National Geographic : 1976 Jan
is responsible for this progress, knew the exact distance from the beach to City Hall. By coin cidence, the beach was built in Smedsudden, near the commissioner's home, and he walks the 1.3 miles to City Hall daily. "We are planning nine more city beaches," the commissioner said, "but it all depends on money." All this outdoorsiness within sight of sky scrapers is well enough, but every Stock holmer yearns for a summer home, sommar stuga, in real country. The place for a sum mer house is the Skargard, the Stockholm archipelago-thousands of islands that stretch 90 miles along the Baltic shore (follow ing pages). There the luckiest Stockholmers own or rent escape hatches that range from two-room cottages to contemporary glass ranch houses to Victorian gingerbread man sions on islets all their own. Hannah and I traveled the breadth of the archipelago on the Silja Line's Svea Regina, an overnight luxury ferry to Helsinki, 260 miles away. This is an economical as well as scenic voyage, with round-trip fares ranging from $20 without cabin to $54 for the best. The dinner was gourmet-and staggering, especially for $4.30. "Before high taxes and inflation we had 80 smorgasbord dishes; now we have cut down to 50," Capt. Bo Lund berg apologized. Fairy Tales and Politics Afloat Stockholmers like to take every pleasure they can upon their waters, and this includes theater. Plying the archipelago spring through fall, the showboat Nyttig presents an odd repertoire of fairy-tale plays for children and slashing left-wing political satires. A boat ride across Lake Miilaren can also be a de lightful prelude to an evening at Drottning holm Court Theater, on one of Milaren's many islands. This 18th-century gem, in which the cream of the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet performs works of the period, uses 200-year-old stage machinery. The most dazzling theatrical event of our stay, however, was the gala reopening of Oscar's Theater, the social highlight of the Stockholm season. The curtain could not rise on The Merry Widow until the king appeared in his box, and he exercised his royal prerog ative of arriving late. After the performance, we joined the more affluent members of the audience at Opera kiillaren, the city's finest restaurant, which Stockholm -- l o. -u AIMAN BLAIR Love's labor's won. Ann-Marie and Tomas Wingenfeldt cuddle their new baby girl (above) after a natural delivery with the husband present (top)at Stockholm's 200-year-old Public Maternity Hospital. Sweden, a world leader in health care, has twice as many hospital beds per capita as the United States.