Home Sweet Stockholm
After a long but relatively enjoyable flight from Thailand, I touched down in Stockholm’s Arlanda airport at 4 pm. Bangkok to Sweden was quite the shock. Relative to Thailand, everything was so clean. There also wasn’t a terrible stench in the air, and the weather was not too hot and not too cold. It was perfect. Plus the people were beautiful. Sweden was turning out to be everything I dreamed it would be.
After the initial shock of being in a developed country wore off, I slowly made my way to downtown Stockholm. I was dead tired, but upon arrival to my hostel, I decided to go out to dinner with my roommate; a lawyer from Korea. Despite costing me a fortune, I ordered a traditional Swedish dish that was delicious. What happened to green curry for $2 USD? After my overpriced dinner, I went back to the hostel and went to bed.
The next morning I awoke at 9 am and went to the grocery store to purchase groceries for my remaining days in Stockholm. This took me some time since everything was in Swedish. After finding the necessary basic foods to survive, I went back to the hostel and had my first bowl of cereal in seven weeks. Corn flakes never tasted so good.
The plan for that day was to meet Louise for coffee and have a brief tour of Old Town Stockholm. Louise is native of Stockholm, and I first met her in the YHA hostel in Airlie Beach, Australia. I messaged her on WhatsApp to let her know I was in Stockholm, and from that I soon had a friend in a strange and foreign city. During my travels in Australia, I also met other other Swedish people, but unfortunately they were either out of town or still traveling abroad. Meeting people all over the world is one of the many beauties of traveling. One day I just may need to do a Euro trip to visit them all.
I was supposed to meet Louise at 2 pm in Gamla Stan or Old Town downtown Stockholm, but I arrived early and went to one of Old Town’s small coffee shops and ordered a latte for $6 USD. Louise soon joined, and we spent thirty or so minutes sipping on lattes and chatting like old friends. Afterwards we walked around Old Town and visited the King’s castle. Our walk didn’t last long, and we soon found ourselves back in yet another cafe drinking lattes and conversing. Sadly Louise had to leave at 4:30 pm, but before she left she invited me out with all her Swedish friends the following night.
Once alone, I spent the afternoon and early evening walking around Stockholm. During the summer, it doesn’t really ever get dark so you can pretty much sightsee for twenty four hours straight. I didn’t have a map and used this opportunity to wander wherever I pleased without any agenda or goal. If something looked interesting, I walked to it. I have done this aimlessly walking strategy a lot on this trip and have really enjoy it mostly because you get to see a lot of things off the tourist path. Furthermore I have concluded that I really enjoy visiting cities by myself. You can do whatever you like, no negotiating or compromising. Whenever I get a job (ha) and have vacation time, I am going to have no problem taking trips by myself. In fact, I will probably prefer them.
After the walk, I headed back to my hostel. It was an eight person room, but only three of the beds were taken – paradise. That night I met a fellow American named Sydney. Sydney was in Stockholm for almost a month studying Swedish and living the life. We chatted for a bit before I went to bed. The next morning, Friday morning, I headed out for another day of hiking. I am nearing my budget for this trip, and being that museums cost money, I took to the free alternative; walking. Like the previous afternoon, I spent whole day wandering around Stockholm. My favorite place was Djurgârden island. It is basically a massive park with hiking trails scattered all over. I spent many hours hiking and sitting by the river watching the boats parade by.
I came back to the hostel around 6 pm and found my room almost entirely empty; just Sydney and I were left. Shocking since this was a Friday night. Still the quietness was a nice reprieve from the usual packed hostels. My plan for the night was to pregame at the hostel and then meet Louise and her friends out at bars. But before that I went to the front desk to try to extend my time in Stockholm. I was particularly enjoying Stockholm and didn’t want to leave Saturday morning. Upon my inquiry, I was told by reception that Sydney had beaten me to it and the rest of the beds were already taken by a group of seven arriving Saturday morning. Thankfully I could extend, I just had to change rooms on Saturday morning.
Relieved I didn’t have to move hostels, I went back to the room and pregamed with Sydney and another German girl we met in the kitchen of our hostel. After several hours in the hostel, I finally met up with Louise and her two other beautiful friends in line at a ritzy club in downtown Stockholm.
From talking to the front desk at my hostel, I learned that after 12 in Stockholm, it is almost impossible to get into clubs. The lines are long, and they charge an extremely high cover charge. Fittingly, the club we were at had a massive line. Still I was a guy with three beautiful girls, I didn’t think I would have any problem. But in a country where the majority of people are beautiful, my perceived ‘advantage’ had little if any effect on my ability to party. After sitting in line for twenty minutes and not moving, we decided to go to Spitfire. Spitfire is a bar similar to Brass Monkey in Washington DC. They play all types of music but they focus primarily on Swedish hits from the past fifteen years. It was way too packed, and everyone there was smashed. It was my kind of place. We ended up staying there until 3 am. In that time, I danced, chatted to various Swedes, and chatted with one of the bar’s employees, Lovisa. I told her I wanted to move to Sweden and needed a job. She told me I could open and close the doors for guests. I tried for ten minutes but got bored and left my post. Soon I was tired and headed home to bed.
Around 11 am the next morning I was awoken by a group of beautiful blondes entering my room. I was half asleep and literally thought I was in a dream. The first girl, whose name I can’t remember, was standing right next to my bed when I fully awoke. I didn’t have my contacts in, and all I could make out was blonde hair and black cat ears. I mumbled hello, exchanged a few courtesies, and quickly put my contacts on. From what I could tell, it was the group of seven that was suppose to arrive Saturday morning. Curious, I struck up some more conversation and was soon informed that they were all Finland on a bachelorette party. Continuing they asked me were I was from and told me that they all had several challenges to complete. One particular challenge was for the bride to receive sex tips from as many nationalities possible. Here I am wearing only my boxers, hungover, and was just asked by a group of seven women for sex tips. With them all looking at me, I felt right in the moment; the pressure was on. What was I going to say? In my defining moment all I got out was a confused “huh?” I was so nervous and taken by surprise I couldn’t even pronounce “huh” correctly. I slurred that too. Fail.
Soon the girls left for the city, and I packed my things and moved into another room for my last two nights. Sydney, if you are reading this, I still do not forgive you from taking my room. But, in all seriousness, out of every negative comes a positive. My new room was great. I met loads of new and interesting people. There was Julia from Brazil – sorry for the loss! Next were Ryan and Steven, two guys from California. Next was professional pianist (I can’t remember her name) who plays for opera and pit. Then there was Annabelle, an Australian studying to be a doctor. In the other room was a guy (missing name again) from Norfolk, Virginia. He went to the University of Texas but left early to travel and work his way around the world. At the moment he was teaching himself computer code from textbooks he ripped online. Good for him – why pay $40,000 a year to go college when he can do it for free. Last was this Irish guy who manages restaurants in London. He was on vacation viewing competition and possibly scoping out other places to live.
After moving beds, I spent the majority of the day planning the next several weeks. That afternoon I went for another walk in to see the some viewpoint over the river. Afterwards I casually drank beers in the hostel withAnnabelle and Sydney. Being Saturday night in Sweden, we all decided to go out on the town. Sydney wanted to see this Swedish band “Like Swimming” so all of us followed her to the bar. There was a steep cover, so me and the American guys decided to stay upstairs and watch some of the World Cup.
After an hour of soccer, we headed back down. The concert was almost over and the bouncers weren’t charging a cover so we went in. Next thing I knew I found myself in a grungy basement listening to a Swedish hipster band with other hipster Swedes. I only heard two songs, but I actually enjoyed their music. I was feeling pretty good at the end of the concert and decided to introduce myself to the lead guitarist. Assuming that all fans ask him the same thing, I asked him “has any fan ever asked you something remarkable; something unforgettable?” He said “no, no one has.” We finished our conversation literally chatting a little more about nothing.
After the concert our group wanted to go to another bar. It was past 12 so clubs were out of the question. No one knew were to go, so knowing one bar, I suggested Spitfire. There were no objections so we went. After about thirty minutes in the bar, Annabelle and Sydney were feeling tired and went home. Me and the Americans continued to party.
Walking around the bar I ran into Sarah, one of Louise’s friends and chatted with her for a good while. Afterwards, I ran into Lovisa, the employee I had chatted with the previous night. Immediately seeing me she asked if I was back to try my door job again. We continued chatting for a bit, and on a whim, I asked her out for drinks the following night. She said yes and gave me her contact details. With that, I left the bar and went to bed.
The next day I spent the morning finalizing some details on my trip. That afternoon, I went another long walk starting at 2 and ending at 7 pm. I walked mostly along Stockholm’s rivers and waterways. During this time, I also messaged Lovisa. Turns out she had a work party that night and wouldn’t be able to get drinks. She invited me to join, but I couldn’t go bring myself to go back Spitfire for the third night in a row. Plus it would have been all her work colleges and me. We tried to reschedule, but sadly I was leaving the next day for Oslo. Oh well!
When I got back to the hostel, I made myself a quick bowl of cereal. My plan for the evening was to go this overlook to watch the sun slowly fade over the river and Old Town Stockholm. While I was eating cereal, Annabelle was also in the kitchen preparing herself dinner. I asked her if she wanted to join me. She said yes and soon we made our way to the overlook. We found a bench, sat and talked all while watching the scenery play out our eyes.
Watching the sunset with Annabelle was of my favorite moments in all of Scandinavia thus far. It was one moments that you don’t want to end and while they are occurring you think forward to how sad you will be when this moment does end. The company was great, the weather was perfect, and the conversation was stimulating and intellectual. I felt alive and in the moment, cliche yes, but that is what life is all about.
After maybe two hours we got up and walked around Old Town. Afterwards we made our way back to the hostel and went to bed. My last day in Stockholm was over.