Michaela Merz

Stockholm and transience

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The tax authorities and the tax consultants met in Stockholm for an exchange of views. That is always useful and each time I am astonished at how quickly the thoughts and the implementation of digitisation is advancing among the authorities.

I was very impressed by Ruanda, which had built up a new VAT system, in which the VAT due is never paid to the seller but goes directly into the account of the tax authority. According to the authority, the refund is completed within a day. And the vouchers, which the individuals receive on purchase, are really vouchers with which one can claim the money. An ingenious system for preventing fraud.

The last time I was in Stockholm was 30 years ago. To be honest, apart from the tower of the impressive town hall, which was now closed to visitors, I couldn’t remember anything. As I then climbed up this tower and took a photograph, I know that I was there. Otherwise all memories have disappeared.

I didn’t have much time and therefore I had to choose among the many attractive options. The ABBA Museum was for me the epitome of my youth. The music carries you away, the 4 musicians, who formed 2 couples, unbeatable. Therefore, I marched to the museum through the windy autumn. The admission price was excessively expensive. You can forget the Audio Guided Tour (costs extra), if you speak English, because they only read out what is written on the wall. The exhibits, the music create a wonderful atmosphere and I sank into the world of yesteryear. I enjoyed the popular songs and learnt a lot which I didn’t know. So far, so good and a good experience. But then I entered a room, where the 4 former ABBA stars, in the meantime all a good 70, look back and tell what was great, what was worthwhile. This part was also well made, but cast me into a deep crisis. Seeing transience so closely, consciously experiencing that a moment, even if it seems to last an eternity, is only the beat of a butterfly’s wing. The four on the left-hand monitor, very young, brimming with energy. How they look into the future and create melodies, which moved the whole world. And then on the right-hand monitor the 4 aged, grey, seemingly very quiet persons. Retrospectively, they have achieved much in life and as with others much has also gone wrong.

After the visit I felt downcast. I should rather have made the accompanied town hall tour without tower. On the windy way back I could admire all the old and new ships. The walk through the old town, past the Academy with the Nobel Museum, the royal palace and the Parliament helped to bring me back to earth. And then I met a wonderful delicious sweet smell and, following it, I landed in the bakery Bread and Salt. The cinnamon pastries, warm and sweet, overcame the remaining sadness.

For your trip you should note: mostly the coffee does not taste good, but I was saved by the Nespresso Promotion in the main station, which I visited twice a day. Also worth noting is that numerous taxi firms are under way with a fare system that is simply not comprehensible for foreigners. If one doesn’t watch out, the same route in another taxi can cost 100 SEK more.

When I had arranged to have lunch with a Swedish friend, about 40 elderly, very elegant men, wearing uniforms, entered the restaurant. Suddenly everyone stood up and began to sing. Well and loud. That was my cultural experience.

Stockholm is orderly, clean, transparent, with a lot to see. In October don’t forget a good jacket, hat and gloves.

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