long ride home

Hi all,

Rather annoying, but my fully formed last email disappeared before I could send it out. So this is a rewrite.

On our last day in Stockholm (we were only in Stockholm for 4 nights), we took a ferry ride on a beautiful day which took us through a couple locks and into both Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea. Stockholm is built across 14 islands.

Took these photos of an area with new and ecological housing; they are deriving much of their power from methane extracted from their sewage. The combination of older boats and new housing seemed peculiarly Swedish to me. In fact, we saw mostly older boats on our little excursion.

Our recorded tour guide told us that Stockholm's archipelago is made up of 30,000 islands. We found that a little hard to swallow, so I googled it and it does appear to be correct (from the sacredearth-travel web site):

Yet, one would almost not believe that Stockholm is actually facing the Baltic - it is exceedingly well protected from the tidings of the sea by the plethora of large and small islands that are scattered all around it ... Estimates run from 24,000 - 30,000, but nobody is quite sure. Some are mere rocks poking out above the water; others are fully fledged islands, with villages and all. Others used to be islands, once upon a time, but over the years have become peninsulas - for Sweden has a unique geological feature - unlike other landmasses, which are disappearing under the rising oceans, Sweden continues to lift itself out of the waters of the Baltic Sea - at a rate of about 1 cm per hundred years. This is due to the fact that the glaciers which covered Sweden during the last ice age have all melted away, relieving the land of an enormous weight pressure and allowing it to slowly rise, centimetre by centimetre.

That oddly angled red and black building towards the right is the Vasa Museum, which houses the reassembled, highly decorated ship fished out of the waters after sinking 300 years ago.

 Lewis told me when he first came to Stockholm, it reminded him of Paris. I couldn't see it, but this scene does look a bit French to me.

We were not looking forward to the long trip home (which did involve Ryanair), but it turned out to be pretty tolerable. We stayed overnight at Connect Hotel across the street from Skavsta Airport (early morning Ryanair flight). A bit like staying in an Ikea showroom, but actually very well-designed and comfortable. Also super reasonable, especially for Sweden.

Connect Hotel has many lounges and public areas, probably because the hotel rooms are so small. It is very well thought out.

Don't know if you can see this from the photo, but the shower doors swing flat against the tile walls. When you want to take a shower, you pull them out and they interlock easily. Very important to us: the beds are very comfortable. The Diplomat in Stockholm quite possibly has the most comfortable mattress we have ever experienced, but Connect Hotel comes in second place for the trip. Our bed at home beats it out.

Survived the control freaks at Ryanair and arrived in Germany, again staying near the airport because of an early morning flight. The hotel in Kelsterbach was comfortable, but nothing remarkable. We took a walk through the small town and ended up hiking along the River Main.

River Main, looking towards Frankfurt.

No weight loss occurring here. Early dinner at Zum Schutzenhof, which has possibly been a restaurant since 1611. At least the building has been around since 1611. My German is nonexistent, so couldn't quite tell what the story is. The walls are festooned with antlers and deer heads. Here, we are eating a chicken cordon bleu with frites, washed down with German beer, heavy, straight-forward and pretty darn good. We did have a salad beforehand with some very well prepared sauerkraut.

Lovely comfortable flight to NY on Singapore. Economy, but we did pay for extra leg room (well worth it). Long layover at JFK (about 5 hours), and then a minor misery of a flight home on Virgin America, where we were squeezed into the back of the plane - the result of last-minute schedule changes on our part.

So we're home, back at Magnolia, and recovering, not too rapidly, from jet lag.


Era and Don