Friday, August 23, 2013

Flight Report: Hej då! Back to Seattle (via AMS and PDX)

Time in Sweden always goes quickly and this trip was no exception. I visited the people that I missed and wish that I had more time to see yet others who I just couldn't fit in, but it was time to head back to Seattle again. Swedish summer is light nearly all the time, even at 3:30am. I stayed with some friends in Solna in order to both see them one last time and also get to the airport on time for my early flight.

Stockholm Arlanda is a little bit inconveniently located well outside of the city. Stockholm was built as a hub and spoke transit system: All trains go to the center and you can get from there to anywhere. If you live on the "spoke" from central station to the airport, then it is not that bad, but if you are on a different spoke driving is your best option.

Once at the airport, you have to make your way past the departure sign and onward to the gates. Today's flight is still very early and is on a KLM 737 with classic livery. The ascent today was actually one of the more beautiful that I've had with great views of the lakes of the Stockholm/Mälardalen region.

Once in the air, a light breakfast and then to Amsterdam. I've found that the in flight snacks on KLM have been pretty good overall. This was an egg sandwich with tomato in dutch themed wrapper.

A brief pause here was all I had before my connecting flight on Delta to Portland. These longer flights generally have less to report on, simply because there is a whole lot of window shades down the entire flight. The best part of this flight though was about half way through when we were flying over Greenland. We had a clear, cloudless view of the land and ice below, including some fantastic fjords. Those are in the video just below; Check them out at the two minute mark!

On the downside, they messed up my in-flight meal this time around, but at least the standard meal was a curry. Curries are, in my opinion, one of the best in-flight meals you can get: They pack a flavor punch, which you need thanks to the altitude and cabin humidity, and they are pretty hard to mess up. The calzone, on the other hand was regrettable. Yuck.

All in all, a decent flight, but when will be the next time someone thinks my name is spelled like this? Hopefully not as long as I had to wait this time around...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A few last bites in Stockholm


 Thelins is a classic cafe and bakery located near

Fabrique Stenugnsbageri is part of the sourdough craze that hit Stockholm a couple of years back, but the bread here is quite good. It's a hearty bread with a good crust on it and their sweets are delicious. Fabrique Stenugnsbageri is located at Götgatan 24, Slussun T-bana station. [Link]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Food Fridays: Two Styles of Proper Swedish Food

Food is both one of the most universal human experiences and also one of the most varied. The intersection of culture and food is one of the richest and most interesting areas for people interested in culture. What is popular is constantly evolving as history, culture, technology, and transculturation all combine to change what we eat, how, and what is representative of a place. In that spirit, today I am going to highlight a couple of "proper" Swedish dishes. Starting with the dish above: Fyra små rätter.

Fyra små rätter, translated as "four small dishes", is a dish that you can get in almost every Chinese restaurant in Sweden. The dish is made up of small portions of four different entrees, generally with sweet and sour pork, sweet and sour shrimp, curry chicken, and beef with bamboo shoots. What makes this a "proper" Swedish dish is that it is only an echo of the food that is served in China. It is actually an Swedish invention from 1973 commonly attributed to Erland Yang Colliander of the restaurant Shanghai in Stockholm. It's as Chinese as fortune cookies (which originated in San Francisco). The dish is an example of ethnic cuisine being adapted to local expectations and preferences in taste.

The second "proper" Swedish dish is called stekt strömming. This is a dish that Swedes have been eating since forever. The dish is made up of fried Baltic herring, usually served as above with potatoes and lingon berries. This is probably also what you imagine Swedish food is like, but today these types of traditional dishes are not as widely consumed as they once were.

However, even in this meal, we can't say that this is purely Swedish. The effects of the links that Sweden has had over the course of its history can be seen in this dish and the salad bar beside it. The potato, a staple of Swedish cuisine, didn't exist in the country at all before the 1700s (it was popularized by Jonas Alströmer). Corn is native to Cuba, not Europe. The olives and hummus come from the Mediterranean and even the pickled herring is "french onion" flavored (fransk löksill). It just goes to show that what is "proper" food for any place is always evolving.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Traffic Education in Näsby Park - Trafiklekparken

As an urban planner, I'm always looking for good ideas to steal and bring back home. One of the best thing about travel is that there is such a diversity of ideas about what is "good" and what will work out in the built environment. There is just more opportunity to run into something novel, and that's exactly what happened to me out in Näsby Park (a suburb of Stockholm).

One of the big problems that we have in urban environments is teaching children how to cope with a downright dangerous and usually unfriendly environment for children. Traffic and kids are not a natural combination and one error, on the part of the driver or the kid, can turn a fun walk to a friend's house into a nightmare headline. Educating kids about traffic safety is absolutely vital to a healthy community. By giving kids the age-appropriate tools they need to independently navigate their own community, we give them additional independence and prevent needless accidents. Unfortunately, all to often the places where kids get their education about traffic safety is on their local streets. In the United States, there is seldom a place where kids can practice the skills they need to be safe on their way to school or to a friend's house outside of the street itself. But, what would it look like if there was a safe place for kids to learn to read the traffic signs and symbols of the street without having to be in traffic?

Well, we don't have to wonder. The trafiklekparken (Traffic Play Park) provides exactly this type of environment for children to play, learn, and not have to learn from close calls.

The park itself is located in a larger park and was built in 2007. The park provides children with a miniature traffic world, complete with accurate (if miniature) signs, a variety of different types of intersections (including a roundabout), marked sidewalks, a pretend bus stop, and a railroad crossing (complete with movable booms). It includes 20 different signs and asphalt markings that are crucial to traffic safety. With a parent in tow, this presents an ideal environment for learning about traffic safety. Even without the overarching pedagogical content, the kids here looked like they were having a blast biking around the roads.

Is this something that you want in your community? Share this with your neighbors, local bike advocates, and the parks department for your city! It's an idea worth stealing!

You can find out more information about the park (in Swedish) here:
There is also a PDF brochure about the park here:

Friday, August 09, 2013

Food Fridays: Sandhamn

Following up from last time, here are a couple bites from Sandhamn!

First, Sandhamn's Seglarhotell. This is one of the nicer (and more expensive) spots on the island. Find them here!

Next up, Sandhamn's Bakery. A little bakery with fresh baked goods and delicious cardamom buns. Find them here!