“Damn, damn, damn”, I said to Sandra and Robert as I came back from the bar. “I knew exactly what I wanted to say. I knew every variation of what he might ask by way of qualifying statements. I felt good about my Swedish. And yet I was served by the English speaking barman”, I told them. Sandra understood my pain.
In an odd bit of synchronicity, she and I sent each other emails at almost exactly the same time suggesting a catch-up. Within fifteen minutes, we were having a drink together at bar near where they live on Södermalm. The Southside is an Irish pub where, it seems, most of the customers are Swedish, and most of the staff are a combination of English-speakers. The musical soundtrack to our beers and wine included a couple of Australian classics, as well as some great sing-a-long numbers. Located in the men’s toilet was a poster for the annual “Anzac Day Race Meeting” held in Stockholm. Yes, it was a pub for expats, I guess.
For a while we were joined at our table by a Swedish bloke who’d had a few drinks. As I was trying to show Sandra and Robert my photographs from Iceland, he was intent on showing me why his Nokia smart phone was better than my Android Nexus 4. We compared apps, we compared cameras. We compared penis.. (No, I’m just being silly, though the conversation did have a certain penis comparison feel about it. Guys, it’s just a mobile phone.)
It was great to see them again, having concluded we hadn’t seen each other since before I went to Iceland. Since then, I’ve been in Turkey. And now I’m back in Stockholm for just ten days before I head back home. Although I’ve toyed with the idea of extending my trip, I’ve concluded a combination of time and money, means I’ll be heading back home as planned.
Although I have secured media accreditation for the Eurovision Song Contest (and would love to go), I’ve decided it’s time to head home for a while to relax and to regroup. The possibility of apartment sitting in Stockholm became an option for a while. On top of that, there’s the possibility (likelihood) of further mid-year overseas travel.
Also, I’m starting to feel a little travel-weary. Although I’ve done some AMAZING things over the last couple of months, the day to day travel, and having to think about where I’m going to stay, what I’m going to do, how I’m going to wash my clothes etc, means I’m looking forward to going home for a little while. I’m not ANXIOUS to go home, but I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again.
Over the next ten days I’m looking forward to really enjoying my time in Stockholm. Having
visited the city on a number of occasions, I no longer feel the pressure of being a tourist and having to squeeze lots of things into a small amount of time. Instead, I’m looking forward to just hanging out in a wonderful city.
Even in the last few days that I’ve been away in Turkey, the weather has changed again. All of the snow in the centre of Stockholm has completely gone. As you walk around, you notice the colour of the grass has gone from brown to almost green.
You can also feel the change in the people. The silence of the travel on the subway, the T-bana, has been replaced by chatter and sheer joy. As you walk around, people have their heads help up high, rather than facing down. No longer do they need to watch carefully about where they walk.
The change may also be that it’s “pay week” in Sweden. Swedes are paid on a monthly basis (usually around the third week of the month). When they get paid, I’ve been told, they tend to go out, have a few drinks, and enjoy life to the full. Ain’t that the truth.