It is Saturday and we are running out of things we want to do in Stockholm, even though we have three days left here. Craig never visited Stockholm on his mission, so he thought we would want a lot of time to explore the city but we're finding out that we enjoyed the small town of Lund and surrounding countryside much more. The truth is, a big city is a big city. There are still crowds and traffic noises (especially the omnipresent ambulances) whether it's Seattle, San Francisco, or Stockholm. We decide to try to visit one of the Stockholm archipelago islands like we did at Göteborg. This is a different experience though. The line to board the ferry is long, the boat is crowded, and, since it is a hot day, everyone wants the few seats outside. (We seem to have arrived in an unseasonably hot summer. Many days have been over 80 degrees and all the locals are commenting on the heat. One thing one quickly discovers is, just like they don't have ice in their drinks, they also aren't prepared for heat with any fans or air conditioning. Businesses and homes are built to retain heat - no doubt a blessing most of the colder times of the year. But when it's hot - being inside is not comfortable. Walk inside a bakery or little shop and it's 95 degrees and utterly airless. We've tried to eat outside as much as possible, but then we run into another problem. Outdoor seating is where all the smokers are. Swelter inside or choke outside - that's summer dining in Sweden.) So, after an hour long tightly packed ferry ride, we finally arrive at the island of Vaxholm. It's OK, but not much to see. There is a castle across the little waterway. You can take a boat to it, but Craig is feeling crummy, maybe from the heat, so we eventually ride back on the same ferry. Except it isn't a ferry. This is another travel axiom we have learned. We call it, "Ignorance is Expensive." We thought the ferries to the archipelagos of Stockholm were just like the ferries in Göteborg, covered under the ubiquitous bus pass. But, as we prepare to exit the "ferry" we find that it is a private service and that the price to exit the boat is now 350 crowns. (We also learn that Stockholm has a 6 day bus pass for a fraction of what the two 3-day passes cost us. We never thought to ask. As I said, ignorance is expensive.)
The next day is Sunday. Craig is still feeling a bit below par, but manages to navigate us safely to the local ward building. A member of the Stake presidency immediately hits us up to speak. Craig feels his Swedish is not up to the task and declines, but the guy looks so disappointed (fresh blood in a tiny congregation is not to be sneezed at, you know) that I say I'll do it - in English though. Since virtually everyone in this country speaks excellent English, I do not think this will be a problem. In fact, however, when they call me up, they provide a translator - a young man who served his mission in Minnesota. (Guess they figured a Swede could handle the winters there without a shiver.) It is a really weird experience having someone translate for me. I talk about missionaries, my own conversion, and James' call to Japan. (There is an audible murmer of excitement when I mention Japan - as, indeed, I have noticed in Sweden any time I mention where James is serving. Japan just seems really really foreign, I guess. Afterward, one of the sisters tells me that she really wanted to go on her mission to Japan, but ended up in Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I say, "You are so tall- she's got to be 6'2"- you would really stand out in Japan. My son is tall and blond and he says he loves being the center of attention there." "Yes," she sighs. "I too love to be the center of attention. It is because we are firstborn." Craig, says, "We've got to get those two together!" I don't know, with that combination of genes, their children would be Valkyrie.) Anyway, it's hard to speak with a translator because every time I finish a sentence, the translator starts in and I forget what I was going to say - especially since members of the congregation chime in and correct the translator's translation (like I said, they all speak English anyway.) It is disconcerting to say the least, but, it certainly introduces us to the whole ward and I feel like we have a bunch of new friends by the time we head back to the hotel.
Monday is August 11, our actual thirtieth anniversary, and the last day of our vacation. Craig had planned a spectacular balloon ride but that's not going to happen. In sharp contrast to the day before, it is cold, windy, and raining. Instead, we decide to do one more museum. We decide to see the Vasa museum. I'm really glad we went. It really is something you couldn't see anywhere else in the world. The Vasa is a HUGE ship, commissioned as a royal ship by King Gustavus Adolphus and completed in 1628. She sailed off on her maiden voyage and sank with all aboard after only 1500 meters (makes the Titanic look sturdy.) There she lay buried until 1961 when she was hauled out of the clay and eventually put on exhibit. The size, workmanship, and carvings are amazing. (Since she never saw battle, she's nearly perfectly preserved.) It was pretty cool, and worth the long line in the rain to get in.
How would you like to be hit by a spiked cannonball????
Afterward, Craig decides to go on another sort of pilgrimage. He drags me on 3 buses, 2 trams and a train to visit - wait for it------ the Apple Store in Stockholm. He has an app on his phone that tells him the location of all the Apple Stores in the world and we just happened to be near one. Sigh. We finally get there. I'm sopping wet, my feet hurt. He walks around, basks a bit in the glow from a hundred little retina screens and says, "Okay, let's go back." Geeks. What are you gonna do.
After a really weird dinner (don't ask- it involved pork and something green) we are preparing to pack. Craig had to buy a new bag to bring home all the Swedish chocolate and Swedish dark syrup he's been craving all these many years. (Even though he's bringing home enough chocolate to pave the house, I wouldn't count on getting any of it. I see that miser's look in his eyes. I'm pretty sure our freezer (and waistlines) will be bulging for months to come.)
Our adventure has come to an end. If we're still around in another thirty years, maybe we'll come back, if our walkers will fit down the aisles, that is.
Happy Me (waiting for bus)
Much Less Happy Me (waiting for bus)
THE SWEDISH DOG REPORT:
Every dog I saw in Sweden, breed verified as much as possible by owner. (Husband's opinion - he thinks every little white dog is a Bitch On Frizzy) - completely discounted.
West highland white terriers- 5
Smooth fox terrier- 2
Wire- haired fox terrier- 2
Yorkshire terrier- 3
Bernese mountain dog- 2
Miniature pinscher - 5
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel- 4
American Staffordshire terrier- 2
Poodle (miniature)- 14, Standard-1
Shih tzu- 3
Lhasa apso- 5
German Shorthaired Pointer-1
Shetland sheepdog- 6
Miniature schnauzer- 10, Giant schnauzer- 1
English Bull Terrier-1
Scottish terrier- 3
Danish Swedish farm dog- 13 (Pictured below)
Chinese crested hairless-1, powderpuff-1
Welsh springer spaniel-1
German Shepherd-9 (including one white)
Norfolk terrier- 1
Soft coated Wheaten Terrier- 1
Portuguese Water Dog-2
French Bulldog- 6
Pit bull terrier -3
Cocker spaniel- 3
Flat Coat retriever- 3
Bolonka-1 (pictured below)
Havanese - 4
Norwegian Puffin dog- 2 (pictured below)
Nova Scotia Duck Toller- 2
Mixed breeds- 32
Dogs are entered in the order in which I first identified them, with no attempt made to alphabetize or otherwise categorize them. (It's my list, after all.) Breed identification was made more difficult by the clipped coats and natural ears and tails. Many times, I ran after someone with a mixed breed to make sure I was not missing some cool breed I'd never heard of like the Danish-Swedish Farm dog (which has a lot of variety in coat and coloration- reminiscent of our Jack Russell Terrier before they split into the Parson Russell version.) My notes include a lot of things like, terrier mix, collie mix, Huge wolf or shepherd mix, etc- but I decided to just lump them as mixed breeds at the end. Sweden has a rescue group that brings a lot of stray dogs over from Spain for adoption- most are shaggy little things that look like some sort of large yorkie cross. Dogs are permitted most places here. I saw them on the trains, busses, ferries, races, and restaurants (where they generally are provided a bowl of water by the waiter.) I only saw no dogs allowed signs on one beach and a few gardens. Dogs are generally well-behaved, though I saw one chihuahua that wanted to eat the pug going by on a train. (I guess chihuahuas are the same the world around.) I saw one rottweiler wearing a muzzle on its walk and one doberman in the subway that had cropped ears and a docked tail. Cropping and docking are illegal in Sweden, so I am sure the dobie was an import. I was excited to see the tiny brown Bolonka- a cousin of the Havanese, and the Norwegian Puffin Dog was new to me as well. So that's it- my completely random list of every dog I saw in two and a half weeks in Sweden. Make of it what you will.