s sunny out today so instead of being a capitalist (going to Ikea), I am off to Drottingholm Palace which is one of many Royal palaces here in Sweden. It’s where the Royals actually live and it’s a UNESCO world heritage site so it’s a must see.

Plan is to go here for a couple of hours and then go to some other places I haven’t seen along the way. I am going to go to the Ericsson Globe and buy some tickets for a hockey game tomorrow and I think I am going to splurge on a Ricky Gervais ticket. Not cheap but once in a lifetime chance.

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



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.




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 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.






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!


Dec 1, 2012 - Events    No Comments

Archipelago Bound

I am off on an archipelago tour today. It’s packed with snow everywhere so I am looking forward to it. I need something different to do so this should fit the bill. Pictures to follow.

Here is one from yesterday near work.