We’re slowly moving out of Stockholm, and I have to admit that I won’t be sad to see it go. For reasons I can’t quite explain, it didn’t work for me. It’s definitely beautiful, but, but. . . . But I don’t know what. I just didn’t like it. The kids didn’t like it either, which might have affected my mood.
My main quibble boils down to the fact that the Swedes themselves struck me as products of a society at the end of its line. This perception may have been — indeed, almost certainly was — colored by my disdain for their anti-Israel sentiment, which too often shades into good, old-fashioned antisemitism. I know that there are individual Swedes who don’t subscribe to their country’s pro-Muslim, anti-Jewish policy, but they’re all tarred by the same brush as far as I’m concerned.
I also went sour when we went to their City Hall, a bizarre early 20th century faux Italian Renaissance building, and was reminded that it’s a shrine to the Nobel Prize. For me, the Nobel Prize started its descent into being a brainless travesty when it gave a Peace Prize Yassar Arafat, a mass murderer.
The “Peace” prize completed its slide into the abyss of stupidity when it gave the prize to Barack Obama, immediately upon his election to president when he had done exactly . . . NOTHING. The committee didn’t even have the decency to withdraw the prize when Obama presided over more deaths in Afghanistan than Bush, boasted about personally selecting kill targets in Pakistan, enabled the savage death of Qaddafi (who was an American neutral at the time), allowed the genocidal Iranian mullahs to continue unchallenged in the face of a popular revolt, turned a blind eye the night Americans died miserably in Benghazi, and otherwise contributed greatly to death and turmoil around the world.
And of course, in between Arafat and Obama, the Nobel committee awarded the prize to such luminaries as Al Gore, who has presided over a global warming scam that has snatched food from poor people the world over as their food crops have been used to power people’s cars, even as Gore enriched himself obscenely; to innumerable American-hating communists; to the UN climate change committee that has advanced Gore’s push for global malnourishment; to a rabidly antisemitic Irish president; and to every other anti-American, antisemitic nutcase, fraud, and tyrant the world over. You really cannot admire a country that considers the Nobel Peace Prize to be one of its greatest accomplishments.
The people, too, didn’t recommend Stockholm. Rather than looking like the descendants of Vikings — robust, golden, and powerful — they had a bleached, desiccated, effete look. They are what more than half a decade of government dependence will do to a people. Too many women had a pinched, weasely expression, and too many men looked as if the heaviest thing they ever lifted up was a cigarette. They look dissatisfied, not proud.
Stockholm also smelled bad. It looked clean enough, but wherever one went, there was eau de sewage, or eau de urine, or eau de unwashed bodies. I’ve never been in a tidy city that smelled so foul.
I know I was tired when we set out today. The kids were cranky too. I’d also been given erroneous advice about the weather and was dressed too warmly. Since I run hot anyway, I was sweltering. All of those are enough to make me have a bad attitude. I think, though, that Sweden’s antisemitism really is the filter through which I looked at this little capital. I have no respect for it and couldn’t like it.
Even the architecture didn’t charm me. The city is nice looking, but I didn’t feel that it was more than usually special. Nothing stood out for beauty, or style, or uniqueness, or historical wonder.
Having said all that, Stockholm did have one wonderful thing: the Vasa Museum. During the Thirty Year War, King Gustav II ordered that the greatest war ship ever should be built. The Vasa was a giant ship with two cannon decks, as well as cannons on the main deck. It was decorated with elaborate carvings, many of which were painted in brilliant colors.
When the Vasa left the harbor for its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, it should have ruled the sea. Instead, when a light breeze hit it, it tipped over, water filled it through the gun whales, and it sank like a stone. It turned out that it had insufficient width and ballast for such a tall, heavily armed ship.
In 1960, a group of Swedes who still had the look of Vikings (strong, blond, and virile) discovered the Vasa locked in Baltic mud that had protected it from worm and decay. They then spent years carefully extricating it from its mud coffin and raising it from the bottom of the sea.
The Vasa emerged from the waters almost perfectly preserved. The paint had vanished, as had the bridge rail, but the rest of the ship was there — including some sails, ropes, clothing, personal items, cannons, etc.
The Swedes have built an amazing museum around the recovered ship. The entire ship is there, rising to the height of seven stories. The museum itself is a seven-story building raised around the ship. On each story, in addition to seeing the Vasa from a different point of view, one can see well-thought-out exhibits that focus on its creation and destruction, the various parts of the ship, the soft materials (sails, ropes, etc.) recovered from the silt, etc. The museum is so spacious and well-designed that it effortlessly absorbs the endless stream of tourists pouring in.
And that’s my Stockholm review — and a sour, misanthropic one, to be sure. Maybe on another day, I would have had nicer things to say, but not today. It just wasn’t my kind of town.