Its kind of sad, really. For many reasons. Madeleine is the younger sister to Crown Princess Victoria, and both announced engagements within a short time frame. Because Victoria will inherit the throne, her marriage to gym owner Daniel Westling on June 19th is getting all the attention (yes, he was her personal trainer...I can't imagine him trying to pick up the future queen while instructing her to do squat thrusts and push-ups!?) Their wedding is going to be huge, with foreign dignitaries as guests, a 2-week city-wide celebration called "Love Stockholm," and a ton of memorabilia sold all over the place. I am particularly fond of the wedding china they have for sale at NK. Annoyingly, they are currently tearing up various spots around the city to accommodate all the festivities.
But Madeleine had been with lawyer Jonas Bergström since she was 17, and they were planning a quiet wedding in the fall, with no 2-week love fest and no limited-edition Rörstrand china for sale. I bet it's tough to be a younger sister...the older one always gets things first, bigger & better, especially when she is going to be Queen of Sweden one day. Last week, Queen Silvia had announced that although everything was fine, they were postponing the event. And yesterday, after Madeleine was safely on a plane to NYC to avoid reporters, it was announced that the couple was breaking up. I hope Jonas' ski holiday tryst was worth it...the idiot was supposed to receive the title Duke of Hälsingland and Gästrikland! Wherever those are.
I'm sure Madeleine will be fine, though. She IS a princess. She was voted one of Forbes Magazine's top 20 hottest young royals in 2008. And something I did not know, she is studying art history at Stockholm University. And really, anyone who studies art history will go far in life (I had to get that in there...art history was my undergrad major!)
I mentioned that I was offered an internship at Moderna Museet, working with the registrars (in particular, the international loans, and bonus, the unofficial universal language in museums is English!) But I likely won't start that position until the fall.
I felt like I've been looking for part-time work, an internship or just the chance to volunteer for months (just something useful to keep me busy outside of classes and nannying.) Not being a fluent Swedish-speaker is a huge handicap...the job market is so bad everywhere that the Swedes are going to be the first to get the jobs I'm qualified for, and Stockholm doesn't seem very work-for-free friendly. Volunteering just isn't big here (which is so different from the US) and the internship thing has only been made possible because I am clear that I am doing it for graduate school credit! So it has been a little tough to find the right spot for me here.
But oddly, the week I met with the department head at Moderna, I got a call for another internship opportunity! At a brand new museum, not even open yet. I started my first day of being a curatorial intern yesterday, at the Fotografiska Museum...planned to be a giant space for internationally known photographers, right on the water in the old toll house near Slussen (the one that was supposed to house the defunct ABBA museum.) It opens in a month with 4 photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, who is coming for the opening (and I will get to meet!)
It was an interesting first day...I felt like I was thrown into getting some big things done right away. I have started writing a tour of the Vee Speers show and will interview her next week. I am going to help with writing/editing for the website, coordinating the opening, condition reports for the loans and maybe even hanging the show, which is all fantastic experience for me. Annnnd, they all speak Swedish to me, which is super. I answer in English, because that's the only way I sound half-way intelligent, but hopefully that'll change. And the curator is American and great about about translating for me.
We took a hard-hat tour yesterday to see the space, and I don't know that I should post too many pictures of the museum here before they open, but I thought you should see the view from the future top-floor bar & restaurant that opens in the fall. A beautiful view of Djurgården and the Gröna Lund amusement park across the water? I'll take it!
So, I got my wish, and will have most of my free time sucked up by this and school, but it should be fun.
Stu is out of town, and tonight is Kulturnatt in Stockholm, where every museum and theater and cultural venue is open until midnight with special activities...which should also be fun!
We rolled off the boat from Riga Monday morning and went straight to class, and it doesn't feel like we've stopped moving since.
But now, pictures! I uploaded the few we took, anyhow. It was such an interesting weekend, I feel like I could write half a dozen blog posts on different parts of the trip--taking the boat, the city, meeting Metallica. I won't, but maybe a few highlights?
We took a Tallink cruise out of Frihamnen on Friday afternoon. Note to Future-Anne-and-Stu, Dramamine doesn't prevent seasickness; it just makes your whole body feel too numb to know it is seasick, and you will likely pass out for several hours. We did, but we managed to stand upright long enough to take a tour of the boat and watch the Stockholm port fade into the distance while standing on the deck. Right next to James Hetfield. The singer for Metallica. The band we were traveling all the way to Latvia to see in concert. He was quite nice, and though we chatted for a good 10 minutes, he wouldn't let me take a picture with him & Stu. At least he didn't spit on us.
As you know, unless you've been hiding under a rock (or you don't live in or travel often to or bother to pay attention to things that happen in Europe) there was a large volcanic eruption in Iceland and it emitted a giant ash cloud that floated its way all over greater Europe, preventing airplanes from flying anywhere near it. Even Metallica couldn't fly. So man, were we relieved when we saw them on our boat (and yeah, it was also pretty cool to be sitting a few feet from the band at the karaoke bar, too.) But we had already planned on taking the boat, not because we have excellent foresight but because we are poor grad students, and it was cheaper than flying.
And 16-some hours later, we arrived in lovely Riga. It is gorgeous. We spent barely 36 hours in the city, but its small enough that we saw quite a bit of it. Its an old city, once a Viking trading center, and in the 1700s, it was the largest city in kingdom of Sweden (!) The city is also distinctive for its large number of German Art Nouveau buildings. They say Riga has been hit hard by the global recession, and I guess you can see that in some aspects. The hotel was insanely cheap ($25 a night for a 4-star hotel with breakfast!) and it seemed like the service was great everywhere. We also had no issues with only speaking English...it was easier than northern Italy to get around as a tourist. I would absolutely go back. Especially since I didn't get to buy any Latvia amber or linens, like all the guidebooks said I should.
We saw the band at the giant Arena Riga on Saturday night. While Stu knew the words to every song, I can honestly say I only knew about 5 that they played in their 2-hour set (and I didn't know a single song from the openers "Fear Factory"...I couldn't even understand what they were singing because of all the heavy-metal yelling and growling. God awful.) But, Metallica does put on a flashy show...flames, fire, smoke, lasers, giant coffins hanging from the rafters, hundreds of giant beach balls for the audience to play with. And the fans were hardcore...the girl next to us was vomiting on the floor one minute, but jumping around in the middle of the crowd on the floor in the next. Super hardcore.
On the boat ride home Sunday afternoon, we managed to get stuck in the middle of a Swedish Line Dancing competition. Every bar and every restaurant on that boat had dozens of Swedes doing crazy choreographed dances to all kinds of music while wearing leather fringe and cowboy hats. Needless to say, we took more Dramamine...another note to the Future Us, Dramamine can offer a blissful escape option when faced with line dancing crowds on large cruise ships. We slept for 12 hours on the way back.
But all in all, Riga was a super trip! My only regret is not getting one of those giant Metallica beach balls to take home.
It's been a week...exams, school, interviews. Not to mention our internet fizzled repeatedly, we had sporadic periods without electricity when they replaced all our outlets and light fixtures (which, of course, no longer fit most of our plugs and lights) AND our shower is on the fritz and the plumber is *supposedly* coming sometime this week. And its already Thursday.
But there are good things, too. The weather has been gorgeous. We are heading to Riga tomorrow on a boat, which means we won't have our travel plans scrapped because of the hazardous ash spewing over northern Europe at the moment. Stu is psyched to see Metallica on Saturday night. I just got offered an internship at the Moderna Museum, which makes me enormously happy. And I just received in the mail a book I won on a blog I really like called Anne's Food. Its called Swedish Smorgasbord - all the Original Recipes in Modern Style. Some of the recipes are, uh, interesting. I probably won't be trying to make the Tongue in Aspic recipe anytime soon, but there are a ton I will...and it has pretty pictures.
Okay, off to meet Stu and company to celebrate finishing exams and getting internships at the weird yet awesome cowboy bar down the street from us. The bar seats are saddles.
He is about a foot tall and made of very thin green glass. The top and the little spout on the side both open to the main body of it, but the bigger circle on the other side opens to that oval shaped bubble in the middle. I think it looks like old science-y equipment. Stu thinks its some kind of wine decanter, that you could put shaved ice in the oval part to chill it without watering it down. Any other ideas?
I was on a hunt for an antique cast-iron heart-shaped waffle maker, but ended up bringing him home from the Odenplan Stadsmission. Not because I needed it, but because he was pretty and strange and only 80 kr. Stu says I am definitely my father's daughter, but I happen to think its greener than if I were buying new, random knick-knacks that I don't need. And they make me happy. Stockholm second-hand shops are the best for interesting, cheap little knick-knacks, and I really cannot help but pop in whenever we walk by one....
It's mid April, and I thought I'd write a quick update on what we are up to in grad school. We, in fact, have less than two months left to this first year of school. And a week after school is out, we are heading back to the US for 3 weeks! Its finally getting warmer and sunnier and happier in Stockholm (I did not know how weather-dependent my mood was until living here...it rained Saturday, and I did nothing but watch TV. All. Day.)
We have had roughly 2 weeks off between us, but now vacation is over. I start up a new class this afternoon on art law. I am actually fascinated by the subject...legal and ethical issues in museums can be so unique and super interesting. But I am only familiar with the US legal system, which is so, so, so different from the EU, and in particular, the Swedish system, that the class will definitely be a challenge. This class will run through the first week of May, then I have a final class of this year that focuses on beginning my final thesis and planning my big exhibition. I haven't even begun to think about what I want to write about, and the thought of curating my own exhibition here makes me incredibly nervous, so I am not looking forward to that class at all. But when it ends in June, I don't have to come back to Stockholm University for classes until next January, so there is a nice long break from thinking and writing to look forward to. I just have to get myself a proper internship to fill that time up!
Stu right now is at his first of two exam sessions this week. The GM program at SSE (General Management masters) has semi-comprehensive exams, which include one question from each of the 10 classes he has had so far, split between today and Thursday. He has 2 or 3 more classes to get through before June 11, but apparently, they won't count on his comps. So he has been trying to studying the things he learned back in September and go over the subjects he finished more recently. But from what I gather, everyone in his program is lacking much motivation to care about these tests...they only count for a teeny, tiny percentage of their overall grades. But its a good excuse to revisit micro vs. macro economics, right? Right?
And he starts a law course after this exam week, as well: Business Law for the International Manager. But not before we take the boat over to Latvia and spend the weekend in Riga. Should be interesting...
We got back from roughly four days hanging out in Utrecht and Amsterdam with Emre & Patti (and with Cougar the dog and for a beer with Jephta the friend.) Roughly four days because travel time took much longer each way than either of us expected when you factor getting-to-airport time. Next time, no RyanAir. Even if it is half the price of flying into Schiphol. And they just basically confirmed the rumor that they plan to charge passengers to use airplane bathrooms.
We checked out Amsterdam, which I had never done before. It was kind of a cold and rainy gray day, so we took a boat tour around the city, saw an exhibition at the Amsterdam annex of the Hermitage Museum, ate and drank a lot. We also walked all over the place, and yes, the red light district IS crazy and yes, people do spark up joints all over the place. The smell of pot was nearly omnipresent.
Rounds of gouda in a window.
We spent the rest of the time in Utrecht, and it was gorgeous...sunny and warm and cute. And of course, more eating and more drinking and more walking and more boating (we took out a pedal boat on the canal.) We went to Tivoli to see Rodrigo y Gabriela, who were awesome live (I couldn't help dancing, even despite still feeling a bit under the weather.) The things they can do with just two guitars...wow.
We have to go back soon because we didn't get to do Keukenhof tulips, see enough windmills or wooden shoes, and didn't eat nearly enough stroopwafels. And it was WAY too short to hang out with Emre & Patti.
Today is really sad. It was beautiful in Stockholm today...the kind of weather that really makes you think "I love this city!" We managed to get out for a little bit, but I have some funny stomach bug or something, so most of the day, I've been sitting on the couch, feeling sick, having a mini-marathon of old Lost episodes. And Stu's so super for taking care of me...I'd want to go run around outside if I were him. The worst is that we're traveling to the Netherlands tomorrow to visit Emre & Patti, and with this bug, I won't be able to eat nearly as many stroopwafels as I had been planning! Ugg.
Anyway, I thought I'd post a little about what we've learned about celebrating Easter (Påsk) in Sweden. First, everyone is off. Off from school, from work, and stores all close for several days. Its like Christmas. Basically, everybody clocks out Wednesday afternoon, and most don't go back until Tuesday (Easter Monday is also a holiday.) For a country that is not particularly devout, they really love their Christianity-based holidays!
Second, it didn't originate as a Christianity-based holiday as one might think. Easter, in fact, was thought to be when witches flew up to Blåkulla (the Blue Hill) to meet the devil. So to honor this old tale, little kids dress up as brightly-colored witches and go door-to-door for candy. Yes, they basically celebrate Halloween on Easter!
Third, Easter is a feasting holiday here. But, you know, Swedish feasts, so a smörgåsbord of sill and pickled herring and ham, potatoes and eggs. And candy! So. Much. Candy. The Swedes eat a lot of it anyway, but Easter is like a free for all. And of course, door to door. And they wash it down with påskmust, a spiced cola made just for the season (at Christmas, we drank julmust...trust me, it's better with rum.)
I think there are more traditions, egg hunts, hanging eggs from tree branches, other strange food possibilities. But we're flying to Holland, so maybe we'll get a better taste of Dutch Easter traditions?
When you have someone over for fika in Sweden, it is considered proper manners to have no less than 7 different kinds of cookies or cake to serve your guests. Well, that is what I am told...I think the tradition has subsided a bit (who has the time?) But any country that defines "proper" as having a smörgåsbord of sweet things is my kind of country! Even my Morfar always had sweet things and coffee-so-strong-you-could-stand-a-spoon-up-in-it when we came over. Incidentally, he was a big pecan sandies fan.
Anyway, I hadn't posted about any major baking failures lately. I haven't had any! Not going to jinx myself and say I have overcome my baking-in-Sweden handicap, but let's just say I haven't had any flat cookies or brick-like bullar in a while.
And today was a gray, cold day, and I sometimes bake to avoid doing things that I don't want to do (like the riveting paper due this weekend on light, space, and sound in museum exhibitions) so I decided to make kardemummakaka. Cardamom cake. I've only had it in cafes, but I just bought this lovely book:
and thought I might as well try out my Swedish reading skillz. Sju Sorters Kakor means literally Seven Kinds of Cakes, and was first published in 1945. Its a Swedish household staple and has been re-published dozens of times...they even have an English version (Swedish Cakes and Cookies.) I particularly like the old-school pictures with every recipe.
(The ingredients. I do like pictures.)
The thing turned out DELIGHTFULLY. Light and cardamom-y. I had a few friends over, and 3 ladies and Stu made more than half the cake disappear in a very, very, very short amount of time.
I am including the recipe in this blog post, translated to the best of my abilities, because I want you out there to make it and drink really strong coffee and think of me, and Sweden, and how you shoulda baked about 6 more kinds of cake.
pre-heat oven to 175c/350f
200 g smör / 1 c butter, super soft
2 ägg / 2 eggs
3 dl socker / 1 1/4 c sugar
8 dl vetemjöl / 3 c flour (you might need a little extra)
3 tsk bakpulver / 3 tsp baking powder
1 tsk kardemmummakärnor / 1 tsp ground cardamom (but really, as much as you want)
3 dl mjölk / 1 1/4 c milk 3 msk pärlsocker / 3 T pearl sugar
Cream together sugar, butter, eggs. Add flour, baking powder, cardamom, and milk. Mix. Toss in a greased baking dish. I have yet to buy a proper cake pan, so I'm still using the landlady's big cheesecake springform, lined with foil. But I'd suggest a 9in round or square, so its thicker than mine was. SSK suggests a 26cm round. It also said one could top it with both pearl sugar and sliced almonds. I didn't have almonds. I also didn't measure the sugar...I just poured it on.
Bake for a about an hour, or until something poked in the center comes out clean (I used a butter knife.)