Travel

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Travel Marm’s Packing List

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

So you’re going on a trip? Fantastic! Nothing is more exciting than breaking out your suitcase, travel tote or backpack, and those smaller sized ziplock bags! This 100% Pure zippered pouch comes with awesome, organic facial products.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

I have bought the items below multiple times because I haven’t packed them, but now I’m armed and ready to go. So Don’t Leave Home Without:

Ziplock bags. Small size. Somehow they disappear like socks in the dryer. You can never have enough.

Converters. A few to several of the cheap, #3 kind.  You will need them for your phone charger, laptop and/or tablet chargers. And– hair styling tools!

Phone Car Charger. Thanks, Wendy, for reminding me of this! The best way to keep up battery while on the road.

Wine Bottle Opener. Hotels will not supply these. Be sure to put it in checked luggage; you can’t carry them on a flight.

Plastic Water Bottle with a top. This makes me force hydration, and in many countries buying plastic water bottles is $$.

Umbrella. Small.

Light Rain Coat.

Ear Plugs. Get as much sleep as you can. My last hotel in northern Italy was on the village square next to the clanging bells of a  baroque church. At 7 AM.

Nail tools. Being desperate for a nail file or a nail clipper ruins an afternoon, so bring them.

Bandaids. For blisters.

Neo Sporin ointment. For blisters and any other scrape that could become infected.

Tylenol or Ibuprofen. 

Sunscreen.  Even on urban, city trips you will be outside longer than you normally are.

Copies of passport or driver’s license.  Put these in a suitcase and separate from the real documents in case of theft or loss.

International Driver’s License. Make sure you do the easy, quick process to get it or you can’t pick up your rental car outside of the USA.

 

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Midnight Arrival in Mumbai

Mumbai Street

I woke up in Mumbai to a  flat, mid-morning sun that slapped me around;  I had dry mouth and it 10 AM. I wanted to sleep for at least four more hours. And, God where was the coffee?

I looked out of the hotel window onto the Arabian sea, but a haze obscured the ocean. It looked like the California coast, but with a fog of pollution blocking the water.  According to the World Health Organization, Mumbai is the fifth most polluted mega-city in the world. Unregulated emissions from its vehicles, the new construction of tall buildings and skyscrapers, and the occasional burning of trees create a brew of stifling air.

The night before my flight had arrived at the airport at 9:40. I stood in the wrong line at Indian customs, then I found the right line. Next I was waived over to the line for Pakistani nationals (I’m not Pakistani). I was waived back to my original line and waited. After showing my passport I was photographed and fingerprinted several times like everyone entering India.

Finally,  I was picked up by a pre-arranged driver. Too bad that the driver dropped me off at the wrong hotel a Westyn, across Mumbai from my real hotel. It was 11:30 PM; I was across the world from my family and everyone I knew.  So I had the cocktail I really needed at the hotel bar. How bad could it be? I was at a Westyn with killer air conditioning and indoor fountains; I was the only patron at the bar with an enthusiastic bartender.

I called my Mumbai host, a former colleague, who was  in Florida buying bras at Nordstrom’s. “I’m at the Westyn. The driver dropped me off at the wrong hotel. What should I do after I finish my Mumbai martini?” I asked her.

“Get an Uber. Oh, and get a Black Car or you’ll be riding across 20 million people in a rickshaw.”  Good to know. I finished my drink and tapped on Uber, and Black Car.  It was cool and weird that it lit up and worked in Mumbai just as it had in New York about 18 hours before.

On the ride to the correct hotel I stared at Mumbai on the highway, my entree to the Indian streetscape: motorized rickshaws, mini black and yellow taxis, couples and families of three on motorbikes (!). Then there were regular bikes, trucks and chauffeured luxury cars. Lots of technicolor saris and tons of billowing scarves. Shanty dwellings, shops, and clotheslines bordered the highway, lit up and alive with crowds.  And what was that haze obscuring the lights and buildings? Wow, I am really here.

The hotel entrance had a full-on airport-style security setup, and my bag went through an x-ray machine, I walked through a metal detector. Then I was wanded and patted down by a veiled woman in a private women’s section.

I checked in, got up to my room, and was wired. And starving. So I ordered some Indian chapatis, or tortillas, and some undetermined vegetarian spreads.  3 AM. I got myself to bed. Mumbai’s streets were packed with honking vehicles.

Dear Ann Lamott- Thank You

Dear Anne,

That sounds weird. I’ve read your books for twenty years, and I’ve heard you speak three times, so Anne doesn’t sound like you. But Ms. Lamott is more formal than I’d like, and the Annie that so many call you feels like a boundary crossing. I can be kind of old school like that.

Anyhoo, I would like to thank you for:

A. Being You 

B. Writing those books that continue to sing like early 90’s R and B to me

C: Calling me out on my advanced proficiency in enabling, but in a non-threatening way with comic overtones.

I appreciate the times you have revealed yourself as is like my house that needs new windows on the front and all new doors. This has helped me to sometimes accept myself as is, even though I backslide into persnickety perfectionism. Perfectionism is the devil; for me she is a photoshopped version of me, 8.5 days after botox and right after a blow-out. A few pounds under from enabling-stress, or a colonoscopy too. She needles me and forces me into taking the pita chips out of my grocery basket, then she has a hissy-fit when she sees me in the Pure Barre mirror. God, she makes me miserable! But you are my angel, rescuing me from that kidnapper with your scriptures “So what. They are thighs,” and “80 percent acceptance is a miracle.”

So I went to see you last night in Charlotte, North Carolina (for all of you boo hissing North Carolina; I’m sorry. Some of us here are working on it, and we didn’t mean to offend you.)  I was in a horrific mood because it was far too cold and windy for April 6th, I didn’t want to drive to the Bojangles Coliseum (Go ahead— hold your abdomen as you guffaw. I’ll wait.), and when I got there, parking cost eight dollars. (!)  Then I walked in, and saw that no alcohol was served; a slow, stinging, sinus pain was on the way. And you, poor thing, were stuck in the delayed travel nightmare of southeastern winds and storms. So, the wait was on, but the always nice people of my church who ran the event handed me your latest book, Alleluia. Between that, my phone and social media, I was pretty good.

I sat for a while being afraid of the crowd of white southern women’s  book clubs with Christian undertones. I knew some of these people, but avoided them on purpose, and hid behind your book and my phone. It was that feeling of walking into the lockers of your new high school while everyone around you spoke enthusiastically in Finnish about all of the fun they were going to have. Without you.

I got restless; my default setting. My suede bootied-feet twitched, and I made quick plans to stand up and walk out. I wanted to smear the makeup off of my face with my turbo face cream, get in my flannel pajamas, and get on the couch with half a glass of pinot noir and the dogs to binge on The Americans.

Then the sponsor- church’s pastor walked onto the stage. Wow, it felt like a Sunday! And I love a full-on, traditional church service on a Sunday. I relaxed just a little into my chair. Then you came on and apologized for not wearing makeup,  or even a cute scarf. And there was Light.

So, here is my takeaway from your talking points.

Help is the sunny side of control. So, you singled me out. Like when . .

  • I offer to help my 18-year-old son proof-read a paper. Still, haven’t seen one.
  • I suggest industries for my adult children to pursue careers in. They haven’t.
  • I maintain and intricate set of familial subsidies. I think that nobody knows about these. False.

I know, I know.  I’m not helping anyone to learn how to fish.  I’m serving them a fully de-boned, wild-caught, broiled fillet seasoned with herbs de Provence.  Baby steps.

Codependence is the addiction to the potential of others. 

  • I have said, “He/she has so much potential” about family members, students, and friends so many times I have forgotten who has the potential to do what.
  • I tell myself that I’m a big picture girl, so I don’t need to see evidence. Or, I’m just afraid to see the lack of it from those folks who have all of that potential. 

Listen without giving bumper sticker advice.

  • I’m pretty good at not doing this because I like to listen to the many people I love. And, I’m not qualified to tell anyone a better way to do anything.  I also don’t want that responsibility.
  • I forget the bumper stickers

Forgiveness and mercy don’t mean you have to have lunch with that person. My challenge here is that I will gladly have lunch with the people who have:

  • cut in front of me in traffic
  • cut in front of me in line
  • shut doors in front of me
  • push in front of me to get on the subway
  • swipe the cab that was coming for me.
  • ignored my parental directives
  • passive-aggressives. In general.

I live part-time in New York, so I’m getting better at holding my ground. I thank you for the reminder that I shouldn’t have lunch with the above. Poof. I don’t feel guilty for giving them my coldest resting-bitch-face anymore.

I can’t keep saying thank-you again or you’ll get sick of me,  delete this, get up, and go on a hike or something. The immediate way you connect with all of us in your writing and from the speaking stage is beyond effective, and even more entertaining. Yes, I took notes on my phone while you were speaking, but I didn’t even have to look at them to remember your messages. Every time I read your books and after I see you I feel like I can be just Me. Being ok is nirvana.

It’s ok that I lost my debit card while gassing up, the second time I’ve lost it this year. And, I’ve lost all of the reading glasses that I bought from Marshall’s last month; so far I’m still here, so are the dogs, and the world keeps turning.

The world keeps turning no matter how perfect we are, the multitude of mistakes we make, and the wasted energy we spend conjuring up the potential of others. Thank you, for these always gentle, brilliant, and funny reminders.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

New York Cheap Eats & Activities

NY restaurant

New York City Virgins! Or– people who haven’t been to New York, or that much, here is a guide with some tips and cheap restaurant recs for you. This is for my friend Pablo who is visiting the city next week with some of his amigos from Spain. They will be staying in Chelsea, so my recs are geared to that area and downtown.

Remember that you are entering the inflated economy of Planet New York; you will be shocked at how high the prices for everything are. You have just got to close your eyes and go with it; nothing is getting cheaper while you are here. And, there is New York City sales tax slapped on top of any purchases. But, some food items and services will seem cheap: ethnic food from carts or small diners, nail salons, and neighborhood blow dry salons.

New York City Equipment Guide

Do you think of the great outdoors when you picture the big apple? Probably not. But, I spend more time outside in New York than I ever have in suburbia. Getting around in New York requires going outside and walking. Tons of walking, so you need to be prepared for any and all weather and city conditions.  I live in my black Nike Frees, rain jacket with deep pockets and a hood. If I am out for a while I bring my tote: umbrella and room for any purchases.

Bad Weather Gear. The weather is only as bad as your outdoor accoutrements, so be prepared.

Must Haves:

  1. small umbrella
  2. rain jacket with a Hood
  3. athletic walking or running shoes
  4. light sweaters to layer on and off

Ladies- flats are just not enough for pounding the New York pavement; go with full-on sporty, or at least some slip-on sneakers.

When I forget to take an umbrella out, and  New York’s horizontal, drenching rain starts, I buy one at an exorbitant price. The cost of street umbrellas = how hard it is raining; there is no price ceiling.

Getting Around

Subway Metro Card.  The subway is not at all to be feared; most all of us take it because it is the fastest and certainly the cheapest way from point A to B. So go down into a station and buy a metro card at a machine by the windowed kiosk.  Then, go back to the hotel or a coffee shop to study a subway map around your hotel and destinations.

Taxi App:  Curb app. Sometimes you’ve just got to splurge. Download the Curb app onto your phone before your trip. Load your credit card information. All yellow taxis take payment from the app. Just look at the screen until the Curb code is posted and enter it into the opened app on your phone.

Of course you can Uber or Lyft. You’ll be surprised at how speedily your ride appears, so be ready. And– message the driver with the exact streets and corners of your location; that’s a big deal.

Cash is King.  Still. Carry some. Occasionally a smalll deli-store or a coffee shop or diner will declare that their credit card reader is broken.  And– tipping the bell staff at hotels is very much alive and well.

The Great Outdoors

Parks. A few hours in glorious Central Park is compulsory; depending on the weather. Frederick Olmsted’s masterpiece of landscape architecture and engineering is a part of most New Yorker’s lives. Get some ethnic food to go and have a late lunch on one of the greens in the Park.  If you head up to Museum Mile to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, or The Frick, definitely budget Park time.

The Highline. Downtown to Chelsea. The Highline is an elevated walkway above the city. Crowded with tourists, it is still the best way to see the west side of downtown and Chelsea. Begin your outing at the Whitney Museum, then climb the nearby stairs onto the High Line and walk up to 28th street.

Most Manhattan neighborhoods downtown, east, and north of the Park have delightful small parks and dog parks. Great places to sit and study your city and subway maps or check out dinner options.

Eating and Drinking

American franchises like Starbucks, Chipotle, and Duncan Donuts will be on the lower cost end, but higher than what you pay at home. And, they are reliable.  Some New York chains that are also on the lower cost end are:

Then the best food at great prices can be found at corner food trailers and tiny Mediterranean, Thai, and Indian restaurants.

Eataly is a huge, fun, Italian themed food hall with restaurants and wine bars. It is a destination unto itself, so go.

For those staying in the Chelsea area or near the Westside 20’s streets, here is an awesome list of local and ethnic cheap eats:  The 15 Best Cheap Restaurants in Chelsea by foursquare.com.  These would also be convenient for Madison Square Garden, Penn Station, or if you have walked up from Greenwich Village.

So have fun in New York! People-watch, hear street conversations in multiple, often unidentifiable languages, walk briskly, order quickly, and don’t worry if you take the wrong subway train– just get off and start over like the rest of us have. 🙂

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

The Met Breuer and Hot Chocolate

Met Breuer & Maison

Need to escape chilly, grey New York weekends? Stay in the city and go to the Met Breuer museum on 945 Madison.  We were so happy to get out of the grey, breezy rain and walk in to the warm, softly lit Met Breuer. And I bribed my One and Only with a hot chocolate stop only after we macaroons.

The museum is five floors of airy, light-walled galleries which is the perfect museum size for an hour, or maybe two tops.  Two of the floors usually have rotating exhibits.  This time around the American painter Marsden Hartley’s lovely, slightly abstract landscapes and Brazilian macaroons Pape ‘s concrete abstract works were on exhibit. No- Pape’s works are not made of concrete; concrete abstract is a  fancy art term.

Museum Saturday Take-Aways: This is what I learned: 1. Concrete Abstraction is the depiction of figures not related or referencing nature.  2. Marsden Hartley loved his home state of Maine so much that he retired there.

Our Museum Reward was the macaroons Maison du Chocolat. My One and Only ordered the Guayaquil hot chocolate, and I got cappuccino to try to be good. I also had two samples of the best chocolate in the world. And we were served two free macaroons.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Girls’ Get Aways!

Do you sigh and smile like I do when you think of your daughter? Mine  is almost 24. I am 52. We are at a place of mutual adoration, but we hiked some mountains to get here.  I christened her HRH at age 16; she has since moved on to Gracious-Hardworking-Totally Kick Ass. )  HRH’sgirlhood was an easy tomboyhood filled with energy, smiles, athletics, then dance. Middle School Madness was a roller coaster of mini drama-bouts. Then HIgh School was an Ice Age of communication and emotion, kind of like living in North Viet Nam with no internet. College became friendly, and I earned  Acceptable Mom Clearance.

She even told me that she realized I was right and knew everything when she was 19. I waited 19 years for that. 

Transition to Real Life from University Utopia was a bee-yatch, but she snapped into Reality Bites and working full time , and being poor in New -York in a few months. Then we started having Real Conversations, and they just keep coming.  So I want to take her on a Mother Daughter getaway and have her all to myself. Join us?

January, or Dryuary is well over and it is time for a Mother-Daughter Getaway to beat the Winter Blues.  Here are some suggestions from friends and family.

Bikini Boot Camp. Tulum, Mexico. Great name, huh? My friend Amy and her daughter Emma did this the first week in January and loved it. Bikini Boot Camp is an all-inclusive vacation including lodging, food, and regular, scheduled exercise and yoga options. Amy loved getting up first thing and practicing yoga to the sunrise.  The food is all fresh, additive and gluten free and served to you family style.  Get your Mind Body Connection jumpstarted at Bikini Boot Camp.

Canyon Ranch. Tucson, Arizona. This is the gold standard for spa and nutrition stays. I did this a couple of years ago with two girlfriends and I can’t wait to take my 23 year old daughter. There were scads of mother-daughters doing the Canyon Ranch Routine: eating small portions of superior, clean food, taking work out classes, going hiking, going to health seminars, and having spa services.  I learned so much at Canyon Ranch about nutrition, physiology, and of course portion control and cooking.   It is a Dry Resort, but we didn’t miss drinking due to CR’s delightful mocktails. (Well. Yes we did. ) High Points:  hiking in the Tucson mountains, lunch time cooking classes with Chef, nightly massage.  Be sure to call and ask directly about deals and specials and spa allowances; there are always a few doing.

Skiing in Vail, Colorado.  Vail is primo for its snow, skiing variety, and easy transportation. Flights to Denver are plentiful and direct from most places and the drive to Vail is a cinch via rental car or the Colorado Mountain Express.  I met my ski buddy Judy in Vail for a few years because of this. We like to stay at the Vail Cascade, which is reasonably priced for Vail and has a spa and work out facility attached. There are other, even more high end options in Vail or Beaver Creek.

Palm Springs, California.  Get out to the sunny desert in Palm Springs.  Palm Spring has several resorts, and its midcentury houses are a great drive-by diversion.  Did you know you can hike the hills and desert trails in Palm Springs? That would be my pick. The shopping  is also excellent. Tennis, anyone? I stayed at La Quinta, which is the primo tennis and spa weekend resort.  La Quinta has been around for generations and its Spanish colonial adobe architecture and gardens are outstanding.  It is a full blown tennis club offering the best pros, lessons, and clinics. (I am mentally planning a tennis team trip here.) Capital T for Tasteful,  The Riviera is at Starwood property with a full spa, tennis courts, pool, fitness center and awesome, reasonable rooms.

London, Paris, or Rome Off Season.  Cheerio! Bonjour! Bongiorno! Get some Culture, and great food and drink, and shopping in a world city. The best deals going are from British Airways. They offer packages of air fare and hotels; remember to pick a hotel that provides a complimentary breakfast. And see if there is also free afternoon tea or evening wine or aperitif.  We went to London on a BA package years ago; it was perfect. I’m happy to see they are offering the same packages now because I’m dying to take HRH to Paris.

Puerto Rico, Isla de Vieques.  Calling all Beach Babes! And East Coast Girls– the travel is just as easy as going to Cancun. The W Resort and Spa is calling your name: margaritas or mojitos served to you on the beach and a massage later. For you  Boutique Hotel Ladies the Hacienda Tamarindo offers just 17 rooms with a killer breakfast and all manner of spa services.

Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is not an international trip, BTW. There are now flights into Santa Fe, but flying into Albuquerque, New Mexico and driving 50 minutes to Santa Fe remains an option.  Santa Fe feels like a different country with an architecture and cuisine dominated by Spanish Colonial and Native American cultures.  The town center boasts adobe building from the 1600’s.  The food scene is unspeakably good: Inn of the Anasazi, Cafe Pasquale, and more.  Santa Fe has the best concentration of fine arts in a spectacular mountain setting. Museums: the Georgia O’Keefe, the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art, the Folk Art Museum and more. Performing Arts: The Santa Fe Opera in the summer, music, dance, and more. The visual art scene of its world famous galleries has been around for decades. And, the Japanese spa 10,000 Waves offers spa services in traditional, Japanese style.

 

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

New Orleans for Empty Nesters

Need a mid-winter lift? Get thee to New Orleans, or NOLA, for divine food and drink, amazing architecture, and an escape into French America.  New Orleans’ old world vibe,  spectacular food, music, lush Adoubon park,  and opulent historic houses in the Garden District really transport you from daily American living to its European, old world ambient.    Laissez les bon temps rouler! Let the good times roll!

Transportation:  Uber,  taxi, and the St. Charles Street Car that goes from the French Quarter to Uptown  Accommodations: New Orleans Hotels

Lunch: We went immediately to Brennan’s in the French Quarter. Recently restored, Brennan’s is an old school New Orleans standby specializing in a long, languorous brunch with bloody mary’s, mimosas, or champagne. The dessert Bananas Foster was invented at Brennan’s.  Between the three of us we had an omelet, shrimp creole salad, and coq au vin, or backed chicken in wine sauce.

Walk Around the French Quarter:  There was jazz on the street! The quarter always has jazz bands busking on corners. See old French and Creole-style buildings with wrought iron on narrow, paver-set streets. It is just fun to walk around and window shop in antique stores, vintage jewelry stores, galleries and all types and grades of restaurants and bars.

Uber to Mardi Gras World:  See where Mardi Gras is made! Mardi Gras World creates the floats for Mardi Gras as well as for other parades around the world. It is like a huge scale Santa’s Toy Shop in their studio-warehouses and there is a self-guided tour. Stroll outside to the docks and see the barge and tugboats of New Orleans.

Cocktail at your hotel or in an outdoor French Quarter bar.

Dinner at Commander’s Palace. You eat big and fancy here; all stops are pulled out. The gumbo appetizer and the warm dessert souffle is not to be missed.

Day 2. Breakfast at your hotel.  Magazine Street and Uptown. :   Take the St. Charles Ave. streetcar from Canal St. and get off at First or Second St.m about a 15-minute trip. Walk through the famed Garden District neighborhood toward Magazine St. There are Garden District tours available of the historic houses and gardens.  When you get to Magazine Street, turn right, then walk the stretch between Washington and Napoleon, which is full of restaurants, shops, and bars.  Have an espresso and walk all the way up to big, beautiful Audubon Park .  You can take a bus, the  #11 Magazine Street or a cab back to the French Quarter for some coffee with chicory and beignets at Cafe du Monde,  or to your hotel.

Pack up at the hotel and get ready to catch a late afternoon or evening flight, or stay another night and eat at Galatoire’s in the Quarter and head up to a bar on Magazine Street.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Stockholm

See the Instant Itinerary in this post!  See the Stockholm Day 1 Longform article for details and impressions.

My One and Only and I walked Stockholm for four days, and we loved every clean, beautiful, ordered thing about it. Here is our Day 1 itinerary.

Arrival: We took the Arlanda Express train into Stockholm and checked into our sleek, Swedish hotel, the Nobis in Normalm. It was 7 AM. The breakfast buffet was stocked with the Euro-usual: fruit, muesli, yogurt, bread, ham, salami, cheese, and oh . . . . smoked reindeer, and some lingonberry jam.

Site 1: Gamla Stan. 2 hours. We strode the 15 minutes over a canal to Gamla Stan, the old city. It houses the current royal palace, Kungliga Slottet, and museums, churches, squares, shops, restaurants, bars, and schools. We saw the changing of the Royal Guard, 

Kungliga Slottet is the type of opulent palace seen all over Europe. It even had its own Hall of Mirrors and the collection of precious stone medals was impressive. 

Gamla Stan’s mustard, russet, and pine colored buildings and the cobblestones make it fun to walk around. The restaurants are overtly touristy, and there are many nordic curio shops.

Break:  Espresso HouseWhile traveling, we all need a second place to rest, get coffee and snacks, use free wifi, study maps, and pore over the travel books we didn’t read before the trip. The Espresso House is the second place in Stockholm. There are everywhere, they have free wifi, and the coffee is superior. And Espresso House serves warm, crunchy-gooey paninis; there are plenty of chocolate opportunities as well.

Tour 1: 2.5 hours The best way to see the big scale of Stockholm and the full panorama of its Baltic setting is to see it by boat. I had bought our tickets for the Stockholm Bridges and Canals tour online from viator.com, a tour-clearing house site. But there was no need to do so. Several boat tour ticket booths lined the two main tourist harbors.

The tour pulled us out of the main harbor and took us around a loop toward Lake Mälaren, adjacent to the harbor. We went under several old city canal bridges and then went through a canal lock near trendy Sodermalm that evened up the waterway for the boat to enter Lake Malaren. We saw parts of Stockholm we could have never seen if we had stayed on foot. 

Cocktail Hour. Grand Hotel Stockholm. We beat jetlag! How divine that glass of rosé was at the outdoor bar next to the old hotel. 

Dinner:  Sushi at MBK Restaurant. Walking distance through the outdoor mall in Normalm.

DAY 2: VASA MUSEUM, SODERMALM, FANCY DINNER

“So the Vasa ship isn’t a Viking ship!” I said too loudly at breakfast. Nobody looked at me; they don’t do that in Sweden. You just get ignored, which is better anyway.

The Vasa warship was a war vessel commissioned in 1628 by King Gustavus Adolfus to strike fear into the Polish navy stationed across the Baltic. Too bad it sank almost immediately after its premature launch in Swedish Baltic waters.

Walk 1: After loading up on breakfast and pots of coffee, we walked a couple of miles along the Strandvagen boulevard next to the bay to Djurgården island which houses the Vasa Museum. Bike lanes, pedestrian lanes, and car lanes lined up in parallel on Strandvagen with sturdy, identical lines of poplar trees dating from the late 1700’s. Not a car or a person out of place, Swedish style. 

Site 1: Vasa Museum. The museum shrouds the Vasa ship like a grand wedding-tent, soaring five stories with masts like a spider web of wood. No machines, industrial factories, or robots were used on the Vasa. Just droves of shipbuilders in an outdoor foundry and lumber yard on Djurgården island.

The Best Part: We then strolled to the anthropology displays. Swedish forensic anthropologists have taken the bones and teeth of the drowning victims, and they have re-constructed detailed personal histories and even human-sized models of them. Ship workers and servants sustained injuries like broken bones and missing fingers and toes during their hard, short lives. Their brittle, often missing teeth revealed diets poor in nutrients. The anthropologists listed their illnesses and injuries, and they gave them authentic names like Lars, Gunnar, and Greet.

Lunch: Guess where we went to lunch? You’re right: Espresso House! After leaving the Vasa museum we walked down the Strandvagen along the bay toward the hotel. As usual, the tomato and mozzarella panini and cappuccino hit the spot.

Travel Marm Packing Essentials

Scandinavian End of Summer

 

Scandinavia End of Summer

Does anybody else wait to read travel books until they are on the trip? Buying the DK travel guides before a trip is just as exciting as arrival there. My new DK Sweden book took up residence in my car and traveled everywhere with me – to the grocery store, meetings, the dog groomers, and the hardware store.  At stop-lights I pored over its Stockholm street maps and meticulously labeled illustrations of Viking ships. 

But it all didn’t add up into a city I could readily conceptualize. I have to be in the place and walk the streets, see the signs, the parks, buildings, and palaces for it to make sense.