Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I've Always Wanted a Walk In Closet


That was my first thought when I stepped into my hotel room. My second thought was "But I never thought of putting a bed, a desk, a TV a bathroom (with shower) a cupboard and an easy chair in there too!"......LOL.

The above shot was taken from the far corner of my room (shown in the next picture). If you look closely, you'll see you can see the bathroom reflected in the mirror.

That corner is where I took the previous image from, the bed is there, easy chair to the right (it didn't show up too well).


The desk, desk chair, minibar, and closet are shown in this photo. The closet doors have mirrors, and there is a helpful space underneath for putting shoes.

The room is small, but honestly all I do there is sleep. There hasn't been time to do anything else. I was going to order room service my first night here, but decided to go downstairs instead.


Many of the everyday things are different here. Sweden, like much of Europe, runs on 220 (or is it 240?) V AC power. The power outlets are (of course) different. So interestingly are the light switches. The light switches are large rocker switches (2" x 2" square usually) and, I'm assuming, better sealed against moisture than switches in North America. Standing on a wet bathroom floor and hitting a light switch with 220 V with a wet finger could be really really bad if it isn't sealed.

Door locks also look a bit different........I've seen a few North American cars here, but mostly not so much. Our computer chairs in the lab are much fancier than ones I've seen at home, very ergonomic.

Toilets flush differently, with a handle that you pull up mounted in the top of the lid, rather than a handle that you push down mounted on the side of the tank.

The computers look about the same......except when they're displaying Swedish messages.

Sightseeing


Yan and I got to do some sightseeing on Sunday. The weather wasn't great, but it was largely dry. So far with the exception of Monday (which I spent mostly indoors) the weather in Sweden has been (one of each) either grey or dark and dry or wet. So grey and wet, dark and wet, grey and dry, you get the idea. Sunrise here is about 8:30am this time of the year, and sunset is around 2:50. The days are getting shorter by at least 2 minutes and 5 seconds per day, so over the course of the nearly 7 days we've been here we must have lost at least 15 minutes of grey-light...... :)

Monday was lovely for a while, but I was only outside briefly on Monday. These pictures were taken on Sunday.

Yan and I took the subway to the Kings-garden area in downtown Stockholm. One of the first things we saw was this guy fishing in the river in the above photo. It may be a little hard to make out, but he's there. The current was quite strong, and there aren't a lot of easy ways to get in there, so we weren't sure how he got in, and we didn't see him get out. The water must have been very cold. Some more clever people were fishing from boats and from high up on the walls.

We found the above sailing ship over by the National Museum. The museum didn't open until 11am, so we had some time to kill. The ship is a youth hostel, and as near as I can tell hasn't sailed in quite some time (it looks pretty securely attached to shore).

This shot was taken down by the aforementioned ship. I think the orangish building houses the administrative offices of the hostel.

A little way farther on (the ship is on the left, just out of the frame in this shot) I came upon this old tree on the ground, with a plaster bust embedded in the ground. No idea what's up with that, but I thought it was a pretty cool shot.
On the way back towards the museum I saw this tree. I just liked the texture of the bark, so I took a shot. I find with the digital SLR I'm much less fussy. I brought about 14GB of SD cards with me (7 2GB SanDisk Extreme III cards) and so far I've only used about 2.5. I wanted to bring more, but couldn't find any more on short notice in Halifax. I'm sure there are some there, I just didn't have a lot of time to look. In any event, I only got to go sightseeing once, so no danger of running out.

Speaking of trees....

Just behind the big white ship is an enormous Christmas tree. This thing was massive, and though this shot doesn't do it justice it was lit up quite nicely. Our next stop was the National Museum. There were several temporary exhibits as well as some permanent ones.

This shot was taken from a painting by Carl Gustaf Hellqvist and is called Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361. In one of the temporary exhibits someone threw a brick at us, I ducked.


Ok, I'm kidding. That's one of the temporary exhibits. We found out (after I took this shot) that we weren't allowed to take pictures of the temporary exhibits......c'est la vie.....

After we left the National Museum we walked over to the massive Christmas tree we had seen earlier. It was on the other side of the water, so we crossed the bridge and headed down towards the tree. I forget the measurements but its huge.

It turns out this tree, which is awesome, is actually a sculpture. They start by looking for a tall straight tree trunk, and then cut it down and cut all the branches off of it. Then they harvest branches from trees which grow on the south side of hills and meadows (makes them greener), and then mount them on the cleaned trunk.
The branches are then wired together. There is a competition in Stockholm for the best Christmas tree, but this tree is no longer allowed to compete because if it did no other tree would stand a chance. Its just that impressive.

After wandering around the waterfront for a bit, we headed over to the Royal Palace. No photography was allowed in the palace itself, but we showed up in time to catch the changing of the guard. Yan took some videos while I looked after the still photos. Most of my pictures aren't great because I had to shoot over the crowd, but Yan had a bit more luck with the videos.

Watch the guy with the big drum........its crazy what he does.

video

After wandering through the royal palace, we found a local pasta bar and had a bite to eat, then we wandered through an outdoor market, wandered up a couple of city streets, and then decided to go back to the hotel since it was getting dark. We got back to the hotel for about 3:30, and then off to the office for another long day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stockholm Subway

There are several subway lines in Stockholm, each on a different level. I take the blue line every day. Its at least six stories down....at least it feels that way. This is the escalator out of my regular station.


A couple of us went sightseeing the other day for a bit (there's only about six hours of daylight this time of the year). The image below is the escalator at the Kings Garden station (end of the blue line). That's Yan at the bottom of the escalator, one of the people I work with. We were taking images of each other, one from either end. Having trouble spotting him? Its a long way down, and I didn't zoom in......


As you can see, there's not much space between the tunnel wall, the platform, and the train. Best to be on the platform when the subway arrives. The blue line is powered by 750 volts DC (according to what I've read) and travels about 80km/hr most of the time. Its pretty quick.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sweden

Off to Sweden shortly for work. Stay tuned for photos.