25 December 2010

Dead Swedes' Society

To end the blogging of 2010 we would like to take a retrospective look at the year that passed - in particular which famous Swedes' tombstones we have seen throughout the year.

It started last winter when we went on a day-trip to Skogskyrkogården ('the Forest Cemetary') and found the stone pictured above...

...and continued when we had part of our summer vacation on Fårö. The most famous person to have ever lived on Fårö is of course also buried there. Our readers may notice two familiar names on the stone above, so we would like to point out that the Ingrid buried on Fårö was Ingmar's wife, while the more famous Ingrid is buried in Norra Begravningsplatsen ('the Northern Cemetary') near the Karolinska Institutet in Solna:

When we were on Norra Begravningsplatsen this past fall we naturally also had to see the tombs of some other very famous Swedes (click on the image for a larger version):

Gustaf af Geijerstam might not be nearly as famous as August Strindberg but they are said to have been friends - and we think his stone is pretty cool.

21 December 2010

Happy Solstice

We would like to wish all of you a very happy solstice!

20 December 2010

White Christmas anticipated

By now we are feeling pretty confident that we will be able to celebrate a white Christmas in Stockholm this year: it has been snowing most of the weekend that just passed and the forecast promises temperatures below -10 C most of this week.

04 December 2010


As we said: It is winter! There was drifting ice on the water between Lidingö and the mainland on December 1st.

28 November 2010

Fall 2010

It has been interesting watching the landscape change during the fall season - see for yourselves how it has been at Laduviken:

And now it is apparently already winter:

20 November 2010


Lisbeth has been wanting to cross the Gulf of Finland for quite a while, so when her job took her to Helsinki once again she booked a ticket to Tallinn with Viking Line.

Tue obviously wasn't with her in Helsinki but he was able to fly from Stockholm to Tallinn so we could explore the old town of Tallinn together.

The etymology of the name Tallinn is debated, but one of the most widespread theories is that Tallinn derives from Taani-linna which means 'Danish City' or 'Danish Castle' in Estonian. As is well-known the Danes took the city on June 15 1219 in the famous battle during which legend has it that Dannebrog fell down from heaven and inspired fighting spirit in the Danish troops. After this victory Valdemar II decided that this flag should henceforth be the flag of Denmark.

Keeping to the historical aspect of the city we may mention that Tallinn also boasts a pharmacy that has been running for at least 588 years.

In Estonia one uses the Estonian kroon (yes, that is essentially the same name as 'kroner' - the name of currencies widely used in Scandinavia) and it wasn't until our last day there that we discovered that they have coins. Notes are by far the most used as they have notes all the way down to 2 Estonian kroon (being equivalent of some $0.17 at the current exchange rate).

Beware of low-flying purse snatchers - Estonian mailboxes - the 'watering holes' of the city are easily recognisable

Some art in the cityscape

07 November 2010

Fall trip to Germany

Last time we went to Germany we had already made plans for another trip. More specifically to go to Munich to visit Matthias with whom Tue shared his laboratory in California in 2004. That's quite a while ago by now, so a few things have happened since then for both parties: Most significantly for Matthias he has married his Gesche and they have two kids (and for Tue the most interesting part is that Lisbeth has come into his life since last time he saw Matthias).

The weather really wasn't all that nice during the October weekend we were in Munich, but to try to make for it somebody (and no, we do not know who) had put up a large Danish flag on the tower of St. Peter's church in central Munich. Despite the weather there were a lot of local surfers out on the man-made Eisbach river in The English Garden.

28 October 2010

It starts early this year

..Yes, this is what it looked like Friday morning last week. And it actually stayed that way most of Saturday as well - which is a good deal more than you can say about the small amount of snow we had last year in October.

12 October 2010

The Fan Mail Box

Even if only few people outside of Sweden have heard of him, Sweden has it's very own pioneer of electronic music.

Ralph Lundsten was building his own electronic instruments already in the 1950's and has released roughly one album per year in the period from 1966 to 2008.

In Nacka municipality (south-eastern greater Stockholm) one finds the town Boo where Ralph Lundsten is living in a large pink wooden house called Frankenburg.

As is fitting for a great artist with his own fan club (Andromeda Fan Soceity) Ralph Lundsten of course has an especially large mailbox which can hold loads of fan mail.

06 October 2010

Fiery Fall

During the first half of October this year the Bergian Garden (some of that page should be available in English, but I'm not sure how much) hosts the exhibition Het Höst. Het is Swedish for hot, while höst is Swedish for fall. However, I can't help but add that the Danish word høst (which is pronounced the same as Swedish höst) translates to harvest - especially since the exhibit is about chilli plants and their fruit, which could be considered a hot harvest.

After having travelled to varied places around the globe we felt we knew quite a bit of different kinds of chilli, but as it turned out there are many, many more that we had never even heard of - both in terms of colours and shapes.

Monkey face chilli

The exhibit included both types normally used in cooking and types normally not used for cooking. Most of those that are not normally used in cooking are not used because they are considered not to have an interesting taste - but they vary in hotness like other types of chilli.

Peter chili

The exhibit spanned the whole range from chillies without any hotness to what is today considered the hottest chilli in the world, the naga jolokia from Assam and Bangladesh. Naga jolokia is some 200-400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce - and about 10 times as hot as a habanero pepper (which is the hottest that has so far been used in Tue's kitchen).

Pinocchio's Nose chili

02 October 2010

Horses are traded, right?

'Hästskojare' (Lidingö)

Considering how small a fraction of Sweden we have seen we think it's quite remarkable that we have found two almost identical sculptures in two different locations in Sweden by random chance. Here on Lidingö we had already noticed the sculpture Hästskojare which is standing on a lawn near Lidingö Centre where we often go to shop.

Therefore we thought the sculpture Hästhandlaren in Sandviken looked rather familiar. As it turns out they were both made by Swedish sculpturer Sven Lundqvist. The one in Sandviken looks a bit older which is only natural since it has been standing there since 1984 while the one on Lidingö has only been here since 2008. Finally, one might speculate as to why the sculpturer has named one of them Hästhandleren, which in Swedish is a fairly neutral term for a horse trader, while he named the other Hästskojare, which in Swedish conveys much more directly the notion of dishonesty on the part of the salesman...

'Hästhandlaren' (Sandviken)

30 September 2010

The historic route

From Uppsala one can go north on a road that an ordinary road map will designate simply as route 272. Where route 272 ends one can continue north on route 83 - all the way to Ånge, some 90 km (~50 miles) west of Sundsvall. This way is believed to have been used as a road for at least 2000 years, which is why it is known as 'the historic route' - and why it has its own homepage.

We had heard that it was supposed to be a beautiful journey through Swedish landscapes and had also been talking a little about renting a car to drive some of the route (the entire trip is 400 km (~ 250 miles)). However, it wasn't until we discovered that the route passes through the Swedish town with the incredibly beautiful name Harbo, that the planning got serious.

In the end we decided on another road trip with our faithfully returning (summer) camp visitor.

Lake Tämnaren

Just outside Harbo we made a stop in Kalvnäset natural reserve where we ate our cinnamon rolls by the shore of lake Tämnaren.

The Dal River

Later the trip continued to Gysinge where the route crosses the Dal River and passes through a corner of the national park Färnebofjärden. Here we had the opportunity to learn a little about hydropower by the aid of an interactive installation.

How a mill can exploit hydropower

In the last hours of daylight we came the very pretty way over lake Storsjön into Sandviken (a city which sadly didn't inspire us to visit it for long) before we headed for Gävle and drove home along the coast.

Down town Sandviken

25 September 2010


Lisbeth on Grinda

Just like we made a trip in the archipelago early in the summer, we also went for a boat trip one of the last summery days in Stockholm this year - and by coincidence it was the last day of the summer schedule for the archipelago boats. It turned out we should count ourselves fortunate for bringing along the schedule - the summer schedule had already been replaced by the fall schedule at the boat stops out on the islands (a similar stunt was pulled by SL, the public transport agency in Stockholm county, for the bus schedules).

We went to the island Grinda, where we had lunch and went for a walk around the island.

Tove and Tue eating lunch - Tue is wondering how they can call a piece of toast with a breaded fillet of fish 'fish burger' on their menu..

18 September 2010


Tomorrow it is election day here in Sweden (we'd like to point out that tomorrow is a Sunday, which is interesting to us because in Denmark elections are always held on a working day). Three levels of administration are up for election: the municipal councils, the county councils and the parliament. As non-Swedish European Union citizens we have the right to vote for the first two of those.

Which municipality one gets to vote in is determined by which municipality one has residence in on August 20th - so we belong in our new municipality. By following the campaign we have learned a few things about Lidingö.

Important issues on Lidingö are summer jobs for juveniles, more dog-toilettes and not least the opening of a second branch of the national alcohol monopoly Systembolaget! Did we hear anyone say 'privileged municipality'?! Lidingö is known as the Island of Health, hence all the parties are in favour of protecting the green areas, a green municipal economy (whatever that entails) and organic foods for the young and the elderly alike.

Where the differences between the parties are apparent, is in what they believe is best for the environment. One of the biggest questions is the commuter infrastructure of the island: should they spend some 100 M$ on blasting a new road tunnel out of the bed rock, expand the existing roads, or simply go all-in on public transportation?

Even though education and schools have been a key issue also in the national campaigns we have been quite mystified as to why it was so central to everybody on this island that the school meals be locally prepared from organic produce - until we suddenly remembered that in Sweden (unlike in Denmark) warm meals are eaten for lunch.

Unlike in Denmark, where you receive one very long ballot containing all your options upon entering the polling station on election day, they use different ballots for each party here in Sweden. These ballots are often distributed by the parties themselves along with the rest of their campaign material in the weeks before the election. This is just one reason why it is easier to vote before election day here in Sweden than it is in Denmark. One can bring along the relevant ballots when going to vote, but all the ballots are of course available at the polling stations as well. The first option is obviously the more anonymous. We have noticed that the Swedish system has been criticised in the Danish media for not being sufficiently anonymous. The solution to this problem is as obvious as it is simple: take all the ballots you like and no one will know which party you are going to vote for.

Campaign posters are used quite somewhat more moderately in Stockholm than in Copenhagen (although that doesn't say much), but the old joke of adding a little extra bonus to the odd campaign poster is obviously also known here. On the other hand we have been running zigzag between the various campaigners every time we've gone to a train station, shopping mall or public square this last week before the election.

05 September 2010

Crayfish party!

The crayfish party season begins on the second Wednesday of August in Sweden and it is impossible to be oblivious to this when shops and restaurants become filled with crayfish napkins, paper bibs, and paper lanterns - in addition to the precooked crayfish of course.

We hosted such a party one Saturday in August - fortunately assisted by some of Lisbeth's Swedish collegues. Unfortunately our photos of the serving tray filled to the brim with crayfish came out blurry but the above photo illustrates the phenomenon quite well: the crayfish are eaten by hand and washed down with light beer and aquavit - preferably while singing songs! - and to add some substance to the meal, bread, aioli, eggs, salad and Västerbotten-pie are served as well.

All if this while wearing silly hats of course: