From: Emilio Gonzalez 
Subject: 7.2.00 - 12:35 - stockholm, sweden

i left berlin thursday night, taking a night train to malmo ("night train to
malmo" - sounds like it should be a title of something). malmo is a city on the
southern coast of sweden, right across from denmark, where i then took a high
speed train to stockholm.

the swedish countryside is lush and beautiful, forests of birch and ferns give
way to grassy fields and rocky terrain, all topped by a sky with endless change.
the sky stretches as far as the eye can see, punctuated by a seemingly
neverending series of beautiful clouds that march across the blue. it can be
sunny one minute, only to be gone the next, replaced by cold breezes and rain. it
being summer, it never gets darker than dusk at night; at two in the morning the
sky is still light, and if you look to the horizon you can see the pink and fire
orange of a just set sun.

(the mosquitos are vicious here)

things are pricey here, just like They say it is - but i suppose it's hard to
avoid when you have a 25% sales tax (vat). yes, 25% - we're quite the wimps in
california with our 8%, or even oregon, with none. but it shows here, and the
swedes have one of the best healthcare systems in the world - anyone who says
socialized healthcare dosen't work should come here and break some legs (well,
their own).

last night i went to the wedding of two friends of mine from online, steph and
helena. steph is an energetic, funny, passionate french-canadian (or
frogleg-canuck as i like to call him) who used to live in montreal before moving
here. helena is an angelic, sweet swede with an excellent sense of humor. i've
know them both, online, for a few years, have met them both before at a
get-together in north carolina, and when i found out they were engaged it didn't
surprise me all that much - they always seemed like a great match. so it was an
honor to be able to attend their wedding here in the stockholm area; i timed my
swing up through sweden so i would be able to go. after all, i was really the
only person there stricty from online - another swedish friend from cu-seeme,
carola, was there, but she's known helena for many years, so i hadda lay it down
and represent. the ceremony was beautiful, held in a centuries-old church
situated next to a lake in the countryside on a sunny day. although it was all in
swedish, christian weddings are virtually the same wherever you are, making it
easy to follow along. the reception was especially fun, with songbook of swedish
songs to sing along with, toasts of "skål" and music.

i'll be walking around stockholm today, seeing the city and some of the sights.
it's a beautiful city, with that classic european mix of old and new, but somehow
stockholm seems much less chaotic, more settled, more peaceful. i'll be here
until tuesday or so, where i'll be heading /back/ to berlin for love parade and
then /back/ to sweden.

(yes, there are a lot of volvos here. and beautiful women.) 

- emilio