Stockholm Revisited

Just spent three days in Stockholm helping Marie and her two sisters clear out an apartment. They had done a lot of work previously, and after our collective work, guess what, a lot more to do.

But this was the first time I was back in Stockholm in 20 years. I never roamed the suburbs and didn’t this time. It was amazing that the city center was quite familiar and, within broad strokes, easy to navigate. Perhaps only an American would find this notable. The major landmarks have been around centuries and the island structure dates to the ice-age. How much change could happen in 20 years?

While Valdemarsvik reminds me of the San Juan Islands, including parts of Whatcom County, Stockholm looks very similar to Vancouver BC, but with a lot more water and bridges, and wider lanes for cars, except for the interior of Gamla Stan, the “old city”.

Traffic is brisk and potentially deadly. Friend of a friend of a sister-in-law was killed recently crossing the road. Don’t know if it was in a marked crosswalk. But the reputation of Swedes for being polite and deferential — generally, they make Canadians seem crass and overbearing! – well, forget that in Stockholm traffic. Come to think of it, that is exactly like Vancouver. Buses, bikes, and scooters galore share the roads. There is an updated retro version of the Vespa that is very, very cool. I’m sure it must cost a bundle – RMS Retro.

I did notice a few trivial changes. 20 years ago McKie-Ds was fairly new. Now McDonalds is everywhere and some open 24 hrs. – Alltid Ӧppet. But BK had not arrived. ‘Tis here now. Best Buy is in the suburbs (somewhere) and Office Depot is another American brand to arrive.

This brings me to a point of personal tragedy. I left behind — because of my own poor behavior and stupidity, the details of which will not be publicly recounted by me, but I’m sure Anastasia will dish the dirt if you know her – all my favorite pens, including my Cross pen/pencil set. You can get a box of 12 PaperMate gel pens for 12.95 at Office Depot in Bellingham. It is five bucks a pen – actually a bit more, and that was before the dollar took a dive – in Stockholm and even online in this country. It is $100 to replace the pen from my pencil and pen set! Those that know me well know I am attracted to office supplies like a druggie is to Crack or Meth. This must be the evil underbelly of socialism that American conservatives and libertarians fear!

Here are some pics of clearing the apartment, the streets, construction cranes everywhere, and city hall – it is Nobel award season and city hall hosts the awards banquet. The literature Nobel appears to be the big local news — medicine, science, and economics – U Chicago, Berkley, and Harvard can worry about those. And there’s a pic of Spock, the cat.

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