The visit was different to most prior travels of mine. I was there for almost two weeks and didn’t learn any of the language on purpose but at least a few words stuck anyways. I didn’t taste any specialty. I went to no museum and did no sightseeing. I stayed at a campground once and slept one night in a hotel. Instead of touristy activity I spent plenty of hours talking to the natives getting to know them and the country.
- The swedes are a sporty bunch. You don’t ask anybody if they go to a gym, you ask them to which gym they go to. Runners everywhere, families tend to exercise with their children. There even public “gyms” just like there are public playgrounds in germany where you have different stations to work out.
- Alcohol consumption seems to be quite low, smoking seems uncommon as well. Smokers tend to take at least 5m of distance to non smokers when outside.
- The standards for equality are high. I met women who said that they are no feminists at all but from my point of view were more feminist than plenty of germans claiming themselves feminists. Very self confident and laid back at the same time. Awesome company!
- The swedes love to be outdoors. Having a boat and a summer house at or near a lake is quite common. Companies do sport activities outdoors to raise the team spirit.
- Stockholm is a very nice city but they try their best to keep motorists out of the city. As a foreigner you don’t have to pay the general city entrance fee but parking is around 2€ / hour from 9-17h in most places. There is no such thing as free parking and there’re places which are even more expensive and/or fees apply all day. So expect to pay 15€ / day just for parking. My suggestion: Leave the city at 09:00 to one of the nice lakes around the city (10km / 15min drive), enjoy your day there and return at 17:00. Not exactly environment friendly but at least budget friendly…
- The “swedish bikini team” (as featured in “Married… with children” (Al Bundy) and old US beer commercials)) is fake. They are US actresses with blonde wigs…
- I saw no hitchhikers at all
- A swedish mile is 10km. Roadsigns are all in km but some swedes tend to give distances in swedish miles.
All in all I liked sweden a lot and I will come back for sure. The only reason I have to push on was best described by eve: “So you drove 1400km just to be at a place which looks exactly like your home place?”. No, I didn’t. I love the south of sweden exactly for being like a vaster, flatter version of the harz mountains but I’m travelling. So I want to see new stuff which means I have to move on. I can imagine living in the Stockholm area though. It’s just like a 1,3 million inhabitants town in the middle of the harz mountains. Does it get any better than this?
“I gotta get outta here” — Alice Cooper
I hate ferries. Most times they are too large to give you the expression that you’re actually on the water. The only ferry rides which where fun for me had been on the phillipine islands. You couldn’t use the toilets any more due to zillions of sick people but at least it felt like aktually beeing on open water.
I’m feeling reasonably secure with Tallink Lines. The date for the next test of the lifeboats is not too far in the past…
Normally I would just get utterly drunk to pass the time. But since I have to drive a van after the passage I have to stay sober. The only place with tables so far was the Starlight casino. At the stern of the ferry it’s got quite some vibrations from the engine but it was fine. Until a band started to play. This must be musician’s hell. The same fucking songs which are probably played on every ferry or cruise ship. Breakfast at tiffanies, C’est la vie, “money, money, money”, “gimme, gimme”, “(lengthy sax intro)… Tequila!” … I don’t even now the name of the songs. Just the refrain. The band plays so sloppy that even I am able to tell and the look in their faces looks like half-well disguised hatred. I would like to sit down with them and get drunk. Well, this will probably not happen… At least they have one fan…
Sorry for the shitty photo. The fan wears a white shirt and is in the left part of the picture..
Yesterday I stayed at the other public beach. Until now I was able to dodge any german travellers. But since there were only the two of us I had to communicate. The guy seemed reasonably decent, approx. 20 years older so I sat down for a couple of beers with him. Told some stories, listened to some, the usual. Interesting was that his view of Sweden was quite the opposite from mine. He told me there’re plenty of lazy people, many obese and that he can’t stand it any more and wouldn’t return. When I asked him were he got that notion from he said from the kind of driving their cars and waiters at restaurants. WEIRD! So he actually never got to know any swedes. When some young women showed up to take a night swim I got an idea why. He had to comment on every passing body and was staring & drooling so much that I felt compelled to tell him that this behavior is not appreciated and to excuse myself to the women for him being a dickhead. Why do have so many older men have to be like this? It really freaks me out. I mean everybody takes a peek from time to time no matter what gender and that’s ok in my book. But is it so difficult to just smile at the faces of passing folks and say a friendly “Hello”?
guitar, bass and bocals of the nameless band. My “this one looks least likely to hassle us” look lured them directly to me. I didn’t manage to start a conversation though. And they were not drinking…
“Under my umbrella, ella, ella”… I gotta get outta here! Next time I hope I’ll won’t forget my headphones…
Location: Bamböle, Aland Islands, Finland
The Aland Islands seem to be mostly private owned. I didn’t find a decent spot at the coast at all at was sent away for the first time on this trip. I just stopped to have a look at the map, engine still running. A woman pulled up behind me and told me that I was on the property of some fancy resort. At least she was friendly enough to tell me where the property ends. I forgot to suggest that they maybe should post a sign at the crossroads saying “private property” or something similar… So I stayed at the parking lot of one of the two public beaches in the area.
Around 01:30 I was lying in bed reading when a car stopped. Loud music, drunken youngguns throwing their empty beer cans on the parking lot after getting out. I wasn’t actually tempted to get in touch so I read on. Later the music died and was replaced by some click click click noise. It started, stopped, started again, quite arhytmic. Ahh, it’s the starter of the car not turning due to a dead battery… While I was getting up I heard them pushing the car around. After the usual drunkard communication like “Hey, I know some german, …” I gave them a jump start, watched them driving off and put their trash away. They seemed quite thankful at least. And it was the first time in sweden I actually got a broken car running again.
Don’t try to push start a car with automatic transmission. It doesn’t work. But it’s possible to pull start them with another car.
Location: Aland Islands, autonomous region somehow connected Finland
though swedish speaking
Actually this is yesterdays sunset and I was on that lake before but who cares. For your confusion I will post this days sunset tomorrow… The region around Nortällje sucks concerning spots for staying the night so I just returned to a place where I stayed when D. was visiting. After a morning swim I started to make plans. I wanted to leave Stockholm to go to the south of Finland, like Turku for example. Since I still have no guidebook I just looked at google maps for the shortest ferry connection which normally are the cheapest. Kapellskär to Marienhamn, 2h, 42€ with the van. Shortly before I drove to port I read the wikipedia article on Marienhamn saying it’s the only town on the Aland islands. ISLANDS? Fuck. It looked like there is a connection to the mainland on gmaps. If you don’t zoom in close enough… This means I have to take another ferry which tends to be more expensive than one ferry. These are the times where I miss a lonely planet guidebook. They really have this kind of stuff sorted out for you… So the clever thing to do would have been to drive back to Stockholm yet another time, spend the weekend at the pride festival partying and take a ferry from Stockholm to Turku next week which is cheaper than the connection over the aland islands. Since I hate tracking back and I already did drive back to Stockholm twice I did quite the opposite and got on the ferry. Check in without prior booking is an additional 5€ at viking lines but the lady at the counter thought my van is less than 2,4m of height so I saved 17€. Since she didn’t ask and I realized her mistake not before I drove off from the counter I thought I’ll just see how it goes and be extra careful with driving. The maximum height of the ferry was 3,8m, so the height limit seems just a simple rip off… Let’s see how the aland islands will be. 30k inhabitants is just as much as my home town including the neighboring villages. I’m a little bit afraid that I’ll strand there for a couple of days since the outbound ferries seemed quite booked out. But maybe it’s nice over there 🙂
Stockholm City / Södermalm. Where the wannabe hipster roams...
After a day at a nice lake outside of Stockholm I met up with Eve on Södermalm for some slacklining and while searching for two decent trees I got my third city tour by her. When I was just about to set up the line a belgian guy showed up and asked where the opening “feast” (his words) for this years Stockholm Pride was. The internet told him it was in the very park we were sitting which was quite deserted. Eve began to hazzle with the according web page to try to find out where it is, it took some time because of the webpage, we chatted and set up the slackline. In between a lady in her fifties sat on the next bench listening eagerly and I was approached by a young swedish guy who was looking for some company while waiting on his friends. When he asked if the others were my company I said yes without giving it too much thought. He went over, introduced himself and produced some beer and bottle of vodka from his plastik bag. While I was assisting Eve during her first steps on the line the other three started to chat to each other and got into serious drinking. A swedish younggun, a swedish 70s child and a gay belgian comedian (no kidding) in his mid-twenties talking about life, beer, the amount of sex partners they had, threesomes and so on and so forth. Since they were almost instantly in drunk mode and I was as sober as not in the mood for drinking I just watched and listened the spectacle with an occasional comment or two. According to Eve this was quite an unusual swedish park experience. When the sun set they took of for more drinking at the pride and Eve and I returned to her place.