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Traveling with Grace: Denmark Part 1

Posted on July 28th, 2020 by

This week, Grace begins her visit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Special thanks go to JMM volunteer Harold Toppall for his transcriptions of Grace’s travel diary.

To read more of Grace’s travels, click here. 

July 24, 1950


Elsa Thorusen came in to see us this morning + Mr. Lindegaard phoned. We took Anne and Elsa to Elsa’s mother’s home in Gentofte. Then to Landmandsbanken to see Mr. Lindengaard get money. Mr. L. took me to a jeweler to get a new watch band. Then we went to the American Express Co. & Helene & I had a very good lunch at a sidewalk café across the st. I notice more people talk English here than in Sweden or Norway. We took a ride around the city but didn’t get out on account of the rain. Saw a number of pretty parks, the beautiful statue and fountain of Gefion & the Bulls (plowing Jutland out of Sweden) rode along the Langelinie, saw the Parliament, Raclshus, Royal Palace, Palace of Rosenborg, etc. Then back to the hotel where Mr. Lindegaard called on us & we had to dress for dinner at the Jergerisons.

When we arrived there at 6 o’clock we found a large American flag almost covering the front of the house. In the back a lovely garden, [es………..] pear trees, roses, etc. There were 45 people at dinner, all in evening dress (one servant did all the cooking & waiting), there were Danish and American flags & porcelain figurines on the pretty damask cloth, Royal Copenhagen chine & Jensen silver. We had a most sumptuous repast, fish, duck with prune & apple dressing, potatoes, 2 kinds of salad, home-made rolls, cheese sticks, 3 kinds of wine, huge raspberries, cream & later in the living room a huge cake, coffee, 3 kinds of cordials & brandy. All during the meal we kept drinking “skoll” & they made speeches in English & Danish complimenting us & they were very jolly and nice & very hospitable & there were [             ]. We left about 11, still raining & Mr. A. took us home.

July 25, 1950 

Mr. & Mrs. Thoneson & daughter called for us about noon & took us to Tivoli for lunch where we ate in the Divan Pavilion #2 (sandwiches, omelet with wine sauce & coffee & tarts & mushrooms). Mrs. Jergessen joined us there. We had American & Danish flags on tables. We walked about Tivoli, an amusement park covering about 8 square blocks in the middle of the city. Then visited a Royal Danish porcelain shop & Jensen’s silver store where we saw a beautiful display of table silver, jewelry, etc. & we bought some gifts for Hanna Lise Thomsen’s birthday. We rode out to the King’s Park where we saw the famous statue of H. C. Andersen. Tonight Mr. Lindegaard joined us at the hotel for dinner.

July 26, 1950

En route to Svendborg

Else & Hanna Lise came to say good-by this a.m. We went to the railroad station to get our food coupons-one for each meal of our sojourn. Started on our journey about 11. The Danish countryside in quite different from either of the countries just visited: flat, beautiful, sturdy old trees, an atmosphere of calm, security, & leisurely living. Many sleek, well fed cows, fields of grain, mechanical harvesters, windmills, darling little houses, long & low, painted yellow or orange with sloping red roofs & many thatched ones, potted plants & lace curtains at the windows, roads running straight between rows of trees & hedges. The towns are quaint with many half-timbered, thatch roofed diminutive houses (Anne Hathaway style) pretty country churches, the churchyard graves invariably decorated with flowers, the shops well stocked (barber shops have brass plates like shaving dishes hanging out as a sign, & in the country are many windmills. Cyclists are ever more in evidence here than elsewhere. We went thru Koge, Vordingborg (a long & beautiful bridge here toll free) Nykobing a very nice town where we had lunch at the Baltic hotel (most delicious crepes suzettes) then on thru Askobing, Maribo & Nakaskov where we sat in a pretty little park gay with flowers (huge beds of orchid, pink, red & white hydrangeas) & watched them set up a midway for the coming fair advertised as Montmartie (here we at the best ice-cream cones I ever tasted) & waited for the ferry to take us over the Longeldung [Spod……………].

The sun was setting when we got off & the landscape on this beautiful island with its charming country houses & beautiful gardens was suffused with rosy light. A quiet coziness & feeling of security & remoteness pervades the atmosphere. Another shorted ferry ride during which we had coffee & sandwiches took us to Rudkobing on the isle of Fyn, thence to Svendborg where we had reservations to spend the night at Klostergarden hotel. A young man on a bicycle escorted us to the hotel only to find it had been closed until further notice. The young man then went to get somebody who could speak English, who took us to another hotel but they couldn’t accommodate us (it was nearly midnight & we were all dead tired) so they called up a number of small hotels & pensions, finally sending us to a certain address but when we got there the man came to tell us someone else had gotten in ahead of us, but we could try at still another villa. Here again we were refused politely but Anne, who was getting pretty desperate, got out her top drawer Danish & pleaded, using me for a sob story, & finally we crashed the gate. Anne & I had one room, Helene another, Mr. A. slept on the sofa in the parlor. It was very nice of the people in the house to give up their rooms to us, especially since they had already gone to bed.

July 27, 1950

En route to Ringkobing

The lady in the villa served coffee, toast & Danish pastry on her sunny veranda overlooking the garden for breakfast & then we left about 10. Near the village of Kvaerndrup we made a slight detour to see a beautiful old castle “Egeskov” with wall-like hedges, battle mented towers, & a wonderful garden. Then we went a little further to see another old castle “Lykkesholm” the ancestral home & birthplace of our new friend Mr. Lindegaard, the bldgs.- are all dated – from 1470 to 1935. It is now unoccupied due to high cost of living. Passed Castle Brahetrolleborg home of the Reventlow family. We had lunch in Assens at Hotel Marcusson & then walked over to the ferry which took us across Lille Baelt to Aarosand. It was fair but very windy & they stretched a canvas across the opening in the boat to protect us. When we got to the other side & they dropped the canvas, it was like unveiling a lovely picture in the frame of the ship. Then on thru Haderslev, Halsted, Ribe (saw 10th century Cathedral and house where Jacob A. Riis was born with commemorative plate quoting eulogy by Theo. Roosevelt) Karde & many smaller towns across the island of Jylland or Jutland, largest in the Danish archipelago, arriving in Ringkobing in time for dinner. Had a walk up the street to look at the funny little shops & houses. After dinner they carried me upstairs to the bedroom as there is no elevator in Hotel Ringkobing.

July 28, 1950

En route to Skagen

Walked down 19 steps with Mr. A’s help. Another beautiful day. Thru Holstebro, Viborg (stopped to visit one of the most interesting & colorful cathedrals with painting of old & new testament characters) Hobro, Asllorg (a large town where Anne was born & where we had lunch at Hotel Phoenix) Norresundby, Salby, Frederikshavn & on to Skagen on the northernmost tip of Denmark with the Katlegat on one side & the Skagerrak on the other & came to the charming garden encircled Brondums hotel, with no steps so that I can go in & out at will. After dinner we walked up a little crooked street to see a beautiful big orange moon shimmer on the waves of the Kattegat.

July 29, 1950

Skagen, Denmark

Took a walk thru the streets of the town with Helene. This afternoon the countess Knuth (friend of Mr. Lindegaard) called on us & we had tea in the garden. She is a charming, plain old lady with pretty, fresh complexion, dressed in tweeds. She rode over & back on her bicycle, sitting straight as a dye. After dinner we took another walk admiring the gardens in the vicinity and a lady who was watering her flowers, give us each a [nosegay] of roses. We returned to the hotel & played bridge all evening.

July 30, 1950

Another beautiful day. This morning we visited the little museum in Skagen where we saw fine paintings by the Danish artists Michael Ander, his wife & daughter & Holgen Drachman. These pictures give a wonderful insight into the life & character of the people of this district as well as the aspect of the countryside. The Brondum family, original owners of the hotel, figure prominently in the pictures & the dining room, a handsomely paneled room with inset oil portraits all around the frieze forming an attractive border, also the original table & chairs & inlaid floor were brought over from the hotel & incorporated in the museum. There is also a beautiful garden with some fine sculpture.

After lunch we called for the Countess & her lady-in-waiting Mlle. Parire, a charming French lady & we went for a long drive. They showed us the prettiest vantage points for panoramas of the sea & several artists colonies. We drove along the hard beach for several miles, & to the northernmost tlip of Denmark where Holgen Drachman, poet & artist, lies buried, called the Greemen.

We went to the Countess’ most attractive villa for tea & ate off a wonderfully embroidered cloth give her by Dowager Queen Alexandrine of Denmark. We also saw the summer home here on the beach at Skagen where King Frederick & his queen spend several weeks each Spring, & nearby an old, old church half buried in the sand. After a delicious tea, during which we were all asked to sign the Countess’ guest book which she started in 1912, we took them back to the hotel with us for dinner & had a pleasant chat in the parlor afterwards.

July 31, 1950

En route to Aarbus

Rosenholm Castle. Via.

Left Skagen at 10 & retraced our steps as far as Aalborg. Not far from here we visited Rebild Park where each 4th of July Danes & Americans meet to celebrate with speeches & fireworks on a vast open field, the King & Queen & American Ambassador always attending, & here we had lunch at a very good restaurant.

Then we rode on to Randers where we were to have spent the night but instead decided to keep on to Aarbus, capitol of Jylland & Denmark’s 2nd city a very pretty town indeed where we spent the night at Hotel Royale. Upon arrival, we went to the Ruskov Hospital to call on Mr. & Mrs. Moller, sister & brother-in-law of Mr. Lindegaard who wanted us to come up to their apt. for tea but there were too many steps & we preferred to do some sightseeing. So, they got into the car with us & took us to see Rosenholm Castle which belongs to the old Danish family of Rosenkraur. We had to get special permission to drive in (saying I couldn’t walk very well) so when we arrived at the moat the Baroness herself (very much [b………..]) came to greet us & wanted to give me an armchair to be carried up the steps. I refused & she said she had great sympathy for me because she had bad eyesight & it was hard for her to get about. She wished us a pleasant hour in the chateau & then left us to a young woman, wife of the caretaker, who spoke a pretty good English & acted as our guide. Some of the outstanding features of the castle were: a beautiful private chapel, venetian embossed leather wall covering in the library, some fine French & Chinese porcelains, an old fashioned bathroom, some very odd clocks, gorgeous Gobelin tapestries, lovely rugs, ancestral paintings of the Rosenkranz who intermarried with Danish Royalty, we saw the bedrooms occupied by the King & Queen (they were once extremely wealthy & owned vast estates which have dwindled so that now they are glad to have visitors come in for a fee.) After taking us all around the house the young woman showed us her own apt. on the ground floor which was very attractive & in the Spanish styles.

Then we drove to a quaint old town on the coast, Ebeltofte, with houses dating from the 10th century many half-timbered, with small convex panes in the windows, & painted in various soft shades. Then we saw the Aarbus airport built by the Germans during the occupation (the prettiest roads in Scandinavia leading to it.) Then we took them back to the hospital & we had dinner at the hotel.

August 1, 1950

En Route to Odense, Denmark

Marselisborg – 1950 – Christmas Post Card. Via.

Left Aarbus at 12:30 P.M. after riding around this pretty city with its many parks, one of which was particularly well landscaped with many lovely flowers (the Gamle By is in it) + we rode along the Strandvej where there are many handsome villas + saw the beautiful Marselisborg Palace home of Dowager Queen Alexandrine + lunched at Varma a fine restaurant overlooking the Katteg at where an orchestra played good music. Then on thru Skandeborg, Horsens, Vejle, an especially pretty town- across a big bridge to MIddlefart (isle of Fyn) + on to Odense where we stop at the Grand Hotel (as good as its name.)

August 2, 1950

Odense, Denmark

Vintage poster, Odense, Denmark. Via.

We were awakened by the sound of childish voices singing many nursery rhymes from a Kindergarten across the street & this seemed quite an appropriate setting for Odense traditions. This morning we visited the home & adjoining museums filled with memorabilia of H. C. Anderson, a fascinating place. In our rotunda-like room are beautiful frescoes covering walls & ceiling depicting scenes from certain of his fairy tales, also many marble statues of him with different children to whom he is reading or reciting. Some of the objects noted: furniture & a few personal possessions of which he hadn’t accumulated much as he was always on the go, many of his drawings & letters-he wrote in German & English as well as Danish, a letter from Charles Dickens, pressed flowers Andersen had gathered in Dicken’s garden while on a visit to England; portraits & letters from his sweetheart Mrs. Collins & books he wrote & illustrated for her children, an old American dollar bill he rec’d from a young admirer who had heard he was poor, an umbrella, high silk hat, old trunk, rocking chair, a decoration from Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, & many original manuscripts. Even some name cards & concert programs he had kept. Also, many portraits & daguerreotypes of him at different ages.

Then we had lunch at the terrace restaurant of the hotel, after which we visited the Fynske Landsbyen situated in a pretty park. It is a sort of outdoor museum to illustrate life in a typical settlement of this part of the country. Cottages with antique furnishings, windmills, an old Kro or tavern, an old kitchen, real geese & cows & barn in a typical farm setting, & as everywhere else lovely flower gardens.

Then we rode out into the country to see an old manor house Langess that Mr. L. told us about, with fancy evergreen hedges, formal gardens & an interesting façade. Tonight, we dined at Brockinaus restaurant where a woman’s orchestra played first classic music & then for dancing.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Traveling with Grace: Continuing in Sweden

Posted on July 14th, 2020 by

This week, Grace continues through Sweden. Next week – on to Denmark! Special thanks go to JMM volunteer Harold Toppall for his transcriptions of Grace’s travel diary.

To read more of Grace’s travels, click here. 

July 19, 1950


Vintage postcard, Swedish cruise ship in Visby Harbor, 1951, Gotland Island. Via.

Got off the boat at 8:30 this morning. Gorgeous day. This town on the island of Gothland is the prettiest place we have seen yet. It reminds me a little of Rothenberg on the Tauber. Roses, roses, everywhere & the quaintest of diminutive houses spotlessly clean. The whole place is punctuated with little parks sparkling with gorgeous blooms of all kinds. The streets are crooked, narrow, hilly & cobbled & the ancient wall with its crenulated watch towers at regular intervals is almost perfectly intact. 5,000 people live within the walls.

Vintage travel poster, Visby: The Town of Ruins and Roses. Via.

We got a guide at the travel bureau – after breakfasting at the Stadshotel Pensionat – who showed us all the points of interest & sketched in some historical background. The island of Gothland once belonged to the Danes. There is a legend that the king of Denmark once made love to a woman of Visby who helped him enter the city with his army thru the wall. He promised to marry her & take her back to Denmark as his queen, but instead deserted her, where upon the townspeople seized & burned her to death. (We saw a picture of this yesterday in the museum in Stockholm.) There are many ruined churches from the 11th & 12th centuries, & an old gallows up on a hill overlooking the Baltic. Artists with their easels & sketch books are everywhere & this is truly an artist’s paradise.

Visby Cathedral, Saint Mary. Photo by Carl Curman, 1893. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

This afternoon we walked around the town & sat in one of the pretty parks. Also rode halfway out on the island (about 80 x 40 miles) where there are many small farms & some lovely villas. There is also a fine Cathedral (Domkirke) in Visby.

Ruin of St. Nicolai church. Photo by Carl Curman, 1890s. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Tonight, we attended the first presentation of the season of the Ruinspielen or mystery play “St. Petrus de Dacia” given in the ruins of the lovely old St. Nicholas Church. On the stage at the altar end is a large reredos acting as backdrop. On one side fastened to a heavy stone pillar is an image of the Virgin set in a wreath of roses. By the door stands a man in the white robe of a monk. The sunset sky shines thru the painless gothic windows. The play itself is more impressive. The voices of the 2 monks & the sick lady & Christina (the 4 principal characters) were splendid. The lighting was supplied by 12 tall tapers on the reredos & torches held by the monks & nuns in procession. The choral singing was good & the whole performance pervaded by a reverential feeling. At 11 we returned to the boat & tonight’s trip is much smoother than last.

July 20, 1950

En route to Vastervik

The Town Hall and the Grand Hotel at Tyska torget (the German Square) in Norrköping. Photo by Fredrik Bruno, 1947. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Arrived back in Nynashamm at 7 A.M. Had breakfast at the pretty Hotel Nynashamm across from the dock. Then started on the trip in lovely weather thru very pretty country. We had to go back to the outskirts of Stockholm & covered some of the same territory as before. Had lunch in Norrkoping at the same hotel but this time we ate in the pretty flower garden with birds singing in the sunshine. Then on thru Valdemarsvik & Vastervik where we spent the night at Stadshotellet.

July 21, 1950

En route to Karlskroma

Kalmar Castle by Kalmar Sound in the Baltic Sea, c.1880s. The castle was originally built at the end of the 13th century. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Left Vastervik at 10. Rode thru some very quaint & picturesque village, lovely homes & gardens. This part of the country – south Sweden, [is] flat & more closely populated. They are beginning to harvest the crops but the fruit is still quite green on the trees. Went thru the towns of Verkeback, Oskarshamm, lunched in Kalmar a most attractive town where we saw the old Slott with its moat & portcullis, a pretty park & rose garden. Arrived in Karlskrona about 5.

After dinner took a walk up the main street some pretty shops particularly furniture & lighting fixtures, a pretty park. This is the Annapolis of Sweden & the streets are full of very good-looking naval cadets.

July 22, 1950

Karlskrona, Parti av Salto, 1950. Via.

Rested & sat on the porch with a good view of the main street. This hotel has a beautiful ballroom & patio full of flowers & a little foundation-boy with fishes. Watched dancing after dinner animated crowd of young people.

July 23, 1950

En route to Copenhagen

Left Karlskrona at 9:30. Went thru a little town called Solverborg where the streets were so narrow that they placed a big mirror at the main intersection so you can see what is coming from the opposite direction, then thru Kristianstat Horby, Lund, where we saw the oldest cathedral in Scandinavia 10th century with mechanical clock (figures come out at noon & walk around bowing before the Christ) then to Malmo-3rd Swedish city-where we lunched at the swanky Savoy Hotel.

Malmo Castle. Photo by Falk2, Jule 16, 2013. Via.

Then visited Malmo Castle & museum, very interesting collections of pictures, sculpture, furniture, costumes, silver, porcelains, a very fine chapel collections of fauna, etc. Rode around city, prettiest apt. & residential section we have yet seen in Scandinavia, carillon with music notes for ornament, flowers everywhere & shopping section so pretty (saw a wild pheasant cross the street slowly like any tame hen) the city hall renaissance with much carving, medallions, mythological figures etc. lovely schools a lending library run on the same principle as ours, fine business houses, a very prosperous, progressive looking city.

View of Copenhagen harbor. Photo by Berit Wallenberg, July 26, 1930. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Got on the ferry at 5:30 (train from Germany goes on tracks into ferry) arriving in Copenhagen looking older by far than either Stockholm or Oslo at 8, hotel Anglerre where we had a lovely dinner served in our room bright with red & white carnations from Anne’s family in our room. Rainy evening.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Traveling with Grace: Back to Sweden!

Posted on July 7th, 2020 by

This week, Grace moves from Norway into Sweden. Special thanks go to JMM volunteer Harold Toppall for his transcriptions of Grace’s travel diary.

To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.

July 10, 1950                         

En route to Skara

Left Oslo this a.m. 8:45 weather still good. Ride very pretty around Oslo fjord & gradually out into the open country, many big farms, principle crops potatoes, hay & mustard which they raise in huge quantities & Mr. Al says they eat it a great deal with meat.

Svinesund Bridge, c. 1950-1955. Via.

At Sarpborg, a nice industrial town, we saw our last big beautiful falls (harnessed) & we crossed the border back into Sweden over a big new bridge at Svinesund (no trouble at all with customs) got the most delicious cherries here. Saw the town Uddevalla, had lunch at Stromstad a very pretty resort where we lunched at the very attractive Skagasrack Restaurant. The dining rooms in these countries are all so prettily decorated & all different.

Arrived at Stadshotelet in Skara about 5. Took a walk thru the little crooked cobble sts. , small houses with many flowers & birds in the windows. Got in just before a storm broke. Had dinner out on a porch, there is also a pretty garden where they serve in fine weather. Two men at nearby tables asked if we were Americans & struck up conversation. They had been sailors on the boats to N.Y. & were anxious talk about U.S. One offered to take me sightseeing. They didn’t like Skara (8000) too slow, nothing to do. Movies don’t open until August. Jean Crain is advertised in “En doropope Neger-Blvd”- “Pinkie” to us. American movies are favorites, with Swedish sub-titles of course.

July 11, 1950                         

En Route to Granna

Helene came in my room early this morning with letter from Betty with birthday gift-stamp case, I love it, & nice card from Charles. Rec’d cable from Birdie & Florence.

Läckö slott in Sweden. Via.

Left Skara in a pouring rain about 10. From Lidköping we made a side trip to see the old fortress castle of Läckö (12th century) on Lake Vänern but it was raining too hard to get out so we made a hasty survey of the exterior. One funny incident: a man driving a cart with a watering spray going full tilt in the driving rain.

Souvenir patch, Gullene Uttern, Granna, Sweden. Via.

We stopped in Skovde, quite a big town for lunch at the Stadshotelet, very swank. Had a particularly good smoresbrod. Then on thru Hjo, Bosarp, Habg, Jönköping to Granna on lovely spot Lake Battern in Osteregotlkand where we stay overnight at the Gyllene Uttern (Golden Otter), a very attractive place where we occupied a cute private cottage for the night. We had dinner in the loveliest dining room with window overlooking the lake & a beautiful sunset. There is a private chapel in this place which caters to wedding parties. As it was clear we decided to walk back to the cottage after dinner a distance of about 3 blocks but got lost at the turn of the road & Mr. A. had to come to our rescue.

June 12, 1950                         


Järnagatan (Järna street), with the City Hotel to the right, Södertälje, Södermanland, Sweden. Photo by Fredrik Bruno, 1944. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board, via.

Left Granna at 10, rain off & on. Stopped at Oldeshog to phone to Stockholm but they could not accommodate us tonight, so we decided to go to Södertälje near Stockholm instead of Orelbro as originally planned. We parked in front of the milk centralen & watched the townsfolk men, women & children come in with their tin cans to get the day’s supply.

Vintage postcard, Hotel Stora, Norrköping, c. 1900s. Via.

Then on thru Mjolby, Linkopsing where we saw a beautiful fountain statue by Carl Milles, Norrköping, a big city where we had lunch at hotel Stora. There is a pretty park in front of the hotel with lovely flowers & a few cacti & sickly palms which Mr. A. says are famous all over Sweden. Mr. A’s grandmother lives in this city (he was born here) & he visited her while we had lunch. We passed 5 or 6 buses from the Netherlands this morning with a crowd of laughing young people, & this afternoon we saw one of them down in a ditch while the occupants were walking disconsolately up & down the road. The road down to Sodertelje & Stockholm one of the finest in Sweden & we drove at a fast clip arriving at Stadshotelet at 5.

July 13, 1950                         


Came to Stockholm about 11 A.M. went right to American Express where nice young man from Boston took us in tow. Then we went to Royal Palace.

The Royal Palace in the Old Town, c. 1880s. Courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board, via.

They let me go upstairs in King’s private elevator (he being away) & we saw the state rooms on the 3rd floor. All very gorgeous; inlaid floors, hand painted ceilings by Boucher, huge Gobelin tapestries on walls, handsome crystal chandeliers, ormolu furniture, cases filled with amber, onyx, quartz, ivories porcelains, magnificent dinner services in peacocks blue. Then a quick tour of Stockholm, beautiful city build on islands in Lake Malar, much traffic, active business section, large bldgs., interesting Stadshuset (carillon plays each day at noon) Rylssdag, Opera house, Royal Theatre, many movie houses all showing American films. We went back to the Grand Hotel to rest before going to Bromma airport at 9 o’clock for our flight to the Arctic Circle.

Aircraft at Bromma Airport near Stockholm City, 1947. Photo by Fredrik Bruno, courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board, via. 

We started at 10:15, 48 passengers aboard. The fuselage is divided into 2 cars, separated by a garderobe & little galley. There is a magazine rack full of the latest periodicals & 3 hostesses overwhelm you with solicitude, answering questions, bringing pillows, passing chewing gum, etc. We took off very smoothly & Stockholm illuminated looks every inch a queen as we look down at her in the semi-darkness. One of the crew talks over the loudspeaker in Swedish & English. He says there are 12,000 islands, big & little, in the archipelago of Stockholm, & some 98,000 lakes in Sweden. We rise to a height of 6,000 ft. At first, we can only see a mass of wooly clouds below us like so many white sheep, while above us the sky is clear & growing brighter all the time. Sweden is divided roughly into 3 areas: coastal plains, forests, & mts. 6000 yrs. ago these mts. were covered with ice. There are many rivers winding below us which widen to lakes between the mts. & the forests. Some 20,000,000 logs are floated down these Swedish rivers during the summer season, for the pulp industry is the largest in the country. We see many sawmills, what is pointed out as the longest bridge in Sweden which at this height doesn’t look very impressive, the towns get smaller & further apart, roads almost disappear. As we go further north vegetation becomes rare.

Kiruna church in Laplan, with the Kirunacaara mountain and mine in background, c. 1940-1959. Photo by Almquist & Coster, courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board, via.

At 11 o’clock the hostesses bring us martinis with delicious canapes. We are allowed to smoke after take-off & they pass around cigarettes. We fly over Lapland, over Kiruna, the metropolis of this north county, which is the largest community in point of area which equaling that of Los Angeles, we see a huge iron mine (they take the ore from here to Naruik) & we soar higher to fly over Sweden’s highest mt. range, right over the highest, Mt. Kebnekaise, 6500 ft. In this region we see many glaciers, the Charles Rabot – named for a French explorer, being the largest. The lakes around here are still frozen & the mts, tho not so high as those in Switzerland or Canada, are thickly blanketed in snow. All this time the sun is just skimming along the horizon & the lights play softly in pastel tones over this wonderful panorama spread out some 8,000 ft. below. It is indescribably beautiful, the shell pink of the snowy crests, the jade green of the glaciers, the pale gray & beige of the rocky surfaces.

At about 1:15 we crossed the Arctic Circle 5 hrs.-1500 miles-from the North Pole & the pilot described an arc which gave us a jolting thrill. Then we each received a certificate inscribed with our names, by way of initiation. At 2 a.m., when the fiery red of the sun had turned to a bright gold & it was already as clear as noonday, the stewardesses fastened little tables to attachments in our chair arms (there is also a little slide which pushes back to disclose an ash receptacle) & they served a delicious hot lunch or breakfast, consisting of bread, butter & goat’s cheese, coffee, roast ptarmigan with vegetables, clapcake, a glass of Burgundy & later brandy.

The Stream in central Stockholm, 1945. Photo by Fredrik Bruno, courtesy of the Swedish National Heritage Board, via. 

Gradually we fly back to civilization & the big towns & bldgs. & activity, tho not so much at this hour. The farms spread out below us, in patterns of red (roofs) green (grass) & god (fields of mustard). We fly over the university town of Upsala & then as we near Stockholm the clouds bank up again like masses of candy cotton green against a pink sled & the sky grows darker as we descend & the plane makes a nose dive thru the clouds & we see Stockholm, once more looking very quiet in the half light of daybreak, coming in to see a second sunrise.

We went back to the hotel at 4:30 A.M. (Mr. A. was waiting at Bromma airport to meet us) & we slept until 11. Then over to the Palace to finish what we didn’t see yesterday. Again, I went up on the King’s elevator & we saw the 2nd floor with elaborate state rooms, interesting collection of royal portraits, sculptures, bibelots, etc. the decorations sumptuous. In dining room, the walls are covered in thick velvet & a complete porcelain service is fitted into each wall like jewelry in a jewel case.

Gondolen restaurant suspended from footbridge.  Stockholm, 1956. Via.

Then we went to the Restaurant Gondolen for lunch, a unique place on a bridge spanning one of the main thoroughfares of Stockholm at the height of the 7th story. While eating a delicious lunch we enjoyed an unexcelled view of the city & its many waterways framed in the large windows on both sides. From here we rode out to Drottingholm palace a very pleasant place on the water, particularly alluring on this fine day. There is a beautiful formal garden behind it. We went thru the private theatre on the estate built in XVII century & restored in 1944. The stage very narrow & deep, we saw several sets of scenery, the props room, many beautiful old costumes, lavishly trimmed in spangles & gold, feather headdresses, we saw miniature peep shows of play that have been given here, a large salon lined with old Greek statuary, where suppers were served to the actors after the play, some of pianofortes, etc. The benches in the orchestra are numbered, there are 2 thrones in front for the king & queen surrounded by stools for the courtiers & a few boxes high on either side, some with screens in front for those wishing to remain incognito & all of it tastefully decorated.

Saltsjöbaden, Stockholm Sweden, 1950. Via.

From here we had a beautiful ride to Saltsjöbaden, a popular lake resort where we spent a pleasant hour or two just watching all the different kinds of water craft bobbing about on the bright blue water & the people sunning themselves on the rocks & beaches or diving into the clear cold water. There are several pretty hotels here. Then back to the Grand Hotel for dinner where the food is really excellent.

July 15, 1950

Got up late, lunched at the side walk cafe [“Flust…..] across the st. while watching the crowds saunter by. Eating is a very leisurely affair in this country. Sat in the park near hotel most of the afternoon. Nice class of people sitting here. A man is taking pictures & developing them while the customer waits. We are amused at one good looking couple who are being photographed kissing & hugging one another in all manner of poses & kidding the poor old photographer for dear life. They finally get their pictures & walk off apparently well pleased with the result. Another couple pose with their big Dalmation proudly sitting between them. We buy cherries & oranges & ice-cream on a stick. Helene hold out the coins & the venders take the required amt. since we can’t understand when we ask the price of anything so we let the money talk for us. Tonight while we dine at the Grand there is a violinist & a pianist playing dinner music & the latter is a perfect showman indulging in the wildest antics.

July 16, 1950                       

Another perfect day! Went to the Filadelfia church [Filadelfiakyrkan], one of the largest in Stockholm, very modern & very simple. A lovely choir & a good soloist who sang one hymn in English. Interesting service, people plain & devout looking.

Had lunch at the beautiful Berg’s restaurant in the garden, fountains playing, soft music, lovely flowers all around, handing baskets overhead filled with huge fuchsias & gorgeous pink geraniums. Then rode out thru Djungand Park. The local population is taking full advantage of this wonderful weather. They are out in droves walking, cycling, sunbathing on the grassy slopes.

We visited Waldemarsudde, home of Prince Eugen, the royal painter who died in 1947. There is a small art gallery adjacent to the palace with many lovely painting by Linn & other artists. In the palace his rooms are always filled with beautiful fresh flowers which give them quite a lived-in atmosphere.

Before going to the China Theater, we had an ice in the car & then saw a very good variety show. There was an extremely funny Jewish comedian & some fine dancing. Back to the Grand at 10 for dinner.

July 17, 1950

Grave of Gustav Vasa and two of his wives, Uppsala Cathedral. Via.

Started out at 10:30. Pretty ride to Uppsala. This quaint old university city was formerly the capitol of Sweden. We went in the beautiful old cathedral one of the oldest in Europe. Fine stained-glass windows, handsome carved & gilded pulpit, gold sarcophagus containing remains of Gustav Vasa, many sculptured marble sarcophagi of Swede’s royalty bearing their reclining figures dressed in robes of state. We saw the Church Treasury with crowns, scepters, jewels, etc. Tombs of Swedenborg & Lenne, botanist. We rode around the campus. Buildings very interesting, names of prominent scientists on outside walls on one bldg. reminds me of Lyric ceiling. Huge library (silver bible) old palace, being restored.

Skokloster Castle logo, via.

Lunched at Hotelo Gillet (very nice for this sized town). Then a trip to Skokloster Palace picturesquely situated on Lake Malaren. On our return to Stockholm we rode over to Skansen, a high grade amusement park affording fine panorama of city. Here we heard a good band concert. There was also dancing. The flowers here are lovely, many of the varieties we have in summer, only they all seem to be much larger. There is a small zoo in the park& several old windmills. We bought some fruit here, apples from South Africa, pears from Australia, grapes from Holland. No wonder fruit is expensive here. We had dinner in a very attractive restaurant in the park.

July 18, 1950

Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, 1900-1910s. Via.

Went to Historical Museum (magnificent bldg.) Spent 3 1/2 hrs. gazing at the most extensive collection of Scandinaviana yet seen: furniture & interiors & costumes from the 15th to the present century, paintings, jewels, chariots, sleighs, coaches, hand looming [h………..] toys, doll houses, weapons, rune stones, etc. etc. Then we visited St. Seraphinis hospital, where a lovely young nurse who had spent a year at Ford Hospital in Detroit, showed us all around wards, operating rooms, etc.

At 5:30 we left Stockholm to ride to Nynäshamn where we took the boat Drotting for Visby. It sailed at midnight but before we left, we had coffee & sandwiches in the dining saloon. We had a rather rough trip in cramped quarters & no body slept much except Helene. Anne got sick toward morning. And Mr. A. said he was sick too.

Vintage travel poster, Stockholm, Sweden, 1953. Via.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


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