Stockholm in Pictures and My Latest Bus Adventure

Stockholm Archipelago

Technically it is Friday for me and I am no longer in Stockholm. I’m now in Florence, Italy. The pictures featured in this post are some of those I took yesterday (Wednesday) during a solo foot tour around old downtown Stockholm and the surrounding area. I don’t know the significance of the Stockholm National Museum structures or statues pictured, but as a photographer all I really care about is a good subject cast in good light and getting good framing anyway.

I would usually do some research and provide more background but I wanted to get these pictures up quickly now that I have left Stockholm.

After doing the keynote and attending the breakout sessions for the duration of Day 1 of the conference that brought me to Stockholm, I decided to head back to the hotel. Once I stepped outside at around 6PM, I saw just how beautiful a day it was. It was a perfect day to tour Stockholm.

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My First Impression of Stockholm, Sweden

I arrived in Stockholm around 7:30 AM today. My flight from Chicago to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport was on SAS. It was my first time on SAS and that had to be one of the least comfortable business class flights I have ever been on. The seats reclined into a more-or-less flat bed but the bed was hard and short considering I am just over 6 feet tall. The service was so-so with attentive flight attendants and decent food. Lufthansa and Singapore Air still top my list of favorite airlines. Lufthansa’s First Class had pajamas, y’all. It’s going to be hard to top that.

Stockholm2007_0001Clearing customs was pretty easy. Not Barcelona customs easy, but quick and painless nonetheless. There were no forms to complete, I had nothing to declare and I carried on my bags. Being the 5th person off the plane, I waited in line less than 10 minutes for my turn with the customs agent. It would have been even shorter if another flight had not landed just before ours. I had already exchanged some greenbacks for Swedish kronor (SKR) while in O’Hare so I headed straight for the taxi line. The current exchange rate is about 6:1 SKR to USD. Sweden is a member of the European Union but, like Denmark and the United Kingdom, it has not replaced its currency with the euro.

By 8AM I was in a taxi heading south toward Stockholm. By 8:25 we had hit rush hour traffic. I expected the expressway to be chock full of Saabs and Volvos. I guess there isn’t too much national loyalty to the domestic brands as there were probably equivalent numbers of Peugeots, Benzes and BMWs. I even saw several Porsche Cayennes and Range Rovers. We eventually made it to the hotel and the 540kr ($90) taxi fare put me in a panic as I only had 600kr. I asked the taxi driver if he accepted Amex and, somewhat offended, he replied, “But, of course!” Cool. Out came the plastico fantastico and a moment later I was entering the wiggity wackest European hotel I have ever seen.

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Sweden and Italy, Work and Play

For the first time since Spain in November 2006, I am going on a trip that will help me add to the list of countries I have traveled to for work or pleasure.

Flag of Sweden I am flying out first thing tomorrow for Stockholm, Sweden to keynote a conference and to hang out in our Swedish offices to meet my colleagues and get a better understanding of their market. It will be my first trip to Sweden or any of the Nordic countries for that matter. I don’t eat beef so I can’t say I am looking forward to sampling authentic Swedish meatballs, but we did get “smorgasbord” from the Swedes and plättar sounds interesting. Aside from just walking around what is said to be a beautiful city with beautiful waterways, I also plan to get my sip on at the famous Stockholm Ice Bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel. The entire bar, including its furniture, is made of ice and kept at a balmy 23° F.

I will be in Sweden for 4 days before heading to Florence, Italy for a little down time to tour the famous Tuscan city. There are just too many things to see and do in Florence. I will barely scratch the surface during my time there.

After a few days in Florence, I am hopping the train to Milan to keynote a similar conference there. The sites I want to see in Milan are Il Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral) and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Flag of Italy I then plan to take the train from Milan to Venice to see just how accurate The Venetian in Las Vegas is. I have stayed at The Venetian four times so it’s about time I see the real thing. Arguably, no city is known more for its waterways than Venice. Apparently, the land-lover thing to do is visit Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) and feed the pigeons. I wonder if they have Wi-Fi on those gondolas. Hmm…

Unfortunately, TB will not be joining me for this latest romp ’round Europe. The trip came about at the last minute and she just couldn’t juggle things around at work to meet me in Italy. I will go scout 3 of the most popular cities in Northern Italy and we will go back some day to see Rome among other parts of Italy. (The Vatican is a sovereign nation so we can get a +1 on the countries list at that time too.)