Monday, May 23, 2005

Adventures in Stockholm, Part II

On Tuesday, I attended the conference in the morning. But my session got out early just before lunch, so I took the opportunity to see more of Stockholm. I went to the Nordiska Museet, the national museum of cultural history. I took in big exhibits on shoes, Swedish holidays, Swedish homes, and Swedish furniture, before returning to the conference in time for the next session. That evening, we had a banquet at the Stockholm City Hall, the place where they hold the banquet for the Nobel Prize every year. Since that was the closest I anticipate I'll ever get to a Nobel Prize, I made the most of it. We had our banquet in the Golden Hall, which is used for the post-banquet dancing at the Nobel Prize banquet. Their banquet is in the Blue Hall, which is actually not blue, but brick red. The food was really good and fairly traditional Swedish: several types of fish, including two dishes with salmon; Swedish meatballs with parsnips; delicious hard rolls; and some sort of loaf of something that might have been pâté but was basically unidentifiable to a crass American such as myself. I tried it, anyhow. I still don't know what it was.

I slept in and when I went to eat breakfast, I couldn't find an empty table. Luckily, I recognized a couple who my friends from the plane had introduced me to at the banquet the night before. I joined them at their table and had a good time conversing and getting to know them better before the husband of the couple and I made our way to the conference.

I was so intrigued by the City Hall that I went back at lunch and climbed the tower. You can take an elevator halfway up, and then walk the rest of the way. I enjoyed the view from the top, and took more pictures than you can shake a stick at. Then I went back to the conference for another session. After that session, I went out to dinner with my friends from the airplane and my friends from breakfast, and two other couples and two others there by themselves. We went to an Indian restaurant. It was funny because all the items on the menu were in English, but the explanations of ingredients were in Swedish. I guessed and chose something that sounded like it could be good. I was correct, and was rewarded with a scrumptious meal. I tried to go to bed at a decent hour, because the next day I was returning home.

I got up at 6 a.m. on Thursday (11:00 p.m. the previous day in Illinois), so that I could make it in time to catch my plane. I ate a big, delicious breakfast before getting myself to the Flygbussarna and back to Arlanda airport. After a bit of confusion about which line I needed to stand in, I managed to get myself checked in and made my way to the gate.

On the plane, I ended up sitting next to a very gregarious Swedish gentleman of about the same age as my dad. We talked just about the entire trip home. He was really nice and very knowledgeable. We have similar interests: he's in computer science, loves music, and speaks 5 languages. He spoke very good English. I asked him all kinds of questions about Sweden, Swedish culture, and the Swedish language. He in turn asked me about the United States and American language and culture. The trip passed quickly.

Once we landed in Chicago, I had to wait for 2.5 hours until my shuttle came. But then it ended up being an hour late. I got back to Urbana at about 6:45 p.m. I thought about calling Jeff to pick me up, but realized it would be too much effort, so I just waited for the next city bus going my way and got home on the bus. Jeff was delighted to see me. I was excited to see him; so excited that I managed to stay up pretty late, until about 11 p.m., meaning that I stayed up for a full 24 hours. Then I crashed into bed and tried to sleep as late as I could, which ended up being until about 5:30 a.m.

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