The D&O Diary is on assignment in Europe this week, with the first stop in Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city. Given Stockholm’s Baltic climate and northern latitude, November is not necessarily the optimal month to visit Stockholm. The weather forecast for my visit was particularly forbidding, with freezing rain and snow predicted. Fortunately, the foul weather never materialized, and other than one overcast day, I enjoyed brisk but dry late fall weather throughout my visit, as the pictures show.
As I found during my prior visit to the city, Stockholm is very walkable. I took advantage of the pleasant weather to stride briskly around the city. I started out on Saturday morning in Gamla Stan, the city’s beautifully preserved Old Town (pictured at the top of the post), and then I crossed over toward the central waterfront area, and then along the waterside to the parkland in Djurgården, an island connected by bridge to the central city. It was a terrific afternoon for a walk. But while the weather was pleasant, the season was late. It started getting dark around 2:30 and it was completely dark by 3:30. The early darkness had a very disorienting effect on me. With the early darkness my days had a way of ending early as well.
Though I spent most of my free time while I was in Stockholm just walking around the city, I did make time to visit one museum, the Vasa Museum. This unusual museum houses the 17th century warship, the Vasa, which unfortunately sank during its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, due to its top heavy design. The sunken ship sat on the bottom of the harbor for over 300 years until it was salvaged in a really incredible recovery effort. The ship itself is visually interesting but the more interesting part of the museum for me was the display on how the ship was salvaged and how the particular Baltic conditions preserved the sunken ship from decay. A museum dedicated to a sunken, badly-designed ship may seem a little odd but it really was an interesting museum.
Sunday was cloudy. I left my hotel with vague ideas about visiting some more museums, but first I climbed a hill near my hotel to have a look at the observatory at the crest. (I took the accompanying sunlit picture of the observatory the following morning, as the picture I took in the cloudy early morning light on Sunday didn’t turn out.) The hill on which the observatory is located is actually an “esker,” a ridge formed by glaciation at the end of the ice age. I descended the hill’s far side, and after walking a few blocks I found myself in a large square. I looked on the map and saw that a park was just a few blocks beyond, so I walked over to have a look. Once I was in the park, I checked the map again and saw that I was only a short distance from an inlet from Lake Mälaren. So I made my way down to the waterside and found that there was a bike path and hiking trail along the water. I followed the path basically just to see where it would go. As I strolled along with many other Sunday walkers and bicyclists, I came upon pleasant holiday houses built along the water (as depicted in the first picture below) and walked through different housing developments and even blocks of high-rise apartment buildings. Eventually the waterway widened out into a broader lake (second picture below). By the time I decided to circle back and head back to my hotel, I was miles off of the tourist map I had with me so I really don’t even know where I ended up. It was a nice area that seemed to be the kind of place where normal Stockholm residents live. In any event, it was a very pleasant way to spend a chilly, cloudy Sunday afternoon. I made it back to my hotel just as the early afternoon darkness was starting to gather.
One particularly entertaining thing I did while in Stockholm was to watch the World Cup qualifying game on Monday night between Sweden and Italy. Sweden had won the first leg of the contest in Stockholm on the preceding Friday evening by a score of 1-0. The second leg was played Monday night in Milan. I watched the Monday night game in a bar near my hotel with my friend and colleague, Sverker Edstrom of RSG Sweden. He left early to watch the rest of the game with friends and family. I stayed in the bar with a large and vocal crowd that registered every pass and shot with shouts, applause, and whistles. Italy controlled the game and had a number of good chances to score, but the game ended in a scoreless draw, meaning that Sweden won the contest between the teams based on the combined score of the two games. The crowd in the bar went crazy when the game ended. By winning, Sweden qualified to play in the World Cup in Moscow in 2018. The real shock is that due to its loss, Italy – the four time World Cup champion – will not be playing in the World Cup. The game ended late so the crowd quickly dispersed. There were no wild street celebrations. But it still was a lot of fun to have been there.
On Tuesday, I participated as a guest speaker at a conference of the Swedish affiliate of the Association Internationale du Droit des Assurances (AIDA). (The name of the Swedish affiliate is Försäkringsjuridiska föreningen). The conference was held in the headquarters building of the Folksam insurance company, in the Södermalm section of Stockholm. The conference was well-attended and I was impressed by the many questions that the audience members asked during my presentation. After the session there was a reception and dinner in the insurance company’s dining room. It was pleasure to meet the many Swedish insurance professionals at the conference. The reception and dinner were particularly enjoyable.
I was off the next morning to Oslo. I have to say now having visited Stockholm twice, it really is a great place. I have been fortunate with the weather on both of my visits but it is in any event a great city full of friendly people — and lots of great places to walk.
More Pictures of Stockholm:
Some Random Pictures of Food I Encountered in Sweden: