23 October, 2013

If you've got no place to go...

... for a long week end, consider Stockholm.

I have just spent three wonderful days discovering the capital of Sweden. I have come here for work but managed to come early so as to visit some of the city's landmarks, partake of some typical Swedish food and listen to music.

I arrived last Sunday morning and had already booked my ticket beforehand to go to the Royal Opera for Wagner's Parsifal: 5 hours and 30 minutes long! I was not sure I would actually be able to sit through the whole show having flown in from Nairobi the preceding night. I did yawn quite a few times but the show was riveting: singers' emotions were intense, the music equally so. I have to admit that I was lost in the first act: I had not studied the plot beforehand and my German was not good enough to follow everything that was being sung onstage. Wagner's lyrics are not meant for aria with da capo, so one only gets one chance to get the meaning of words. Subtitles in Swedish were unhelpful for me. But I still managed to receive the very intense emotions from the singers despite not knowing what was happening. I nonetheless went to buy the programme at the first interval and discovered an extremely complicated and mystical storyline.

The next day I enjoyed more music but in a completely different style. I spent two very gratifying hours in the brand new Abba museum. Lots of songs, lots of glitter: all the memorabilia of the Swedish pop group has been assembled in one place to understand what went on behind the scenes to deliver the Abba songs we love so much. I was definitely singing Abba tunes when leaving the premises.

As for the food, I concentrated on sampling fish because that is rather sparse in Nairobi. Cod, herring and salmon, usually in a butter sauce with a touch of egg, or mustard, or cream, and always some kind of fresh herbs as garnish. That's what I take away from Swedish cuisine after just three days. And of course, there is always a great selection of cakes on the buffet table. At Café Blå Porten next to the Abba museum, there was even a whole vat of home-made vanilla-flavoured whipped cream to scoop from...

Take a chance on me
Abba, Gold greatest hits, Polydor

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