August 7, 2008
The view from the tour boat, at Gamla Stan, where we are staying.
I’ve found some terrible similarities at least when it comes to how people treat one another. I had no idea that the Swedes have an indigenous people?
I thought it was just Americans that repressed native peoples. But I guess it was endemic all over the world. I am surprised. In the early 20th century, they even would measure their heads to show that they had smaller brains so as to prove that they should not be permitted in “civilized” society. They overran their lands and made it harder for them to sustain themselves. Then I wondered, what is Swedish anyway? Sweden only actually became a country a hundred years before the US. What? I thought all European countries were around hundreds upon hundreds of years old. And that us Americans were the adolescents compared with the maturity of European history. So it gets me thinking, what is ethnicity? And nationality? And where do we all come form really? What defines us?
I wonder how it came about that Western Civilization became emulated as the standard, and how it simultaneously was forced on new lands and indigenous peoples. Isn’t it so like the playground mentality of identifying the coolest kid? Inevitably, the coolest kid is just the one that decides for themselves that they are the coolest. They have this air of importance that just says, I’m the One. Maybe they’ve got resources, a family with money or something like that. And they’ve got that entitlement. And then all the kids want their approval, and they copy them, and the cool kid throws their weight around, and other kids get bullied, and there’s a system of authority and dominance. And with all our 21st century covering over of wrongs of the past, is it really possible to change all that much from this deeply ingrained facet of human nature? Kill or be killed? Us vs Them? Survival of the fittest? Are we really all that different, for all of our coming of age & respecting others & teaching of tolerance? Aren’t we all on some level still playing these games?
So we went to the Nordiska Museet & saw this exhibit on the Sami people, as well as took at peek at the Vasa Museum and it’s ship that was pulled out of the water only 30+ years ago. It was sunk in the 1600’s.
We walked all over. We went at a McDonald’s. I didn’t actually eat there. I just couldn’t do it. I ate a hot dog off a street cart (yum!) and GK’s parents ate in McD’s (how else to get cheap food AND a place to sit?.) Everything we do is actually TWICE what we’d expect to pay in the US. We can’t eat for less than $50. But then again, all prices include the 25% tax. And restaurants include the tip. It actually costs money here to get tap water at your meal. And it even costs money to use the unisex bathrooms. You have to be creative and hold the door as someone exits the bathroom stall, so you can go in for free. It was hard to adjust and have a man come out of the bathroom stall.
We leave today for the other side of the country. One night stop-over in Orserum. Yesterday we also took the two and a half hour boat ride touring the archipelago of Stockholm, which pretty much is the bunch of rock islands that make up the city. It is so beautiful here, but I didn’t get great pictures to do it justice. There were lots of spots we saw from the boat such as “This is Mill Island. There is the mill, and there are the apartments for people who worked at the mill.” That kind of thing. Factories, and the huge buildings that housed the workers. Most being turned into condos now. And this place is full of museums! The Swedish Police Museum, the Postal Museum. See that place on the shore? It’s being turned into a museum. These people like their history. And they are trying to right the wrongs of the past, apparently. Some people don’t think they’re doing a good enough job of that, but there you go.
GK and I also walked up to the shopping district. We ate at a Japanese restaurant. (We’re told we are getting plenty of Swedish food at the wedding, so in Stockholm, we should eat up other stuff.)
Oh, GK just pulled up with the rental car, gotta go!