May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sweden: rough start, going fine

July 28 didn’t go so well except we missed the most torrential part of the rain because we were so early for the bus to the airport, though my little bag got soaked waiting.  The lady who checked us in was really nice, and discovered that we didn’t know that each bag was to be charged about $75, so she gave us some tape to put them together into one bag.  It was a sad job, and she overlooked that it was then overweight, but we crossed our fingers and let it go.  We were the last ones on the plane because we didn’t recognize that the gate was down some stairs and didn’t understand the announcement.  We made it, but because of the rain, our plane got into Estonia the same time the other plane was to leave for Stockholm.  
They gave us vouchers for a cup of coffee and a candy bar and we waited for the next plane.  I started looking up the Avignon festival info, and it said it was going on for another day instead of the end of August like Les had thought, so we were disappointed that we won’t see any of those art events going on.  Then, we figured out where our Mosebackehostel was and got there very late, but somehow the Hostelbookers reservation never went through.  So there we were ready to sleep on the lobby floor, when we couldn’t find any other hostels for that night.  They gave us a $90 single room the size of two small mattresses, with no window and put an extra foam mattress on the floor.  One disturbing thing was that it had a button to push if there was a fire and you couldn’t get out.  You were supposed to wait for help after pushing the button.  We could hear conversations very clearly through the walls.  …one of those roll-with-the-punches days.  We booked another hostel farther from the center that was our next best price for the next few nights.

July 29

It’s wild waking up in a windowless room, as it could be any time and it would look the same.  Our next hostel was also windowless, but as big as a classroom with 6 bunks in it.  It’s very basic; the kitchen grosses me out a little because someone was cooking with tuna and it still smelled like it.  There’s no stove or heater for a pot; just a microwave, sink and frig.  There are 2 toilets for all the rooms, maybe a dozen like ours?  We bought “Stockholm cards” at the airport, so we have free transportation to just about anywhere, and lots of free entrances to museums and other tourist attractions. We decided to go take a ride on the boat tour, but the one then was sold out so we got tickets to two down the line.  In the meantime, we visited the very center and seed of Stockholm. 

St. George and Dragon
...from the other side
We ate like a tourist, visited an amazing church where they bury most of the royalty, walked to the chapel where there's a life sized sculpture of St. George and the Dragon (Les said he wanted to see what size a life-sized dragon looked like.)    
narrowest street
We saw the narrowest street, and when we returned for the boat tour, we found our watches were an hour off, and we had been early a 1/2 hour!  They generously let us on, and we learned through earphones about the area around King's Island. 
Les soaks sore ankle in ocean

We then went to the photo exhibit as our last thing of the day.  It was a fantastic show with Robert Maplethorp in all his glory, and a fantastic documentary interviewing several of his models and associates.  Other artists were Jacob Fellander, Peter Farago/Ingela Kemetz-Farago (in cooperation with Chanel), Eleanor Coppola, Jacqueline Hellman, and my favorite Liu Bolin with “The Invisible Man” Series. 

He’s from China, and he paints himself into a scene until you can’t see him very well.  It started in protest to the government tearing down a place where artists met and lived.  He thought that though the place disappeared, the artists’ spirits will remain.  Camouflage protects animals from danger.  This is his version. It’s pretty amazing; maybe we should get him to do a series in front of the library/Snell/Dietel areas, or Tangeman Apartments on our campus before they are destroyed.  (By the way, I’ve seen a lot of old ‘50’s flat-roofed buildings that are in great shape in this snowy cold place.)
When we got back to our metro stop, we didn’t recognize it, and it was barren.  We almost went back down in the metro to get our bearings, when we walked up the hill and found it.  We talked with our new young Hungarian friends about theatre and their lives ahead of them until late.

July 30
There are no cafés near us, so we decided to go to the metro stop nearest the old theater at Drottningholm summer castle.  We found no café there, but there was a farmers market and I bought strawberries, nuts and banana. 

We found the proper bus and went on a tour of the grounds and then one of the old 18th C theater (check out ); it shows some of the workings of behind the scenes.  Valerie, you would love this place; the architect was also the director.  That’s the way to make sure your theater functions as you wish!  We had a chance to buy a $100 ticket to see Don Giovani in that theater, but thought it was too steep.  The place is made of quite delicate wood, and has not been renovated, so it is still fully functioning as it was way back when. 

 Thanks to Gustav III’s mother, who came from Prussia to marry the king and thought that Sweden had very little quality culture.  She made this castle to help raise the identity of Sweden, by showing that it cared about the Arts and Sciences.  Since the king had died by the time she built the palace, much of the imagery was feminine.  It was quite striking and fun to imagine little Gustav III playing in the theater and eventually acting himself.  It was apparently shocking that he presented plays in the common people’s language (Swedish) rather than the usual French, but he wanted to unify the people with the court more.  The castle tour contained a wonderful history lesson for me.
After that, we went to see if there was a play we could see in town, but it was dark for the summer month (we were 3 days late for Romeo and Juliet). 
So we went to a park where they have Nordic animals and historic buildings. I was charmed by all the animals, though a couple really did need more space (owl, seals, wolves).  I loved petting the farm animals and elk moose.

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