a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘cocktails’

memories of IKEA instructions ;)

I am discovering I DO create the travel stories – but actually getting them on-line while I am travelling – a lot more complicated…  when I retire… for now… you will just have to be patient… lots of posts partly written or in my head, photos on my camera… so the stories will appear over the next week or two… tonight it is my last night in Stockholm but we are exploring the first…

I have arrived in one of my ancestral homelands.  It’s just a few days in Stockholm so not sure how much I will learn about my roots but there is a different sensibility arriving in the country from which your surname originated.

The Stockholm experience begins at the airport.  It is well organized, ultra clean and full of minimalist Scandinavian design.  It’s the airport of the Jetsons…

Until I tried to get some kronor.  The Swedes are a bit suspicious of the continent so the EU is OK but the jury is still out on the euro.  My personal life and the euro have followed an intimate and bizarre trajectory but for this post, suffice to say, I think the Swedes are right 😉

Even though it’s a hassle for tourists.  But I’ve used bank machines all over the world.  How hard can it be?

Well, this bank machine had obviously been designed by the dude who writes the IKEA instructions.  First I had to insert my card in a totally abnormal way.  When I finally figured out how to get my card in the machine, I’d missed the nanosecond when you could punch an obscure key to get the instructions in English.  I suppose I should have guessed it was asking for my pin number in Swedish but seeing a bunch of stuff in an incomprehensible foreign language throws you.  I finally secured my measly 2,000 kronors – which will buy nothing I am discovering… and I have built a LOT of IKEA furniture in my iterant life so the haunting memories exploded into my brain…

But then I looked at the perfect sky – full of Nordic light and marshmallow clouds – as my wildly expensive taxi traversed the motorways toward my hotel.

<no question Stockholm requires a fat bankroll – but is full of small treasures… I am in the Berns bar where the cute bartender knows my room number typing this… and some woman who sounds like Adele has just starting singing… so my overpriced Chenin Blanc is tasting better ;)>

And speaking of the Berns Hotel… I am a fan!  Check-in was fantastic.  It would appear Swedish women could turn anyone into a lesbian 😉  They had my name wrong on the reservation – a common mistake.  But she really appreciated the significance of a letter.  It’s a totally DIFFERENT name!  I think her name is Danielle.  She is gorgeous – but that seems to be the norm around here.  What was unique about Danielle is that she just sparkled.  Her personality.  Her smile.  Her attitude.  You could fall in love with her in under five minutes 🙂

She was an example of the person we could all be.  Why not be friendly?  Why not be great at your job?  Why not be engaging?  Why not twinkle?  I know it will improve your life because strangers will enjoy interacting with you.  And people that you actually know?  They will fall in love with you – hard 😉

But as I write this (originally, in my notebook) I have decamped to the Gold Bar at the Nobis Hotel… because I wasn’t sure if I should stay there instead of the Berns.  (Now, with all my experience, I think it depends on your purpose in Stockholm.  For aspiring party animals, the Berns is perfection ;).

http://www.berns.se/

http://www.nobishotel.se/

Back at the Gold Bar I ordered an Orchid Royalty.  Apparently it won some accolades at a cocktail contest in London.  Aged Guatemalan rum, sweet vermouth, Pedro Ximinez and gold dust!  It was sublime.  Bartenders in Stockholm are good at their jobs and friendly enough but a bit stiff by world standards.  No one is going to blow you kisses if you leave them a tip like the charming dudes in Amsterdam 😉

Dutch guys and Sweden women… that might be quite the combo!  I’ve had fun with both.  I never managed to confirm Danielle’s name but we chatted over the past few days – and she lit up every time I said “hi”.  I won’t forget her.  I like to think I light up around other people.  Being on the receiving end of it has convinced me it’s really worth paying attention to – and working on.  It’s common knowledge I love glitter and sequins…  let’s see if I can mirror that in my personality as well…

p.s.  I have been snapping Stockholm… in the various weathers… so pictures will be forthcoming!  Stay tuned!

p.p.s. subsequent to writing this I had a chat with the cute bartender who has been my favourite during my stay at Berns.  His name is Daniel.  He confirmed Danielle is the correct name for the girl at the front desk.  I told him he was really great at his job.  Watching him in action is very impressive.  You can only chat on Sunday.  On the weekend you just have to watch in amazement as he participates in the show that is Berns 🙂

 

the art of parties

No Japan on the birthday soundtrack but definitely an important part of my musical youth.  You have been spared my opinions lately because the birthday party that inspired this blog was on Mar 10th.

I decided to obsess over the details and organize it like a Prussian.  I could have just chilled and people would have had a good time.  But I didn’t want it to just be a random birthday party; I wanted it to an event!

I appreciated lots of people would just have a good time and the details would be lost on them.  But some of the assembled who share my obsessions – music, photography, travel, classic cocktails, French patisseries, fine cuisine – and balloons – would take notice and appreciate the extra effort I had put into the party.  And it worked!  I think it will be a fond memory for most of the guests.  I have no voice today and shut down the Tiki Bar.  Obviously I got my money’s worth out of the event 🙂

As Okkervil River will tell you, “it was the flaws that made us have fun”.

The slide show didn’t play in the right order but the jumbled order captured the crowd’s attention and got them talking.

No one danced but we got a brilliant moment where a few people who heard that song at every party in their youth shook their booty to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me You All Night Long.”

I spent $200 on balloons, which might make you question my sanity.  There were 99 luftballoons – 50 filled with helium and 49 filled with air.  I had people helping me madly set up so the plan was to release the helium balloons so they would float to the ceiling but instead they got arranged around the room in bouquets.  The error became a better idea.  At the end of our private party at 10, I got scissors from the bartender and released 50 helium balloons.

As the bar flooded with all the people who had been waiting in line outside, the purple balloons rose to the starry dark blue ceiling like planets floating in place.  It looked fantastic.  I totally got my money’s worth watching everyone in the bar playing with the balloons.  Some girl named Johanna who was also celebrating a birthday got to wear a balloon her shoulder.  At the end of the night I gathered the few remaining balloons on the floor and floated them into the crowd on the dance floor.  And then I went over to the extraordinary bartenders Scott and Chris and had them make me a “purple balloons” (the party’s signature cocktail) and savoured the end of a party that would have made Japan proud – and that people should remember for the next decade…

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