Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Spring View

Sofia Kyrkan
[Editorial Note: We're temporarily skipping ahead a day for now. Jennifer's writing a post for Saturday, but she has to work some tonight, so that post won't come out until tomorrow. I wrote the following on the assumption that you'd already know about yesterday, and I think I'm just going to leave it as is.]

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
-Tun Fu (ca. 750)

JoeI suppose that yesterday's sun and warmth required redress, so as not to let the meteorological scales tip too far, too soon. Or, perhaps, nature is just fickle. Whatever the reason, this morning dawned damp and grey, and conditions have steadily deteriorated ever since.

After breakfast I set out on a quick walk around the neighborhood whilst Jennifer prepared to face the day. I hadn't gone two blocks before the cold drizzle started, and by the time I made it to Vita Bergen park it had settled in to stay. The park is dominated by the early 20th century Sofia Kyrkan, the surrounds of which offer, on a clear day, impressive views to the south, including probably the best place to see Globen (the "sun" of the Swedish solar system)—today it was, alas, lost in the mists. Next to the church are a bunch of wooden shacks, formerly the poorest neighborhood in al of Söder and now, still untouched by such amenities as plumbing, no doubt used as in-town stugas by some of the more well-off who don't mind hauling water from the local well and making the freezing walk to the outhouse every day.

Too many thumbs!
As I headed north past Sofia Folkskolan, the rain began to give way to snow, and by the time I had made it Ersta Sjukhuset on the northern edge of Söder it was coming down steadily (and, given that it was 2 degrees out, somewhat wetly). Södermalm is a rocky island, and the northeast portion meets the water in a series of of sheer cliffs, making it a great spot to look out over the more northerly islands of Skeppsholmen, Gamla Stan and Norrmalm. I walked along the cliffs for a bit, until I got to the disturbing statue I mentioned on Friday. As the snow seemed to be getting heavier rather than giving up, I decided that practicality was the better part of valour, and I turned south towards home.

Söder Munkens Konditori
By the time I got there, Jennifer was ready to go out, so off we went. Had to take the movies back to the cafe we rented them from, then there was the lovely bakery just next door which could hardly be skipped. Armed with a handful of bullar, we headed back across the street to Cajsa Warg, the Zingerman's of Stockholm. Oh, to live within easy walking distance of such a place. There was so much there that I have seen nowhere else in Sweden: celery salt, whole mace, winter squash, and even genuine Italian sausage! We picked up a light lunch from the deli counter, just a couple of veggie samosas, some tandoori chicken, some rolls and some feta-basil spread. Then we went back and sat in our friend's lovely kitchen, ate our lovely food, and watched the snow come down harder and harder.

It did let off for a bit after lunch, long enough for us to have one final wandering before departure. We walked through Nytorget, lined down one side with old wooden houses, and up the other with trendy eateries. There followed a quick stop in the local branch of Stockholm Stadsmission (a charity organization which runs a number of secondhand shops throughout the city); unfortunately, it was the Skånegatan branch, which really only deals in clothes and a few accessories. Then it was time to pack up and head to the train station.

So here I sit on the train back to Uppsala, hardly able to see the trees to either side through the snowfall. It was only ten minutes late into Stockholm, we've only had to stop once to wait for the tracks to get cleared, and we're just pulling out of Knivsta this very moment, so it seems possible that we'll get into Uppsala not terribly late. That would make us some of the luckier of SJs passengers this winter—right now Jennifer's reading the handy pamphlet provided by SJ, entitled "Varför går fortfarande inte tågen som de ska?" The answer? It's the worst winter in 100 years…


Uppsala was a mad house upon our arrival: near whiteout conditions, 15 cm of accumulation since morning, and 22,000 drunk bandy fans struggling to flee the city immediately following the conclusion of the national Bandyfinalen (in which Hammarby, a Stockholm team, defeated the team from Bollnäs—naturally, it was played in Uppsala). It took less time to get from Södermalm to the Uppsala train station than it took to get from there to our apartment. All's well now, with some hot chocolate and leftover pastry to restore our strength and some soup for nourishment.

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