Sitting now in a random restaurant awaiting my venison. Yes, I am eating my way through another country another time. The Water Week Conference proved more interesting than I expected. There are clear parallels to the electric distribution sector and my mind was diving in and getting excited about learning another sector. However, the venison arrived more quickly than I expected and it was too good to share attention with writing. The ubiquitous lingonberries worked beautifully with the dark, rich meat and mushroom sauce. It was the first of several excellent meals none of which contained Swedish meatballs, sorry, they are good but meat balls are meat balls.
The second night in town, the weather cooperated enough that after meeting with Portia and the presentation panel, I went back to the hotel, changed and wandered the huge park near the hotel. In walking the waterside path, I came upon a restaurant built out onto the water. Sunset on the water was not far off so I got an English menu and ordered the “mushroom toast” although I was not entirely certain what it would be. It turned out to be a wonderful slab of sourdough bread topped with huge chanterelle mushrooms in cream sauce topped with fresh thyme. With a good glass of wine and the sunset, nothing could be finer.
My duties ended Thursday as it turns out that the conference did not automatically register speakers (not even for the day they speak) and so it did not seem cost effective to pay for sitting in a plenary session Friday morning. At the same time, Friday was rainy and chilly so I followed a largely indoor itinerary, visiting the Medieval Museum Where I learned that blood letting was used as a hangover cure. That scared me sober.
Having had the great good sense to bring a rain jacket, I wandered to the Hallwylska Museet. It was the home of the Count and Countess Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl and is described as “the most eccentric and engaging museums in Stockholm. Indeed, it is. I would have like Mina. One room contained the dining room table with eight chairs with needlepoint cushions and backs “made in one winter out of sheer desperation. I could not imagine a more garish production.” Mina described her early marriage days, “on a desolate farm with no neighbors, no social life and an absent husband. It was my job to mind the estate and in the long winter days, I developed depression and illness.” How often we humans create monsters and then blame the monster for existing. Take an intelligent woman and put her in sensory deprivation conditions. When she becomes depressed, simply blame her for being weak.
Fortunately for the world, Wilhelmina eventually made it into society and began to collect antiques and art. Further she had the foresight to insist that the accountants reinvest interest back into the principle of the foundation. That is why this museum is free. More fortunately, she outlived her husband and came into her own right as a collector to be reckon with. In the courtyard of the home there is a lovely little café where I enjoyed a simple lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich and tea. Please don’t imagine an American ham and cheese, rather think thin slices of Parma ham with Jarlsberg cheese on a delicious crusty roll.
Determined to make the most of the day by taking the road less traveled, I walked the short distance to the royal stables. It not just good to be the king, it’s good to be the king’s horses—and the princess’ pony. It was fortunate timing as a coach and four was out being exercised and the other horses were in residence. In case you ever need to know, there are two full gold decorated harness for eight sets and two in silver at the stables at all times. A third set of each is in England being restored at all times. The restoration takes two years so each time a set returns, another is shipped off to England.
On the way out, I noticed that the ponies had the remains of glittered polish on their hoofs. I guess if you are a princess, your pony can have sparkly feet.
After the sable tour it was time to meander over to the Adventure Café, in the increasing rain. Ah, yes, the Nordic safari tour did say “rain or shine.” Ok, I’m game. We filled a van and the tour guide remarked that she had never had an all-woman tour group. First stop was a picnic about 45 minutes out of Stockholm where we had a traditional mid-Summer meal, dang those meatballs again. The best part was that the guide showed us where to pick wild blueberries. We got thoroughly drenched having fun picking berries and eating them on the spot.
When we packed up the dinner and got on the road, we drove to a lake around which is protected land to preserve the water as a back up water source for the city. The farmers were not displaced but rather rent back the land. This is clearly great animal habitat. We did see a Roe Deer buck, a bit later a Roe Deer mom and faun and finally a herd of wild boar. Unfortunately, no moose but hey, we did see rune stones. It was fun in spite of the weather and the Lithuanian woman who spoke little English got her comments in with few words.