Sunday, 5 July 2015

Summertime in Sweden

Here's a puzzle for you.

What should one NEVER take when touring the Ice Bar in Stockholm?

The answer will follow later.

We awoke with the sun this morning, at approximately 4:00am, because we knew that the captain had decided to take us through the Swedish archipelago; a three hour scenic voyage of thousands of islands and summer homes used by vacationing Stockholmers who, much like Canadians, savour summer with great abandon. It was absolutely worth forgoing sleep.
Think Muskoka in July. Hundreds of cottages dotting the sea and its inlets, with granite formations and beaches along the shores. 

I have decided that I love Sweden. I could actually vacation here for an extended period of time. Yes, of course it would have to be in the summer, (the average winter temperature here in Southern Stockholm is a balmy -15C) but this is a city and a country that is very much in keeping with my politics, my lifestyle choices, and my value structure. I love that they have a national holiday to memorialize Alfred Nobel, a man who when faced with the notion of a posthumous record of death and destruction, dedicated his life and personal fortune to peaceful endeavours. This is a country that provides free tuition for university students and actually gives them a living allowance. This is a country that is unabashedly neutral when it comes to world conflict, yet still managed to save almost every single Jew fleeing Denmark during WW II. This is country ruled by a constitutional monarchy with a socialist Green Party forming its government. This is a country that values recreation as much as work, benefits for all of its citizens, and creativity and innovation. There is even a thriving Jewish community here is Stockholm. Yes, I think that I could be very happy in Sweden....during the summer.

Following some wandering through the medieval of Gamla Stan, the oldest of Stockholms fourteen island communities, we decided to do something really "touristy". We went to the famous ice bar. Located inside a posh hotel, the bar is completely constructed of Swedish ice trucked down from the north, and is kept at a constant temperature of -7C so as to prevent melting. They give you these goofy looking parkas and gloves and serve you Kool-Aid with a splash of Absolute. Fun? Yes. But....

And now the answer to my riddle.

What should one never take when visiting the Ice Bar?

A screaming 13 month old!!

Yes there were babies on this tour and one in particular was unhappy from the start. Who in their right mind takes a baby to a bar? The screeches from this child could have thawed Greenland. He wailed when they parkaed him. He wailed when they tried to force the fruit juice down his gullet. He wailed when they tried to take his picture, he wailed some more when they finally disrobed him, and he wailed on the bus all the way back to the ship. We were all ready to smack his parents with blocks of ice. The arrogant stupidity of some people.

We tried to make the best of it. 

Yes I drank the concoction. There was hardly enough vodka in there to drown a fly.

This was our final port. Tomorrow is a sea day and then back to Copenhagen. We have loved visiting this unique part of the world. We have been so very fortunate with weather and our traveling companions are second to none. 

Next year in.....?

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