Ah, vacation is over. Matt and I are back to work. Finally, I have time to blog the past few weeks’ shenanigans.
How ridiculous! Vacation should be the best time to be blogging — but we were so busy! We finished up the move to our new apartment, and at the same time, enjoyed Matt’s family while they were visiting. All worked out well in the end: they had great patience for wandering the city with or without us, and for helping us settle into our new space.
Luckily, my mother-in-law took thousands of pictures and blogged for the folks at home every day (as did my niece-in-law). So, I will list only a few of the things we did together…
Food was very key to this family visit. Just about every other evening, we cooked a delectable array of fish at the old apartment, where the in-laws were staying. (The empty walls and rooms fairly echoed, as we had moved as much as we could before the family arrived.) Sweet Arctic char, marinated in a dill-sugar-vinegar mix and fried, three minutes on the skin side and one minute on the flesh side, was by far the favorite — like candy! And we persuaded my niece to try all sorts of foods otherwise foreign to her: Smoked salmon (the real kind in big thick slabs with a smoky-salty taste); roe; mussels and scallops; weird cheeses; the works!
We also ate out now and again. One evening found us at the top of the Kaknastornet, basking in the reflected light and sampling their fish stew and cantarelle risotto, among other delicacies. And the iPhones proved priceless in finding good lunch joints, and finding our way around, and taking photos…
It wasn’t all about food! We took a steamboat on a short ride into the Archipelago, to meet another family for a picnic/play-date on Vaxholm. One afternoon, the nephews (and Matt and his parents and theirs!) played at a local water park, a great little pond with splash zones; despite being at the center of high-rise apartments near the mall, it was surrounded by trees and so pleasant. Another day we spent walking through Skansen, checking out the historical buildings and visiting the Nordic animals (Moose! Panting in the afternoon heat. And wolverines! And owls! And wolves! No bears in sight, sadly).
The Young Family (Matt’s sister, her husband and the two nephews) could only spend a week with us, and headed home (and back to work) last Monday. After they left, our remaining crew (Matt’s mom, dad, and oldest niece) kept on sightseeing. Among other things, we biked around the Djurgarden, walked around Gamla Stan more, and visited the Nobel Museum. The family took the Millennium Tour, following the sites in Stigg Larsson’s books, while Matt and I kept unpacking. And while Matt and I and his dad finished up some last house tasks, Matt’s mom and niece toured the royal palace and related museums…
We even made it to Myrorna, to check out the second-hand stuff. I think my sister-in-law went home with Swedish cloth, among other things. But the biggest family outing may have been to the Biggest IKEA in the World, accessible by the red line on the T-Bana and a bus in Hammarby, a neighborhood to the south of Stockholm.
Last Thursday, I walked in with a huge chip on my shoulder — IKEA just promotes the Culture of Cheap, as far as I’m concerned, and I was peevish at the prospect of becoming part of that. But my list of things to buy was bigger than that chip, and we walked out with a new desk, lazy susans, a giant plant, lamps, dinner plates, and an assortment of other knickknacks and items that it is impossible not to buy as you walk out of the typical IKEA maze.
The first half of this particular store is arranged like a spiral, with the tantalizing living arrangements at the top, and a warren of departments as you walk down. The one thing that amazed me most were the sample apartments: How to fit a family of three into 30 square meters, or a family of four into 55 square meters, with shelves perched precariously high, bunkbeds and multipurpose benches tucked into corners, and cute IKEA posters and crates prettily perched around the many jam-packed rooms. It was amazing — and claustrophobic!
The biggest disappointment? The meatballs in the IKEA restaurant. I’m sorry, I know that sounds blasphemous. They tasted like the prepackaged ones from the grocery store. Ick. At least they had beer (on tap too!).
Sadly, the last of the family packed up and departed this Monday. Almost immediately after we waved goodbye to them on the Arlanda Express train to the airport, Matt took off to pick up a rental van so we could finish the rest of our move. That’s the next post, with photos of our new abode to come!