Into the Millennium
We saw the building in which Mikael Blomkvist lived. We saw it, almost by accident. We were walking to a Lebanese restaurant recommended by the concierge at our hotel when I noticed the street name. Registered the street name.
“Bellmansgatan,” I said. “This is the street. Blomkvist’s street.” So we followed the numbers, up up up the steep, cobblestone street until we reached the end. Number 1 Bellmansgatan. And there it was, a bold, beautiful red building.
We stood and admired it. Admired ourselves for being there.
A location come to life. Fiction realized.
A woman walked toward us, pushing her bicycle the few, final feet uphill.
“I live around the corner,” she said. “You know, that is where he sometimes wrote,” she said. “Up there, in the tower.” She pointed to the tower at the building’s corner.
“Blomkvist?” I asked.
“No, no, Stieg Larsson,” she said. “He liked the views over the water, to Gamla Stan. Blomkvist lived there,” and she pointed to the door reached by a bridge. “But they used the lower entrance for the film.”
“It’s really number 5,” she said.
“They started filming in May,” she said. “Finally, winter was over and it was warm outside. Finally, it was warm outside. Trees were blooming. Then one morning we stepped outside and everything was covered in white. White paper covered everything!” She laughed. “So our winter was not yet over.”
“Stieg Larsson wrote in that tower?” my husband asked. He seemed as surprised as I was with that bit of information. And pleased, as I was.
“Well, enjoy our Stockholm,” she said as she walked away, around the corner.
“You think it’s true?” I asked Bob.
“What? That he wrote there? Wouldn’t you, if you could?”
I nodded. It was quite a tower.
A couple was walking up the hill. Young, maybe late teens.
“Is this the place?” the girl asked us.
“Yes,” I said. “Right here.”
“Oh, wow,” she said. “Where are you from?”
“New York City,” my husband said.
“Oh, wow,” she said again. “And we’re just from Hong Kong.”
“Hong Kong’s not a just,” I said. They smiled, sweetly, took some pictures, walked away.
A slightly older couple soon appeared. Maybe mid-twenties. “Hi, we’re from Paris,” the woman said. “Where are you from?”
“New York City,” I said.
“Oh, wow,” the man said. “The Big Apple.”
We were wow-ing people right and left.
We walked around the same corner the woman with the bike had walked around. The street was cobblestone, lined on both sides with pale ochre-colored houses that glowed in the evening sun. We entered Tabbouli, a Lebanese restaurant where we had a delicious meal of shrimp, lamb, salad and lime sorbet. It was, we were later told, the Balkan restaurant where a shootout had taken place. In the book. Or in the movie. Either the Swedish or American version. It got confusing, maybe because we ate too much, or because we were so relaxed in that most relaxing of cities. We had read the books, saw both versions of the movie twice each, but couldn’t place the shootout at a Balkan restaurant.
It didn’t matter. We were here, well-fed and happy.
“Maybe we should have taken the tour,” Bob said. “Then we would know for sure.”
“Maybe. But then we would have to have been somewhere at a specific time…”
“So here we are.”
“This street is wonderful,” I said as we left the restaurant, stepped outside. “Look how it glows in the sunlight.”
“The setting sunlight.”
“We could live here, right here, in a house in the bend,” I said.
“You couldn’t,” my husband said. “There’s the winter. You couldn’t take the cold.”
We settled into a comfortable walk downhill, toward our hotel. It was evening, the tail end of August. It had been a gorgeous day, sunny, high in the 60’s, but now there was a nip to the air, enough so that I wasn’t the only one wearing a jacket. A sweater. A scarf.
One of the above. All of the above.
“There’s the winter,” I said.
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