Saturday 4 July - Wednesday 8 July
Right. Where to begin. I warn you, I am in a writing mood and have decided to give you a peek into the little research I do whenever I move on, which I don't think I've done before.
I left off at telling you I would be taking a fishing lesson. That was in Tidaholm. And now I'm in Stockholm and have been here since Monday, so you can imagine I have to dig into that grey mass (which can occasionally be described as mess too) upstairs to gather all the details that may be of interest to my loyal travel blog readers.
Well, the fishing lesson was on a Saturday morning at 09.00. Quite early for a holiday-weekend day you may think, but as an aspiring fishing woman I thought it should not stop me. Little did I know that 09.00 is not early if you actually want to catch some fish. You either fish at 5-ish or in the evening, that's when the fish tend to be fooled into having their tongues pierced. But anyhow, I was complimented on the way I quite easily got the hang of throwing out the fishing line (I must admit, I was quite pleased with myself) and although we spent an hour waiting in the scorching morning heat, I was not discouraged. I asked the guide to take a picture of me at least holding the fishing rod (he said he would have loved for me to have my picture taken holding that huge fish I'd just caught and I thought "Yeah, rub it in, take the bleedin' picture" which was no good. He shouldn't take up photography as a proper career. I don't think he will though, he has the fun job of being outdoors most of the time doing what he loves the most: fishing. His next fishing holiday was to be in Malaysia. Not a bad prospect).
After that I decided to make the best of the good sunny weather and walked for about half a day through the huge and seemingly never ending forest, which is part of the nature reserve my campsite was also located in. It was very hot and I was sweating (and panting, I must admit) when I got back the campsite. Had a quiet afternoon and the next morning was as slow and lazy which is quite appropriate when you are on holiday. But then it was chop-chop and get the caravan packed up for my leave to Stockholm. I thought I'd best leave on a Sunday to avoid workweek traffic around Stockholm (good thing I did, but I will write more on that later).
Found a tiny little campsite on the outskirts of Stockholm but with an excellent subway connection to the centre. It holds, normally, about 12-14 places for caravans. After two days I feel sandwiched or sardine-canned by over 20 campervans however. (Blommelstein is tiny, you know.) A befriended campsite nearby was full and keeps on sending customers to my little site, and they don't say no to clientele, so I ended up without cooking facilities as the electricity gets knocked out every once in a while, the showers can't handle the amount of people so I took a cold shower this morning etc etc. Which, if you know in advance, doesn't have to be a bad thing. But this was supposed to be a tiny, little romantic place which was basic but fully equipped. And only after I paid for the full week did they tell me I had to move my caravan which was very conveniently parked with the tent and shades and all (thus took me an hour to manouvre it in the right spot as I could not use the car). But what can you do but obey. It has actually caused some grumpiness on my part but with me grumpiness never lasts long.
But then….Stockholm. I love this city. It somehow reminds me a little of Budapest, with the old classic buildings and the river(s) running through it. Having spent a couple of days here and after using the subway here and there as well as having my personal guide-friend Alev showing me 'round (and having me drink Mjod with two dots or in English I think it's mead, which is a fairly light and herby kind of beer), I am getting the hang of this place. I like the south district very much, which is a combination of De Pijp and Jordaan in Amsterdam (for those who know). It is host to a mix of people, slightly alternative and has a lot of second hand shops (and I'm a big fan oft those…).
I've done my bit of sightseeing this week, but the places that stand out the most (until now) are: Rosendal Trädgård and Skogkyrkogården (I'll describe this one later). The first being a huge park in the middle of a gorgeous part of town called Djurgården. It has a big greenery and lovely flower and vegetable gardens (see pics). Or as the website describes it: "Rosendal's Garden is an open garden, with the main purpose of presenting biodynamic (organic) garden cultivation to the general public." I had lunch at the restaurant on Tuesday, sitting on an outside sofa and having a view of the city (holding a glass of Chardonnay). I went back there again the next day. Now here comes the traffic story I promised to elaborate on. As it was pouring down with heavy rain, I decided to take the car to this part of the city. According to my navigator it would take about 30 mins. which I decided, was acceptable. It turned out to be a little longer but as the rains got heavier and heavier, I decided I should definitely not complain. With the umbrella keeping me fairly dry and scolding the weather keeping me from taking pictures, I ended up taking lunch at the greenhouse, slightly less luxurious than the restaurant up the hill, but very cosy nonetheless. As the rain wouldn't stop (in fact, it got worse) I decided I would go back to the campsite, read for a bit before I would meet the Alev and Maria at 19.00. It took me 2 hours and 15 minutes. Never again, no matter how cold, wet or stormy the weather will be. Managed to meet the girls at 19.30 for our treat at the Absolut Icebar, which is a bar made of….ice. You pay a 16 euro entry fee and get one 'free' cocktail served in a glass of….ice. You are made to wear silly Startrek capes (which I found to be a bit smelly too - I think my mom would refuse to wear one and definitely not wear the hood) and gloves but once you are in the bar, you know why. It's the world's first permanent ice bar where the temperature is -5°C all year round and the entire interior including the glasses, is made of 100% pure clear ice from the Torne River in Swedish Lapland. It is actually a lovely experience and Alev and Maria get to do this fun tourist stuff also because of me! We then trailed off in to the city and had tapas and red wine and acted like the three monkeys (see no evil….) which resulted in a very fun picture indeed.
Today I had a very slow start and it was hard to really wake up after a 12(!)hour sleep but the cold shower soon took care of that. I went to the Skogskyrkogården which is on the UNESCO world heritage list. It is a huge cemetery in woodland. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Now, I'm not sure if you know this, but I'm a sucker for cemeteries. I think my - to some 'weird' - interest in cemeteries got raised when I had to make a series of pictures for a 8 lesson photography course I once took. It was nothing professional but me being me, I wanted my work to be different. So when we got the assignment to make a series of black and white photographs of something typically Amsterdam, I decided not to photograph canals, famous building or the red light district. One day I was walking in my neighbourhood, crossed the bridge which connects it to the next district and came across the tiniest burial place I had ever seen. And it was beautiful. It was then that my almost fetish for graveyards has started and I can never pass one by without taking photographs. Well, that was a long introduction to Skogkyrkogården. Its history begins in the early 1900. The Stockholm cemeteries were becoming more than crowded and the City Council decided to build a new cemetery in Enskede (I mention this because there is a Dutch town called Enschede, just thought that was a funny detail). The instruction the architects for the new cemetery got was to create something that moved away from the idea of a cemetery being a "Garden of the Dead" and instead create a cemetery where the landscape would be the dominant factor, not the headstone. And they have succeeded. I was in awe of its beauty and how it had nothing of the dark, gloomy feel some cemeteries unavoidably give off. Anyone visiting Stockholm should spend at least an hour wandering about the forests, sitting on a bench and pondering on the fact that
everything, at some point, comes to an end.