Saturday, November 12, 2011

Claire and Stockholm

November 12th
Stockholm is a capital city built on islands connected by ferries and spanning bridges.  This provides great views in many directions.  Plus you get to see a lot of boats!

View of one island from a different island!
Note the little monkey Darwin on the rudder!
I love boats!
But the best part of Stockholm is Claire!  Claire is the daughter of some dear friends, and she is also one of my ol’ FALA students.  She is now an AFS student in Stockholm, but you would never know she isn’t Swedish herself!  I met Claire just outside the metro station in the middle of the afternoon.  It wasn’t long before it was dark though, so these pictures that look like 9 pm are mostly between 4 and 5 pm!  It was sooooo great to visit with Claire – a true highlight of our entire trip!

Claire, aka Swedish girl, in Wayne's Coffee
We walked through the newer part of town, and Claire took me to Wayne's Coffee, her favorite coffee place.  We had the best Chai Latte's I've ever had as well as a Swedish roll - not too sugary and I tasted cardamon - called a Bulle.  Who needs Starbucks when you can have Wayne's?

Then Claire took me on a tour of the Gamla Stan, old town.  We got our picture taken by St. Nicholas.  They had several trees up in the open squares, and some of the streets already had Christmas lights.

Claire and I with St. Nick
Then Claire took me to the narrowest street in all of Sweden.  It had stairs going down the hill toward the water.

Claire in the smallest street in Sweden
Claire also took me to "Castle Hill", the top of this small island, where there is a square known for the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520.  I read the wikipedia information on this historic event entrenched in Swedish and Danish history, but I can't fairly summarize it for you with my limited understanding.  I can unfortunately visualize Claire's description of the blood pouring down the streets from the top of the hill!

We walked back to the metro station so Claire could go to her Swedish family's home in the north part of Stockholm, and I headed back to the hotel.  I tried to take one last photo of the two of us!

Self-portrait of Claire and Mindy
Thanks, Claire, for the great tour - and mostly for just getting to see your smiling face!  Enjoy the rest of your year in Sweden - and don't forget to get me the recipe for Bulle!

Back to Bergen!

November 9th and 10th
Darrell, Lindsey and I lived in Bergen for 6 months in 1992 - when Lindsey was only 3 to 9 months old.  It is so wonderful to come back again!  And we had beautiful weather for our train ride from Oslo to Bergen, enjoying the lakes and glacier views as we crossed the mountains.

Jason met us at the train station and we walked to the oldest part of Bergen, known as Bryggen, which is Norwegian for wharf.  There is a row of picturesque buildings lining the fjord here, from the merchant trading center that was developed by the Hanseatic league in 1360 or so.  The city itself dates from 1070.  Most of the buildings have been rebuilt since 1702, as the wooden buildings are prone to fires, but some of the stone cellars date back to the 15th century.  It is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

"Bryggen", from Wikipedia
Jason is one of Darrell's early master's students, and is now a professor at NYU - Buffalo.  He has clearly been enjoying his sabbatical in Bergen, despite having copious rain!

My photo of a part of Bryggen, catching the last light of the day!

Houses above the city lake, catching the last light as well!
Then we walked up to the University and met Hans Petter, who hosted Darrell when he was here for his NSF-NATO post doc.  We drove to his beautiful home on one of the hills outside of Bergen, and took a walk along the lake near his house before having a delicious salmon dinner.

The next day was foggy so I spent the morning in Hans Petter and Evy’s house, catching up on e-mail and trying to book places for us to stay in Stockholm and Helsinki.  We've been trying to use "airbnb" where you can rent a room or an apartment from a person, but we struck out three times.  I guess we will just do hotels or hostels again.

Then I took the bus into town and wandered the shops and the older parts of the city.  

Bergen houses in the mist
I met Darrell, Hans Petter and Evy for dinner at a marvelous tapas restaurant that won the "Best of Bergen"in 2010.  Then we went out for coffee and a walk.  Hans Petter and Evy know the history of the town of course, so we got a great tour of the city by night.

The next day Darrell and I hiked up to Fløyen with Jason to get some great views of Bergen.  Then had a wonderful home dinner with Hans Petter and Evy before catching the night train to Oslo.  Thank you, Hans Petter, Evy and Jason for making our stay so wonderful!

Bergen view from Fløyen
Jason and Darrell
It was great being in Bergen again.  It is such a pretty city.  The tall Hanseatic buildings by the waterfront are still proud and colorful.  The tiny houses and winding cobbled alleys between them, with potted plants on the stoops, and the original gas lamps (now electrified) lighting the streets, are charming.  The Dale wool sweaters are gorgeous.  There is something about it that feels like home.