Stockholm is at the top of the world, it seems.
There are some large European cities, Helsinki for one, that are
farther north but this is way up there at 60° north latitude.
Strange things happen this far north. Delft is at 52° but because of
the east-west position, sunset during the week of the summer
solstice is about 10:30 p.m. in both places. It took a while to get
used to that. But in Stockholm, because it's so close to the Arctic
Circle, the sun rises at about 3:30 a.m. If it sets that late and
rises that early, it never gets dark. It's light enough during the
night to read a book comfortably outdoors with no additional lights.
But it works the other way at the winter solstice. Why bother getting
out of bed?
Stockholm is a pretty old place having its roots
go back to about the 13th century. It's built on 14 islands which
all have different characteristics. The Old City is on three islands
in the center, there's another large island which composes most of
the central business district and several more which are totally
different and very residential. It's a little like New York City
except that the flavors of the islands are much more varied than say
the Bronx is from Brooklyn.
of Stockholm is in the Old City and it's not the residence but
rather a working palace. That means that
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia commute each day. It's not
clear whether they take the train or drive. We wanted to knock on
the door to see if they remembered us from the night we had dinner
together. Seriously. Carl XVI and Silvia came to the
Swedish Museum in Philadelphia in about '94 as part of a
promotion for an exhibition of art done by the Swedish royal family.
We went to the dinner along with about 500 others. Carl and Silvia
made an entrance while we were all seated. We had dinner. He spoke
and then they left. No receiving line, no nothin'. But Lynn and I
really did have dinner with the King and Queen of Sweden. By the
way, he is the presenter each year of the Nobel Prizes which are
made at the Stockholm City Hall.
There's a museum in Stockholm dedicated to an old
sailing ship, The
Vasa It seems that there was once a lot of bad blood
between the Protestant king of Sweden and his Catholic cousin, the
king of Poland. Somebody was occupying somebody else so the Swedes
built this tall ship for the purpose of going to Poland to kick some
butt. The ship left the port in Stockholm on a sunny Sunday in 1628
in very calm water. Almost immediately it listed severely to one
side but after considerable effort, it was righted. No sooner than
this happened, it listed to the other side and capsized after
sailing less than a mile. About 50 of the crew of 200 drowned. It
seems that the design changed along the way and the ship became very
top heavy. It was doomed before it ever started out.
About 40 years later, using a diving bell, they
were able to salvage what was important: the guns. The ship stayed
on the floor of the harbor until 1961 when it was painstakingly
raised. The actual ship is in the museum along with remnants of six
of the original sails.
See all my pictures of Stockholm.