The house where I'm staying is so profoundly quiet, and the blankets are so perfectly toasty, it's easy to just keep sleeping in the morning. When I finally made it to the kitchen for a coffee, the light coming through the window was just too lovely. I grabbed the camera and stuffed my sleepy feet into my boots and out into the sunshine. The air is so humid and so cold that everything has grown a coat of feathery frost.
Even the snow is growing frost fingers, a teeny-tiny Fortress of Solitude popping out of the porch rail, just waiting for a teeny-tiny Superman.
Jessica and Jimmy, her son (who has very quickly become of my favorite people on the planet), took me out to get a bird's eye view of Stockholm from Kaknästornet, a big communications tower. Jessica doesn't love heights, so she must love me to have braved the top of the tower.
Photographers in other latitudes have to schedule outdoor photo shoots around the "golden hour," that hour right around sunrise and sunset where the sun is low, making the light soft and warm, which makes everything more beautiful. The golden hour is nature's best photo filter. In Stockholm's winter, every day is a golden day, from start to finish. This is the view today from the top of the tower.
Inside the top of Kaknästornet is one of the small cafes which are everywhere in this city. Jimmy explained that it's all about "fika," which is Sweden's version of afternoon tea. It's actually a coffee (not tea) and cake break. All over town are cafes whose tables are laden with buttery, sweet-smelling pastries and cakes. Confession: the very first thing I eat when I arrive in any Nordic country is a pastry, even if it's just at the airport. This was the spread at the tower cafe.
We skipped it today, and I'm no psychic, but I see one of these things in my very near future.
Jessica treated us to lunch at a Thai place. The food was good and spicy, and I marveled for a second at how weird it was to be eating Thai food in Sweden with Elvis playing on the stereo. After lunch Jimmy and I wandered the city for a few hours with no particular place to go, and I felt so lucky and grateful to have the chance to do that, to wander in and out of little shops and just enjoy being somewhere different and beautiful.
In a little pop up thrift store, I saw this and should have tried to buy it.
I am a sucker for the twinkly lights of a lamp shop.
This T-Rex doesn't let his tiny arms stop him from loving the holidays. This is one of those times where I didn't know I was missing something in my life until I saw it. I'll be on the lookout for a T-Rex lamp in the states for the foreseeable future.
Jimmy found this fantastic view for us up a flight of stairs that led to a pedestrian walkway between the tops of two tall buildings. The sunset here just goes on forever.
Today was my favorite kind of vacation day: surprise trips to places I've never heard of, amazing views, delicious food, and most of all, wonderful company. I felt lucky, lucky, lucky, all day long.