Monday, September 29, 2008

Stockholm Business / Cycling Trip — 1

I just got back from my first time in Stockholm. Business trip. Lovely city in late September, and lovely people, too. I'll put several posts up about the trip, which culminated in a wonderful 5-hour cyclist's tour of Stockholm. I'll be putting a map up on Google and some linked pictures up on Flickr. about that, also.

Preparation: I'd never been to Stockholm before, so I got out the NYT's "36 hours" feature on it, which wasn't too old. I find the "36 hours" series try to find the very new, very hip, or offbeat places that you might not find in a conventional guidebook. (As I was meeting up with locals for business, I figured I would get plenty of the "standard tourist fare" from them.) Other than that, I looked up my hotel, my meeting places, and a couple of the places in NYT on Google Maps, and figured out how far apart things were. (My hotel was a couple of blocks from one of my meetings, and less than 4km from the other.) As for equipment, I took a helmet, U-lock, gloves, and a bandanna. As I was carrying on all my luggage, I wondered how the U-lock would look to the security screeners. (Outbound, no one asked anything. Coming home, the screeners asked to see it. I said, "It's a bicycle lock." The screener smiled and said, "I know, but she (pointing to the x-ray screener) wants to see it." All very good natured.) Also, a tourist tip: If you visit Stockholm, use the Arlanda Express high-speed train to get into town. Not much more expensive than a bus and much faster. And, you can pre-book on the Web and just use your credit card for ID in and out of town. Painless.

Geography / Geology: Stockholm is an archipelago. I rode on 7 bridge-connected islands when I was there. One of the first things you notice when you catch the Arlanda Express train into town is that the walls of the station itself are cave-like. No structure or walls, just hewn from rock, dark granite like stuff. At first I thought it might be decor, but I learned otherwise. It turns out Stockholm is underlain by a huge granite dome. (Question: what better place for a chemist to develop high-explosive to remove rock?)

Here's a picture of a "working bike". Notice the details. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the framemaker included diacritical marks in the lettering. Nice.

(Soon: A deal that's even better than Stockholm City Bikes..)

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