Thursday, May 25, 2017

Return to Stockholm, Manchester United-Ajax, More of the 111 Sights and a Stockholm Mean Machines Practice

Wednesday, 24 May, 2017:

Lots to report today despite what I thought would be a calm day.

As usual though, we must remember that . . .

 . . . this American football loving
couple will be together again in just . . .

More days, a mere week if you will!

When I went to sleep last night on the ferry boat Victoria I for the trip back from Tallinn to Stockholm, I swore that I would not get up early to take even more pictures of the incredible scenery that the Stockholm Archipelago has to offer those afloat.

I lied to myself, I could not resist but at least I pared it down to just two photos for the blog.

I want to live here!

 Getting off of the Victoria I
with four cases of beer
Alcohol and Swedish life

Whenever I have returned to Sweden from Copenhagen, Helsingør, Rīga or now Tallinn via boat or train, it is quite normal to see Swedes, like the one pictured here, returning with as many cases of beer or bottles of spirits as they can carry.

Sweden has extremely high taxes on alcohol thus making trips to other nearby countries not just for business or pleasure abroad.

Bringing home relatively cheap adult beverages is another of Sweden's moral travel imperatives it appears.

Once off the boat, I opted to ride the blue bus instead of the subway back to Stockholm Central train station. It would be slower but it would also be good for some sightseeing.

 A river into Stockholm's bay

I got off the bus just before reaching Stockholm Central near the Karlberg station. I figured I could thus bypass some of the craziness that the start of a four day weekend and the crowds gathering in the city for the Manchester United-Ajax UEFA Europa League Cup Final tonight at Friend Arena might be creating.

Manchester United is from Great Britain and Ajax is from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

 It is tonight and NO,
I'm not going

The cheapest ticket that I could find on-line was going for $825 USD, a little rich for my blood.

As I headed towards the Karlberg station, guess who I ran into?

Why my Man U friends of course!

It was the area of town sectioned off for Manchester United fans to tail gate.

 It was only 11:00 a.m. so Stockholm,
if not Europe, was still a bit dry

The Red Army was still calm
at this time of day

 It's that "FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT"
part that has all of Stockholm worried

The Manchester United people were indeed calm but there was still a lot of pre-game drinking time left before the start of the match at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

I worried because both Janne and Aiki were working as part of the security detail at tonight's match at Friends Arena in the Stockholm suburb of Solna.

Stay safe my friends!

After dropping off my luggage back at the house and taking a much needed nap, I headed back into Stockholm for some more sightseeing and to observe an American football practice conducted by the coaching staff of the Stockholm Mean Machines. The SMM play in Sweden's Superserien which is composed of the six strongest teams in the nation.

 On the train into Stockholm
Three Ajax fans surrounded a lone
Manchester United fan

Uh-oh, here we go, trouble brewing right in front of me.

Well, no actually.

The three young Ajax fans who had driven 24 hours to get to Stockholm for the big match offered our butcher from just outside of Manchester who had flown into Arlanda this morning one of their beers!

They were engaged in civil talk about what each side needed to do to win. They finally agreed that the most important thing to do for both sides was to come out aggressive on offense in order to score the all important first goal of the game.

Since these big games usually end with one team being shutout, I agreed that scoring the first goal of the match was probably a good idea.

Our Manchester United fan got off at the Karlberg Station to join his mates in a pint or twelve before the match.

Our three Ajax fans were getting off at Stockholm Central to join their fans' tailgate party as well.

I decided to follow them into Stockholm's Kungsholmen district to see how the Dutch party. It was good to see that the two tailgate party areas complete with massive police presence and blocked off streets were located miles apart with the city's train tracks separating the two factions.

 Now Ajax fans HAD been
drinking for some time by now


 Great turnout from the Dutch

They were singing their team songs in unison and the required red road flares were lit . . .



I've got a t-shirt of theirs that I bought in Amsterdam years ago in my closet in Camarillo so I backed them all the way!

 Nothing says Europa League football
like beer and meatloaf!

 "They usually travel in pairs."

 The grand old Oscar's Theater

It was built in 1906 was named after King Oscar II and is known for staging great musicals.

On a sad note, it was reported that unruly Manchester United hooligans may be responsible for the stealing of a downtown Clarion Hotel sign.

I think that I just found it

I was now off to the Södermalm district via the #13 subway to look for a few more of the 111 hidden sights that are not to be missed when visiting Stockholm.

I had to go through a park to get to my first sight.

I like statuary

 And I like fountains too!

 It is Spring!

Sight #30
Folckers Snörmarkeri
Pompoms, tassels, ribbons . . .

I actually was not going here but stumbled upon it while leaving the park. I might as well check it out while I'm here.

No pictures allowed inside

Folckers is a really small shop crammed to the rafters with tassels, bobbles, pompoms, borders, ribbons and braids.

It is somewhat like stepping into a time machine back into the 1890s.

Their main buyers are people from fashion houses, theaters and the royal court but it is ok for the rest of us to enter and browse just son long as we don't take pictures inside.

Sight #48
The Ivar Los Park
Playground with a view

The first thing that I noticed as I entered the playground was this hollowed out tree trunk, what fun for kids!

Interesting . . .

. . . and quite extensive

This area was fenced off for renovations but my guide book mentioned something about a view . . .

. . . well yes, it is quite spectacular!

Lots of adults and some kids were enjoying a picnic in the park with this great view back towards the Gamla Stan on a pleasant Spring evening.

Originally there were two 18th-century houses on the site of the park that were torn down in the 1930s. The gap created by these demolitions was never closed with new buildings but was allowed to remain in the form of this fine little park.

Oh those wacky Stockholmers and their interesting zoning concepts.

 The park was named after
Ivar Lo-Johansson

He was a famous writer who for 56 years lived right across the street from this park before passing away in 1990.

 Laurie's claim to fame,
Midsummer 2010 in Skåne

Time for a coffee

This was the coffee bar, under new ownership now, that Stieg Larsson, who wrote the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series, used to frequent.

 It had an interesting interior

Underneath it says
"We stand for a Nazi-free EU"

I'm for that.

Sight #74
Das Rost Stockholm
A place for everybody

I was parched and this outstanding hidden gem was just a half block from the stadium entrance where the Stockholm Mean Machines would start practice in about 45 minutes.

A beer it was then!

Creativity in decorations

Eclectic is a good word here

It even had a small stage . . .

. . . and, of course, aa active
motorcycle repair room!

The café is former yoga instructor Zannah's creation. She is outgoing and runs the place with her husband Staffan and a staff of energetic, friendly people.

They wish that the Rost be a meeting place for people from the neighborhood, artists and anyone else who is open-minded and enjoys having a conversation with other people.

So when my waiter Urban asked if I wanted to sit outside, I said yes but all of the tables were taken.

Urban's response was no problem,. you can share a table with my brother Anders.


Originally from Stockholm, he now lives in Oslo.

Anders is a graphic designer who does most of his work on-line for a local company that requires him to be in Stockholm one week per month.

This is that week.

I enjoyed our discussion over a hearty northern Swedish lager. 

The irrepressible Zannah herself

She is even posing with my Guide Book in hand which she proudly showed to her staff!

She knew about the book that was written by two German ladies but she did not know until now that it had been translated into English.

She's a charmer and we agreed to bring Laurie by for dinner next weekend.

Off to the practice field!

Warm-ups had not started yet

They have a SLED!

It is hard to coach O-Line play without using one of these as part of my Every Day Drills or EDDs.

 Stockholm Mean Machines
Head Coach
Fredrik Pilbäck

After our own Lotta Douhan contacted him for me, he graciously allowed me full access to their entire workout and invited me to return.

The Mean Machines are currently 3-3 on the season and in third place in the Superserien.

This is a sign of the club's great improvement due to good fundamentals as being taught by the impressive coaching staff.

It must be remembered that the SMM only won two games in 2016 and went winless in 2015. The progress is slow but steady, Fredrik and his staff have the Mean Machines heading in the right direction!

Offensive Coordinator
Ricky Peña Viteri

He is a graduate of Villa Park H.S. in southern California.

Small world.

Offensive Line Coach
Mike from Michigan

I liked the back of Mike's
SMM t-shirt

In Greek, I have no clue what it says but I'm sure that I would be inspired if I could translate the quotation!

Mike does a really thorough, detailed job with his players.

Mike teaches good Pass Protection
techniques as well

Defensive Line Coach
Norm Wyndham

Norm is from Mississippi and is full of passion for the game.

He is also the U13 team's Head Coach.

 Defensive Coordinator
Leandro from parts unknown

 He taught great fundamentals too

 Inside Run period

Same drill from the
Offensive perspective

Body-on-a-Body inside and
read the Defensive end outside

 The SMM Women's team
was practicing too tonight

 More Pass Blocking work

 Team Time

It was good to see the Big Boys practicing with their size, advanced skills and techniques.

Thank you Head Coach Fredrik Pilbäck for allowing me to visit the SMM practice tonight!

Good luck the rest of the year Mean Machines!

Time to head home, it's been another long day.

 If I were a knight,
this would most definitely
be my shield!

Another good day
of exercise

When I got back to our home in Upplands-Väsby, I discovered two things.

First, my feet did not hurt at all. I guess not having to deal with cobblestones today made a big difference over yesterday's Old Town Tallinn streets.

Secondly, I turned on the TV to watch the last 15 minutes of the Europa League Championship game.

Final Score: Manchester United 2 - Ajax 0

See, scoring the first goal was the key to the game!


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