Wednesday, December 7, 2011


At long last, pictures and notes from our vacation in Sweden this September. Still stuck writing for work, so I'll mostly post images with captions and short fragments. Less to write, less to read. Everybody wins!

City Hall
Stockholm city hall. The Nobel Price award dinner is held here every December.

We flew with Finnair from Osaka to Stockholm via Helsinki. It's the most convenient route by far, and a good choice for any destination in northern Europe. On the way to Helsinki I saw Princess Toyotomi. It's a recent movie set in Osaka, based around the idea that a heir of the Toyotomi clan escaped the sacking of Osaka castle some 400 years ago, and the descendants are still secretly living in Osaka as royalty of a secret "Osaka nation".

It's a charming adventure movie. There's some fun characters and an implausible but creative story line. It sags a bit toward the end though; I guess they didn't know how to tie it all up. The main pleasure for me was the city itself; large parts of it is set right around where we live — at the Karahori market street, Osaka castle, the City hall and so on. Fun movie, so see it if you get the chance. Anyway…

Skandia, a movie house in Stockholm, still with the classical logo.

Vasagatan, Stockholm.

We stayed at a hotel right next to the train station. Very convenient, what with all the bags and stuff we brought. First night we ate at a Belgian place along Vasagatan called Duvel Café. Pretty good food and a huge selection of Belgian beers seems to make the place very popular for younger professionals to go after work. I kept hearing snippets about cloud storage, Android programming and the next new shiny Apple gadget from the people around us. The people at the next table over were enduring a dinner sales pitch about some cross-platform persistent communications library. In a different life, one where I never went to Japan, I might have ended up as one of the regulars here.

I finally got my plankstek. Steak, sauce and mashed potatoes on a wooden board, finished in a hot oven. This restaurant had such huge portions — that, and I'm no longer used to eating so much — that I had to leave almost half of the food.

Sushi in Stockholm. Specifically, sushi in a cheap Thai restaurant next to the station. Hey, it's all Asian, right?

I wanted to try ramen while in Stockholm. The place I wanted to go to was quite expensive; worse, it was open only open for dinner. Ramen is cheap lunch food to me, so we gave up on that and had a nigiri-sushi lunch set at Kungshallen food court instead. Not bad but not great; the rice was a little undercooked and the flavours weren't very exciting. The miso soup was good, though, and they managed to serve it together with the sushi, unlike the sushi place we tried in Paris last year.

Norstedts is one of the largest publishers in Sweden, and one of the oldest. Their head office "palace" on Riddarholmen island is arguably one of the best addresses in Sweden.


We're leaving Stockholm by train. As are these uniformed, supposedly hard-to-see gentlemen, apparently catching up on paperwork while waiting for a connecting train. There is no way to avoid it is there; I bet Genghis Khan would have conquered the rest of the world as well, but after taking Asia he was held up by piles of paperwork that just couldn't wait…


On our way to Borlänge and my parents we stopped by Uppsala to visit friends. The town (an old university city rival to my own Lund) has been blessed with a new concert hall. It's a popular place, apparently, with a good lunch restaurant on street level (and again with huge portions). It's also nicely photogenic. Here you can see the cathedral, the castle and the university library reflected in the top floor corridors.


Borlänge is an industrial town with a large steel mill and a paper mill, located right in the middle of some of the most beautiful woodland area of the country.

One benefit of small towns like this is, nature is close everywhere you go (OK, so it's not always a benefit, exactly - see "TBE"). The Dalälven river goes right through town, and there's ots of small ponds and inlets like this along the banks. This spot along the river is a leisurely ten minutes by foot from the town center.

Another benefit of small, rural towns: plenty of space. This back yard with a barn or storage shed in the background is right in town, a few blocks away from the main road and close to the pond above. You would have to be very wealthy — and very ostentatious — indeed to have a place like this in, say, Osaka city.

It was good to be back in Sweden for a few days. I got to hear my own language for a change, and spend some time in my own culture. But it did feel a little strange for much of the time. I guess culture and language — slang, catchphrases, current events — is beginning to diverge enough from my own remembered experience that it starts to be noticeable and become just a little disorienting. It's like hearing a new version of an old favourite tune that you haven't heard in years. Not worse than you remember, just a little different.

More pictures in the Flickr set.


F. said...

yes, I have noticed too that my version of my mother tongue, has become significantly different from what is spoken around me.

sakR9 said...

This was beautiful.

My mother lived in Stockholm in the 1970's for ten years, so anything about it makes me feel happy because it was her happiest time.

I can't believe you left some of that food though! It looked so delicious.

My mum also said that she can't grasp the new Swedish slang nowadays so you're not alone in that front.