When I wrote last May about my trip to Stockholm, I knew I’d travel back for Stockholm World Water Week in August. As this pillar of the water community is looming on the horizon, I wanted to share some aspects of last August in addition to my visit back in February.

(c) Kathryn Pharr, 2015

Stockholm Bridge, (c) Kathryn Pharr, 2015

I will pause a moment to explain this World Water Week phenomena. It’s an annual event organized by SIWI (Stockholm International Water Institute) that brings together people from around the world (~3,300) who work on water issues. It’s a wonderful, jam-packed week that flies by and is never-ending with sharing experiences and meeting new and old friends. In 2015, the mingle dance included an awesome tribute ABBA band that we all loved.

Skansen, (c) Kathryn Pharr, 2015

Skansen, (c) Kathryn Pharr, 2015

It was a lot of work, but we did have fun. Colleagues and I explored Stockholm through a Under the Bridges tour of Stockholm, which included a fabulous sunset and seeing Hammerby Sjostad, a sustainable urban neighborhood. One evening reception was at City Hall with its Blue Hall, that is covered in gold. There was a great evening of dining al fresco at Eriks Gondolen in Slussen with its stunning view of the city. After the conference, I wandered around the open-air museum of Skansen,

which opened in 1891 with houses from throughout Sweden (& now with period costumes from across 500 years of Swedish history) and with its own little zoo. If you enjoy Colonial Williamsburg, this is a must!

 

Galma Stan, (c) Kathryn Pharr, 2016

Galma Stan, (c) Kathryn Pharr, 2016

The long summer evenings in Sweden were a sharp contrast to the shorter February days of my next visit. However, I deeply appreciated the dustings of snow that I came for. While there was less time to enjoy Stockholm in the sunlight, I appreciated my evenings in Slussen, a hip part of town that is easily accessible on the T-bana and that is walking distance into Galma Stan, the Old City. Slussen has good thrift shops and some fun local bars like the Black and Brown Inn.

In winter, it was wonderful to start the day with kardemummabullar (Swedish cardamom rolls). Even better were semla, special Shrove Tuesday buns. Working with a local partner for a few weeks, I also enjoyed Fika (afternoon cake time), which is a “daily” tradition in Sweden but luckily for my waistline, this organization only brought in goodies once a week! I had a lovely dinner in the basement of Gyldene Freden in Galma Stan.

Skiing on palace, 2016

Skiing on palace, 2016

It was a cool experience to catch the ferry that is part of public transportation from Slussen to the Vasa museum of the ship that sank just beyond port in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later. The restoration work and the sheer size of the ship was stunning. The other big tourist attraction I saw was The Royal Palace in Galma Stan. We did not plan enough time to explore everything, but we did enjoy watching the changing of the guards. The guided tour of the palace rooms was amazingly well done. In the winter, it seems you can ski for free down the steps of the palace, so I had a go. Note: downhill skis are not the same as cross country skis.

Vasa museum, 2016

Vasa museum, 2016

With the cold weather, I’ll admit I did buy a Swedish sweater as a souvenir. It was a needed and beautiful expense. I can’t wait to find out what my next Stockholm adventures include!

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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr

Landing in Stockholm was a bit like landing in any other European city (there is something about European airports that separates them from others, I just can’t name it). It was early May, and the weather was what I’d been told to anticipate: cool enough for a trench-coat and grey enough to wish you had an umbrella in hand. I’d tried to obtain Swedish krona at the Dulles airport, but it was easy to purchase my Arlanda train ticket to the City Centre with my credit card (with pin number-required for most travel outside the US now).

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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr

Whether experienced in typical spring rain or a pocket of sunshine, Stockholm is breathtaking and begs to be explored. It is built across fourteen islands on Lake Malaren, which connects to the Baltic Sea. The result is a delightful number of bridges to cross and infinite photographing possibilities. The Old Town section of the city, also known as Gamla Stan, dates from the mid-1200s. I walked past the Royal Palace, one of the largest in Europe containing over 600 rooms. I particularly enjoyed exploring the cobblestone streets and ducking into tourist shops with trinkets of Pippi Longstockings, trolls, nisse or tomtes (a house nome), Dalecarlian horses, and St. Lucia. As evening fell, I wandered around the neighboring island of Skeppsholmen, which is particularly peaceful after dark and the museums are closed.

I stayed at the Art Nouveau styled  Diplomat Hotel, in Norrmalm (City Centre)  next to the Nybroviken harbor and a short walk to Old Town. The breakfast buffet was particularly impressive. I enjoyed several wonderful meals nearby, including dinner at Broms. I loved Eriks Bakficka in Östermalm near the Djurgården bridge to the “museum island,” which served a fabulous version of a local dish Kalpudding, a cabbage and meat casserole with lingonberry jam. It was amazing. I also enjoyed the traditional cod and potatoes with butter and fresh dill dishes.

I hope to return to Stockholm and see more of the city during Stockholm World Water Week. I would love to explore the Vasa museum and go on a boat ride although I’m likely to skip the ABBA museum.

One extra delight for me on this work trip was to have dinner with my dear friends who live in the suburb, Hasselby, which is easily accessible on the city’s metro (tunnelbana), which is clean and easy to use. It was wonderful to see their lively daughter and meet their new son.

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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr