In the meantime...

It's going to take some time to process the next batch of photos, but in the meantime I have added an RSS feed. Hopefully this will be of some use to some of you.

Notes and Thoughts on Stockholm, Part 2

Here we are in part 2 of what seems like it will be an epic description of the things I saw and did on this trip. The next set of photos will focus more on the Gamla stan, Skeppsholmen, and Kastellholmen areas of Stockholm. I'm really just getting these names off Google Maps, so I'm really hoping they're accurate.

3324119716_bdc18dd61f_m.jpgAlleyOne of my favorite characteristics of Gamla stan are the alleys. They're narrow and colorful and reassuringly peaceful. While the alleys in Seville were certainly narrower and more colorful and busier, I didn't realy feel comfortable in them. Not that they were dangerous or anything, but somehow different. I would almost say these alleys in Stockholm felt a bit like a hug. Not warm, but oddly close. Maybe it was the feeling of solitude I liked. As an introvert, I seek out spaces away from others where I can consider my own thoughts and I felt like walking through these alleys might give me that peace. You know, if I were actually alone.

Horse BoyHorse BoyWe encountered this statue outside a school, which I would assume to be for the elementary grade levels judging by the playground in the yard. What struck me as odd about this statue is A) it's outside a school, B) this is a youngish boy who is naked, C) so n aked you can see his dangly bits (not so much in these photos), D) his right arm has encountered brokenness. While A, B, and C are likely quite intentional, I am sure D was not intended by the sculptor, and less disturbing.

We walked over to these really satisfying islands, Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen which you should be able to see in the map I'm linking to if you zoom in a bit there. You can see in this photo the view from what I think is a monument across the river. There were some interesting and fun things there like swans and odd tunnels cut into the rock that seemed to contain hundreds of garbage cans. There was a sort of castle that I believe is a tourist information building, or something. Right across from that building was the tall ship you saw docked in the ealier picture. I thought the prow was kind of nice, so I snapped that as well. Walking across to Kastellholmen we found this interesting castle-like building. You know, I don't really care for buildings that look like castles but really aren't. I mean, I don't know what the official definition of a castle is, but I just feel like these buildings don't qualify. Still, fun to walk around and look at. Walking back to Skeppsholmen and strolling around to where the boats are docked we found things like tiny herb gardens ruled over by a frog prince and fake owls perched on masts and the bad house named such for reasons that escape me.

And I think that's pretty much the conclusion of my quick overview of the Stockholm photos. There were more, of course, and I invite you to look through the complete set. There were other interesting places and occurrences that I didn't photograph, such as the "American Cookie" in the mall. This is one of those middle-of-the-mall type of food places like a Ms. Field's except they offer large chocolate muffins that might be filled with cream stuffs or chocolate stuffs or topped with soft serve. I tried for 15 minutes to buy a muffin, but they didn't seem interested in serving me. Maybe they smelled the American on me and wanted to avoid any potential conflict. I learned that "public" bathrooms cost money to use, including and especially those in the mall. A GameStop in the mall actually still has a relativeily large PC section (while the GameStops I've seen locally no longer sell PC games). Oh yes, and the really fun dinner at the Mongolian BBQ place with some Swedes and the Englishman and the Dutchies. Of course, I'm not in the picture, so no one can actually prove I was there.

Notes and Thoughts on Stockholm, Part 1

Work on new features or post about the trip... You have no idea how difficult a decision this is for me... Alright, I'll write about the trip. I went through the photos from Stockholm yesterday and posted an all new set. Feel free to peruse, but the interesting notes will be housed herein.

My room at the Nordic Sea HotelMy room at the Nordic Sea HotelI believe I posted about my hotel room at the Nordic Sea hotel already, but I thought it might be useful to point a few things out. First of all, "space is at a premium." I get it. I'm just not used to "small" on such a tiny scale. The shower was a simple standup shower stall that lacked anywhere to put your shower accessories. There were no windows (but I knew this going in) and in terms of floor space, about enough room to turn around if your own stuff was in order. Now all that said, I didn't mind at all. I don't need much space just for myself and I was happy to save money that I would need to save in order to spend it elsewhere on the trip. I simply bring it up to indicate my surprise at the size of the room compared to what I would be used to in a "cheap" room in the States.

Tourist ShopsThese sorts of shops were everywhere, whether it was Stockholm, Seville, or Amsterdam. Of course, the character of each location was distinct. In Stockholm it was the odd knick-knacks like the creepy dolls in this picture or Betty Boop or troll figurines. In Seville it was generally related to matadors and bulls. In Amsterdam there were foam clogs and headshops.

Enter hereNice ArchThis is one of the first impressive sights I was confronted with as we strolled through a darkening Stockholm on my first day there. An ice covered river stretching out to my right and an arch leading to the unknown ahead. Well, to me anyway. I'm trying to read the Google Map on this now and it looks like this bit is called the Helgeandsholmen and no, I can't pronounce that. These bridges lead to Tre Kronor, a castle and now the Stockholm Palace where the Swedish monarchy resides. I guess. It doesn't seem all that pretty and I pretty much just snapped the picture and moved on.

Coffee ShopCoffee ShopCoffee ShopStockholm was brimming with coffee shops. Yes, there were Starbucks and in case I recall, they were within a block of each other. However, the independent (as far as I could tell) coffee shops were by far more numerous and much much MUCH cooler. The establishment captured in these photos was easily my favorite (of the ones we visited). First of all, it was underground. From street level you had to take a flight of stairs down into the belly of the block. The ceilings were low and arched with a sort of medieval wine cellar feel (I thought). Tables, chairs, and couches were completely unmatched. There were small bookshelves here and there. There were coffee tables (natch) and end tables where you could find things like decks of cards or an old globe. The lighting was low (hence the high ISO and grainy pictures) and atmospheric. Also, there were tasteful photos of nude women adorning the walls, seen best (and still poorly) in the third picture. Seriously, I want to hug this place and hide it in my bag and bring it back with me to the States. The hot chocolate was very good although, differently. Instead of using sweet whipped cream as I am used to, they used unsweetened, which was good as well. They serve hot chocolate in tall glasses that you would normally serve something like orange juice in. If nothing else, it made holding it a tad difficult... but I didn't really care. I was too overwhelmed by awesomeness to care.

Hmmm... It looks like this is going to be a tad lengthy and the hour grows late. I think I shall have to break this up into parts... So look for the next part to be posted within the next day or two.


Now that I'm back I've made a few improvements and hopefully, bug fixes. The two biggies are the removal of all "admin" links. You should now only see these links if you have access to see them. Second, there are now links at the bottom of each article that will link to either the comments already posted in that article, or to the post comments form. That should hopefully reduce some of the confusion people have expressed when trying to find out how/where to comment. I have also un-nested the comments. They should now display in a sort of threaded mode. I don't know if this really "works" yet, so hopefully some of you can provide some feedback on this (assuming there are comments posted to actually get a feel for it).

Finally, I think and hope I have fixed the bug that was preventing people from commenting. Thanks Trish!


Home at last, home at last, thank God almighty, home at last. I really hope MLKJr. doesn't hate me too much for bastardizing that. And it's not like I disliked the trip in any way, it's just nice to finally be home. My flight actually got in around 15:00, and then an hour to get through immigration and baggage collection and customs. Dad graciously picked me up at the airport (in my own car?) and drove me back to his house. I walked him through some of the more interesting photos and then he and Martha took me out to dinner (mostly because I really wanted to avoid making dinner for myself tonight). So now I am finally home in my own house. And, of course, before I do any unpacking, I think I'll open up and set up that monitor I won in my first eBay auction.

Priorities man!

So this Amsterdam place...

Amsterdam has canals?We spent much of yesterday walking around Amsterdam. As I understand it, this was a typical day in the Netherlands, gray, cold, a little windy, and sometimes rainy. Still, it's a generally pretty city. We didn't really do much as there doesn't really seem like much to do. We went to the Anne Frank House and that was interesting. It's difficult not to get emotional walking through those rooms and reading Anne's words.

There were crowded shopping streets and coffee shops, *cough* sorry, "coffee shops." We met up with Emma, Jochem, and Tracy for dinner at a Greek restaurant called Delphi in Leiden which was wonderful food and a very pleasant evening talking about all the differences between the States and Europe/Netherlands. And for those keeping count, I had two glasses of wine and three shots of ouzo with dinner. Buzzed? Yus.

After dinner, Jochem and Tracy drove Sander and I back to Sander's where we played a game called Medina in which I lost most gloriously. Sander won, though he would probably preface that with "I never win!" which I have a sneaking suspicion isn't entirely accurate.

I have to admit, at this point, I am rather looking forward to getting home. it's been a long week and I'm feeling pretty drained.

Welcome to the Netherlands

Flew into Amsterdam today. No pictures or anything, just a simple train ride and then a bus ride and then a short walk to Sander's house. We're chilling for the evening and recovering some from a day of travel. I am definitely feeling run down by everything that's been happening, so a little down time is appreciated.

Rome for a day...

Ampitheatre - ItalicaVisited some really fantastic Roman ruins at Italica. The best of it all was the amphitheatre that we could walk around in as illustrated (sort of) by the photo here. Unfortunately, it's late and I need to get to bed given the extremely early time we need to be up in the morning to catch our flight.

There's something about cathedrals...

Catedral y GiraldaThey just tend to be some of the most visually stunning structures you will ever see. I took lots of pictures of the Catedral y Giralda, but I only have time right now for these few.
Catedral y GiraldaCatedral y Giralda

The Park Life

Chilling in the parkIt's about a quarter after four and we've been sitting in this beautiful park for about thirty minutes. Chris and I are sitting on a pleasant shaded marble bench while Sander is lying on a very sunny grassy area in the middle. Though I have already gotten a lot of sun on my face that is probably going to be quite annoying this evening, I am fairly certain Sander is going to be in a lot more distress.

So far today we've found our way from the hotel to a sort of central square area that wasn't really a square in its actual shape, but the effect is the same. There's a great fort there, Alcazar I believe, as well as a spectacular cathedral that we walked through. Many wonderful (I hope) pictures were taken.

After the cathedral we found a tapas place to have lunch at. That was quite satisfying in its deliciousness. I'm not real sure what else we have planned but I'm not sure I care right now. The air smells amazing and the temperature is just perfect. The sun will be setting soon, I suppose, so we'll have to work something out, but in the meantime, I am happy to just sit here and breathe.