It is understood, I believe, that my heart overflows with (sometimes non-logical) affection for Stockholm and its surroundings, maybe even large parts of the entire country. Today, I noticed four especially loveable things that make my soul go out to this place.
Beware of the Vikings
1. The ground-breaking journalism
I was picked up from my early-morning flight by Malin who had made a lovely sign and even brought balloons. I think I must always ask for escorts to the city from now on because this is just too wonderful. (Side note: Now, they have taken down the entire Stockholm Hall of Fame and replaced it by uninspiring Ericsson ads. I am not amused.) When my feet hit Swedish soil, I usually fall into Stockholm-everyday-life-mode and that is not that strange given the fact that Evelina says, “It kind of feels like you commute between Hamburg and Stockholm”. Part of the every day routine of millions of people here is that you pick up the free newspaper Metro. In PR terms, if you want your client to be featured somewhere, it is there. Everyone reads and talks about Metro. That’s obviously because of its pioneering journalism – we witnessed that once more today. The front page headline read “If you sleep with an open window, there are higher risks that burglars will break into your house”. Wow. I am so glad they exposed this largely unknown connection between open access to your home and thieves. You might think this is a result of the so-called Sommerloch (“summer hole”) or nyhetstorka (“news dryness”) but let me tell you: Sweden was in the U21 soccer final tonight (and won! Something that never happens and if I say never I mean that their last success was coming in third 1994) and the most important political event Almedalen is currently going on. But Metro focuses on open windows. I love it!
2. The singing culture
After parks (Haga) and recreation (fika), Malin and I met Franziska to go to the open-air museum Skansen. I love everything about that place and in particular their summer singing shows. The Swedes describe their “live broadcasted national heritage” as follows: “Allsång på Skansen (Sing-along at Skansen) is a Swedish show held at Skansen, Stockholm, every summer on Tuesdays between 8pm and 9pm. The audience is supposed to sing-along with musical guests to well-known Swedish songs. The show started in 1935 on a small scale; about 50 people in the audience. Today about 10,000–25,500 people come to each performance.”
I have been there several times before and it is quite a special sight with hundreds, thousands of people picknicking and waiting for the show to begin. The show is such a clear indicator of summer that only the start of the radio show Sommar i P1 can make summer more summery.
So we bought a song book and sang along. Time and again, this is such great fun. At least if you like Swedish pop-schlageresque music – and we all know I do. We got to sing about a grandpa who feels taken back to his youth by his granddaughter dancing, about Sensual Isabella who is asked to dance on her lover’s belly, and some Pippi Longstocking songs. Afterwards, we discussed whether a show like this would be possible in Germany. And we had to conclude that no, because singing together is not something that is currently a cultural German practice. Actually, people would probably be weirded out.
3. The old elevators
If you are lucky to live in an old house in the inner city like Malin’s brother does, you stand a good chance of having an old elevator. Not the Paternoster kind that German politicians wanted to introduce a obligatory ‘riding license’ for , but a normal old elevator with two doors. I don’t know why but I love the sound of the inner door closing. It sounds like a magnetic connection, a graceful click. This might be the weirdest fondness for something I have, but I love those elevators and I find them here regularily.
4. The light
I claim that there is a special light in Stockholm. Sunsets in Hamburg are certainly beautiful, but the light is different. The Stockholm summer sun pours light over all of town and reflects it in the windows of the houses, The city becomes a romantic postcard. Also, of course, the light remains with us until 11 p.m., making sure one really feels the summer.