Saturday, May 26, 2012

SWEDEN: köping trip to Stockholm

6 hours to Stockholm
It’s six hours of mostly highway driving across the south of Sweden to Stockholm. Gustav’s father said we should aim to get there by early afternoon to avoid the city’s terrible traffic. Apart from an early coffee stop after Ljungby, the main diversion from the road was a quick drive through Jönköping at the southern tip of Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake.

A casual survey of Swedish towns shows a number have the word segment köping which signifies a market town: Jönkoping, Söderköping, Nyköping, … and more. These may be translated as Junemarket, Southmarket and Newmarket respectively. In English, one sees Chipping as the local form of this word. The Swedish pronunication is sherping which of course suggests shopping and you see the market connection.
I’ve only flown over Sweden in winter time, and really didn’t have much of a sense of what these larger lakes look like – so there you go, a 2000 sq km pool of water for your delectation. In fact quite delectable as Vättern is possibly the largest body of drinkable water in the world (out-ranking the much larger body of water in Russia’s Lake Baikal which has had a pulp mill discharging industrial waste into it for years).
Sodermalm pet sounds

Even with a couple more stops and a long hold up at Stockholm’s periphery where a bridge-raising halted all traffic, we were on the streets of the Södermalm precinct getting lattes by 2pm. We had a few hours to kill before we could pick up the keys for our weekend apartment, and this rather hip area, a bit like Seattle’s Capitol Hill was a pretty good choice to slowly stretch out on relatively quiet shady streets. Gustav waited patiently while I checked out the Moomin mug situation in one store, but I think I’ve exhausted my options for those in previous days. I will review the collection when I get back to the farm in a week or so.

We had a very slow crawl through Friday afternoon traffic to the Solna area on the northern side of town. There we met Gustav’s aunt & uncle who decanted some French wine for us when we came to pick up the keys. Munson passed out on their freshly watered lawn as a slow evening stretched out before us.

As I sat down to disgorge my camera’s memory card into my laptop for a blog update I realised that today is the 7th anniversary of setting out on the adventure that became El Loco & El Lobo in May 2005. This will be post 1435, which is conveniently divisible by 7, making it 205 posts/year.

Even with all the readers who have dropped in over that time, and some have stayed through thick and thin (and thanks! to you), this pales next to one YouTube video which I posted 3 years ago showing a young Munson playing in Sydney Park with a handful of puppies. That video has quietly grown in views till it reached some of YouTube’s feature channels and when I just looked had scored 412,003 views! When I think of how many countries I had to walk Bondi to score equivalent views…

As I drove into Stockholm today I realised that there were not many major European capitals left for me to see, and that all of those I’ve been to, I’ve driven into with a rather large malamute as my companion.

Still to visit: Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Brussels, Berne, Luxembourg, Athens and Zagreb. With the exception of Portugal which required extra visa paperwork for Australians, I did see plenty of the non-capital bits of those countries.

Didn't get to many of the Balkan states due to quarantine issues, and thus couldn't reach Athens on a land route. Malta, Iceland similarly restricted, and Romania was a bit risky due to highway thuggery. Russia is now accessible without pet quarantine but its new anti-gay laws are hardly likely to draw me now.

The capitals I’ve visited, in no particular order: London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin, Belfast, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Ljubljana, Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Prague.

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