Friday, September 18, 2009

So... I'm in Stockholm

What a day, what a day, what a day.

Today was a day of nothing, and then something, and then planning (which is, inherently, nothing.) Something smells like a wet dog. And I'm pretty sure it's not me. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure.

I woke up, stuffed my face, and headed out to the bus. Which was late. But then it was there – and so I jumped on, and headed down to the real bus terminal for my bus to Stockholm. No trains for this guy, not when a bus is half the price. What could possibly go wrong right? It's a nice bus – maybe there will even be movies, like on the greyhound. There were no movies, like on the greyhound. But at least there was a washroom. No one pees standing up in a bus washroom. It makes equals of us all.

O.K. well some people pee standing up – but they learn soon enough. It's like the age old adage of peeing into the wind. Some things you just need to learn the repercussions of all on your own. And in this case they're quite similar.

So on the bus I march, but we're not leaving. Why are we not leaving? Because two Asian travellers printed out a ticket confirmation, but did not get real tickets. The drive would, as such, not let them on. But he would wait ten minutes for them to figure themselves out. I'm not going to lie, it was tooth and nail at the end, and I was more than delighted that they made it back in time. It would have been a real down, otherwise.

So then the eight hour bus trip began. Norway, which blurred into Sweden at some point (unnoticed by me, and unannounced by the driver) is a lot like Northern Canada. Birch trees, lakes, rivers, valleys, forests. It's fantastic. It would have been nice to come across these familiar sites later on in my travels, but it's nice to be reminded of the better parts of home, nevertheless.

I wish I could say more about the journey, but I can't really. I was awake, and then asleep, and then awake, and then asleep. At one point I had to turn my head away from the person next to me, as I awoke. I realized, far too late, that for the last half an hour, my mouth had been open, with little bits of spittle forming on my lower lip, possibly running down along my beard. My head was angled at such a degree that it must have looked like a zombie mid attack, and as I awoke with a great intake of air, it created quite the distressing scene. Without saying a word, my seat partner began to look vehemently for another seat. There were none. She was stuck. I then fell asleep again. This process would be repeated several times over the next few hours. At no time were seats available for her to make her escape.

And then I was in Stockholm. And the bank machine wouldn't give me money. Which was great. You know, I loved it. It gave money to other people – just not me. It claimed there was a problem with the machine, but I don't buy that for a moment. So, there I was, without money in a new city. So what did I do? I bought a bus pass. A seven day pass. I'd use it for six days here, so that would make sense, yeah?

Well – Stockholm is a very small city. And at no time should one do anything but walk. I am going to have to become very creative to figure out how to be lazy enough to warrant this purchase. And warrant it I will!

After taking the bus to my hostel, because I have no need for a ten minute walk, not with my bus pass – in a free handy red flip folder pouch thing (that you might keep a birth certificate or something like that, in,) - I checked in. Once again, I was given the hostel discount without having my card. Which is, in theory, stolen. I paid for my membership, and all that – but the card is gone. But I have a copy. And this is doing me just as well, thus far.

So there I am, standing at this hostel, and I realize there's no free internet here. What am I to do?! My roommate is a Japanese guy who was pretty nifty, but he's leaving tomorrow – so, I'll leave him be. So I march down to the reception, is what I do, and I say “Where's the bank? And do you have a washing machine here?” Smelling me, he says something along the lines of, if they didn't, they'd order one in. It comes out sounding more like “Yes, it's 35K” though. And then he marks the location of a bank on my map.

Out into the world I go.

Stockholm is one dark city. Very pretty at night, don't get me wrong, but very dark. There are so few streetlights, that I feel I'm stuck in a copy of Gotham by Gaslight, or Jack the Ripper London. Until I reach the main town, then the adverts create more than enough illumination, you see. So there I am at the bank. It doesn't work either. Great. I love it.

Off to the grocery store. I fail here – and find a convenience store offering me pear juice. I love pear juice. Why they have it everywhere here in Scandinavia, and nowhere in North America is beyond me. So, having already got used to the terrible prices in Oslo, I hand over my 19K and drink my delicious drink.

Then I go to McDonalds, and enjoys two 10K cheeseburgers (look – it was late, and I don't know where the grocery store is. Forgive me.

Here's the thing though. A cheeseburger is 10K. And that's fine. I can dig a two dollar cheese burger, but what I don't understand is the eight dollar Big Mac. Never mind that that's too much for a Big Mac anywhere, but it's also the price of four cheeseburgers. Who would say “please, give me one big mac” when they could have four cheeseburgers?! That does NOT make sense.

I imagine many cheeseburgers in my future.

Thank you everywhere for accepting my credit card.

On the way home I found a new bank. This one worked. All is right and well in the world.

So – you may be asking yourself, self – if he couldn't get free internet access, how is he posting this? Well – once more I asked at the reception, and they said that there was wifi on the boat. Bear with me for a moment here. On the boat – outside the hostel – is a magical place. You see, it's actually part of the hostel, and had I known better and had more money to spend, I would be staying on it. Sleeping on it. Rocking with it.

It's a real boat! You'll see. You'll see a picture and then think “my god, that really is a real boat.” Wait for it.

Do you see? I wonder if it could up anchor and sail away, if need be? So this is where I will be spending time writing, and reading, and researching, and what not. It's a wonderful place and also has a common room. Full of Germans. Every hostel common room around the whole world is full of Germans. And this is not a problem – except that they're all kids again, on a school trip. Someone explain German school to me – how are they all travelling the world with their teacher? Is it a full year school system?

Anyway – that's all from me right now. I have been buffering an episode of Dr. Who as I write this (I'll stop mentioning that show from here on out) and it's finally ready. The download speed here? Not speedy enough.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Things have been busy (complicated) on my end lately...but I'm back in TO. Glad to know you've embarked on your one year trip. I'll be following you :)
    -Jenny from the block (TO)


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