Saturday, 12 July 2008
Even though yesterday Marga explained to me where the tram stop was, this morning I was so confused that I completely forgot. I wandered around the whole neighborhood, but I couldn’t find it. In my desperation, I was even ready to let my “torrente” pride aside and ask somebody for help, but nobody was on the street. When I was losing any hope to catch my train, I saw a young man and asked him where the tram stop was. He gave me directions to a completely different stop. I thanked him and ran. When I was there, I read the schedule, looked at my watch and took a decision, I’ll get number 11 instead of 9. I was very stressed, looking constantly at my watch (well, at my mobile phone, because I have no watch). The tram finally arrived at 7:41. I stepped in and I crossed my fingers. Miracles can sometimes happen.
The tram stopped. I stepped out, and I found the pedestrian light was in red. Looking at the clock, I still had some minutes left. Breathe in, breathe out.
As soon as it switched to green I run towards the station. Once inside, I quickly looked at the information panel to find the correct platform (or did I already know?). Platform 3. Still a door to cross… Yes! The train was still there! Oh, thanks God! I had even time to immortalize that happy moment. Wonderful! 🙂
Once in the train, I wrote on my diary some notes over the previous days in Göteborg.
Ha anat d’un pèl, però ja estic dins el tren camí de Stockholm.
Then, the conductor arrived and asked for tickets. Hopefully for me, I bought a “ticketless” train ticket, and I only had to present my Spanish ID to check that I wasn’t traveling for free. Among others things, I started to think about philosophical and social issues. How to help others? How to make a better world? Volunteering? In what? However, I didn’t arrive at any satisfactory conclusion. At some moment I looked through the window and wrote:
El paisatge és maco.
Around 13h we arrived to Stockholm. It took me a while to orient myself (even to go out of the station) and find the hostel, but I finally arrived there. In the reception room, I found a Dala horse, a typical Swedish symbol. It was 14h07, but I had to wait until 15h to check in, so I took a seat and relaxed.
A la fi, després de mitja hora de caminar, he arribat a l’hostal. No rebosen simpatia, però de moment pareix que està bé. Ara faig temps a la recepció pel checkin…
The dorm was not very… how to say, luxurious. I had to share with 7 or 8 more people, and there were no windows, so you can imagine. It was a bit claustrophobic. Anyway, I left my clothes there and took my camera and valuables with me. Just in case. 😉
I left the hostel as soon as possible. I only had one day to visit Stockholm, so I had to run and select what I wanted to see. First thing, go near the water. Walking along the canal (or river, or sea, or whatever you wanna call it) is amazing.
Some people even had a kind of “private” wooden dock.
While I was approaching the center city, I found some buildings which architecture got my attention. Maybe they are not so special, but I was on my “photo per minute” mode, so…
There were also some interesting boats on the docks. Some even seemed to be there as part of a museum, with an explanation poster.
Soon enough, I had a view of my first goal. On the left, the City Hall tower. Heavily recommended by Marga, I could not miss it. On the right, the city center, my second goal. 🙂
When I arrived to the City Hall, I found plenty of tourists like me, taking pictures of everything. I don’t blame them. The garden and the sights to the city are so beautiful that you cannot resist the temptation.
I enjoyed the sights, looking at the boats navigating and at “the other side”. Like the day before at Göteborg, someone was getting married. I guess that a sunny Saturday is a perfect day to do it. I wished I could just lay down on the grass, and sunbath as other people were doing, but I had a lot to do. Not that I was stressed, but I was very excited to see the rest of the city (before the sun goes down).
In the interior of the City Hall, two girls were playing with a Dala horse, trying to climb on it. I don’t remember if they finally could do it, but it was certainly a lot of fun. On the other side, the Door. It was almost 5 o’clock, and a long queue was in front of it. Where did that door give access? Wait… You don’t know it? That door was the access to the Tower!
This was the second stressful moment of the day (first one was catching the train). I wanted to go up, but I had a very little probability of going up. As I said, it was almost 5 o’clock, and the tower closed at 5:30. Of course, there was a limited number of people allowed to stay in the tower at the same time, and you need at least 30 minutes to visit, so 5 was the limit. I started to panic. Ten minutes before closing, a tourist guide came out and told us to leave. We had to wait until someone came down to enter.
– You have no chance. Come back tomorrow.
What to do? Should I abandon and continue to my next goal? Why the hell did I waste so much time looking around like a fool? I should have come here much faster! No way! I cannot leave! I have to go up! Against all rational thinking, I decided to stay in the queue, and pray, even if it seemed pointless. After several minutes of pure anguish, 3 people came down. At that time, I was third on the queue. 😉
– I did it!
Entrance was definitely closed after I went in. I know, I’m a lucky bastard.
As you can imagine, I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Everybody on the tower was smiling, and Tux was no exception.
At a certain point, I stopped taking pictures. I wanted to actually “enjoy” the sights. I wanted to feel the fresh air on my face, and breathe in to retain it forever. When you detach yourself from your camera, you really feel special. I wished I could stay there for a longer time. I really recommend you to come earlier in the morning, so you can stay for a while, and observe the city without pressure, at your own pace. Don’t rush.
A Chinese girl (or was she from Taiwan?) that was traveling alone asked me to take a picture of her, and then in return she took a photo of Tux and me. She was very happy to be there, and she told me she was traveling all around Europe. She was carrying a book guide with all the interesting points to visit. As you know, I rarely carry guides with me. Why? I don’t look at them anyway. We shared our experiences while we were going down the tower. Time was over, and they were throwing us out the building. It was nice to have someone to talk to. Downstairs we parted, because she wanted to take a boat and I was going directly to the city center. Later on, however, I would find her again. No, I don’t have a photo of her. 😛
My next goal was to visit the old town, Gamla stan in Swedish, also recommended by Marga. You don’t need any guide to visit it. Just walk through the streets. You will find your way.
When I was waiting to cross a pedestrian walk, I found another lost object hanging from a traffic light. Then, while I was on the main street, plenty of tourists. I also found some “trileros” trying to fool innocent people and win some cash. These people are everywhere! Where was the police? 😦
I walked away, bought some postcards for my family, and went to the Royal Palace.
Some minutes after I arrived, the guard changed, and some Spanish tourists filmed the event. I just stood on the side, watching. Why do you want a video of the guards? As we say in Spanish, “para gustos, colores”.
Skeppsbron is a long street on the eastern part of the old town, with very good sights. I went to the statue of Gustav III, and sit down for a while, looking around me. I’d already visited the old town. What next? Maybe go back and see the western part? Maybe.
I walked down the street, and before reaching the end, I turned right. I was back on the small streets. What a difference! Before I had a big space in front of my eyes, and now I was confined between houses.
I found this painting in an art gallery. I don’t remember the name of that symbol, but it is very common in Sweden. During the summer solstice, people dance around it and then they burn it. The rest of the collection was also interesting, but I had no time to look at it. I continued to walk through the streets, and arrived to the end of the old town. There was a square, with lots of police cars (and vans). At last I saw how they looked like. Strong. They gave me the impression that you shouldn’t mess up with them. They were looking for someone. Maybe the “trileros”?
I made sure there was nothing more to visit on the island, and continued my route towards a third goal: “explore the unknown!” 🙂
I remember that moment as a very happy one, and wished I could stay more time. Maybe living in Sweden for a couple of months. People seemed to enjoy the summer. Sitting everywhere, drinking some beers, sunbathing… Stockholm looked very cosmopolitan to me. They also have cycling lanes!
Södermalm, a.k.a. “the other side”
Then, after I crossed the bridge to visit the other side, I found a parking with city bikes. Coming from the Netherlands, where using a bike is so common, it felt like a blessing to see a bike again. I was tired to walk. I approached them, and looked for some instructions. I guess there were some rules. I could not find any, so I supposed you could use them to move around freely. One was unlocked, so I took it. These city bikes are not as comfortable as the Dutch ones, but they looked very robust. Prepared to be ridden for many different people. I also found a pump nearby. After some adjustments, I was prepared to visit the rest of the city by bike. Yuppie!
First thing I wanted to do is to go up the Gondolen, the restaurant in top of the tall building in the photo. Marga told me that the sights were also wonderful from there. With the bike it was quite easy. I climbed a street and reached it in a few minutes. Taking pictures from the restaurant itself was not allowed, but I went to a nearby street and enjoyed the sights for a while.
I remember that I even left the bike unlocked to take the pictures, and nobody stole it. Amazing! I guess that I was very fortunate (or maybe people don’t steal bikes as in Holland). Cycling was a real advantage. Apart from the fun, I could move really quick. The only question now was: where? I had no idea what to visit next, so I decided to just follow my “intuition” and go around with the bike. Let’s go for a little bit of adventure! 😀
Wandering, I found a children playground, and I decided to leave our “lovely” baby toy on a bench. We found that toy the first night we spent in Sweden, and we carried all along our trip, in the car, because it made a funny sound. However, it was time to get rid of it, as I didn’t want to carry it back to Delft. I thought that here a child could find it and play with it. I don’t like to “throw” things away, even if they are used, so that was a perfect place.
Nearby the playground there was a church, called Katarina kirka (kirka is church in Swedish). This church was surrounded by a beautiful garden and cemetery. It seemed a very quiet and peaceful place, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to enter. You could not ride a bike inside, so I stepped out and walked holding it with one hand. The other hand was busy taking pictures. It was very quiet indeed, like an oasis of peace. Several people were sitting in the grass, others were sleeping on a bench, taking a rest. I had to make a great effort to not stop. I didn’t enter in the church neither. I prefer open spaces, and time was running out. I escaped through another exit, and saw a curious garden on a terrace of a colliding building.
I continued through a commercial zone, plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and people walking with shopping bags. Before crossing the street, I also saw some people that seemed to have no roof and were drinking on a park. The police was asking them some questions, and inviting them to go elsewhere. Two worlds in one. What a difference with the peaceful garden I just left! As you can already imagine, I didn’t stop in any café or clothing shop. I just went straight on. After descending some stairs, I discovered a big square with a half moon shaped building. It seemed like a university faculty to me, but it is apparently used for apartments and designed by Bofill. 😛
Some streets further away, between Sankt Paulsgatan and Hornsgatan, I took a rest in a typical park with flowers, benches and a central fountain. I think it is called Mariatörget. I left my bike where I could watch it, and sit down on a lonely bench to eat what I had left. I needed some rest, and time to recapitulate over my journey. Day was drawing to an end. Then, just in front of me, I saw 2 men playing “petanca”, and to the left, several players more. They were throwing the balls with one hand, and holding the beer with the other, as we do at home.
– Me va fascinar el nombre de petanques. Vaig comptar quatre pistes. Se veu que és un esport popular a Estocolm. Li he de comentar a en Curro i en Tolo.
In total, I counted 4 play fields. I didn’t know that Swedish loved that sport as much as we do. Cool!
I left the park at the right time, just to find some boats and building illuminated by a reddish sun. I took the same photos as on my way forward, but now with a different light. Then, as crazy as it may sound, I met the Asian girl again. She was still walking with her guide. I told her about my bike, and where and how to take it. What a coincidence, no? 🙂
My next stop was Kungsträdgården (the King’s Garden). It is a very popular place to meet friends and for open-air concerts. Some children were jumping on an elastic game. I felt a bit jealous. But that’s not all. At the end of the square, I found an exposition called Signspotting. Some signs were really hilarious. Please take a look at the project site. I also took a photo describing the project.
While I a was taking some pictures, two girls approached me. “Uep! Ja he lligat!”, I thought. However, their intention was to warn me about my “illegal” behavior. They asked me if I was aware of the “rules” governing the city bikes. I said “No” with my face of never having broken a dish, and they gently explained to me that I have to return the bike before 21:00. Otherwise, I would get a fine. Glups! Bikes were not free, after all. You normally need a pass to get them, so I was just being too lucky. I asked for a place to leave the bike, and thanked them for their valuable help. They saved my life! I immediately returned and locked my “borrowed” city bike. Ufff… I almost ended up in jail! :O
Relieved, I continued to look and laugh at the signs until I considered it was time to go home. It was getting dark, and I had no bike.
Back to the hostel
On my way back to the hostel, I passed by Sergels Torg, another famous square. I particularly like this statue:
Then, near the Konserthuset, I heard some loud music. I was very curious to see from where it was coming. It was some streets further away. Maybe an open-air concert? Who knows? Turning right, I arrived at the intersection between Kungsgatan and Sveavägen. In front of me I had the Stockholm Heart Center, a kind of health center surrounded by shops. Some people were having a big party or playing Singstar (or both) in top of the buidling.
Well, after that, I really felt tired, and headed to the hostel. Time to go to sleep. No more sightseeing!
Finding the hostel was not so easy, but I finally arrived (around 22:30), and went directly to the kitchen to eat some processed food I bought at a 7-eleven. I was not really hungry, but I figured out I had to eat to recover energy (“amb no menjar se moren”). Kitchen was fully equipped, with a lot of microwaves, fridges, cabinets. All had their number and a lock. I was not alone. A family was heating some Tupperware, and a couple was sitting two tables away.
After dinner, I wrote some postcards for my family. I was tired, but happy. What a long and wonderful day! 😀
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Well, Saturday had been a wonderful day, but when I entered the dorm, I was not so sure about the night. Imagine sleeping with other 10 unknown people. I don’t mind sharing, but when people arrive drunk at 2 o’clock in the morning and make noise until 4, it’s not so pleasant. If we add the fact there were no windows and now and then someone was loosing “air”, we have a complete “crazy” night. Hopefully enough, I had a shower before going to sleep, and I was so exhausted I slept pretty well (under the circumstances).
Next morning, I woke up quite early. I didn’t want to miss my flight back! Before leaving the hostel I had the “continental” breakfast, which was worth and compensated the “crappy” dorm. I ate all I could. I still had a long journey! 🙂
Walking along Sankt Eriksgatan. I found a poster of In Flames, a popular band of melodic death metal. I’m not really a fan of the group, but one my friends told me they are from Göteborg, and that I should absolutely see them. Of course, I had no time for that, but at least I took a picture of the concert’s poster. 😉
I walked until I arrived to St Eriksplan, and then I went through a park called Vasaparken.
I got a bit lost (as usual), but I found my way and arrived to the bus station on time. Who was not in time was the bus. It was supposed to arrive at 11:20, but had some delay. In the meantime, I still had to do something: send my postcards!
It seems easy, but when you look for a mailbox you can never find one, and if you are in a hurry, it is even worse. Hopefully, I found one at the end of the station. Mission complete! I can go in peace. 🙂
The rest of the journey back was quite straightforward. You can follow it looking at my last set of pictures. Wait for the plane, fly, land at Eindhoven Airport, go by train to Delft, find my bike, and cycle home!
Two coins and a box of Läkerol candies is all I had left.
Amb les 24 corones que me sobraven he comprat un paquet de Läkerols. Encara me queden un parell de monedes per Unicef.
Back to the present
Today, 1 year and 5 months later, I still have those 2 crown coins, one from Norway and another from Sweden (Finland uses the Euro), on my personal sanctuary. Candies “disappeared” a long time ago. 😀
I can’t believe I finally finished writing the whole story. I thought it would never end. Maybe I skipped some events, but the essential is there. I also made a lot of pictures. Maybe too many. The trip was so exciting that we couldn’t stop pressing the shutter, and afterward it was too difficult to make a “narrow” selection. Sorry for that. Despite this, I hope you liked reading this trip diary as much as we did traveling.
Now, I would like to thank my fellow travelers, Marga and Toni, who helped me “remember” some lost passages when writing these posts and took care of me and Tux during our adventure. Thanks also to all the people who helped us on our way: camping owners, Marga’s friends, Hurtigruten crew and a long list of anonymous people. Finally, thanks to you for reading this. 😉
Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year!
By the way, when do we start our next trip? I’m ready!
From Göteborg to Stockholm
Walking tour inside Stockholm