It was very cold and rainy during most of our time in Sweden, but how oh-so-Scandinavian! We are way up north by the 60th parallel, equivalent to Northern Canada – Chicago is at a balmy 41 Degrees North. And even in early May, they are getting 16 hours of daylight.
We took the subway to yet another Hop on, Hop Off bus, then walked around the old merchant town from the 1600’s. We also saw the Swedish Palace where the current King and Queen reside and work (it is reported to be the largest in the world with over 600 rooms) and even went to the Alfred Nobel Museum.
Stockholm is a coastal city and contains 14 islands. It is the capital of Sweden with around a million people in the city and two million in the metro area. It was, and still is, the cultural, financial, trading and shipping capital as well. As expected, it is a very clean and polite city with surprisingly many immigrants from the Middle East and Africa – all speaking perfect Swedish. It is a requirement if you are allowed to stay and enjoy the free medical and educational system.
Sweden itself has been in a Frenemy relationship (sometimes partnered, sometimes at war) with both Norway and Denmark for over 1,000 years, but Sweden itself was neutral in both World Wars and has enjoyed peace-time now for over 200 years. They are very proud of their Nordic Gods and Viking heritage and because of this were pretty late converts to Christianity; first Roman, then Lutheran.
The Nobel Museum was very well done and our English-language tour had one of the best guides to date. He was informative, entertaining and a great public speaker. We were really engaged for almost 90-minutes. It is a fascinating story as in today’s dollars, Nobel would have been a multi-billionaire with no heirs. As many know, he created the modern Dynamite stick and patented it – and it was in very high demand for many years across the globe; and not weaponized, but primarily used for blasting mountains during the global “explosion” (pun intended) in railroad construction. Near his death, he directed his estate to create a foundation that would give recognition and cash awards to leading developments in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace. Economics was added in the 1968.
Overall we had a great time in Stockholm. Even though out best laid plans were again "not quite" fulfilled; Ben wanted to see the Swedish tech-corridor (which has Mojang, developers of his beloved Minecraft), Mom wanted a Swedish Massage, and I, meatballs (or to talk to a Swedish Stewardess – HA! Remember those jokes on Johnny Carson in the 70’s ?!?). We didn’t see or experience any of those – but what we got was a great houseboat, brisk and refreshing Scandinavian weather, and a friendly city that could not have treated us better!
P.S. Off to Germany, Italy, Spain and France!