The meat in our three week family sandwich, weekend No. 2 saw the arrival of my brother and sister, Roisin and Kyle for a weekend of high-Stockholm shaped-jinks.
The weekend was unique in one further way in that the sun decided for the first time this year to not only dust off its hat but throw on some suntan lotion, ray-bans and board shorts. It’s hard to really articulate what a different city Stockholm is in the sunshine. It really comes to life as Stockholmers crawl, bleary eyed from their winter hibernation, throw on their most stylish ‘light jackets’ and collapse into the nearest café with outside seating.
The whole city was vibrant and entirely different place. To say the sun that greeted us on Saturday morning was a surprise would be an understatement, we hadn’t even thought to tell Rosh and Kyle to bring their sunglasses,
The now customary photo from the vantage point behind our flat. You may see this photo a few more times.
Anyhow, sun is out, you have visitors, what do you do? Well thankfully Roisin had the answer… a bus tour… Now only a few short years ago my own personal version of hell would probably have featured some kind of city bus tour, quite probably to campsites of historical significance and knitting museums … but I have to say it was a surprisingly excellent way to see the city.
On the Saturday night we decided to ‘hit the town’. I say hit the town, given Alex is 6 months pregnant and we’ve been out socialising a handful of times, we were a little apprehensive about where exactly would be the best places to go. Fortunately the part of Stockholm we live in is seen as a bit of a ‘youngsters hotspot’, so we were confident that some suitable establishments would present themselves.
That was of course after we’d taken them to everybody’s favourite restaurant, Meatballs for the People for a FREE meal… Free you say? Yes indeed. I didn’t mention this in the last blog but the service last weekend was so bad that I wrote a letter of complaint to the manager. Now I want to be clear I never complain about service. Having worked various rubbish part time jobs in my time, I know how mind numbingly boring and soul destroying those types of jobs can be, but last Saturday was so bad, it was funny. Anyway within 24 hours of sending an email we’d be invited for a free meal (what we didn’t know till the end was the booze was free as well… lucky, LUCKY people).
The reason for telling you this, aside from defending the good name of MFTP, is that it illustrates what I imagine is a common occurrence amongst siblings. Namely that when together, no matter how old you are, everyone reverts back to type. In our case, this inevitable involves me and Roisin encouraging – if it wasn’t family you might call it bullying – Kyle into doing things ‘for a laugh’.
For example, here he is celebrating arriving at Meatballs for the People because we said it would be funny if he jumped on their deliver bike and pulled a face,
“Isn’t it funny how someone could think the ‘Spirit Museum’ isn’t a museum about the kind of spirits you drink, but the kind of spirits that haunt houses? Umm, I wonder if Kyle will go and stand next to that entrance sign looking scared?”
“Hey Kyle, see how they are clearly filming something up there, why don’t you walk straight through their shot like you are an extra?”
And so on and so forth.
As I say, it’s not bullying when its family and he’s in his mid-twenties…
So anyhow, Saturday night we went to the bar in the very swanky hotel (do people still say ‘swanky’?) in the square just down from our flat, Hotel Rivel (http://english.rival.se/?lid=2). The hotel is owned by former ABBA Benny Andersson and is exactly as you’d expect. It’s so swanky (no, I don’t think they do) in fact that I had to disguise myself as a plant just to get in,
Sunday we were up and out early… sorry, this is a weekend involving Kyle ’10 more minutes, I’ll get up I promise’ Hynes, so by early I mean Midday to catch one of the ferry’s to visit arguably Stockholm’s most famous tourist attraction the Vasa Museum, http://www.vasamuseet.se/en/. Out of respect for the ‘Vasa’ and the ferry crossing I decided to dress like the captain of the Titanic*,
For those of you unaware of what the ‘Vasa’ is and therefore what the hell I’m going on about, let me explain. The Vasa is a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. On the 10th August during its maiden voyage, it sank… No really, it got about 1,000 mts and sank… It was literally upright in the water for 13 minutes… It was up, it was down…
No whereas most people might think, ‘yea, that’s a bit embarrassing, shall we just behead a few of the guys responsible and kind of forget the whole thing ever happened’? The Swedish decided to raise it in 1960’s a build a great big museum around it – man you’ve got to love the Swedes.
I’m being a little dismissive here, it is spectacular. I haven’t done this so far but here are some photos from the internet as my Iphone 3 (yes, feel free to insert your own gag of choice) wasn’t quite up to the task,
It’s breath taking and just an incredible achievement… 96% of the ship is the ORIGINAL timber. They spent 17 years JUST SPRAYING IT with a special resin to remove the moister in the wood…and on and on. Not so impressive unfortunately was the tour guide who interestingly bore a similar resemblance to the waiter in Meatballs for the People last week… Coincidence? Why not make up your own mind….
Q: “So how come it sank?”
A: “No one is really sure”
Q: “How come there is a giant Lion carving on the bow?”
A: “Well, you know it was quite popular at the time”
Q: “If Sweden was at war with landlocked Poland at the time why did they need to build one of the largest war ships ever made up until that point?”
A: “That’s a good question, let me just say there was a lot of wars going on at the time”
Question: “Wheres the toilets?”
Answer: “I think there near the entrance, let me check…”
Didn’t see him again.
Regardless I’d say it’s easily the most impressive thing I’ve seen since I moved here and well worth a visit.
It’s at this point I have an uncomfortable truth to share with you dear reader. Much like that lad in The Wire, everyone has to have ‘a code’ and mine is to be completely truthful in this blog. Well a short walk down from the Vasa museum is the ABBA museum, only me and Kyle didn’t go. Instead we went to an Irish pub round the corner to watch the Manchester Derby,
Now Alex and Roisin did go and had a really good time but I obviously can’t pretend I went and tell you what it was like. Now I’ve given both of them the opportunity to write about their experience here but they have declined, so I won’t say any more about it. ‘Will I ever visit the ABBA museum?’ I hear you desperately cry! Well who can say? But I shall NEVER attempt to pull the wool over your eyes dear reader, that’s just not the name of the game.
Derby was good mind.
So to Monday and a fond farewell. After getting the ‘tri-weekend’ beer tasting result ratings in – as usual, left to right – beer on the end was a complete disaster,
I had the very sad job of taking them to the train station to catch the express back to the airport. But not after two final short stops. Firstly, what trip would be complete without the obligatory ‘awkwardly stood outside Muggen (d) while Fraser faffs about with his old camera phone and people stare at us wondering why we are being photographed outside a coffee shop’ shot,
But really there was only one way to round of the weekend. That’s right, with trip down to the recycling bins at the top of the road. Let it never be said we don’t know how to show people a good time!
Till next week and tales of the visit of Brendadio and Diredre… God help Stockholm…
Fraser ‘I know my hair is too long it’s for a gag’ Hynes
*Special thanks to Jon Barker for providing that gag via facebook.
Has settled down again after a frantic growth spurt last week…. seems far too active for my liking and I suspect we have one of those kids who like to go off exploring in giant supermarkets giving you a heart-attack in the process… I’m definitely going to review my child GPS tagging idea…
Picture of week
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been after this picture. Apparently having dog walkers is a big thing in Sweden and I saw this lot pounding the streets my first week here but didn’t get the shot in time… Week later they go past Coffice and I couldn’t get my phone out in time… Two weeks ago they pass me in the street and for the first time in years I’d left my phone at home… But finally, I got them… And yes, for those who know me and my relationship with dogs you will know this would also feature prominently in the personal hell I described above,
Track of the week
To the people who put the Vasa back together, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Ship Song
Till next time,