if you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, this is a continuation.
6. Family and (new) friends. We are blessed to have relatives in Taby, a suburb of Stockholm. Zouheir’s oldest brother Jean-Louis lives there with his wife Manar and their four adult children. The two youngers weren’t there: Jessica is in California finishing out a year abroad before she returns to the Stockholm School of Economics to complete her business degree. Mike has a summer job in a small town in Norway working with the elderly. He’ll be returning to continue his medical studies in the fall. George works as a trader at Swedbank and Rita works in Marketing at Nordea. We had a chance to visit them at their apartments, and the boys spent even more time with Georges watching the World Cup.
Our hosts for the week were Jean-Louis and Manar. We stayed with them for a couple of days at the beginning of the vacation, and also saw Zouheir’s brother Tony who was visiting from Paris. He’s been recovering from a significant health event and is retiring from his medical practice. Their younger sister Marie-Louise came from Lyon during the middle of our visit and it was lovely to spend time with her as well. We met a friend of Georges, Patryzcia Payak, a medical doctor who has just written a children’s book with her sister Anna, an artist, about dying called Dear Death (xxx in Swedish). Their other sister is a cinematographer. They live near J-L and Manar and I had a chance for a quick visit to see some of Anna’s work.
7. Visual beauty. Stockholm is a gorgeous city. I immediately noticed the relative lack of overt advertising (very few, if any, billboards) and the quiet presence of stately architecture of a city hundreds of years old. The city has preserved the traditional style and kept the waterfront (of which there are miles and miles) completely accessible. There are bike paths all over the city, and I had to get used to watching for cyclists as I crossed the paths that are shared with pedestrians. The apartment we rented was quite stunning. There were three bedrooms, including one with a sleeping loft, and one and a half baths, which were gorgeously tiled with a shower/sauna in one.
I’ve already talked about the sea, and we saw lots of boats of all shapes and sizes, including a brand new super-yacht that had just been delivered. There was also a race scheduled while we were there.
8. Quirkiness is in the eye of the beholder. I like to laugh, and besides the great company, there were many chances for humour. A few that I caught on “film” (you know what I mean.)
9. Swedish design and eco-consciousness
10. The Swedish people. Everyone was friendly. English is spoken pretty much universally, and no one batted an eye when I responded to a shopkeeper’s hello (“hey hey”) with English. People struck up conversation in the street, and everyone seemed to smile. A lot. A really marked difference from Paris, Rome, or Istanbul, where service can be surly and a few words in English often result in an unwillingness or inability to continue the conversation. I certainly don’t think that everyone in the world should speak English, but when your school system provides it and you work in hospitality or services in a tourist destination, an attempt to converse is appreciated. I’m sure that Swedes realise that their ability to survive in a global economy requires another language, particularly when their native tongue is relatively rare.