In just two days, we finally go to the RE. As the time has ticked down to the visit, I've gone from excited to terrified and back again. Last night I spent hours googling PCOS and convincing myself I have it (then convincing myself I don't). I think I'm afraid of being told there's something definitively wrong with me but also afraid of being told there's nothing wrong with me and nothing can be done. Or maybe I wanted to check in with that cold-hearted Dr Google one last time before turning things over to a professional.
Whatever the case, the upshot is that right now is a time full of anticipation but very little information to impart. I ovulated recently, which is nice I guess, but I don't have much expectation of it leading to anything--except for those days when I do. So before our rash of RE visits and the recaps that will no doubt follow (and the decisions that will have to be made and the appointments that will have to be scheduled), I figured I'd finally catch everyone up on the rest of our Scandinavia trip.
When last you left our fearless heroes, we had spent an action-packed evening at Tivoli Gardens on their last day in Copenhagen. They next morning, we boarded the high-speed train to Stockholm and arrived in that fair city some 4 hours later.
As with our arrival in Denmark, we got to Sweden on a grey, cloudy, mucky day. And since we'd read in our guidebooks that Scandinavian taxis are hella expensive (the meter STARTS at $9), we decided to walk from the central station to our hotel in Ostermalm. Which required us to cart several large carry-on bags and a massive 60-lb suitcase on a 15-20 walk through downtown Stockholm in a drizzle. That turned into an abrupt thunder shower. And we only had one umbrella (that I shamelessly commandeered).
But we arrived at our hotel no worse for our drenching and quickly settled in. This hotel was not in the red light district as our previous one was, but right on the harbor in an area that we kept likening to Madison Ave on the UES. Lots of great shopping and restaurants nearby. On first night there, we ate on the recommendation of the concierge at a local restaurant that seemed to be more Swedes than tourists and then wandered around the city by night, getting our bearings and checking out the shopping and nightlife:
The next morning we were up early for breakfast and a long walk (thanks to the price of taxis, long walks became a routine with us). Stockholm is built on a series of smallish islands connected by bridges. We walked along the waterfront to Djurgarden, a huge island of parkland where several museums are located. We visited the Vasa Museum, which is dedicated to a salvaged 17th-century Swedish warship that sank on its maiden-voyage and was discovered, pulled up, and preserved in the 1950s. Then we walked through the park to Rosendals Tradgard, a nonprofit working organic garden in the middle of the island. Here's the pick-your-own flowers plot:
They had a lunch stand with organic food grown on the premises (Lawyer Guy had a sandwich and I had an amazing rabbit & veggie risotto) where we ate before starting the 45-minute-or-so walk back to our hotel.
We were quite tired when we returned to our neighborhood, and it was later than we planned, so we scrapped our intended sightseeing trip to Gamla Stan--the old city--and instead made a reservation at a restaurant there for dinner that night. We had a few late-afternoon hours to see things, so we went to the National Museum for an hour before it closed. Then we sat at a sidewalk bar at a nearby hotel and had beers while overlooking the harbor and the palace across the water.
Interestingly, most sidewalk cafes have seating facing out to overlook the water or the street rather than seats that face each other across the table. I guess Stockholmites really enjoy people/boat watching!
After returning to the hotel and changing, we walked to Gamla Stan for dinner at a modern Swedish restaurant in a 17th-century tavern. (We both sampled reindeer mousse!). We then wandered about the old city by dark, ducking into teeny little alleys and posing in front of short, narrow doorways, before walking back to the hotel.
The next morning, we woke up early and headed back to Gamla Stan to tour the royal palace the moment it opened. Poor Lawyer Guy did not enjoy this part of the trip. He has zero fetishistic enjoyment of European royalty and is strangely unmoved by antique furnishings or dec arts museums. Sad. I, however, fully enjoyed seeing the largest (or was it the oldest? I can't recall.) European palace still used as an official residence. And yes, it was quite large. We saw the ballroom where the crown princess's wedding was recently held and the banquet room where the Nobel prize winners are given a dinner following the ceremony. The crown jewels were also fun to see (and Lawyer Guy did like trying to figure out their value).
As we left, we ran smack into the changing of the guard, an impressive (and very loud) spectacle on horseback:
We then wandered about the old city for several hours. I visited the Cathedral, across from the palace, where there is a famous wooden 16th-century statue of St. George slaying the dragon. A bronze replica of it stands in a small square nearby:
We ate lunch and did some shopping (I bought Swedish yarn for my knitter best friend for Christmas and LG got his mom a linen shawl in thanks for her dogsitting while we were away). We ate lunch as a small tavern-looking restaurant decorated with vaguely Viking-ish murals. We ate herring and meatballs for our most authentic meal of the trip.
After lunch, we walked south to another island, Sodermalm, which we insisted on calling "the Brooklyn of Stockholm" (yes, we are your typical myopic New Yorkers who insist that NYC is the benchmark by which all else must be measured). The main character from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo lives here, and as Lawyer Guy was reading it at the time, we decided to visit his address. We went down to SoFo, which the Times travel section had just featured as an excited shopping destination, and checked out the super hipstery stores and restaurants and tried on fedoras and marveled at the global commonality of hipster fashions.
We also sat and rested our (by that point) aching feet in several pleasant, shady squares and churchyards. I accidentally hit a color-highlight button on our camera while trying to take a picture of Lawyer Guy in one of those churchyards and took what turned out to be a pretty cool picture (the building was a sandstone-y color, the pink and yellow are just the patches of shadow and light turned into color):
We had dinner reservations for our final night at a restaurant called Le Gondolen just over the bridge from Gamla Stan in Sodermalm. There's an early 20th-century iron elevator/gondola that takes passengers from the bridge up to the level of most of Sodermalm (otherwise you have to climb about 300 steps cut into a stone wall). We rode the gondola when we first arrived, wandered around the neighborhood, and then came back to our restaurant, which is in the gondola structure in that glass-windowed space suspended in the air:
You have an incredible panoramic view of the harbor and the city from the window, but unfortunately I didn't get any particularly great shots of it. We need a better camera, clearly.
After a very good dinner and some very good wine, we walked alllllll the way back through Gamla Stan to our hotel on Ostermalm. Because we'd had such an early reservation, we walked home just as the sun was setting and got some lovely pictures of buildings in the harbor with hot-air balloons floating over them (I kind of wanted to take a hot-air balloon ride, but am afraid of heights, so these pictures took the place of one). Here's a red balloon over the National Museum:
And here's a green balloon over (what I think is) Skeppsholmen, a smaller island near the art museum:
Not bad considering I was rather drunk when I took them!
We had talked about getting a reservation to go to the Ice Bar than night but were so, so tired from our 8+ hours of walking that we just got a drink at our hotel and then went to bed very sleepy.
The next day we were up and out early and back to Copenhagen for one last night before flying out. We got into the city around 5 pm and headed to our next hotel, in the lively Nyhavn district. Our hotel was in an 18th-century warehouse right on the harbor, as you can see from this picture of the view out our window:
We were upgraded to a suite with windows overlooking both the canal (the one shown above) and the harbor itself. We had dinner that night at a great nearby restaurant called Salt (in another reclaimed warehouse) and walked around Nyhavn for a bit before going to bed-- only to be woken by what sounded like bomb blasts but were actually fireworks over the national theater next door. I had a great view from the other window. After that settled down, we went to sleep.
The next day we had to leave around noon for the airport, but I insisted we spend some of the morning exploring Christianshavn, the Free City where hippies have lived commune-style in free apartments since the '60s. It was the nicest day we'd had in Copenhagen on the trip (the weather was better in Stockholm), and we enjoyed walking along the water and seeing the beautiful canals (like this one in Christianshavn) from the shore rather than a boat:
Disappointingly, though, nothing was free. Maybe we didn't walk far enough into the Free City, or maybe they know a non-hippie foreigner when they see one.
Then it was back to the hotel and into the first taxi we took all trip for our ride to the airport. And 9 hours, one beer-stained carry-on (thanks to the passenger in front of me) and a spot of petty theft in our building (everything fortunately recovered), we were home and ready for a jet-lagged night's sleep and a return to work, school, and many hours of paper writing.
But Scandinavia was great and I definitely need to return to Stockholm one day, which is one of the prettiest cities I've ever seen.
Thus ends (for now) the travelogue portion of this blog. I hope it was illuminating!
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