Here is the final chapter about my spring break. This week, as a part of our work experience, I have been working at a caseificio called Punto Latte, in Novi di Modena. I have learned a lot about Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese production and about cuts of pork. Cheese making truly is an art. I will have more details about all of this towards the end of the week. I hope you enjoy the last part of my vacation! I sure did!
The last day of my break was spent in Stockholm. Stockholm is made up of many Islands and is the capital of Scandinavia. Its Old Town truly seems like a completely different city than the rest of Stockholm. It has such a different atmosphere to it. Old town, like in many old parts of cities, has stone streets, narrow alleyways, the royal palace, large churches, and parliament. Stockholm, like most Swedish towns, has a walking-only street. The one is Stockholm is MUCH larger than the one in Uppsala. It is like a “downtown” type area, with lots of little shops, restaurants, and pubs. Stockholm also has a massive public transportation hub, for buses, subways, and trains.
The Swedish language was difficult to figure out. Some words looked very similar to English words, or were English, but the rest looked (to me) like gibberish. The Swedish language is the closest language to that of what the Vikings spoke (very cool). Further, a majority of people (or at least of the ones that I ran into) spoke Swedish and English. Many of them, like announcers on our cruises and in train stations, would switch back and forth with no problem and hardly any accent. The word for Hello in Swedish is “Hej”, pronounced like a soft, friendly “hey” in English, making it difficult to figure out if the person you are about to speak with, knows your language.
We walked around Stockholm a bit, and then we headed to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is a very old, elegant warship built by Sweden, which sunk in the Stockholm harbor in 1628. She was about 1500 meters into her maiden voyage. The ship had two levels of gun chambers and little room for ballast, so it was tipsy. Investigations seem to conclude that it was poor design. However, no one was blamed for the accident. This is because half way through the building of the Vasa, the King demanded that a second floor or cannons be added. This through off the balance of the entire ship, and as she tipped, the openings for the cannons were closer to the water than other ships, so she took on water, and went down.
The ship was recovered in the 1960s, and the entire project took several years to carefully excavate and bring to the surface. It was well preserved in the anaerobic environment 40 meters deep into the sea. It was slowly lifted by cables, and holes in the hull were repaired so it could float once it got to the surface. Upon recovery, many skeletons were found. Most of them were found alone, except for a man and a woman that were found together on the upper deck. One skeleton was found pinned under a cannon carriage. Not all of the sails were flying when it sunk, so several sails were found in the sail cabinet, never used.
The Vasa itself was very elegant and had a well thought out design (you know, except for the while faulty ballast engineering thing, which caused her to sink. But we won’t talk about that). The back of the ship was full of colorful statues, the coat of arms of Sweden, and the coat of arms of the Vasa family. There were lions on all of the cannon port openings. The lion is a symbol of Sweden, representing power and strength. There were also lions on very front of the boat. Sticking out from the sides, the ship had “musketeers’ quarters” for close contact battles with other ships. Further, there were holes to drain water out of the boat from upper levels, which would be plugged during battles, and the water would be pumped around the ship as fire-prevention. This pump was a hallowed out log, and it worked similarly to a manual air pump for a bike tire.
In the evening, I said goodbye to Kaylie, Adam, and Danna, and I stayed in Stockholm for the night because of early flight the next morning. This is when I realized that I truly am a wanderer. I enjoyed wandering around the old town some more, and finding the best place to see the sunset in the harbor. While I was taking pictures, I noticed that a building across the harbor had a tower with a crescent on it, and another tower with stars on it. Earlier that day, I saw a picture of only the crescent and the stars from this building on a postcard. This is when I realized, that, the way I see it, a postcard is a challenge. You go to a place, see postcards, and they are usually some of the better sights of a city. AND, you cannot buy a postcard with something on it that you have not actually seen, because that is called cheating the system! I realized that the way I travel, is that I turn postcards into challenges for myself, which is perfect for my hobby of wandering around to get to know a place.
Parliament is connected to the Royal Palace through a tunnel under a bridge connecting the islands that the two are on. Parliament looks like a really old structure, but it also has some relatively modern additions built right on top of it. Appropriately, all of these buildings have lions on them.
Final Flight and what’s Next
I had an early flight out of Stockholm Skavsta on my final morning (Tuesday). The landing into Milano Bergamo gave me the most beautiful view of the Alps. Ever. No argument about it. (In case you were wondering, this is my 5th flight over the alps since January 2010). The airport I landed at is just south of the Alps, so we were very close to them on a clear, sunny morning. The puffy clouds looked so beautiful with the snow covered alps sticking through them. I couldn’t get a picture good enough to capture the true beauty of the Alps.
My spring break was an awesome experience, especially because I got to meet up with friends also studying around Europe. I am so glad that got to see other countries, especially because I do not know if or when I will have the opportunity to travel in Europe again. I never thought that I would ever be so far north or so close to Russia (while I was in Estonia, rumor had it that we were within 300 miles of Moscow….I looked at a map and we were even closer to St. Petersburg.) The sunrise was at 4:30 am when I was on my way to the airport on Tuesday. It is amazing the difference in the length of day between Italy and Sweden, purely due to geography.
The rest of the week I spent organizing pictures, writing about spring break, catching up on the news and with some friends back home, and working on some projects at the Faculty.
Best of luck to everyone back home as they finish up their final week of classes and enjoy finals week (if you can), and with the crazy weather in NY lately!
Tags : airplane, caseificio, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Stockholm, travel
Categories : Trips