Hej då!

When we saw a nearby woman on the bus with a “crew” sticker on her luggage, we knew we had made the right choice about getting to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. It was Sue’s last day in Stockholm, and we were considering the best way for us to get to the airport, and for me to come back.

We had three choices to make, all with their own pros and cons. The cost of a one-way ticket on the Arlanda Express (the twenty minute high speed rail link between Central Station and Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport is 260 SEK (currently about 38 AUD). The cost of the airport bus (Flygbussarna) (which takes about forty minutes) is 99 SEK (currently 15 AUD). The cost of using the public transport card we had already paid for was effectively nil.

Although it took us fair bit longer to get there (compared with the express train and the bus, the public transport option takes about sixty minutes) it took us directly to the terminal we needed (Terminal 5), gave us a brief tour of the neighbouring landscape, and meant I was able to accompany Sue without exceeding my budget for the day. To catch public transport from Central Station to Arlanda, you simply get on commuter train (pendeltåg) to Märsta, and then (at the end of the line) walk a couple of hundred metres to the bus stop and catch a 583. Although there are other options to go via Arlanda C, I think there’s an additional payment you need to make. So if you’re budget conscious and you want to find a “free” way to go to Arlanda Airport, and you’re not overly concerned about travel time, this is certainly a good option.

It’s been really great travelling with Sue over the last two and a half weeks. It’s been great to share some adventures with a friend I’ve known for over thirty years. I think she understands the “Stockholm Thing” now. The big “tourist thing” of our final day together was a visit to the Hallwyska Museet. As explained on the museum’s website

Hallwyl House at No 4 Hamngatan was built between 1893-98 to designs by Isak Gustaf Clason (1856-1930), the most renowned architect in Sweden at the time. Among his other famous works is Nordiska Museet (The Nordic Museum). Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl wanted a Stockholm home built to their own specifications; Wilhelmina needed ample space for her steadily growing collections, and for Walther there was to be an office wing from which he could run the family business empire. During the years of construction, Wilhelmina kept a close watch on progress and often visited the building site. Wilhelmina always planned for the house to become a museum, and in 1920 Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl donated their Stockholm mansion together with its contents to the Swedish State. The terms of the bequest stipulate that the house must remain essentially unchanged. Wilhelminas vision became a reality in 1938 when the Hallwyl Museum was first opened to the public, eight years after her death. The house has been preserved exactly as it was left, and situated among the objets d’art are personal peculiarities including a chunk of the Count’s beard and a slice of their wedding cake.

I’d visited the museum on a previous trip to Stockholm, but was keen for Sue to see it also as one of the “must do” experiences. With an interest in history and architecture, I knew it was something we would enjoy. We had previously planned to visit on a Saturday when they have an English language tour, but never quite got around to it. So we went on the Swedish language tour. I could follow a fair bit of what was being explained, as it wasn’t all that different to the English language notes provided to us. And of course, the guide spoke English, and so occasionally he would offer us an English-language aside for bits and pieces of information not covered by the notes. We both enjoyed the tour very much.

It was also a day for a bit of shopping, as Sue was keen to buy some presents for the children of a family she is visiting in Singapore on the way back to Australia. One little boy is going to be very excited when he receives a Swedish policeman’s uniform. Sadly, they didn’t come in my size or else I’d have been buying one also.

Minutes after seeing Sue off at the airport, I was back on the bus and train, and stopped in for a drink at Torget. Amusingly, they were screening Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. It was a conversation starter with a couple of blokes I got talking to: one was Finnish, the other Swedish. Of course, they had visited Australia and we traded some anecdotes about they places they had visited. “I think more Swedes visit Australian than Australians visit Sweden”, I told them. “Don’t be so sure, a lot of Australians come to Sweden”, I was told.

After chatting for a while, a familiar face came into the bar. It was a guy I met in Stockholm three years ago, and caught up with again eighteen months ago. He’s a lovely guy called Kim who befriended me one night, and who I enjoy having great conversations with. So we had a drink or two, chatted enthusiastly, I showed him some photographs I had on my phone from the last few times we’ve been out together, headed off to another bar (“They don’t say it’s a gay bar, but it is”, he told me), and then in the wee small hours of the morning, it was time to head home.

As I’m writing this, it’s Wednesday afternoon and I’ve pretty much spent the day schlepping around home. After over a month on the road, and being out and about doing something every day, I decided it was time for a simple socks and jocks day.

At some point I need to summon up the courage to head downstairs to do some washing in the large communal laundry. Anyone who has ever lived in Sweden will be able to tell you some of the horror stories that are often associated with them. I read a terrific article the other day which mentioned the abuse and even violence which can be associated with them. The article also mentions they’re even the subject of an exhibition space at the Nordiska Museet. My favourite quote was this…

Eleonore Lund, a professional mediator, says the problem is territorial. People tend to view the laundry room as an extension of their apartment and resent any incursions or mess. Fear also plays a role. “Laundry rooms are usually located in the most remote part of the building, in a basement, with long corridors, heavy doors, and no windows. You don’t have any cellphone coverage, and no one can hear you scream,” she says.

Wish me luck!

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