Sweden in Shadow
Posted: Oct 24, 2003 11:04:07 PM
I think I shall stop taking those accommodation risks now. For the first half of this trip I have made a point of turning up to various places at some ridiculous hour with no place to sleep arranged beforehand. And up until recently, it has worked. I turned up to Ankara at midnight, and found a place without difficulty (although with some help: see 'Ankara by Midnight' for details). I arrived at Valletta in Malta at midnight, and again the accommodation was easily arranged. Edinburgh was the same; I found my way from the airport to a comfortable bed in no time. But now, I must rethink this strategy. Stockholm is not so easy.
But I get ahead of myself: spent an excellent last day in London, mostly sitting in the House of Commons and listening to the MPs complaining about the transportation woes of the island (woes which, incidentally, I have seen almost nothing: trains in England were dependable and quick). An early flight to Copenhagen; once again contrary to warnings and expectations I found Heathrow easy to navigate and efficient. Maybe I'm just having a lucky time of things.
Copenhagen - well, there's a mix. I met some very friendly and helpful locals, and I met some very pedantic and petty individuals, but thankfully I know enough not to judge any country based on a few encounters. The museums were certainly fascinating: rows of guns, some from as long ago as the late 16th century, amidst lines and lines of cannons, sabres, armour, and Russian Imperial regalia at the Royal Arsenal Museum; a cluster of raised Viking ships on display in Roskilde. Had a wander around Christiansborg Palace and its spiritual antithesis, anarchic Christiania (a commune in central Copenhagen with a very obvious drug culture: there's a very good reason you are not allowed to take photos of Pusher Street), ate a Danish (locally called Wienerbrot), and decided that it was time to move on.
A late train to Stockholm, where I naturally assumed that the local superfluity of hostels would make finding accommodation easy. And it's not like I was arriving at midnight: eight in the evening should have been plenty of time.
But it was, in fact, not. There must be an event going on here that I don't know about, because every single hostel is completely full. Not just tonight, but tomorrow night as well. And this being Sweden, the hotels are just too expensive for me to consider taking that option. What's the third path? Something crazy. I am not going to sleep tonight; I will sit in this Internet Cafe until it closes (at 3am), then wander around until dawn. I will see as much of Stockholm as I can for the first half of the day, then I'll leave for (probably) Oslo, making sure to book ahead this time.
I'm not too concerned about missing things, because I was never intending to explore Scandinavia at length anyway; this is something of a detour. I felt like seeing a little more of the north than that in my original plan. And, thanks to the wonderful hostels of Stockholm, I'll at least get to see quite a bit of the streets at night.
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