Stockholm - St George and Dragon
Beer: it’s expensive!
Taxis: also expensive!
Hotel: way expensive!
But did I mention that I absolutely loved Stockholm. It is without a doubt one of the most photogenic cities I have had the privilege of visiting. For those of you who have never been, a few fun facts about Stockholm: It was founded about 750 years ago – which was a surprise to me – as I had naturally thought that almost every European city of reasonable size had been around for a dogs age – but there you have it. It is situated on the western edge of a substantial archipelago of several dozen islands, with the urban area concentrated on 14 of them and including the mainland.
As a hanseatic league city, Stockholm prospered with seaborne trade and consequently its orientation is still very much towards the sea. Any marine industrial activity has now largely departed the centre of Stockholm leaving plenty of marinas and a pedestrian friendly waterfront. Thus the central core is very conducive to walking as there are generous sidewalks and bicycle paths. My morning routine generally had me up and off for a run by 0600 – out from the hotel, past the Vaasa Museum, over the bridge and on the the Strand. Down around the thumb facing the old town (Gamla Stan) past the Grand Hotel and then back towards the Djurgarden. Very pleasant.
Being somewhat conversant in German, I found that there were enough cognates that when reading signs and instructions I could generally get the gist of the message – however I don’t think I ever quite got the ear for the language.
How to get there:
from Munich or Frankfurt: Lufthansa direct into Arlanda Airport and then via taxi into town. Note Taxi’s post a fixed rate of 495 SEK from the international airport into the downtown core.
How cool is this. And why didn’t they have lego goodies when I was a kid?
You know you want it.
62:10 Just got back from Kungstradgardsgatan which is absolutely packed with frenzied swedes packed tightly around a large screen. Could pretty much hear them all the way back to the hotel.
72:22 Goal, Sweden. I can hear the horns and roar from downtown across the water. Fluke goal though.
82:10 They are singing downtown. Plenty of happy swedes tonight I predict.
86:45 Best chance for greece in the last 15 minutes or so. Point blank from about 10 feet out from the right goal corner but no result.
93:04 Game over.
When the definitive history of the trudeaupian experiment known as Canada is written some many years hence, experts will wonder how it was exactly that marsupials came to rule the country. Largely incapable of independent thought and without opposable thumbs they were able to somehow infiltrate Canadian society and take over in little over thirty years. Of course since they weren’t exactly capable of discernment, they only needed to learn one word – “guilty”. They found it worked for almost every occasion.
Ezra Levant has the story.
Cartoon: Go get it
Newly discovered: The Economist Magazine’s “Gulliver” blog. Well designed, great information for business travellers and almost every post is an interesting read.
June 06 2008:
Airports are like gigantic elevators only with many more distractions. Once inside you can’t really go anywhere, no-one smiles or makes eye contact as they shuttle rapidly between gates or out to waiting relatives. Lounges are a subset of this culture. Easily half of the denizens are talking on their mobiles, the remainder are munching snacks or reading all in splendid isolation from each other. The senator lounge (which apparently did not make the world’s top ten) at munich airport is no exception. While the cost of air travel has dropped, it is now simply boring. I alternate between bouts of people watching, reading and occasionally blogging.
I am not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. Had anyone predicted that I would in the midst of my career find myself travelling on a regular basis to Europe and beyond I would have been the first to scoff. I am grateful always for the support of my wife and kids and the best thing about the travel is always the return home.
I don’t know any amputees, I hope no one I know ever suffers an accident resulting in amputation, but should it happen, Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, may have the solution. This guy has been thinking about it for some time and has come up with a very sophisticated prosthetic arm – think bionic man, but instead of remaining as bad 1970s television fiction, it is now within reach, and markets being what they are will likely plummet in cost before long.
Kamen’s arm, dubbed “Luke” (after Skywalker, I assume), is an incredibly sophisticated bit of engineering that’s lightyears ahead of the clamping “claws” that many amputees are forced to use today. The arm is fully articulated, giving the user the same degrees of movement as a natural arm, and is sensitive enough to pick up a piece of paper, a wineglass or even a grape without mishap.
June 06 2008:
And so: once again in Germany, this time for a short stay in Regensburg before heading off to Stockholm and then return to Canada. Regensburg is a delightful city, first a Celtic settlement, later a Roman outpost and finally the heart of the von Thurn und Taxis family. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Danube (Donau) and Regen, with the old town largely on the south bank of the Danube river. The north bank is of modern construction, mostly hotels, light industrial, apartment flats etc – generally unappealing. Regensburg is a both a heavy manufacturing and cultural centre. BMW has a factory in the southern suburbs. It is also the southern terminus for the Main-Donau Canal which joins the Danube upstream at Kelheim. Although I was not there to sight see, I did have opportunity to relax out in the evenings in the heart of the old town. Monday night, Bishofshof restaurant a half block south of the Dom Platz wherein a very nice rumpsteak went downrange, Tuesday night, pizza at Am Tino’s; Thursday night, a delightful Indian shop (name escapes me now) where I was re-introduced to the core of British cuisine, the Beef Korma.
Travel Notes – valid for June 2008
- Hotels: Never stay at the Best Western Atrium: Although billed as a four star hotel, I think at the very least one star should be immediately withdrawn, and possible two. For a modern building, it had no central AC, the bar/lounge service was desultory at best, it is placed smack dab in the middle of a light industrial/strip mall zone with all the charm of late 1990s parking lot chic. I did not choose this hotel, but if I had the opportunity I never would.
- Autobahn A9: Be aware that there are at least three construction zone’s on the A9 between Kreutz Neufahrn and the A93 which will result in a rapid change in traffic speed near the entrance to each baustelle;
- Autobahn A93 (Direction Regensburg): Be aware that on the A93 from Wolznach and for about twenty kilometres or so heading north east towards Regensburg that the autobahn is speed controlled at 120kmh or less in places, as this portion of the autobahn has quite a few curves and hills. It does open up after this and then becomes speed controlled just south of Regensburg before the A3 junction.
- Autobahn A92 (Direction Deggendorf): An alternate route is to take the A92 north east from the Airport towards Deggendorf and take the exit at Essenbach onto the B15 towards Regensburg. It is probably slightly shorter in distance, but the B15 is a grade level highway passing through several small towns and has many speed controlled areas, particularly where it passes through or near towns. A good alternative if you wish to see Germany at a sedate pace rather than as a blur.
How to get there:
By car from Munich: A92 west to Kreutz Neufahrn, then A9 north towards Nuremberg. Exit A9 at A93 towards Regensburg.
By train: DB from Munich Hauptbahnhof
By air: Air Canada flies direct from Toronto to Munich, Ottawa and Montreal to Frankfurt. Lufthansa flies direct from Montreal to Frankfurt.