Sweden is, according to our guide, a very creative society. For instance, the safety belt was invented by a Volvo guy (Nils Bohlin): every 6 seconds a life is saved on planet Earth due to this Swedish guy. And Volvo, though holder of the patent, allowed all car manufacturers to use it in their own designs. Why? Because the company decided that the invention was so important that it had more value for life saving than for profit. Food for thought!?!
Our guide is a lively woman called Åsa which is pronounced “osa” and means goddess. Åsa has travelled a lot around the world, has a lot of multicultural experience, is very proud of her country and unhappy with the Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies which should be dealt with by Romania and Bulgaria, not Sweden. She has a Ph.D. in medieval history and loves teaching as a volunteer in high schools, lecture on cruises, guide tourists around Stockholm, take care of her handicapped child and all this, besides teaching political science at university. “Swedish women are strong. We can do anything we want! That’s because we have Pippi Longstocking as our role model since childhood.”
The Nobel prizes are strongly connected to creativity and to the power of ideas to change the world. That is another story however for another post.
Sweden has only about 10 million people compared to UK’s over 66 million. It is a small Britain – again according to our guide – and I guess she meant in terms of creativity.
Guided tour of the city hall – one of the landmarks of Stockholm.
‘Please look at the 3 golden crowns on the top of the 106-meter tall tower!’ says Åsa. ‘They are the national coat of arms of Sweden, very famous. Do you know what they symbolize?’
Silence in the group.
‘Neither do I.’ Laughter. ‘Well, what I mean is that there are so many stories, often conflicting, that I prefer to say I don’t know.’
We walk in order, being told not to touch things, as the city hall has the offices and session halls of the politicians and their staff. The mayor is a woman – remember Pippi Longstocking?!
The Nobel prizes banquet is held here. After dinner in the Blue Hall, the Nobel Prize laureates, royalty and guests walk up to dance in the Golden Hall which has about 18 million gold mosaic tiles. 45 kg of gold were used to cover the room in very thin leaves. If you want to rent it – no problem. It’s only 6,500 per night to rent. ‘When I was a student I was lucky and won an opportunity to volunteer for the organization of the Nobel banquet. I was so impressed – I could peep into the banquet hall from behind those curtains!’
Lunch at the city hall restaurant. Very fancy. Good food. Loved their bread.
‘We have only healthy food here. Chickens in Sweden are not hormone fed which means they grow very slowly. No GMOs.’