Thursday night David Doherty and I flew from Toulouse-Blagnac to Arlanda in Stockholm, via Schiphol, Amsterdam. On the flight, I handed him the worst defeat in hang-man in the history of the game. He used every single letter in the English alphabet except for "w." The word: cacophony.
We made it to my friend Andreas' house in Spågna at around midnight, had some sandwiches, and went to bed. Andreas and I met in Dr. Cheng's International Economics 672 class at WSU a few years ago.
Friday we traversed the archipelago exploring the wonderful city that is Stockholm. Our adventure started at central station. The first order of business was to have an early lunch at Taco Bar. If there is one thing France is lacking, it is fast Tex-Mex food.
We left the restaurant and walked down the shopping street, Drottninggatan, to Sergels Torg, a 30m glass tower. From there we headed to Kungsträdgården, which is a centrally located park, near the Sweden House. Continuing down the island Helgeandsholmen we walked through the courtyard of the Swedish Parliament in route to the island of Gamla Stan, where Old City is located. On Gamla Stan we checked out the Royal Palace, Riddarholmskyrkan church, which was built in the 13th century, some other churches, and the magnificent Stortorget Square whose perimeter is surround by very colorful buildings.
Pressing southward we went to the Södermalm district to see the Katarina Kyrka from the 1600s. Dave bet me 25 euros I wouldn't start a snowball fight with 3 girls who looked like they were twelve. Let's just say, I made 25 euros, but did not make any new friends ;) Our retreat, lead us to Söder Mälarstrand which is a high point that over looks a panoramic view of Stockholm. The contrast of shimmering, melting ice in the harbor, the colorful buildings, and blue sky shining through the dark overcast sky, can most accurately be described as splendor.
Finally, we walked around the small island of Skeppsholmen to see some outdoor art, and boats in the harbor. We walked back to Central station to meet Andreas, his friend Daniel, and another old friend from WSU, Mikael. The night was rather intense. It included beers near the station, Max Burgers, a private Karaoke booth with some very terrible singing, a bar near Oderplan, an exclusive night club in Stureplan, and losing David. Toward the end of the night David and I decided we wanted to stay out and somehow we met a French guy and a Canadian guy. Turned out the French guy knew the owner of a club in Stureplan (the elitist clubbing district), he invited us along, so we skipped the line, avoided the cover, and had a great time dancing with Scandinavian girls that were about 5 inches taller than both of us.
On the walk home we got separated. I ended up taking a taxi back to Spågna for about 400 Kronas. Dave never made it! He eventually got to the apartment around 7am, but wasn't 100% sure which room it was, so he tried to sleep on a bench during Scandinavian snowfall. He gave up and got a hostel downtown on a boat.
This is a good time to introduce a personal traveling philosophy of mine, I'll call these little tidbits Schlosophies from now.
Schlosophy #1: When traveling in a group, people should be able to break off and do whatever they want. In fact sometimes it is great to just get away by yourself for a while. However, under no circumstances is it okay for you to make the group wait or be caused any inconvenience because of your decisions. If for some reason you stay up all night drinking, and do not meet up with the group at the airport the next morning, you get left. Plain and simple. We're all adults here. You should be able to find your own way home. There is no sense in everyone missing their flight and having to buy new tickets because of one person. Same goes for late night clubbing excursions, if you want to make some new "friends," great, but don't expect people to stay out late because of you. I remember telling Tom, Brian, and Jeff to leave me at Fritz club in East Berlin at about 5am in January, it took a little bit to convince them that I would be okay, but eventually I was successful. I took a taxi to meet them a few hours later, just in time to leave for the airport and sleep on the plane.
Dave and I didn't' meet up until about 5pm on Saturday. So I spent Friday at the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a viking ship that sank in 1628, and was salvaged in 1961 in very good condition. I walked around Skansen and checked out the amusement park that was shut down. Saturday night we went to a house party with Andreas. Dave bet me 150 euros that I wouldn't fake a fall and pretend to be knocked out for 5 minutes; I couldn't move or laugh. It took a lot of concentration but I pulled it off. Gustav tried to check my pulse after the 5 minutes was up, so I started at him and almost sent him into Cardiac Arrest. It was HILARIOUS. We left the party and I got a room at Dave's hostel, then we went to a bar called Snaps. On the way home we got some food that was basically a wrap with lettuce, hot dogs, and mashed potatoes.
Stockholm has now been elevated to my top 5 cities in the world!