My fellow Travellati,
Just a quick note to let you know that the Early Bird pricing for our Papa's Paris Tour ends February 28 – save $608 if you register now. You know you want to!
Upcoming Hemingway's Paris talks:
Thursday, 2/23/17, 6:30 PM North Castle Public Library
Thursday, 3/2/2017, 7:00 PM Pelham Public Library
Monday, 3/6/17, 7:00 PM Port Chester-Rye Brook Public Library
See www.facebook.com/pg/Travellati/events for description and full schedule.
Following up on last week’s newsletter about the lovely Swedish island of Gotland with its fairy tale city of Visby, I feel I need to provide a fair and balanced perspective about Sweden. It could be that this charming city is merely a front for the Swedish Mafia, which I know exists because I was just watching a TV show last night about the Dutch Mafia. It could be that I had fallen under Sweden’s spell due to a mild case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which you identify with your captors.
It all started with my attending a one-week Lindy Hop (swing dancing) camp in 2014 in Herräng, a little village a couple of hours north of Stockholm. Note the word “camp,” which is the first sign of an indoctrination environment. The camp is a world unto itself, in which dancers from around the world converge on the tiny hamlet of Herräng for 5 weeks of dancing, drinking, and who knows what all else.
The camp provides everything needed – an ice cream shop, a wi-fi cabin called The Igloo made of cinderblocks with no air conditioning to discourage communication with the outside world; even laundry facilities, or you can have someone else wash your clothes for a pittance by what I believe are indentured servants. This is all meant to segregate the campers from the real world outside the gates of the camp (well, there aren’t any gates, but you know what I mean) and prevent them from finding out what Sweden is really like.
One day, I grabbed my rental bike (I had to pledge my first-born son in order to obtain it) and made my escape. I tooled on down the road to the bad part of town, the very bad part of town, you know what I mean, where there were several modern 3-story pink buildings – public housing. They used to house the quarry workers but the quarry closed long ago. I coasted quickly past this hotbed of crime and the lady wheeling her baby carriage towards the marina at the end of the road. The smuggling was kept well out of site at this marina with its crystal clear water and pastel colored boats.
I turned around and rolled on down to the so-called beach, past the “children playing” signs to a grassy lawn dotted with changing cabins with 30-foot strip of sand along the water. I dipped my toe into the water – icy. This is to prevent campers from swimming away. The campers smiled and waved when I took their picture, even though they didn’t even know me. What if I was with the camp’s secret service? Perhaps they were pretending to be happy for the powers that be. One woman was even sending rescue signals.
I decided to go into the bigger town to buy groceries – what they had at the camp was limited to some staples, so you would be forced to buy their suspiciously inexpensive prepared meals. What was in those herring filets, anyway? I waited at the bus stop but when I got on, found I couldn’t buy a ticket. You had to buy a ticket in the town I was going to. Another attempt to keep the inmates “inside.” But after my protests as to how I could buy a ticket from the town at the other end of the line, the bus driver just waved me on the bus with a sigh.
We jolted over narrow country roads on our well cushioned seats through the woods to the next “big” town which had a grocery store, several restaurants and cafés, a bookstore, and a hospital. As I rounded a corner I saw an older man fall to the sidewalk. Ah hah, I thought, a great chance to practice my first aid. But I was beaten to the punch by six people who converged on the man and crouched down next to him. An ambulance arrived as I walked dejectedly away.
After grocery shopping, during which I had to choose among 12 different kinds of smoked salmon, I hauled my stash down to the bus stop to wait. The bus shelter was already inhabited by an inebriated gentleman who offered me a beer. I said no thanks, and he engaged me in conversation – he spoke English as he had served in the merchant marine and traveled around the world, including a stint in Chicago. He said he didn’t travel anymore except around his own town. He was soon joined by a couple of his friends and the bus stop became party central until the bus arrived, at which time he bid me adieu.
Stay tuned for more about my harrowing travels through Sweden.
In the meantime, take the bull by the horns and come with us as we travel into the past to visit Papa’s Paris from June 17-15, where we run into Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and the Fitzgeralds. We eat, we drink, we dance, and generally make merry. Papa would have approved. Reserve your place by February 28 to take advantage of our Early Bird pricing.
As always, happy travels!