Saturday, 15 March 2008

Pride Comes Before A Fjord

So anyways, I suppose originally I wanted to start this off my bringing to general attention the fact that within the first 24 hours of the trip Mark managed to lose his wallet, his credit card, his passport and break his backpack. And I suppose I've now done exactly that. Though I hasten to add that he found the wallet and the passport on the floor of the plane.

However, I do have to acknowledge that months, nay eons of anally exact planning on my part didn't stop me booking us into our first hostel on the wrong night. Which was very stupid, though a positive spin might be that it offered a succinct lesson in how preposterously expensive Stockholm is. They did in fact had some beds on offer, it's just that, er, well let's just say they weren't budget accomodation in the classic sense and move on.

I have no real idea what Stockholm is like (beyond eye-wateringly pricey), but a few observations based on a solitary night out:

1. It is very clean
2. It has the same odd atmosphere I found in Berlin, in that compared to a British city, it feels disconcertingly underpopulated. We played a game of 'spot the human being' on the 80 minute bus journey from airport to city. We saw three.
3. The people we met seemed very nice, though we were fairly bitter about the fact they could afford to get drunk.
4. Though we did that too, so kind of hypocritical to grumble.
5. It's pretty chilly, which was good, as clement conditions would seem rather at odds with the trip as a whole

So the flight went fairly well, save for the fact we were sat next to a rather ominous looking guy, a sort of corpulent, taciturn hippy burn-out apparently possessed of a terminal case of OCD. He didn't actually talk to us or look at us, so he wasn't exactly a hazard. BUT. He did confiscate all our in flight magazines and file them neatly away, to no discernable purpose. And while his general OCD-ish ness verged on the amusing, he did eat a large box of sushi in such a singularly disturbing manner that I feared for my life, somewhat. That may sound like an over-reaction, but you watch a man take all the fish out of his fish-based snack then painstakingly sculpt the rice into some sort of elaborate rhomboid before devouring it, and tell me you're not at least midly concerned his next trick may involve implementing some sort of feng shui arrangement on your major organs.

I'm not sure if it makes me a massive racist or not, but one of my favourite things about everywhere on the planet except Britain is that it's usually cheaper... thus when we first arrived I couldn't quite shake the vague subliminal belief that I could wander up to any restaurant here and have them turf all the other customers out (save for the fairest maidens) and allow us to have some sort of Baccanalian food orgy, if only I toss them a shiny pound coin. My friends, I think they would laugh at that pound coin. Heathens.

Really though, the only downer so far was been having to fork out the cost of a small farmstead for two rooms at a hostel; in their own slightly special way,other things have actually gone kind of smoothly. It might lack people, but the Swedish countryside is sublimely flat and sparse, and I'd heartily recommend a drive through it as a good way of getting some top drawer shut-eye. In some ways humbly accepting that we can't afford a five course banquet means that after having assessed the sanity in sitting down to eat what must be the world's most expensive jacket potatoes, we decide that what would be much more sensible would be to buy a huge lump of cheese and eat it in a side alley while well-heeled passers by reagraded us with a mix of fear and concern.

We did, however, go out for some drinks to an Irish bar (shut up, it was jiving, plus drinks were a snip at just under a fiver for a pint of comically-insipid local brew), and were further rewarded when some locals gifted us with a few tabs of some sort of orally-ingested varient on snuff. It got you proper high, like, and when we finally stumbled home, it was with an entirely illogical sense of satisfaction with ourselves. Our drunken Swedish chums did, however, tell us the rather grim news that drinking alcohol on a Sunday in Sweden is regarded as a sign of alcoholism, and that obtaining it on the sabbath is in fact nigh-on impossible. This trip is going to be one seventh harder than I'd thought. They did also tell us that Swedish girls, like, totally dig the English, and that we should talk very loudly as it will make us look cool. No problem there.

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