Sunday, 24 June 2012

Stockholm day 1 (Part 2)

I am sitting in the reception of the hostel and I have just realised that the coffee tables are from Ikea (so are the curtains from the showers). By my side there is a guy from Mid-lands, Skype-ing with a loud male voice, about future plans and possibly moving to Australia. Exactly at the same time, the equivalent (physically) of Mr Miyagi has walked downstairs into the lounge and stared at us for some long 5 minutes.


Back to when I overdosed myself with sugar from the peanut and chocolate brownie from the coffee shop that was playing some (very loud) Ricky Martin from the late 90s and was served by a Swedish that could easily be 16 years old, I headed towards Djurgärden to keep exploring. The fact that it was Sunday and Midsummer Festival left me with limited options, so as my friend A advised me, I decided to explore the Vasa Museum.

On the way to the said coffee shop, I was forced to cross the Old Town, the isle in the middle, so came across the most (but really, the less) touristy place of the city which is the Royal Palace, where very strict guards were telling tourists off when stepping on the invisible lines of the military territory.
You have to do something touristy and visit the Royal Palace (just from outside).

Excuse my ignorance, but isn't this an Illuminati sign?

The promenade was deliciously pleasant. After a non-existent spring in London, this northern sunshine was actually hurting my eyes, forcing me to wear my sunglasses after months of getting dust. Gorgeous blue skies that I thought I would never have, walking through the Strandvägen.

Djurgärden hid the Vasa Museum behind the Nordiska Museet (another impressive building, by the way) and big leafy trees. There it was, a modern building containing a very old ship. And what a ship!

While waiting in the queue for the tickets, those desired blue skies turned graphite grey and started drizzling back to London-mode. It was probably the fact that I was still slightly wet and cold from the rain, the darkness and what I was seeing itself, but really, as soon as in saw the sunken ship I had shivers, goose bumps and irremediably, I found myself 20 ago watching The Goonies for the first time, on their last scene when they finally find One-eye Willie, the boat in the cave and they fight against The Fratellis (video, yay).

Regardless that The Gonnies is one of my ultimate favourite films and that the adventure itself is every kids' dream (having an Spielberg's disfunctional family is not really necessary), I must admit that the first view of the ship, in the gloomy light, and itself of being of those enormous propoertions undoubltly impressive.

Now, without trying to frivolice, the Vasa sank in 1628. One-eye Willies ship (The Goonies) was dated from 1632. It all make sense now.

As I could hear from the English free tour, the history is as interesting as intriguing. The history itself can actually be shortened by saying that It was basically a major engineering mistake; a BAD design for which nobody could be finally blamed as nobody was directly guilty for what happened.

I would say that the history behind the Vasa is probably as shameful as the Spanish Armada half a century before, as the Vasa just managed to sail less than a nautical mile (2 km) and sank straight away. From all the tripulation, only just around a dozen perished. The fact that it was still between the islands, that there were boats surrounding it and that they could swim is what saved the rest. It was the greediness of the king of the time, who insisted on a titanical proportioned ship (well, NOT that big, and it also sank, innit?), the outrageous amounts of cannons, which added weight and an excessive 10 sails what tipped the boat even with weak wind.

Breathtaking, really.

It wasn't until 1959, when the ship was finally salvaged, resurfaced and the history revived for the decades to come. Preserved in natural wooden colour with some white marks, that according to the tour guide was spits; 'yes, spits. Please don't do it, we don't like it' asserted the guide with his Swedish accent. Apparently water reacts with PEG (polyethylene glycol) the polymer that preservers the wood, creating the weird white marks on the surface. It was probably just condensation. I forgot to spit.

A good deal of it was saved but unfortunately it had lost its colour. Thanks to painting and writings, it can be known that it was originally red, decorated in a rainbow of colours, in each of the wooden images. Every sailor's dream!

A small replica with the original colours of the Vasa

After good couple of hours, my stomach started to growl, sign that it was time to fill it up. Wondering about the Strandvägen (promenade. Yes, I'm pretending that I'm actually learning English, when what I am really doing is using Google), I found myself in the Musikmuseet, on one of the sides, a nice little courtyard with a few wooden tables and locals having a beer. So did I.

I had some meatballs
These super friendly chaps and I made some conversation as they started commenting how much they like the meatballs from that place. The even taught me how to pronounce the swedish word kötbullar (pronounced chotbullar). Meatballs with puréed potatoes, number 1 of the traditional Swedish dishes, served with creamy sauce and lingonberries. Idea never lied to us.

And I am recapping this, as I dry myself out from being soaking wet trying to reach this coffee shop. As I accostummed to do in London, I managed to find one of those arty/local magazines, which was conveniently edited in English and from which I downloaded the digital edition of Totally Stockholm. Good job guys. I discovered that there is another cool street parallel to Götgatan, called Swedenborgsgatan, which, according to this magazine, had two very interesting coffee shops one next to each other. With a bit of confusion at first, I managed to find KA's cafe, stopping first at Waynes Coffee in the corner, the other place around the corner that has been closed all this weekend. It really is a conglomerate of lots of shops in one, but that particular one is really cool shop. Lots of arty magazines, ridiculously yummy looking muffins and coffee and a transparent floor that sort of bloomed my vertigo, as I could see people getting their hair cut in the floor underneath.

But yes, I managed to get to KA's ready to have the warmest soup and treat me with my Sunday morning poached eggs.

The Swedish option though, offered a different thing to offer me. I opted for the not necessarily appealing Rye bread with ham and cheese, praying to god not to get one of those hard-rock toastie breads commonly suggested in diets. Surprisingly, I received an amazing moist rye bread, with delicious cheese and ham, soy sprouts, tomato and cucumber. The best sandwich I have had in a long time.

They are playing Lykke Li on the background. I don't want to generalise. That really will be the next story.


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