31 July, 2010

Time off

We've had a lazy few days back in Stockholm. I like to think we are taking advantage of the last few weeks of vacation. Watching movies, reading, taking long walks, cooking. It's been pretty great, actually! But it doesn't make for an incredibly interesting blog, with nothing new to report.

So I'll bore you with how much fun we've been having being lazy. We went for a picnic in Hagaparken yesterday. It's a huge green space in the city with a palace or two, gardens & water, whimsical buildings, a butterfly house, a museum and lots of prettiness. It is just short walk to get there from our place, and I baked bread the day before, so it seemed like a good excuse.

 (Turkish Pavilion) (Me in front of the copper tents at Hagapark)

And in the evening, we saw the movie Inception, finally going to see something at the Skandia Theater on Drottninggatan. I never want to go to another theater again! 
When we lived in DC, we liked to go to the Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park, because it was a charming older venue with balconies and a single screen. 
The Skandia blows the Uptown out of the water. 

It was designed by Gunnar Asplund in the 1920s (the same guy who designed the hat box library across the street from us.) It's unassuming from the street view, but such an interesting package inside. It has a neoclassical flavor, with sculptures on the walls and the railings, and painted niches and the most amazing balcony with private boxes.

 What amazes me is that it was designed and decorated to be a cinema and not converted from a live theater, during the time of silent films with a large open space for the orchestra in front of the screen. I couldn't find a good shot of the ceiling sculptures, but imagine them along the lines of the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness cover. The Swedish wikipedia article has some good images, as well.

It had closed for various long lengths, with its future at times uncertain. And going to see movies in Stockholm is NOT cheap (try $15 a ticket.) But I am happy to put my movie money toward seeing shows there.

28 July, 2010

Auld Reekie

First thing's first, I was slightly disappointed to read today that Brad Pitt was not in fact cast in leading role for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Instead, Daniel Craig will play Mikael Blomkvist. Admittedly, he is a better fit to the role, but I was looking forward to some Brangelina sightings in Stockholm this fall.

Anyway, I thought I'd write a little about the trip we just came back from. Stu & I spent one week in Edinburgh and one week around Germany with his mama Jinni and cousin Judi (with a day or two of our friends Emre & Patti thrown in there for good measure.)  I guess we fit the stereotype that Americans are obsessed with our genealogy--I had a friend who had to count on two hands how many countries she could say she was "from," including being 1/18th American Indian--because we planned the trip with the idea of scouting out where Stu's mother's side of the family came from. Including Saint Andrew's in Scotland (of course with a family name like Smith, its hard to say exactly from who & where!) and a tiny town in southern Germany (more on Deutschland in another post.)

(Our wedding in 2008, getting in touch with the Scottish roots!)

But we also went because I felt a little cut-off from the librarian world since moving to Sweden and wanted to attend the UK art librarian conference ARLIS/UK, held in Edinburgh. So while I conference'd (which was definitely a nice  meeting, and led to some great networking!) Stu, Jinni & Judi got their family-history on in Saint Andrews. During the British Open. Whoops! The town was flooded with golf enthusiasts and news reporters. They nearly had a Tiger Woods sighting, but the afternoon they were there, the winds caused his rounds to be postponed. Ah well. There are pictures in the slideshow below.

We also took a trip through the Highlands, seeing Loch Ness on the way. Wow, the name of the area is right on...you feel like you are so much closer to the sky. The clouds just seem to hang lower, scraping the bens (peaks) and hovering heavy in the glens (valleys.) It is really beautiful country. The history is fascinating, especially coming from a ruddy Scot with a chip on his shoulder and a thick accent. And a note, Brave Heart is apparently guilty of gross inaccuracies on many fronts...William Wallace and Robert the Bruce never even met!

But Edinburgh was a real treat. I have this little problem where I go to these beautiful European cities and fall in love and start plotting to move there. I had this happen with Edinburgh. It has some great architecture, super museums, good shopping, surprisingly good food and AWESOME pubs. The old and new cities are surrounded by crags and hills and trees and nature. What more do you need? Okay, so the weather leaves something to be desired, with rain coming out of nowhere, and since they are on a similar latitude to Stockholm, it's a dark winter (though mild.) But I could live there. Who couldn't love a city that has the constant lulling music of bagpipes drifting through the air?

We hiked up Arthur's Seat above the town, we walked ourselves silly all over the Royal Mile and between old (aka medieval) and new (aka 1760s) Edinburgh, we ate ourselves silly with fish & chips, neeps and tatties, even haggis. Saw lots of kilts. Stu generally used a fake Scottish accent for the entire week, inspired by the surroundings (and probably the alcohol.) We did a whiskey tasting. Well, the ladies and Stu did a real whiskey tasting, and I kept the training wheels on.  And beer. Lots of beer. We even made a new friend, "Jack the lad" at the pub, who took a particular liking to Jinni (we made a hasty getaway in a cab to save her from his partying!) All in all, a great trip. And we left lots undone, so we have an excuse to go back! Or, you know, move there.

27 July, 2010

Home again, home again

This blog was not abandoned, I promise!  We just spent the last 2+ weeks traveling, and while I had internet, I didn't bring my camera cord, and I just couldn't bring myself to post about what a great time we were having *without* pictures!

Of course, as it happens, I'm too lazy right now to upload them. We flew back from Germany this morning, and I somehow got myself sick with bronchitis while traveling and so am still on antibiotics. But here is a taste of cuteness from Edinburgh, Scotland and from Rothenburg, Germany:

More to come later!

11 July, 2010

Sommarlov heat wave

Holy jesus, it got hot in Stockholm this weekend! Yes, I know I was just complaining about how terrible the heat in DC was (and yes, it was far worse in DC. They have humidity to contend with, as well.) However, we live in Scandinavia. We DO NOT HAVE air conditioning in our apartment. Or even fans. The last two nights have been awful...its not like we could just leave the windows open. The sun comes up at 3am. And I'm still fighting jet lag and the beginnings of a sore throat (thanks, transatlantic travel!)

But yeah, a record temps at the low-30s here (upper 80s?) In Skåne, it got up to 35c, something that hadn't happened since 1984. The country is just not equipped for this.

But we found the bright side...we decided to go to the beach yesterday! Sam & Sean's single most important must-do in Sweden was to swim in Swedish water (part brought on by Sean's strange fascination with this god-awful Brad Paisley song.) So we took a lovely hour boatride out to the island of Vaxholm on the archipelago. And we walked our butts off until we found the sand beach. Absolutely worth it! The water was ice cold, but the sun was warm and the place was just beautiful.

It was officially my first time getting in a bathing suit in 2010. Not that you get to see pictures (the last 3 weeks of hedonism in the U.S. proved detrimental to my belly-baring self-esteem.)

(proof that they went in to that frigid water!)

But only another day of Swedish heat to deal with. I know, I can't even believe I am saying that...I have become thin-skinned! The weather in Edinburgh says its in the mid-teens/mid-60s and a good chance of rain every day.

09 July, 2010

Stockholm for 5 days

We got back from nearly 3 weeks on the east coast Wednesday night. I'm not even sure what to blog about! It was a great trip, despite that it was a bit chaotic (why did we even try to make a schedule...almost nothing went as planned!), it was a bit short (shoulda done a month, you know?) and it was HOT in DC (try 102 more than one day we were there!) 

Some of the highlights were my little sister graduating:
(Go Elena!)

Our friends Nancy & Andrew tying the knot:

(the wedding party, with Stu on the far left)

And one of my best friends Melissa having her first baby, little William Joseph Chalkias, born 25 June 2010!

(here with exhausted-looking papa, Mike)

We met baby Laura for the first time:

(with great friend [her mama] Cait, at the SI Folklife festival)

We even managed to see Stu's dad a few times, when he was able to get truckloads in our direction:

(Stu with his dad and Gabby at the NGA sculpture garden)

And we got to hang out with quite a few friends. Not nearly as many as we would have liked, nor for as long as we would have wanted, but considering the packed 2.5 weeks we were home, we did alright.

I should have taken more pictures, for sure. Oh well. So we are back just long enough to get over the jetlag before we leave for a week in Scotland and a week in Germany. I'll be attending an art librarians conference in Edinburgh, so there will be a little bit a work going on, but other than that, it'll be just vacation. And with Stu's mama and cousin Judi! 

Speaking of jetlag...its been tough to get out of the house, since I want to take a nap every other other. We have definitely missed some of the best time to be in Sweden. But our friends Sam & Sean will be here in an hour to stay the weekend with us, so we'll get some prime Stockholm time showing them around the city. So off to enjoy some BEAUTIFUL Stockholm weather.