It had hardly started before it was over – the summer holiday of 2007, but I can hardly complain, having had two years off AND being able to spend nine very pleasant days in the Scandinavian capital of Stockholm. Having said earlier that it would not be a place I would ever fall in love with, I must admit to having a growing appreciation of the city, especially as during the last couple of days we got to see more of the city, on the islands just outside the centre and so on.
Of course, with two weekends full of sunshine and colour, with the Tall Ships Race and Stockholm Pride, I am sure we were seeing the city at its most lively and at its best. Good timing.
The waterfronts are lined with impressive Baltic style buildings, mostly large but well proportioned, often faced with neo-classical details such as sculpted faces and animals and so on. Stockholm is built on hard rock, unlike Amsterdam which is built on sand. There are rocky outcrops everywhere and going into the underground is like entering a land of dwarves with high chambers of bare grey rock, through which the trains speed through at regular interval. Our station at Solna Centrum was painted a Christmassy red and green, with paintings of pine trees, tractors, logging mills, mines and so on. Industrial romanticism maybe?
The Parade was wonderful and we met up with some friends at the park where the Patrade was due to start, affording many opportunities to take all sorts of photos of the participants as well as onlookers, from 8 months to eight years. The floats were a mixture of commercial and political and sporty and social, obviously the more commercial the louder the music blearing out. A good mixture of young, middle aged and old as well as a mix ofen and women and those in between. It was eventually a hot sunny afternoon and fortunately we were spared the sight of too many scantily clad bodies.
The streets were lined four to five deep, someone telling me that the Parade was the most exciting thing to happen on the streets of Stockholm from one year to the next.
At the end, Fred and I went to an Iraqi restaurant for a massive yet very tasty kebab/shoarma. Very delicious and more than one could eat, for less than eight euros, after which the evening finished rather earlier than had been planned. I was tired after being on my feet for three days, dancing til very late the previous evening and a fourth day at Pride Park, with a now coolish wind, was more than I could really take. Fred too, so we went across to our bar for a couple of last beers and a chance to say goodbye to the few people we had got to know there before catching an early-ish train home.
The colour had disappeared from Stockholm on Sunday as it was left to the normal tourist hordes in their tourist buses going around teh main sites, as we went for a last walk around town, taking in a couple more of the islands, our eye on the clock to make sure we would be at the airport of time (well, Fred's eye). We'd had our fill of the city for now and it was time to go back, ready for work on Monday morning.
It felt really good going to work today, as I really ahd the idea that I had had a nice summer holiday, coming back refreshed and fired up for some hard work in the coming weeks. And, no doubt, there will be reasons enough to return to Stockholm and probably sooner rather than later as I have to help find a new colleague...
Just a quick word of thanks to Walter for encouraging us to go to Stockholm in the first place and also for giving us tips about where to go. Bedankt, Walter en tot gauw.