A street in Stockholm’s Vasastan neighborhood on a June evening. © Erin Zaleski 2012
After a bit of a hiatus, I am back and will be updating more frequently (no, really I promise!)
So what have I been up to these past few months?
Mostly working, but also packing, organizing, visa-acquiring, and…moving!
I am now based in Stockholm (the above is a picture of my street) indefinitely. I am looking forward to exploring the city in depth, taking road trips to the countryside, boating on the archipelago, and the easy access of many of my favorite spots in Europe (ah, Paris!)
I am less enthusiastic about learning Swedish, which, despite its vaguely pretty musical quality, bears no linguistic resemblance to either French or English. Plus, there is that peculiar sound Swedes make when pronouncing the letter “i” that reminds me of a kazoo or of how I sounded after inhaling helium out of party balloons when I was a kid.
Basically, I am preparing for a leviathan of a language-learning struggle.
In the meantime, I am keeping a virtual collage cataloguing my impressions of the Swedish capital. You can check out the Stockholm Notebook here.
Sunset in the afternoon. © 2011 Erin Zaleski
First impressions of a late-November in Stockholm in 100 words:
Awaking in darkness. Large black birds with white wing tips dart from tree to tree just beyond the terrace, and by 3:00 daylight is already draining from the sky again. Stockholmers are beautiful—the women are slender with maliciously poreless skin and uptilted fairy-eyes. They flounce down the streets in tight jeans and tall boots and shiny jackets like haughty dolls. Lanterns flicker outside the entrances of shops and restaurants in the afternoon, and cheesy, American holiday music filters out of taxis past midnight. A French grocer in Vasastan. Muesli with filmjölk in the morning, and procecco with jazz after dark.
How strongly can you yearn for a place you’ve never seen?
Nordic Lad has been trying to lure me to Stockholm for the better part of two months and his efforts are finally paying off.
Sweden, while on my destination list for a while, never occupied the top spot. It didn’t even make the top five, to be honest (sorry, love)!
I was thinking Beirut or Brasov or Tanzania. Besides, because of Sweden’s fairly close proximity to France, I figured I could always jet up for a long weekend once I was settled back in Paris again.
My sole encounter with Sweden was brief. While surviving a bleak late autumn in Copenhagen several years ago, I took an abbreviated daytrip to Malmö. I departed the station, walked around the town, a park, got caught in the rain. Aside from a striking, black-haired ‘80s rocker-esque guy, the locals mostly shuffled about wearing gray sweaters and grim expressions. Smitten, I was not.
“Malmö is not Stockholm,” Nordic Lad explained to me in a tone a Manhattanite might use with a befuddled tourist whose sole foray into New York had comprised an afternoon at the Staten Island Mall. “And there is nothing like Stockholm in the summer.”