Category: Bicycle

10 Weeks Until the Ride to Montauk

lc10 weeks until the Ride to Montauk century

Today’s mileage: 19 miles

Total mileage: 38.9 miles

Diet: Had three bowls of Lucky Charms at 11pm last night. I swear, it’s like half marshmallows now.

Feeling: My legs are getting a bit stronger, I think. This is good. But I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Spring, are you really here to stay, or are you doing that deadbeat asshole thing where you tell us you’re here for good and then you leave us with evil winter and his corporal punishment? Nevermind, I’m glad that you’re back, don’t explain. No lobster gloves, no balaclava today!

I’m reacquainting myself with my gears. My friend Raymond says I shouldn’t be riding with the chain on the big front gear and the big back gear, which means the 2 on the front and the 1 on the back of my 12 speed. I risk breaking the chain. I did not know this! So I’m trying to keep myself in the middle range of the back gear and switch between the two derailleur thingies in front. (Apologies to you people who have actual vocabulary for these objects.)

I’m always happy to give pedestrians a wide berth and to slow down when people want to cross. And I do enjoy that downhill part on the Prospect Park Southwest side. But it can also be a little hairy. Today, there was an older couple trying to cross into the park right where momentum is increasing the cyclists’ velocity as they zip down the hill towards the lake. The lady was wisely standing back at the side of the road, but unwisely refraining from giving her husband shit for being a dummy. The man had daringly dashed to the first white line, a streak of paint which may divide two lanes for cars on the weekdays, but on a Saturday becomes the wispiest of abstract notions. When I rode past, he was just standing on that line like the last standing bowling pin eager to become a spare. I yelled, “What are you thinking, my friend?” which he probably heard as, “What rrr thttt…”

Clearly I’m not ready for Manhattan traffic yet.

Training for a century – HALP

I’ve signed up for the Ride to Montauk again. I’m trying for the century+ this time, 108 miles! And I am really, really, really out of shape.

I pumped air into the tires on both my bikes today, and then proceeded to eat two bowls of Lucky Charms while weeping over Out of Africa. (Though not until after a few half-hearted kettlebell swings.)

I need some motivation! Any tips on getting from jiggle to jock? Today’s snow is not helping one bit.

Seriously, I will run you over.

I like to think that my bicycle commute is the loveliest part of my day. And it can be, especially on a breezy, mid-70s day like today. However, it can also make me a cranky, clenched bitch.

New York pedestrians are an entitled lot, and much of my commute in either direction was spent accumulating and hocking my anger-lugeys at the dickveins blocking the bike lane. My epithet-hurling started out a little lame and rusty during the morning commute, but by the time I made my way down that particularly smegmatic 10pm stretch of 2nd Avenue from the itchy scrotum of Murray Hill to the bulging hemorrhoids of the Lower East Side, I was in excellent form. Of the people who crossed my bike path today, it would be really difficult for me to choose the one I liked the least, so I’ll start with the one I liked and let it all go downhill from there.

Location: Park Slope, 5th Ave., in front of The Gate.

Subject: A young man with two French bulldogs waiting for the walk signal to turn green. Once it does, he and the dogs begin to cross from west to east. The black bulldog trots happily alongside the young man. The white bulldog plods slowly behind, its stumpy little legs inching forward at a stately pace. Its walker patiently leads it towards the corner, never tugging.

Reaction: <3 <3 <3

 

Location: Jay Street near the courthouse

Subject: A man with a briefcase jaywalking in the middle of the street, nowhere near the crosswalk. He’s standing in the car lane, about to step into the bike lane as I approach. I put the brakes on. He pauses. Then he has the gall to say, “Make a decision,” while  standing in the middle of the fucking car lane.

My reaction: A very lame, “Y-Y-YOU make a decision!”

 

Location: The Manhattan Bridge

Subject: A Chinese guy* on a motorized bike ascending the Brooklyn side of the bridge at an excruciatingly slow pace, all while the motor is emitting its dying mosquito buzz as it struggles up the incline.

My reaction: I wait for a descending cyclist to pass, then I pass the old man. Then, because I am a slow rider, I hear the buzz chase me all the way to the top of the bridge. Mental note: must get in better shape and ride  faster if I can be tailgated by a mosquito.

 

Location: East Village, 1st Ave. and 10th St.

Subject: A young brunette woman standing on the inner edge of the bike lane while her leashed dog is squarely in the middle of the fucking bike lane.

My reaction: Ding-ding-ding-ding! rings my bell. “Your dog!” Ding-ding-ding! “BIKE LANE!” She finally pulls her dog up on the sidewalk, turning. I see that she is talking on her fucking cell phone. For the rest of the commute to work, I have a seething fantasy about telling her how much I would enjoy being there when her world crumbles after her dog gets run over by someone who rides faster than I do. What will she and her E.V. banker husband do when they no longer have a canine buffer to prop their empty sockless loafer lives up? How will she clean up the mess when her golden pup becomes another glob of viscera and fur, not unlike the TWO separate dead rats I’ve ridden around in the bike lane both Tuesday and today? (Any bets on how long I’ll see those rats on my commute, decomposing away?)

 

Location: In front of the Kips Bay Movie Theater, Kips Bay

Subject: A couple, he in a tucked-in polo shirt and khakis, she in a skirt. They are walking against traffic in the middle of the bike lane. They look like they’re on a date and about to see a movie. They seem kind of new to New York.

My reaction: “Get out of the  bike lane. Assholes!” They don’t react. I hope I’ve ruined the possibility of enjoying their movie as they think about their first time being called assholes in NYC. Mwahahahahahahaha!

 

Location: About 23rd and 2nd Ave.

Subject: A guy coasting slowly on his bike while another guy walks along the right side of the bike in tandem. It would be sort of romantic, except that there are several bikes behind the two. To pass, the bikes behind must ride in traffic and get back into the bike lane ahead of them.

My reaction: “Oh COME ON!”

Their reaction: “You come on!” Which I realize is what I did this morning. I hope his comeback feels equally lame.

 

Location: About 14th St. and 2nd Ave.

Subject: A Chinese guy* on a motorized bike. I must admit that I have a thing against motorized bicycles. Like, what, you’re too good to pedal like the rest of us? But I especially disliked this guy because, get this, he was riding SIDE SADDLE. Swear to god. Was the wittle seaty-weaty too hard for his wittle ballsy-wallsies?

My reaction: ??@#??

*And it’s always a Chinese guy. What’s with the motorized bikes and the Chinese? Is there some secret underground bike shop in Chinatown where you can get a little jet pack for your two-wheeler?

 

 

 

Bike Parking!

Fuck me, 11pm and I still haven’t posted for the day?  NaMoBloPo is going to kick my ass, I see.

bikerack.jpg

I parked my bicycle in my work building for the first time today!  They just announced bike parking in the building and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Nevermind that there are only four spots for a building that spans the entire block with 16 floors.  I am going to put a placard on my portion of the rack, pee on it a little and set up camp.

I am having trouble finding proper bike fashion, though.  I wind up wearing bike clothes (light but warm, visible, unrestrictive, able to get dirty) and changing into work clothes (professional but colorful).  But if I’m taking the train home and I’m feeling too lazy to switch back, I wind up in getups like this one.  (Why am I sharing this strangely angled picture which makes me look like I have the legs of an obese toddler?  Because that’s all I got for NaMoBloPo and you are going to have to deal with it.)

strumpor.jpg

The Bicycle Thief

Life in New York has been completely, decidedly, mercilessly kicking my ass.  Ugh. Between work and trying to get back in shape, I’ve had no time or energy to write.  If you want to know what the difference is between life in New York and life in Stockholm, that’s it in a nutshell.  New York eats time, devours it, snorts it up until, all of a sudden, you have been living here for ten years and you’ve only had one failure of a relationship in your whole life and the most expensive thing you own is your mattress which, by the way, needs to be replaced because of the single lonesome dip in its saggy center.

Ahem.

And the cherry on this bloody cake is that my Swedish bicycle got stolen last Saturday.

Gotland

Here we were in happier times, riding the ferry over to FÃ¥rö.  That pannier on the side was lent to me by a sweet kid at the bike rental spot next to the ferry from Nynashamn who let me borrow it for free for a week, with only my word to guarantee that I would return it.

I originally bought the bike thinking I would sell it at the end of my time in Sweden, but I wanted to bring it back with me.  Alas, I knew she was too pretty to stay with me long in New York. 

Bike Snob says you should really leave details about how your bike was stolen as a service to others in New York.  I was reluctant to do so in my Craigslist posting, but I think I can say a bit more here.

I’d been leaving the bike in our apartment hallway because I didn’t want to have to haul it up and down the stairs everyday.  I always locked it to itself, but I didn’t lock it to anything in the hall because there was nothing to lock it to.  (This despite the fact that my friend Mike gave me a handful of rules when I started cycling, one of which was to ALWAYS lock your bike to something, even in your house.)

My friend Dom came over for lunch and left my house at about 4:30pm.  That’s when I showed him my Swedish bike in the hall, locked the gate behind him and closed our front door. 

Later that evening, I heard a noise, some kind of metallic noise, and my heart literally skipped a beat.  My heart just squeezed for a second.  I don’t know why, but I thought, “Somebody’s stealing my bike!”  I looked out the window and saw a guy rolling a bike away.  I didn’t think it looked like my bike, and he was rolling it away so I figured it couldn’t be mine since I had locked it to itself.

Then, at about 9pm, I went downstairs just to check on it, and my bike was gone.  GONE.  I felt a little panicked. I went and checked our front door — totally unlocked.  I knocked on my neighbors’ door to tell them what had happened.

Turns out that they had had their toilet fixed just an hour before and the guy left the door open and unlocked.  We have two doors, a wrought iron gate door and an inner regular wooden door.  Often, my downstairs neighbor would leave the wooden door open but the gate locked.  I had been meaning to talk to them about closing the inside door so people wouldn’t be able to scope out my bike, but I hadn’t gotten to it yet.  (In case anyone’s casing my place, we are now on total lockdown, so fuck off.) 

So maybe the guy fixing the toilet took it, though my neighbors don’t think so.  Or maybe someone had been casing my place for a while, waiting for an opportunity to come in and snatch it.  I don’t know if I’ll ever know. 

Now I’m keeping my eyes peeled for my bike, which is quite distinctive looking — for sure nobody else in New York has this bike.  Or it’s extremely unlikely, because the only way it would have come over is if it got boxed and dragged onto a plane the way mine did.  I have a couple of parts for it in my house which I can’t bring myself to throw out, so I feel a little bit like Prince Charming waiting for Cinderella to reclaim her glass slipper. 

Of course I’m mad that someone robbed me while everyone was home, and I’m pretty embarrassed, but I’m mostly pissed at myself for not heeding Mike’s advice about locking the bike up inside.  I was too city to bike around Gotland alone, and maybe now I’m too soft to be vigilant enough for New York.

I mean, it’s not that I was so attached to the thing, but it was maybe
the third most expensive possession I’ve ever purchased, especially if
you include the extra fee I had to pay to get it on the plane and all
the accoutrements I tricked it out with.

I went and filed a report with the police, who happen to be practically across the street from my house, but I don’t have much hope.  If I see someone on it, I am totally pushing them off.  I don’t care if
they stole it or if they just bought it off someone.  That’s MY BIKE and I want
to hurt someone. 

Some part of me wonders if Ice-T, my Brooklyn bike, put a hit out on the pretty Swede because I had been totally neglecting him.  I will say that Ice-T is slower and heavier, but probably a lot better for my shoulders in terms of symmetry, so that’s a silver lining.  Still, I am trying to be Buddhist and practice some detachment over the whole thing.  Considering the fact that I met three people at a party that night who had had their bikes stolen in the last three weeks, I suggest you do the same. 

So…can someone remind me why I live here again?

5 Stockholm bike excursions

Of all the things I will miss about Sweden when I leave, perhaps at the top of the list will be my solitary weekend bicycle excursions. There are lots of beautiful places around Stockholm that are very accessible via safe, cordoned off bike lanes. You could use City Bikes for some of these trips, but then you have to watch the time and make sure you don’t keep your bike out for more than three hours, which may mean stopping to switch bikes at the furthest station.

Stockholm is not hilly like San Francisco, but it’s not completely flat like Copenhagen, either. There are a few bridges that make you earn your bullar. But the best part about these rides is that you can feel very virtuous about the caloric treat you pack with you for the ride.

Most of these rides are 20 minutes to an hour from the city center, depending on how fast you ride. Keep in mind that these are really amateur rides, less for the person who owns spandex shorts and more for the person who likes to ride around with their mouth open.

What you’ll need:

Cykelkarta

Get a cykelkarta, or bike map, which you can pick up at any bike shop around town. You can probably also get one from the Tourist Center across the street from NK at Hamngatan 27.

Lights are helpful at night. While you won’t need them much around the summer solstice, you will need them as it gets darker out. I also always wear a helmet. I don’t care if it doesn’t look good. I don’t want my Mae to have to put my melon back together.

Provisions:
If you want to buy a sandwich for the road (never a bad idea), my absolute favorite place to pick up a bicycle bag lunch is Thelins Konditori. There are a couple of Thelins around town, but the one I go to is on Kungsholmen at S:t Eriksgatan 43. I always get the vegetarian sandwich, which has fresh cream cheese, shredded carrots, peppers and lettuce on fruit and nut bread, which features huge hunks of dried apricot and walnuts. It’s the best bicycling sandwich ever. Add a vanilla cream cardamom bun or a chocolate dipped meringue for a little extra sugar boost.

1. Drottningholms Slott
Ride time: 45 – 75 min.

Drottningholmsslott

How to get there:

From the north: Take S:t Eriksgatan into Kungsholmen, make a right on Drottningholmsvägen and take it all the way west, cross a bridge, pass Alvik and Stora Mossen. Make a left at the roundabout at Brommaplan, and keep following Drottningholmsvägen until you get to Nockebybron, another bridge. Take it across two bodies of water into Ekerö.

From the south: Take Västerbron north into Kungsholmen, make a left on Drottningholmsvägen, then follow the rest of the directions above.

Drottningholm is the actual residence of the Swedish royal family. You could go inside and check out the part that’s open to the public, but then you have to pay an entrance fee. There’s some kind of Chinese pavilion here that you could also pay to gawk at. But the opulent (well, as opulent as Sweden gets) grounds offer plenty to look at. It’s modeled after French palaces from the 1600s or something — I don’t know, you can read about it on their website. I’m no architecture nerd.

Drottningholmsslott

Swans grace the water lily ponds. They dip their long necks into the water to bob for fish, their tails jiggling upright like little floating island meringues.

This is a lovely spot to picnic when the weather holds. Your non-cycling friends can take the ferry from Stadshuskajen at Stockholm City Hall, which is probably just as enjoyable as taking the bicycle.

Drottningholms Slott
Ekerö

2. Ulriksdals Slott
Ride time: 30-45 min.

How to get there:
Take Hagastråket north, all along the west side of Hagaparken. Ride until you reach the top of the Brunnsviken body of water, then turn right along the water along Bergshamnavägen. Keep your eyes out for the signs to Ulriksdals Slott. There is one little tunnel that you turn left into to reach the Ulriksdals complex. Ride along the narrow path, make a left and go up a hill until you reach the main entrance for Ulriksdals.

Yes, another castle! Plenty of little gravel paths and wood bridges to ride over. But it’s a little off the beaten path, so if you go in July, there is actually a chance that no one else will be around. There’s also a dreamy little set of hedge-enclosed gardens that would be perfect to sit and make out in if you were a Swedish princess sneaking around with the stable boy (or your personal trainer).

Ulrikdalsslott

But this one has something better — a pick-your-own stuff garden. Rows of various potatoes, green beans and onions, as well as artichokes, giant cardoons, pretty flowers and tons of other stuff which you can cut with a little knife to put into the baskets they provide. Chic!

Ulrikdalsslott

Ulrikdalsslott

If you’re a city girl like me, you’ll get a kick out of picking your own potatoes. It’s magic! You pull up these big leafy plants and there are freaking POTATOES in the dirt. Lots of ‘em. In all sizes. They’re as alien as giant maggots but they’re crazy delicious.

Ulrikdalsslott

Ulrikdalsslott

The cafe has a classic Swedish fika spread — pies, cakes, meringues and more, with plenty of hot coffee to help you pep up for the ride back.

Ulrikdalsslott

Ulriksdals Slott
Solna

3. Skogskyrkogården
30 – 60 min., depending on where you start

How to get there:
Take Götgatan through Södermalm. Cross the bridge and keep going straight, past Globen. Go under the freeway and to the left to get to Skogskyrkogården.

Skogskyrkogården is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful and huge cemetery that doesn’t feel at all like a cemetery. When you bike in, all you see is a huge cross at the end of a long slope of grass.

The place was designed with the mourning experience in mind. A long walk (or drive) takes you up to the chapel entrance, so you can prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for a funeral. Once you exit the chapel, you’re greeted with the humble splendor of the tall evergreen woods. The small, carved headstones are like rows of dotted lines throughout the ancient woods. The trees are magnificent. They tower over the little planted flowers on the graves as if to say hello, we know you’re mourning, but remember that life is beautiful, and it goes on.

Skogskyrkogården

Greta Garbo is buried here. Her earth-toned tombstone has what I presume is her signature etched in gold. She has her own little plot of grass, surrounded by stepping stones and a red carpet of flowers, just behind the Skogskapellet, or Woods Chapel.

Skogskyrkogården

I ate my smörgås up in the meditation grove, which is a little square at the top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the woods and chapel. It felt a tiny bit weird eating in a place called the meditation grove, but I promise you that I concentrated respectfully as I ate. Anyway, I think it would be weirder to drop crumbs on someone’s grave.

Skogskyrkogården

Skogskyrkogården

I highly recommend listening to the Choir of King’s College as you cycle around — that’s about as close to Christian divinity as I’ll ever get.

I hear this is the place to be on Allhelgonadagen, or All Saints Day, when the entire forest glows with candles on every grave.

Skogskyrkogården
South Stockholm, near Gamla Enskede

4. Millesgården

Ride time: 20-45 min.

How to get there:
Ride east on Odengatan until you get to Valhallavägen. Turn right and ride past the Tekniska Hogskolan until you reach Stockholms Stadion. Make a left onto Lidingövågen. Follow the bike path until you reach the water. There’s a tricky bit here where you have to ride down to the Silja ferry terminal, and it seems like you’re going the wrong way, but stay on the path. Go straight until you see the sign for Lidingö. Follow the path to the very straight and easy low foot and bicycle bridge. Once you get over the bridge, you have to find your way to the top of the hill. I took the path to the right down until I reached a staircase, then I walked my bike up. Then I walked up the steep paths from there. There is probably an easier way to the top, but I didn’t find it.

Lidingöbron

Millesgården was the home of sculptor Carl Milles, his wife Olga and his sister Ruth during the first half of the 1900s. It’s a huge garden at the top of a hill with lots of Milles’ whimsical sculptures, big and small, pretty flowers and tinkling fountains. The sculpture’s not really to my taste, but it is a really peaceful, beautiful spot for just soaking in the sun and looking at the ferries docked on the other side of the water.

The place is enormous, built on a really grand scale, especially by Swedish standards. The house sits higher than most places in Stockholm, overlooking the Lilla Värtan body of water between Lidingö and Norrmalm.

The house is filled with Milles’ collection of Greek artifacts, as well as art deco light fixtures, Swedish woodwork and pretty tiling. But the best thing about the place is the way the air flows through the house. You walk from room to room and the air just moves with you, filling the place with a lightness, a freshness that is incomparable on a hot day. The feng shui must be off the hook.

Millesgården

Millesgården

Millesgården

Millesgården

Millesgården

Statues on the terrace garden play at eye level. The sculptures in the main garden face out towards the world on giant pedestals, glorious in the sun and towering over the city.

Millesgården

Millesgården

Millesgården

The adjoining Bistro Rosenterrassen is pretty good, too. I had a nice pear tårta and a bottle of fizzy water in the cosmos-filled garden. They serve bullar from the Milles’ own recipe. They looked a little boring to me, so I went for cake instead, but they were offering a special deal with your entrance fee — 90 SEK to enter the garden, and only 10 SEK more for a coffee and bulle.

Lidingö is one of the prettiest places around town, so it’s nice just to ride along the edge of the island at the foot of the cliff, too.

Millesgården
Lidingö

5. Norra Begravningsplats
Ride time: 15-30 min.

How to get there: Take Torsgatan north until you get to Solnavägen. Take it up until there is a fork, where you can choose to take Märstastråket. You can’t miss it.

Norra Begravningsplats was a really lovely surprise. It’s off the beaten path and it’s barely on the map, though it’s quite close to the city. But once you ride up north this way, you can’t miss it. There are hedges around the edges of the grounds, so you don’t really get a sense of what’s inside until you actually go in. It’s an enormous cemetery, similar in style to Skogskyrkogården but a little less perfect.

I met someone tonight who lives in Solna, very close to Norra Begravningsplats. She said, “There are many gläntor there — that’s quite a romantic Swedish word you should know.” Glänta translates into glade, but what it means is a special spot where the light falls through deciduous trees just so, like in the John Bauer illustration she showed me to explain the word.

Norra Begravningsplats

In the States, people often place cut bouquets on graves, but I’ve noticed that in Sweden, everyone plants flowers right in front of the tombstone. Makes the cemetery a much less gloomy place. I like the idea of living things growing in a place that marks death.

Norra Begravningsplats

It’s probably not the place to put out a picnic, since there aren’t any spots really to do such a thing, but it’s a peaceful place to ride around and listen to music in.

Norra Begravningsplatsen
Solna

—-
I’ve put them on my map for you here. And if it’s a hot day, I highly recommend riding to Kungsholmens Glassfabrik for some citronglass or polkaglass to cool off after your ride.

Any of you Stockholmers have any suggestions for other day rides?

4 Days in Stockholm, Part 5

To recap: So you’ve got four days in Stockholm and you want to make the most of
it.  Or you’re hosting two sets of guests for four days each and you
don’t want to do the same thing twice.  Here is The EDOW Guide to Stockholm in 4 Days, 2 Ways.

Itinerary 1 can be found here.

— 

And now, onto the second itinerary!


View 4 Days in Stockholm in a larger map>

ITINERARY 2, DAY 1: THURSDAY

It’s funny, I think Winnie and Francis missed each other by about 30 minutes.  Francis and Raymond had an early afternoon arrival and were offered the same snacks chez moi.

Get a bike

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Photo by Flickr user Let Ideas Compete, CC Licensed

Welcome to Stockholm!  If I were you, I’d get a City Bikes card right away.  Since you’ll be here for four days, I would recommend getting the full season card, which is just 200 SEK (the 3-day card is 125 SEK).  You can go to the Tourist Center in T-Centralen to get a City Bikes card, or go to an SL office at Slussen, Fridhemsplan, or a number of other stations.

The City Bikes system is easy — you get a card, and you can borrow a bike from any of the many stations around the city.  When you’re done riding around, you can leave the bike at any station you can find — doesn’t have to be the station that you borrowed the bike from.  The system is not as big as the Paris bikeshare program, but it’s big enough for Stockholm. 

The maximum time you can keep a bike out for is three hours.  The website currently says you can borrow from 6am to 6pm, but actually, they’ve extended the hours and you can now borrow bikes till 10pm (which means that if you borrow a bike at 10am, you can keep it out until 1am.)

If you keep a bike out for longer than three hours, you get a strike against you.  Two strikes and you won’t be allowed to borrow a bike anymore.  If you keep a bike out for more than five hours, you automatically get kicked out of the system.  

All of the bikes have small wheels with a quick-release adjustable height seat, so they work for shorties and tall folk.  We didn’t have any trouble getting bikes or finding a free spot to drop them off. Make sure you check your bike before you ride off, though.  While they’re supposedly serviced all day long, Francis got one with faulty gears.

Du Gamla, Du Fria

2641228735_df5e61dfdd.jpg 

This is a good time to walk around Gamla Stan, peeking in at Ye Olde Shoppes and buying reindeer skins if you must.  Gamla Stan means Old Town, and that’s pretty much what it is — all cobblestoned streets, health-inducing hills and sherbet toned buildings.  I don’t know, Francis quite liked it, but it doesn’t really do much for me.

When you’re done, borrow a bike from the Gamla Stan station and ride north along the water, out past the Norstedts building, across the bridge, and up to Vasagatan. This is one of my favorite bike routes in Stockholm, especially at sunset. 

Ride up Vasagatan and follow the bike lane all the way to Torsgatan.  Take Torsgatan to S:t. Eriksgatan and drop your bikes off at the S:t Eriksplan station.  Walk through Vasaparken and down Dalagatan to get to the restaurant for dinner.

Dinner: Melanders Fisk
Melanders Fisk is a good place to start up on the fish and potatoes.  Pictures and my previous write-up about Melanders is here, but I think it’s worth mentioning that the gravlax is special — a coral origami fan of silky, cool fish adorned with a feathery frond of dill is served with a metal dish of hot, cream-enrobed new potatoes.  Divine.  Francis’s method was to wrap one of those hot nuggets into a cool lox stole.  The majskyckling, corn-fed chicken, with summer truffled risotto is rich and earthy.  The fish stew I loved the first time wasn’t as good the second time.  Go figure.

Melanders Fisk
Dalagatan 9R
T-bana: St. Eriksplan
It’s not a super busy place, so I wouldn’t say you need a reservation, but you can make one just in case.

After dinner: Music

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Photo by Flickr user Bixentro, CC licensed

Okay, so actually, I took Francis and Raymond to Debaser Slussen, but since we already went there on itinerary 1, let’s try any number of bars on Söder instead.  Pet Sounds Bar is popular with the indie rock crowd.  The walls are covered in glossy black rectangular subway tiles, giving the place a dark but clean feel.  Pompadoured and star tatted younguns lean their narrow, black jeans-clad hips against the barstools.  The bartenders make really interesting cocktails, including one with apple juice, lemon, and Å»ubrówka, a grassy Polish vodka.

If you want to stay in one place the whole evening, you can actually eat dinner here instead.  I have only eaten there once, but I remember the food being quite good, especially a gorgeous salad with crunchy pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses and chunky lego cubes of walnut-capped blue cheese.

salad

Pet Sounds also has an intimate basement venue where DJs spin when indie rock heroes like Broken Social Scene and Lykke Li aren’t playing.  

The whole operation is super sophisticated in a quintessentially Stockholm way.  I mean, imagine getting a composed salad with mixmaster cocktails in a high-design room at the Mercury Lounge.  During the day, check out Pet Sounds’s museum of obsolete portable aural devices across the street.

It’s also good to check out who’s playing at Hornstull Strand, a big venue down by the water.  The young and beautiful cram themselves in wall to wall when international artists like Deerhoof and The Whitest Boy On Earth roll through.

Södra Teatern sometimes ho
sts interesting local acts.  I saw everyone’s favorite Swedish ladies a cappella choir with one of the best band names ever, The Sweptaways.  As an added bonus, it’s high on a hill overlooking the best view of the water in the city center.

If indie rock’s not your thing, or if you’re too old to stand all night with malnourished whippersnappers, look up Cirkus‘s schedule.  It’s a big theater with a restaurant attached sitting in the middle of DjurgÃ¥rden.  There are plenty of seats for your weary gams, and David Byrne and Grace Jones played there this year.  But Chippendales and Cats are also playing there, so take it for what it’s worth.

And if you are a REAL party pooper like me, you can just park your ass at home and hunt for Ulla Billquist clips on YouTube all night.
 

Pet Sounds
Skånegatan 80
T-bana: Medborgarplatsen

Hornstull Strand
Hornstull Strand 4
T-bana: Hornstull

Södra Teatern
Mosebacketorg 1-3
T-bana: Slussen

Cirkus
Djurgårdsslätten 4+45
T-bana: Kungsträdgården, but you are better off cycling or taking the bus

 

Liz Lemmmmoooooonnnnnn

Gosh, it’s so nice to ride my bike along the water.  The water looks so black at night.  Hey, those seagulls are going nuts over there.  Seagulls, stars, so many little bits against the black sky.

Hm, detour in Gamla Stan.  That’s weird.  I don’t remember seeing this before.  Does this sign mean go around?  Okay, I guess I’ll hang a right and ride right along the water.

Co-o-bb-b-b-l-l-l-e-e-ss-s-ss-t-tt-to-on-nn-ne-e-ess.  Still, it’s pretty.  It’s so desolate over here. I’d never ride around something like this in New York.

Oh look, trolley tracks.  Remember when Heej nearly got a bike tire stuck in the tram tracks in Berlin?  I better ride over diagonally.

Oof–uh-oh—what’s–

[CRASH.  Right knee-Left shin-Right thumb-Left heel of hand-Left thigh.  Lock goes skidding across the stones.]

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCK!

OWWWWWWWW!

Get up.

Knee?  OW.  Get up.  Can I walk?  Yes.  I’m walking.  Pick up your lock. Did you drop anything?  Phone, keys, wallet? 

Fuck that hurts.  Walk it out.  What if I weren’t wearing a helmet and I hit my head and passed out and forgot everything?  Would anyone help me?  Would anyone find me?  How long would it take?

You’re fine, walk it out. 

What if I had really hurt myself?  How would I have gotten to the doctor?

Ow.  Let’s walk out to the closed off bike lane.

How come that guy’s riding in the street?  Was I supposed to ride in the street on not on the detour?  What did that sign say?  What’s wrong with the bike lane?  Nothing seems wrong.  Why did they block it off?

Fuck my knee.  Fuck.  I guess yoga is not happening tomorrow.  Get back on the bike.  There you go.  Ow. Ow. Ow.  My knee is not happy.  Shin’s alright, though.  Thumb’s alright.

Well, at least I was wearing boots.  And gloves. Really, could have been much worse.  What if I had lost teeth?  Broken a bone?  Gotten amnesia?  I’m wearing a helmet, but still.  What if the helmet didn’t work?  Do helmets work?   

Is my knee going to swell up?  Getting older sucks.  I am going to take forever to heal. I hope I’m not bleeding.

If I wound up in the hospital, would my Mae come visit?  Yeah, she totally would.

Did I leave anything back there?  My bag is open.  Should I go back and check?  OW.

Come on, suck it up.  That’s what happens.  People fall.  Real cyclists get bruises.  You’re fine.  Get it together.

I don’t think I have any ice at home.  Is there anything?  I guess I can put some frozen salmon on it.  OMG, I am going home to ice my bruises with frozen salmon.  If that ain’t some old maid shit, I don’t know what is.

[Epilogue: I am now home with a piece of frozen salmon on my knee.  I smell vaguely like cat food, but I'm enjoying a can of young coconut juice I had forgotten about.  Awesome.]

Bike in the Snow

Commenter Rachel asks:
Is it
the custom to just leave your bike outside and let it get snowed on all
winter?

Yes.  But people also ride after a heavy snow.  Lots of people have either super big city bikes or mountain bikes.  You rarely see road bikes with thin tires.  Clearing all the snow off was no fun, though, and I have no idea how to care for a bike that’s been subjected to snow like that.  And the roads are full of rocks, which I guess keep the snow from icing over.

Sad, snowy bikes

I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that

Stockholmwtr.png

The weather for the week.

When I saw this, I decided I had to save my baby bike from the elements.  So this morning, instead of doing yoga, I decided to try to shove the bike into the elevator again. I had one of those post-sleep eureka moments Malcolm Gladwell talks about. “I know, I’ll put the bike in UPSIDE DOWN! Then the handlebars will fit no problem. A good night’s rest has made me a GENIUS!”

Except you know how sometimes those AM thoughts are more morning wood than morning revelation? Well, the bike did not fit because — GOOD MORNING! — the laws of geometry did not magically change overnight.

I sucked it up and carried it up the five flights of stairs. But at least I got my exercise in for the day.