Two Busy Days

16 and 17 August 2017: On Wednesday, Lucy and Isaac rode Stockholm City Bikes with David all the way to David’s office. They left on the late side, which allowed the kids to sleep in a bit and also ensured that there would be less traffic with which to contend. Meanwhile, Thomas (who isn’t much of a cyclist) and I took the #57 bus to meet up with them. Thomas and Isaac stayed with David at work all day while Lucy and I did some shopping downtown. We thought we might also visit a museum we hadn’t seen before, but instead we went back to the apartment in the afternoon and just did things at home (we were tired–we’ve been pretty busy this trip!).

On our way home from shopping, walking through the teen section of the Kulturfestivalen

For dinner, we got take out pizza for the kids and David and I walked down to a nice Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. He had a nice pasta dish and I had a pizza, half of which I ended up taking home (it was big!). Between my leftovers and the kids’ leftovers, we had enough for our lunch the next day.

Our next bit of excitement was the next day after our leftovers lunch. We took the ferry over to Djurgården and got in what seemed to be the world’s longest queue for entrance into Gröna Lund. We’ve been there many times, but never before have we visited when they didn’t open until 3:00pm. Apparently for those late openings, everyone shows up at once — people no doubt wanted to get their money’s worth out of the entrance fee and the ride tickets. Most of the summer the park opens at 10:00am, so it’s a difference of five hours. Plus the concert that evening was Korn, a heavy metal band that has a fairly large following. The kids and I weren’t even sure that we’d get in, the line was so incredibly long. We managed to meet up with David, who was unable to convince the guards that he had family already in line until we were within view. Then he was able to join us.

Waiting for the ferry along with an extra big crowd

The weather that day was perfect, which no doubt also contributed to the huge crowd — it was about 75 F and sunny. A very nice late summer day, one to be enjoyed as much as possible before the cold sets in in the fall.

About an hour after we were in the park, we met up with our friend, Anders, and his son, Dennis. The kids all went on rides together while the adults chatted. We managed to have dinner together, too, although it wasn’t easy to find a place to sit.

The swing ride, one of the kids’ favorites

Getting dusted by the clown on stilts

Dennis won a huge box of candy bars, which was his goal

The flying carpet, one of my favorites

Anders and Dennis left the park about the time that the band, Korn, started playing. Dennis has already started school, so he needed to get home and get to bed. David and Thomas watched most of the Korn show, while Lucy, Isaac, and I went on a few more rides.

Korn had a pretty impressive light show

In motion on the small drop tower

On the other side of the park there was classical dancing, in sharp contrast to the Korn concert

We should’ve been smart and left Gröna Lund before the Korn show let out or at least just after it ended. By the time we left, the crowd waiting for the ferry was extremely large. We opted to take a tram into town instead, but we were still packed in like sardines. Maybe next time we’ll plan our exit a little better.

 

Kulturfestivalen, Our 8th Year

15 August 2017: After a relaxing morning at home, the kids and I took the subway to the downtown area where we visited Stockholm’s annual Kulturfestivalen. This year’s theme is Bollywood, so there were loads of fantastic food trucks, music, and dancing. Many of the major museums in the city sponsor crafts and games for kids. There is no charge to participate — you only need to pay for your own food and drink or bring a picnic.

On our second train to T-Centralen (there was a very drunk and belligerent guy on our original train, so we got off at the very first stop and waited for the next one heading in the same direction)

Trying out his circus skills

Bravely going upside down even though she said she couldn’t do it

Learning to make braided ropes using a knitting technique

Lucy and Isaac worked on making knitted braids for a very long time. Meanwhile, Thomas and I played a couple of games and read some gaming history. We had our lunch right before this — a falafel wrap from a food truck for Thomas, a salmon salad for Isaac, and a veggie salad that Lucy and I split.

Playing checkers with Thomas (he won!)

Looking out over the water at the Grand Hotel

Indian music and dancing on the stage near the kids’ craft area

After work, David biked over and met up with us at the Kulturfestivalen. Since it was an absolutely perfect day (low 70s F and sunny), we decided to trek to Gondolen for appetizers and drinks. Isaac wanted to ride the bike, so he cycled and David walked with him. The rest of us hiked over to the bus stop and took the #55 up to Slussen.

Getting to Gondolen from the Slussen bus stop is much more challenging than it used to be — there is so much construction! According to signage, the Slussen project should be complete by 2025. It’s certainly an enormous undertaking. We followed signs and ramps and eventually managed to find the entrance. Then we took the elevator up to the top and were delighted to discover that we’d arrived early enough in the evening to get a table.

Rebuilding Slussen

Enjoying strawberry surprises, a tradition for us at Gondolen

Kraftor! August is the month for crayfish and crayfish parties.

We left too early to be able to see the Stamatol toothpaste sign light up

From Gondolen, we walked to Shanti Soft Corner, a restaurant where we met up with some friends for dinner. The kids ate a surprising amount of food considering that we’d just had appetizers at Gondolen. We let them go early from the table so that they could walk over (or run to) the pirate playground while the adults sat and chatted. It was easy to collect the kids from the playground on our walk home — it was right on our way.

Skansen!

14 August 2015: Originally the kids and I were going to spend our day at Gröna Lund, but we discovered that it would be less expensive for us to go on Thursday since the guys want to be there for a concert that evening. The entrance fee for going in the evening just for the concert is quite a bit more than the regular entrance fee to the amusement park. If you pay the higher cost of the evening entrance fee, you can use that ticket stub for entry to all of the summer concerts. But since we’re only here for another couple of days, that higher price doesn’t make sense for us. So, we came up with a Plan B to visit Skansen today and Gröna Lund on Thursday (and the guys will stay late for the show).

We’ve been to Skansen more than to any other place in Stockholm — I’m not sure how many times we’ve been there, but it must be easily close to 20 by now. There’s always something new or something we haven’t seen before and we enjoy ourselves thoroughly every time. It can even be cold and rainy and we still have a nice time at Skansen.

On the ferry to Djurgården

Entering Skansen via funicular (available only in the summer months)

Isaac thought he might be able to pick up a duck (he could not–the ducks were wise to him and other kids)

Goats — the main reason that the kids wanted to come

Isaac was in love with this little one, so soft and he/she had a crazy loud bleat

When Lucy, Isaac, and I visited Skansen back in the spring, the goat enclosure was closed for the season. We simply had to return in the summertime so that we could all pet the friendly goats.

After the goats, we washed our hands (!) and then got a light lunch nearby. Shortly after that, the kids wanted to run around the snake slide, which kept them occupied for a very long time. They invented some sort of game, which they all enjoyed and about which they managed not to argue. Meanwhile, I sat near an ice cream kiosk, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and watched all the happy people walking by. It’s often a blessing not to have international Internet access on my cell phone!

My view from near a snack stand

Some sort of king of the hill game near the snake slide

We finally walked by the Dala horses when no one else was on them

Of course, the kids had to have sockervadd (cotton candy) and sit on the rock that used to seem enormous but which no longer seems quite so large. Then it was off to the squirrel playground for more outdoor fun.

This rock gets smaller every year!

Climbing at the squirrel playground

Finally, we walked over to an indoor restaurant for ice cream treats that Lucy and Isaac really wanted (they had had some there in March that we’ve been unable to find elsewhere in town). Skansen staff were setting up for the weekly televised sing-a-long and the crowd was starting to arrive. Some folks had already claimed chairs, no doubt in their favorite spots.

Final snacks of the day

The view of the city from near the Skansen stage

Horsing around on the cannons

Then it was back on the ferry and the bus to get back to the apartment. We’ve certainly gotten our money’s worth from our weekly SL (transit) cards this trip. By the time we got home, I’d somehow developed a minor migraine. David thankfully stepped in, bought some groceries, and cooked up a tasty Mexican meal for the kids. The kids were delighted not to have to leave the apartment for dinner — they would stay home every night if they could.

Waiting for the #55 bus (they changed the ad signs since a day or two earlier)

Sunday Swimming Plus a Movie

13 August 2017: After five years, we finally made it back to Erikdalsbadet. Last time we were there we had to keep a very close watch on the kids, catching them after they came out of the water slides because they weren’t solid swimmers at ages 5, 5, and 6. This time, however, the adults could sit in the jacuzzis while the kids had a blast in the adventure area. That was a good thing, too, because the adults were quite wimpy about the slightly chilly water and the even chillier air temperature.

Walking down the path to Erikdalsbadet

Erikdalsbadet: outdoor pools, indoor pools, a water slide area, a gym, a cafe, a butik, and more

Folks swimming in the outdoor pools on a gray, but warm day

We stayed for several hours and even had our lunch from the poolside cafe. Just as we were leaving it started to rain heavily, so we were quite glad that we’d remembered to pack our umbrellas.

No one in the outdoor pools as we left since it was raining

Once we got home, we had just enough time to clean up and change clothes before it was time to walk over to the movie theater at Medborgarsplatsen. We had been looking forward to seeing the movie “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” with the whole family. Seeing teen or adult movies here in Sweden is easy for us since they’re shown in English, with Swedish subtitles. It also gives us a chance to learn a bit more Swedish, if we can keep up with the dialogue and check ourselves against the subtitles.

Getting some movie snacks

Watching the previews

After the movie was over around 7:30pm, Thomas was quite hungry. The one place nearby that we knew was open on a Sunday was a hamburger place called Bun Meat Bun. Thomas got his burger while the rest of us shared some cheese fries with jalapeños. Back when we lived here in 2009, it was tough to find spicy food. Now, however, it’s everywhere.

Waiting for our buzzer to go off at Bun Meat Bun

Inside Söderhallarna, where just about everything was closed on a Sunday evening

On the basket swing, as we walked back to the apartment

Once again, we stopped at the pirate park on our walk home. This time, though, we ended up leaving Lucy and Isaac there to play for awhile, with instructions to walk home at a certain time and the rest of us continued on. After the twins got back, they asked for more outdoor time and played in the green area outside the apartment until after dark.

 

A New Museum

12 August 2017: We mostly had a lazy Saturday morning at home, catching up on sleep and household chores. In the late morning, or really about lunch time, we set about on a small, but quite fun adventure. We’d read that there was a new Scout Museum that was only open by appointment for groups or on the second weekend of the month during the summer, from 10am to 2pm, for individuals. Since it was the second weekend of the month and we have three current scouts in our family, we decided to check it out and see what it was all about. We walked from our apartment to the red line train and rode until the Örnsberg stop. After a very short walk in a pleasant suburban area, we came to the Scout Museum.

The train stop at Örnsberg, a quiet little suburb

The Scoutmuseet, which takes up several rooms on the first floor inside this building

At the entrance, we followed the instructions to press a buzzer in order to alert staff that we were there for the museum and be let in. When the door opened, we were greeted by a truly kind and friendly man who was dressed in a scout uniform. He gave us a wonderful, relaxed tour of the place and answered all of our questions. Two other small groups were there, a woman who was pushing a 90-year-old man in a wheelchair. He had been a scout and he said he was at the 1938 World Jamboree (we think he probably meant 1937?). There were also two men from the Netherlands who were quite interested in the exhibits — they bought a hardback book (“100 Years of Scouting”) as they left.

Examining gifts to the Swedish scouting group from when the Swedes hosted the world jamboree

Scout jamborees around the world throughout history

Looking at some of the old uniforms

Knots, all kinds of knots!

Isaac volunteered to try on one of the rucksacks, to see how it fit and how heavy it was

One of the girls’ uniforms with guidelines on where to place badges and patches

Although the museum was small, it was beautifully laid out and it contained an unbelievable variety of scout essentials and mementos from 100+ years of scouting in Sweden. There was also an extensive library and a teaching room for tour groups. As we left, we purchased some scout patches for the kids and we also bought a pamphlet that was authored by our wonderful guide. It was a special experience and we all enjoyed it thoroughly.

After taking the red line train back home, we fixed a nice lunch in the apartment and had a relaxing afternoon. For dinner, we went to Medborgarplatsen where we ate in  what turned out to be a very nice Thai restaurant. Thomas had been talking about wanting to eat Thai food for days, so finally he got to have some. David, Isaac, and Lucy rode Stockholm City Bikes there while Thomas and I walked over. We all walked home so that the kids could have some time to play in the pirate park.

Lucy’s raspberry spritzer (raspberries, 7Up, and lemon juice)

The boys ordered Bumblees (banana, lemon, and Pepsi)

The view from our third and final table (we moved once to get away from the heat lamp and another time because it started to rain)

Climbing around in the pirate park

Hanging around in the pirate park

Once back in the apartment, some of us watched more of the London 2017 Games while others read or played video games. Quite a nice Saturday.

Spårvägsmuseet

11 August 2017: The Stockholm Transport Museum is a place we hadn’t visited since the kids were really young, in the spring of 2009. Last time we were there, I didn’t get to see much of the place or read any of the history or explanations of the exhibits since the kids mostly wanted to play in one or two spots, color, and ride on the tiny wooden train. This time I think that Lucy and I read nearly everything and ventured into all of the buses, trams, and subway cars that were open to us. The boys mostly played an old pinball machine that was part of the adjacent Toy Museum.

On the #2 Sofia, one of my favorite bus routes

The first order of business was to get some lunch. The kids have been waking up pretty late in the mornings, having a very small breakfast at best, then needing a decent sized lunch about the time we’re headed out some place. Although Thomas mentioned that he might like some Thai food, the easiest and most expedient thing to do was to utilize the museum cafe. He ended up being quite pleased with his ham and cheese sandwich.

Having a surprisingly nice lunch at the museum

Trying out some of the old tram cars

Stockholm transportation fonts over the years

A dinner feast circa 1910 on board one of the commuter ferries

A map from the late 1900s, showing Grinda and Gällnö, two of the islands we visited on Tuesday

After Lucy and I had seen just about everything in the transportation museum, we explored the toy museum for a few minutes. The kids were tired and a bit bored by that time, so we didn’t linger long.

Legos from the 1960s and 1970s in the toy museum

The Seven Dwarfs

After looking around for a short time in the toy museum, we rode back on the #2 bus to Slussen, then took the #55 bus to Mariatorget. From there, we walked a short distance to a fantastic gelato shop, Stikki Nikki. We all ordered some delicious flavors, then went across the street to a park to enjoy our treats and the absolutely beautiful afternoon.

Gelato from Stikki Nikki

The fountain in the park across from the gelato shop

This boy truly enjoyed his gelato!

For dinner, we went to the food court in a mall down the street from our apartment. This isn’t just any mall food court — each of the stalls is managed by a famous Stockholm chef. The food is incredibly good, much less expensive than in the corresponding restaurants, and fast. We ordered food from three different stalls and had quite a wonderful dinner. We tried this place back in March, but it was the first time that Thomas had a chance to dine there. After we got back to the apartment, we watched some more of the London 2017 Games on tv and got to bed later than we should have.

 

 

Visiting a Brand New Museum

10 August 2017: Again, it was a struggle to convince the kids to leave the apartment. I finally prevailed, guiding them down the street to the bus that would take us to the Djurgården ferry. We were headed to a completely new museum between Aquaria and the Vasa Museet, a museum called Vikingaliv.

Sitting inside the ferry on a gray day

The first order of business was getting some lunch, as everyone was pretty hungry. We headed straight to the museum, thinking that we’d dine in the museum’s cafe. The first thing that we came across was the summer cafe, which was outdoors. They didn’t quite offer the full menu from that location, but there was enough variety for us. It was a little chilly and quite windy, but the view was lovely and they were playing Beatles music.

Holding on to our napkins and food in the brisk wind

The Airstream trailer in which our food was prepared

The museum was quite nice, although small. The size of the place allowed us to read just about every caption as well as to enjoy a couple games of Viking chess. Then it was on to the 11-minute amusement-style ride, which told the story of one hypothetical Viking family. We thought that it would be scarier than it was, since it was recommended only for kids older than seven years. The themes were dark, though, so we were certainly glad that there was a happy ending to the whole drama.

Trying on the Viking helmet

Concentrating on Viking chess

The final scene, thankfully a happy ending

Back on the ferry, heading home with his new sword

The view from our window in the ferry

Waiting for the #55 bus to show up

Once we disembarked from the ferry, we waited for awhile for our bus. The #55 that picked us up was pretty crowded since it was beginning to be rush hour. We still had space to stand, though, and eventually we found seats as people got off at various stops.

After we got back to the apartment, Thomas and I went to the ICA grocery store. Then Lucy and I walked down to a nearby pizza restaurant, ordered three small pizzas to go, and carried them home for our dinner. David dined out with colleagues at a new trendy place. Although the kids and I could’ve gone along, we knew that the restaurant would likely be packed and that the dinner itself would be lengthy. The kids much preferred to eat pizza in the apartment, followed by some video gaming and some reading as well as watching a little tv in Swedish.  All in all, it was a very nice, mostly low-key day.

It’s All About the Kids

9 August 2017: Today we had an itinerary that the kids loved — all kid-oriented activities. Still they complained a bit about leaving the apartment (they always want to stay home), but once we were out and about they had fun. First we took a bus to the downtown area and had lunch at McDonald’s. We rarely eat at McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S., but the kids seem to like the food here in Stockholm much better. They claim that the chicken nuggets are much tastier and that they seem to be higher quality. Lucy and I enjoy the fact that we can get a pretty yummy veggie wrap, something not possible to order stateside.

Waiting for the #55 bus

Next we went to a large toy store called BR. It used to be in the Gallerian Mall, but due to construction it’s now located across the street from Åhléns City. It took us a little while to find it. At BR we were simply going to buy some more Plus Plus blocks, but we ended up leaving with a few Lego sets as well. I’m not keen on purchasing Lego in Sweden since it’s more expensive than it is in the U.S., but I took solace in the fact that they’ll most likely construct the sets. That means that I won’t have to find a way to pack them — we can leave them in the apartment as decoration.

Looking over the huge selection of Lego sets

Next it was on to the Tekniska Museet, a place we’ve visited on numerous occasions. Every time we go, we see something we haven’t seen before. They’re always improving sections of the museum and there are traveling exhibits as well.

Having fun on the bus to Tekniska

First order of business, drinks and snacks

Interacting with one of the exhibits

This section was new to us and all three kids gave it a try

Setting up the mine explosion

Detonation!

Looking out over the math garden that is currently being built

Playing outside near the police museum

Solved! On the bus on our way home.

Once we got back to the apartment, we made pasta and salad for dinner and ate at home. We all watched some more of the London 2017 Games and then headed to bed at a reasonable time.

Off to the Archipelago

8 August 2017: We accidentally got an early start this morning. For some reason, we all woke up around 4:45am. That timing doesn’t make much sense for jet lag coming from the U.S., so we were stumped as to why we were suddenly wide awake. We needed to get out the door on the early side, but not that early!

Once we had some breakfast, we took a bus around 8:30am in order to catch a boat at 9:30am. We got to the boat loading area by 9:00am and were shocked to find a huge queue already. Eventually we figured out that despite what was listed on the timetables, the long line wasn’t for the boat we needed (hooray!). We were actually some of the first passengers on our particular boat, so we had our pick of seats.

Waiting for the boat to depart from downtown

Reading and gaming onboard

We were headed to Stockholm’s archipelago, first to Grinda by commuter boat and then to our friend’s island, Borg Holmen, by private boat. The commuter boat ride was about an hour and a half long. There was a small cafe onboard, so we got some nice mid-morning snacks. The ride was fairly rough from time to time, but everyone did just fine.

Passing the Vasa Museet on our way to Grinda

The cable ferry at Vaxholm

Arriving at Grinda

On our friend’s boat, expertly piloted by his 10-year-old son, Dennis

We spent an absolutely lovely day at Borg Holmen with our friends. The kids jumped on the trampoline, played with the dog, waded in the frigid Baltic, played with water squirters, and even did a little swimming.

Isaac and Dennis on the trampoline

Wading in the cold, cold water

Trying to convince the dog to drop the ball

Sleepy teenager

For lunch, we took two boats over to another island, Gällnö. It’s become quite popular in recent years, so it was pretty crowded. We managed to find two tables in order to seat all eight of us. We dined on delicious plates of cheese, olives, grilled bread, salads, sausages, and more. Once the kids had had their fill, they went off to climb a nearby tree while the adults sat and chatted. Dennis treated all the kids to ice cream novelties of their choice, which they took back to the tree to enjoy while climbing.

Lunch tables at Gällnö

Eventually we went back by boat to Borg Holmen and enjoyed some more time there before we had to leave in order to catch a bus back to Södermalm.

Dennis driving Isaac and David back to Borg Holmen

Seaweed stuck in the water squirter

Duckie about to ambush the canoe

Adults relaxing while the kids played

While the bus was a lot less scenic than the commuter boat, it was a faster route and it allowed everyone to catch a few winks of sleep.

On the bus back to town

As soon as we got back to the apartment, David changed his clothes and went off to a fancy multi-course dinner with a colleague. Thomas and Isaac both fell asleep immediately, not even waking to eat. Lucy and I pulled some leftovers out of the refrigerator, watched a little of the London 2017 games, and were in bed by 8:30pm. We were all absolutely exhausted!