We are at it again: Sailing from port to port, checking countries off our to-do list ask quickly as Santa crosses bitches off of his “nice” list. You know who you are.
Stockholm was great. They, along with the rest of the region, have been experiencing an unusually cold and grey summer. Not that their summers aren’t usually on the grey side, but this year was apparently worse than usual. Luckily the sun has been following us all week.
We were pretty jet-lagged in Stockholm, but we managed to stagger around bleary-eyed anyway, doing our best to “push through”. Our standard practice is to live on local time upon landing and not take a nap. We once deviated from this plan many years ago and, after our extended nap, the jet-lag took over a week to subside instead of the usual two days.
I’m always amazed by jet-lag. On day two you realize just how bad you felt the day before. You feel really good, but when you wake up on day three you finally understand how much of a zombie you were on day two. Jet lag only seems really bad in hindsight.
When we checked-in to the Marriott, the clerk suggested an upgrade. Breakfast would be 300 kroner, but an upgrade would be 350 and included breakfast. We didn’t hesitate.
After dropping our bags in our room we walked into town. It was pride weekend, so rainbow flags were flying everywhere; on buildings, in parks, on public busses and in stores. SAS Airline had a fabulous banner proclaiming “Love is in the air!”. We even stumbled upon a group wedding of 19 couples tying the knot in city hall. They take gay pride seriously here.
My Swedish friend Bo (I’ve written about him before, he’s not only our Fire Chief, but I’m pretty sure he’s the love-child of Aunt Clara from Bewitched and Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes) was kind enough to suggest a list of places to see, plus he introduced us to his close friend, Janne, who agreed to meet us for lunch.
Janne met us at a beautiful old wooden food hall called Östermalms Saluhall. Several vendors were displaying their goods including beautiful fresh fish, produce, cured meats, jams, jellies and candy. Lots of candy. There were three restaurants, and Janne recommended the one with typical local fare. I was disappointed to learn that the Swedish Fish was void of red candy, but I ordered it anyway and it was delightful.
We shook Janne’s hand and said our goodbyes, heading towards the old section, called Gamla Stan. Janne said he was walking that way and would escort us to the entrance, just a few blocks away. He is a charming man who has known Bo for many years. I pressed him for some randy “Bo stories”, but he stayed true and revealed little.
At the entrance of the old section, we shook Janne’s hand and bid a fond farewell, after which he thought he might stroll through the old section with us. We glided through ancient streets while hordes of tourists swarmed the shoppes around us. We stopped at a small Café for a beer where the cute waiter, after telling us he was not Italian because he’s from Naples, said he needed someone to teach him Swedish. We suggested Janne, and the waiter seemed interested, but to everyone’s surprise Janne refused. I guess teaching handsome Italians his native tongue was more than he could handle, but we did make him blush! We paid the check and said our good-byes.
After a few steps, Janne said he was going in our direction and would walk with us a bit. After a few blocks, he took a left while we went right, but not after saying goodbye yet one more time. I was beginning to feel like the stewardess who gets the job of standing at the exit door saying individual goodbyes to everyone leaving the plane. But this goodbye stuck. We headed to our hotel while Janne walked on. He is a very nice and interesting man. Thank you, Bo, for the introduction.
That evening we had one goal: Dinner. It took a lot of walking to find someplace. We set-out to find the Trip Advisor recommended restaurants by the marina, but the one we preselected was closed. We checked out the other restaurants but decided against them. You know when you’re over-tired and you can’t make a decision? That was the state we were in.
We retraced our steps, hoping to find a place we noticed in the park called The Green Queen. Well, we found it. What were we thinking? This was Gay Pride and, had we thought about it, we would have realized that a restaurant called The Green Queen is gayer than Lance Bass and Perez Hilton singing Bette Midler hits and show tunes, while wearing rainbow-sparkle Bob Mackie headdresses and riding a West Hollywood Pride Parade float. After fighting through a tsunami of tight tank tops we found a table, but quickly realized it was cafeteria style. So I guess it wasn’t that gay, after all, despite the staff looking like Village People casting call rejects. We left and pressed on.
We were tired and wanted to be served in a nice, peaceful restaurant, so we hit the streets once again, finally landing in a small Mediterranean place. It was great. Calm. Friendly staff. Perfect food. Cold wine. The only drawback was the carafe of water they put on the table: George had not noticed the spout on the side, so he drenched his lap when he tried to fill his glass. We got a fit of the giggles so bad our cheeks hurt.
The next morning we went back to town and toured City Hall, which is where they hold the Nobel Prize banquet each year. The place is spectacular—I highly recommend a visit next time you’re here.
It was time to meet our ship, so we packed up and checked out. The hotel ordered a taxi, and we waited a long time for it to arrive. Two women were also waiting, so we shared the cab. We’ve since became great friends, and we’re sad when they disembarked in Copenhagen. But there were many ports between Stockholm and Copenhagen, so you’ll have to stay tuned.