How Swede it is

Tonight we rushed back home from the Wok and Roll Happy Hour to catch Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe. I spotted the Ice Bar in Stockholm on the preview last night. While Henry accused me of having greater interests in travel shows after visiting a place than before, we both sat watching the show in awe of what had to be our favorite city in Europe.

Before our trip, Lauren said that she thought that all fairytales were created in Scandinavia. I believe that this could be true. Stockholm is quite easy on the eyes. It was even easy to see why people would worship trees on our train ride to Copenhagen through the Swedish countryside. I had been adamant that we visit Stockholm, even if we dropped Oslo from the agenda. As soon as we arrived, I knew why.

All along my trip, I wrote down places that I visited that inspired me. While in Pamplona, Fernando, who is Henry’s cousin and our English-speaking tour guide, told us the story of Saint James Road. Across Europe, seashells mark the path for followers of St. James’s pilgrimage. Although I was not certain of all of the actual story, I liked the concept of a pilgrimage. I was at certainly at a turning point in my life. I had a six week hiatus in Europe to explore and rediscover what was important to me. My job of the last six years was ending once I returned to the US. Plus, I had been so busy since May that I had not had any time to think, much less prepare for the trip.

So I decided that I was on my own pilgrimage and I would recognize my particular seashells when I saw them. I bought a small journal in Barcelona to highlight people, places, or things that jumped out at me. I am planning to use these seashells as jumping off points for blog entries to describe the trip. Otherwise, there is just too much to cover. (Believe me – the trip was thoroughly documented with three journals and 2000 pictures.) My memories of the trip will easily serve as creative fodder for years to come. The question now is where to start…

Ahhh, yes… Stockholm – my favorite city. We have vowed to return because our two days were just not enough. Although I was extremely excited to explore the Nobel Museum, the home of recognizing creative thinking; discovering The Fantastic Paradise – a collection of important pieces of art by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, both of whom I studied in graduate school; and, “meeting” Stig Lindberg in an exhibit of his product design work at the National Museum.

As Samantha did on the Travel Channel, we visited the Ice Bar Stockholm, which was located in the lobby of our hotel, the Nordic Sea. We dressed in the provided silver parka accented with thick black gloves. Beyond the double door entry, we both had a drink in the custom-made ice glasses. Although unlike Samantha we did not have any Swedes sing to us. The other visitors to the bar were tourists just like us, busy snapping pictures. The most interesting thing that I discovered is that as you drink from the square block of ice, the warmth of your mouth melts the ice slightly creating a perfect circle. I did not pay attention to the fact that your second glass was cheaper if you saved your glass. I abandoned mine on a table with several others. A girl with a fuzzy hat came by later to drop them into a large white bucket of the type often found in the back of restaurants. I guess they melt away back into the rivers somewhere. But one drink was enough for me. They were pretty sweet. Plus Henry was not wearing any socks and it was pretty cool in there regardless of the provided parka.

Okay, more about Stockholm and the rest of our ventures tomorrow. I was told that our personal computer lab closed 40 minutes ago, and I’m trying to stick to a new schedule of no Internet after 11 pm.

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