My Best Investment

This morning, over breakfast at the hostel, I recognised a guy I saw in a bar last night on Sodermalm. “Hello”, I thought to myself. That’s a bit freaky. And then as I got on the train this morning, I recognised another guy I’d seen in a bar a few nights ago. And then today I saw a young guy and a girl I recognised from Narvik last week. And then tonight, wandering around Sodermalm, I recognised the woman who I’d seen playing at one of those lunchtime concerts. I’m beginning to think Stockholm isn’t that big after all. Or maybe it’s just that the experience of this trip is so intense that I’m remembering everything quite vividly? Or maybe I’m spending too much time in bars? I’m not actually…

The woman from the concert smiled at me, in recognition that I was one of the faces she also recognised from the concert. To be honest, her band was pretty boring, even if they did perform a song by former Perth band, “The Waifs”. Although “Little Failures” received a great write-up in one of the local freebie newspapers, they absolutely did nothing for me. It was two chicks and their guitars (with a bloke on bass) singing mournfully depressing tunes without too much passion. Fine if you like that kinda stuff, but it’s just not me.

The second act, though, was excellent. Looking like a cross between two other famous Swedish singers, Shirley Clamp and Helen Sjoholm, Anna Ericksson sang with strength and passion. Although she could do with a bit of work on her stage presence, I was really very moved by her singing and songwriting. A little bit like “Everything But The Girl”, in some respects, she had a male pianist accompany her. I was most moved when she sang a couple of those deep, dark, depressing numbers in a minor key that only the Swedes, it seems, know how to do best. Magic stuff.

Unfortunately, the rain started to come down half way through her performance. But it was nice summer rain, and I just sat there enjoying getting wet. Back in Sydney I would have run for the hills without an umbrella, darting from awning to awning to get through in the wet. On holiday, though, when it rained again later, I just stood under an awning and waited for it to end. It’s a wonderful feeling NOT to have to worry about time.

Oh, and also, I guess it’s because there’s a decided lack of awnings on Swedish buildings. I guess it’s because of the problems snow would cause. It seems, though, whenever it rains, an umbrella appears above every Swede, as if by magic.

Otherwise it’s been a day of sight-seeing thanks to the Swedish public transport system. I’ve got to say the best value investment I’ve made on this trip is the month long public transport card. I’ve used it heaps already. This morning, I hopped on the train for a while to see some of the outer suburbs, and then this afternoon, I hopped on Bus 47 to Waldemarsudde for a bit of sightseeing around Djurgaden. When the bus route came to an end, the bus driver said to me, “This is the end of the line. You can get off here, or you can come back with me in five minutes”. I took a couple of photographs, stretched my legs, and was straight back on the bus. It’s excellent value if you’re ever gonna visit Stockholm.

I also went for a quick look at the area I’m moving into for the next few days: near Skanstvus T-Barnen on Sodermalm. Within eyeshot of the famous Globen, it seems like a really nice area, and the accommodation looks good from the outside. The area seems a little bit groovy, a little bit up-market, nice record shops, a little bit leefy, and the bars seem a little bit lezzie. I’ll be right at home :)

It’s my last night at Fridhemsplan because I made friends today with a bloke who has moved into my room in the hostel. He’s very chatty, and we spoke about our respective travel plans, including his which has involved riding a bike all the way from Hamburg. “So where is your wife”, he asked me, and of course I replied I don’t have one, nor do I have children. “Me neither”, he told me, adding that his last girlfriend preferred 5-star holidays to “the crazy cycle holidays I like”.

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