Noilly Prattle: You get what you pay for

Sunday, August 10, 2014

You get what you pay for

     Watch out for those things that seem to be bargains, or getting something for nothing. There's no such thing as a free lunch, unless you make it yourself. But even then you have to pay for the ingredients.

Drottingholm Palace
Confidencen Palace Theater
        I recently experienced an interesting study in contrasts to illustrate the point. We were in Stockholm for a few days to attend a couple of operas of the summer stock variety. Both were staged in the concert halls of palaces—the Drottingholm Palace Theater and the Confidencen Palace Theater in Stockholm, Sweden.

        The illustration of the point, folks, is in a couple of boat rides—one paid for and one included in a 3-day transit pass. Both of the theaters are several kilometers from the center of Stockholm which is a city built on land surrounded by water. That being the case there is a considerable amount of water traffic as well as the usual metro, tram and buses of urban transportation.

boat to Drittingholm
on the boat to Drottingholm
         We opted for a boat to get to the Drottingholm Palace opera venue, a ride that takes about an hour. We bought two tickets and some sandwiches and nachos and an energy drink to have a picnic on the palace grounds while waiting for the curtain to go up. The ride was quite comfortable with pleasant weather for sitting out on the rear deck admiring the scenery. Many of our fellow passengers were also going to attend the opera; we recognized many of them strolling as we were having our picnic lunch. Before the show a lecture by a Harvard University professor informed us that Mozart was only 14-years old when he wrote the opera we were to attend called Mitridate, Re di Ponto. It was the breakthrough opera that got Mozart recognized as a serious opera composer—at only 14. We returned to downtown Stockholm in a chartered bus and got back to the hotel around midnight.

from the boat to Drottingholm
picnic lunch at the palace

Mitridate: Re di Ponto - cast curtain calls


boat to amusement park
Nobel Prize Museum on extreme right - Gamla Stan
        The following day we had most of the day to spend sightseeing around Stockholm, especially around the Old Town district known as Gamla Stan. It is similar to the old Town in Tallinn, though larger in scale and without evidence of an old wall. The tourist information agent we talked to told us that with could ride one of the boats from Gamla Stan to an island garden with our 3-day pass at no extra cost. Who can pass up a freebee? Nobody apparently, because when we got to the boat landing there was a large cr owd already queued up and we almost turned around and walked out, but thought better of it and waited in line. After all it was a freebee. After some push and shove and a little subtle elbowing, we finally arrived on the boat which was crowded enough to sink the ship. All well and good, but we appeared to be approaching a junk yard on the other shore not the promised "garden", but on closer inspection it turned out to be an amusement park. That, of course, explained why the boat was so full of people.

on the no-cost boat the the junk yard
boat landing at the amusement park

this horror show goes upside down
         Not being in the mood for either loosing my lunch on a roller coaster, or having a heart attack on a thingie that raises you up and drops you for a heart-stopping several seconds and suddenly jerks to a stop a few feet from the ground, we decided to move along and find the tram to take us back to the center and go to our hotel for a nap.

the lamp lighter -
lighting the candles
of the  footlights
conductor and harpsichord player
        In the evening, with a hankering for some junk food, we decided to dine at a Burger King before going on to the Confidencen Theater for another opera. This was also one by Mozart, his well-known The Marriage of Figaro. It was mostly interesting in that it was presented in the 18th Century style of the original production (conducted by Mozart himself) with a small Baroque orchestra and authentic period instruments, period costumes and sets with the stage dimly lit by candlelight. It gave an interesting impression of being in the theater back in the late 1700s.

cost of The Marriage of Figaro at the Confidencen Theater in Stockholm
        There was no public transportation available after the show, so we had to walk through the woods for about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the nearest metro stop. But all's well that ends well and we had a short but enjoyable learning experience in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. 

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