Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Weekend in Stockholm

In imitation of Mr. Kelso, I decided that I’d attempt a video blog.  I don’t think this is the sort of thing that I’m likely to do again, but who knows. You can download my flapping lips in wmv format, if you’d like.  The rest of this post is going to be a reasonably long one, so feel free to fall asleep here.

We boarded the train at around 23:15 on Friday night, where I surprised myself by actually falling asleep for a couple of hours before arriving in Stockholm at 6am.  When we finally awoke in the foreign and surprisingly chilly city, we dropped our bags at our floating hostel and started touring the streets.

We spent the day marching, riding, photographing, laughing, eating, and napping.

We saw the Vasa, a ship from 1628 that sunk on its maiden voyage and was recovered less than 50 years ago, primarily due to 3 years of effort from one man and his home made core sampler.

We also saw a museum devoted to the fictional Swedish character Pippi LÃ¥ngstrump (North Americans would better know her as Pippi Longstocking) and took a recorded tour through dozens of miniature models carved in excruciating detail.

Since we were all poor students, we decided that dinner was a dish best served cheap: pizza. If Colin had been with us, we would’ve been banned from the pizzeria for life.  Instead, I think we got away with a few months, maybe a year, tops.  We walked in at around 8:15 and ordered our 10 pizzas.  By 8:30, they had served us all but 3 of our pizzas.  We were understanding, though, they obviously weren’t used to serving such large groups. We should’ve taken the fact that they started turning customers away from their still-open store at 8:30 as some kind of warning, but we were stupid and engrossed with delicious pizza.  I thought I’d be able to resist pineapple, banana, and curry thrown on top of dough and sauce, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

By 8:40, we got a bit impatient, and pointed out that 3 of our battalion were going hungry. They apologized and quickly rushed 2 pizzas to our seats. They started getting pissy at 8:45, trying to explain to us in broken English that since they closed at 9pm, we clearly had to leave as soon as possible.  Preferably now. We kindly explained to them that we weren’t going anywhere until they gave our friend the pizza she’d already fucking paid for. With a grumble and a chip on his shoulder, the guy did his god damn job and finished the last pizza by 8:50. He took the water and salad away and started yelling “Slut!  Slut!” (Closed! Closed!).  We put our best diplomatic hats on and pointed out that since he forgot our food, we were going to stay here as long as it took for everyone to finish their dinners, especially since the store didn’t close for another 10 minutes. At 8:55, he shut the front door and started stacking chairs on the tables, muttering “slut!” the whole time. We were out the door by around 8:59, and I swear he was going to spend the night scribbling “DON’T SERVE THESE INGRATES” signs with our pictures on them and taping them to lamp-posts around town.  We drank our unpleasant encounter away at a little Irish number described as feeling “more like a medieval dungeon than a pub”, and headed back to our hostel to remember what beds felt like.

One of the things I like the most about this whole travelling thing is the reminders it brings you of what’s really important in life. I’ve had access to closets bigger than the hostel room shared between 4 of us, but it was a place to rest our weary heads, and that’s all that any of us wanted or needed.  We woke and ate our breakfast in near silence, rendered speechless by the majestic view from our cabin windows and our half-chewed mouthfuls of banana.

Being served scrambled eggs in a bed swimming enough duvets to coat a small country is nice and all, but there’s something that just feels right about rolling up your sleeping bag and using a pocket knife to slice the cheese and bread you packed two days ago and combining them into the ever-so-delicious cheese on bread while trying to narrow in on what amazing experiences life will bring you today.

Our second day was spent touring the city’s attractions and cafes.  The Kaknäs tower was only 155m tall, so the CN-Tower virgins were a little more impressed than I was. Aquaria and Skansen were a lot more entertaining, especially Skansen’s zoo. Apparently Swedish people consider elk, bison, foxes, otters, squirrels, and bears to be exotic animals.  I almost bought a few postcards to show all you North American types their silly ways, but then I realized that a Canadian would be pretty underwhelmed if they received a postcard with a moose on it from Sweden.

We met the most interesting Hungarian while resting at a local cafe.  He was insistent that Einstein’s theory of relativity was complete bunk, and he gave us copies of pages and pages of equations which, if I understood them correctly, were a proof of how the speed of light could be broken. Well, they were a proof in the sense that I hand in proofs to my professors all the time, and they hand them back and point out that proofs are generally expected to be correct, and they have a friend who runs a burger joint, at that I should feel no shame in devoting the rest of my life to “an honest day’s work”. The Hungarian obviously had some mental issues, and he spoke with an eagerness and intensity that was all I understood from his German explanations of the Doppler effect. My German speaking physics major friend told me that she couldn’t translate what he was saying because it simply didn’t make sense.  She was saddened that a man could be so disconnected from the world and yet Sweden, the welfare state, wasn’t doing a thing about it.  Sadder yet was the thought that perhaps there was nothing that could be done. Most curious of all was the thought of yourself being in that same position: when convinced that everyone else is crazy, would you be willing to consider that obvious, self-evident things were simply wrong because the rest of the world disagrees?  Does your answer make you a coward that lacks principles, or a mature and wisened individual who can learn from and admit to your own mistakes?

A number of us wanted to end the evening at the Absolute Ice Bar, a permanent bar that’s made entirely of ice and kept at a cool -5°C, but it was full by the time we tried to make reservations. That’ll just be something to expect pictures of the next time I return from Stockholm. As a replacement, we went to McDonalds. They served me Tropicana.


6 Comments so far

  1. Mr. Kelso October 16th, 2006 1:59 pm

    Whoah – a video post and a very long text post – that’s dedication to the cause.

  2. Alex October 16th, 2006 2:02 pm

    If the cause is “masochism”, then yes. I’m getting faster at the whole blogging thing, but with the picture & video editing and dealing with the distraction that is real life, that post took me a couple of hours to finish.

    I’m thinking of visiting the UK before I leave, Kelso. Do you have any recommendations?

  3. Mr. Kelso October 16th, 2006 8:20 pm

    London, Oxford, Edinburgh.

  4. Singer October 17th, 2006 9:25 pm

    Windsor Castle is a good bet too. Go into the Horseshoe Cloister (don’t take down the chain and walk through the private area!) but from the Chapel steps look at the cloister and the third door from the left. That was my front door!

    Go also to Winchester and see the Cathedral.. God lives there!!

  5. Jamie October 19th, 2006 4:51 pm

    Get a hair-cut you hippie!


  6. Alex October 20th, 2006 2:09 am

    Too busy trying to maximize my return from capitalism. Next week, maybe.

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