Stockholm. Sunday 10:00 am and the city has not woken up yet. I don't blame them. We are used to London, the city that never sleeps and we forget that in the Continent, shops do close on Sunday. And when I mean they close, I really mean it. It took me 3 islands, two bridges an around 30 photos to finally find a decent place to have a coffee and some cake for breakfast. Even McDonalds is closed until 12, as the nice trendy coffee shop around the corner of my hostel.
View from the Old Town
There in Slussen, I arriveD at the hostel safe, thanks to 7Eleven's free WiFi around the corner. On my way, I realised about the great location of the hostel as it is right in the centre of the entertainment, surrounded by bars, restaurant and shops, without being touristy. That's the great thing about this city, it is not as touristic as the main European Capitals. I still havent found a souvenir shop (just in case, I said this the 24th of June).
And there I was, right in front of the hostel. Doors were closed, lights turned off and apparently no one inside. For a minute, I freaked out as I though: 'Great, I have been scammed. Now I need to find accommodation ASAP'. Then I realised there was a doorbell. I pressed it, and I entered th gloomy premises of the Mosebacke hostel: lugubrious as hell. And the rest is history.
But really, it is all my fault. I made a few beginner's mistakes when staying at this hostel. First of all, I did not choose a YOUTH hostel. Second of all, I did not choose a FEMALE only dorm. As a result, I slept next to the weirdest yet dodgiest 55 year old dude, that snored like hell and woke me up at 7:45 am mumbling something at was either cursing or praying. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep at all (*facepalm*: my very wise friend M strongly recommended me to take some earplugs with me. Forgot about it). Did I mention how small and window-less the dorms are? Oh, of course, it is an 'underground' hostel. Literally.
To add to the morning pain, I should add the not very pleasant trip from Skavsta airport to the city centre of Stockholm. 80 painful minutes of, must admit, lovely scenery of long and tall trees. However, after 10 minutes, my overwelmth had disappeared and I tried to force myself to sleep in the not so lovely bus. By the time I arrived to the cental station, restless, I had time to read 3 times the latest issue of the NME regarding the 100 best song songs of a lifetime (which by the way, I don't agree with quite a few of them), forced myself to listen to some Glasvegas to try to induce some sleep, retouched all my pictures on my iPad and drank two bottles of water. You can easily guess what I was looking for as soon as I set a foot on the station, and it was not precisely the tube station.
Famous Continental costumes of ask for coins to get in to their station (unisex) toilets and there I was: no local currency and the cash points didn't swallow my card for some reason. After fighting with the toilet cleaner to try to get me in, I gave up and followed his instructions to go to to the other ATM. By that time, I was seriously violent and would do anything to get 10 SEK to solve my issues. Again, card does not get swallowed by the ATM. I promise I fought against the machine. And then I realised: against all common sense and global standardisation, cards in Sweden are introduced facing the chip down and hence, magnetic band up. It worked.
Minimum quantity 500 (bloody) SEK. Still, I just wanted 10 stupid SEK! Found a snack shop and probably like ruthless gamer on a casino, I slammed the bank note against the counter and asked for change. 'WHAT DO YOU WANT' said the Nordic attendant. 'TOILET' - I said. She most probably meant what sort of change. But she understood (my face helped) and divided those 500 kr in something manageable to use in the machine.
All and all, I finally headed towards the tube station and faced what all tourists face: buying a ticket. But here was the funny part: Stockholm is a city of contrasts. They have the equivalent of the oyster card, to load with a travelcard with different options. Contactless convenient option that parallel to it, there is the analog version, which consists on an old school cardboard paper with 16 slots that should be manually stamped at the barriers and eats up two slots each way.
Now I should sip a bit of my so needed coffee to swallow the sugar rush coming from this peanut and chocolate brownie (at the same time that now, it is making sense that the portion was just 1x1 inches).
It is funny that after being living in London, all the cities that I subsequently visit, they all look empty and lonely.
Nevertheless, I think Stockholm is a lovely city and I wasn't wrong when I decided to come here. Nobody would say so after seeing the tears running through my eyes after eating a very spicy dumpling. I really mean it. And appartly there are no Starbucks.
Let's generalise a bit:
- Blondes are very blonde and tanned, and the ones that are not, have clearly dyed their hair brunette or pitch black. The tanning is not as orange as the British, but still artificial.
- These blond tall girls make the street look like Stockholm Street Style blog from a Retina Display. They do love fashion.
- Arty dudes wear round thick rimmed glasses.
- Boy, they love a mountain of shrimps with mayo and dill on toast. Looks amazing though.
- There are more H&Ms than McDonalds and they shop in COS like us going to Poundland.
- They drink beer, lots, but havent seen a drunk yet.
- People smoke a lot here. Older people smoke normal cigarettes. Young people smokes/chews (whatever) Snus/Snuss (smokeless tobacco), which surprised me a lot as soon as I saw it.
- Girls wear white Converse. Period.
- There are a lot of design shops.
- Swedish like terraces more than English love Mallorca. If they are cold, they just cover themselves with (Ikea) fleece blankets.
- It is not more expensive than London. Well, not. 2 bananas for 13 SEK it is actually more expensive than London. FYI, those bananas are not from Sweden, but from Costa Rica.
Bananas aside, the day continued. But that's another story.