Tuesday, August 07, 2001

It poured rain this morning, came down like bolts of cloth unfurling from the heavens and making it utter hell to wend one's way through Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm. Some of the streets are paved in brick, some in stone and worst of all, some are cobbled with those round stones that are impossible to walk on - what in god's name were 16th century engineers thinking when they paved a road with those round lumpy stones? It's like walking up a set of bad teeth. And when it rains, the water flows in torrents down Kåksbrinken from Stortorget, carrying 80-year-old German ladies in its wake, little old ladies clutching at their maps and shrieking, you have to be careful that they don't grab you as you dodge past, be careful that they don't take you down with them.

This - the little old German ladies and the rest of their fellow tourists - is probably the only thing I don't like about working here. Otherwise, it's quite wonderful to walk down the steps at Mosebacke each day and see Gamla Stan laid out like a perfect toy city below with the spires of the German Church and Storkyrkan, the rows of houses along Kornhamnstorget, the square top of the Royal Palace. Of course I then have to walk through dirty, ugly, serviceable Slussen - the sluice - before I actually get into Gamla Stan, walking past Järntorget 84 (which I just realized you can see on the 500 Kronor note) and up the narrowest street imagineable, Mårtin Trotzigsgränd, it's only wide enough for one person to pass through at the top. Then past the school and the old German quarter, then finally over to Köpmansgatan, and on to the little square with the statue of St. George and the Dragon in the center, the princess on a pillar by herself in the corner.

Today's Swedish phrase is: att skynda på. It means to hurry along. - Francis S.

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