Friday, July 20, 2012

A new welcome into Stockholm

Sooz should be landing into Arlanda just about now. But she won't be welcomed by ABBA into the country this time, I'm sorry to say. Agnetha, Benny, Björn, and Anni-Frid have been replaced by this year's Eurovision winner, Loreen.

How could this be, you might ask?? Has Sweden thrown away its cultural heritage in favor of a fad? Outrage!!

The truth is more complex. Benny Andersson has been strongly opposed to the planned reconstruction of Slussen, the area just south of Gamla Stan. From my perspective, I can understand why the area needs to be reconstructed. That's where we catch our bus to Stavsnäs, and it is not the prettiest or most efficient part of the city, to put it mildly. I also ran through part of the traffic interchange (twice!) during my recent marathon, and, afforded the opportunity to see the area when on foot, the condition of the concrete did not look good to my untrained eye.

There's a great deal of controversy about redeveloping the area, with Benny as a strong opponent of Norman Foster's plans. From what I can tell, there are two main objections. First, is the disruption caused by nearly 7 years of work in an already congested space. Second is the historical aspect. Ugly or not, Slussen was an engineering marvel 80 years ago and it is a big part of modern Stockholm.

Now what does this all have to do with ABBA's welcome at Arlanda? Well, Benny said that he'd withdraw his permission for the photo to be used should the redevelopment be approved.

In a narrow vote, project was approved, so the photo comes down and Loreen goes up in its place. I hope there will be room for both artists again soon. More practically, I hope our journeys to Aspö won't be too disrupted in the coming years!

UPDATE: Sooz texted me that she arrived safely, and a bit early, into Arlanda. She met Erik, and old friend from 20 years ago, who was a youngster when we knew him, and is now a pilot for Cathay Pacific! They're taking the train into town now and I'll provide any updates she sends me.

UPDATE 2: She did her grocery shopping at the Coop in Slussen and caught the earlier bus to Stavsnäs, so she could catch the earlier Waxholms boat. While she was en route, I got messages from Ann and Margaret to send her up to Ann and Dave's for dinner. I video-chatted with her a few minutes ago (about 16:30 Central time) and she had a great evening. Everything worked out perfect, although she was darned tired!

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