We’d been hoping for a good night out in Gothenburg, but it was a Sunday and the only place that looked lively was charging 100SEK to get in. So we had a quiet evening. Compared to the first time I’d been here, it was far warmer, and it was nice to walk around without feeling exhausted by cold. Canals that had been frozen solid last time were liquid now, and parks that had been buried by snow were grassy.
Articles tagged with "sweden"
Early the next morning we headed north again, to Gothenburg. Five years earlier the city had been covered in thick snow. Now, it was just cold. We walked through the centre, just about remembering where we were going, and eventually found our way via Haga Nygata to the hostel we’d stayed in last time. We headed up to Skansen Kronan for some views.
We saw the sun setting over Denmark across the water. We arrived in Halmstad after dark, with our main aim being to check out the night life. But before we could do that, we needed somewhere to stay. My guide book said there was a place 4km out of town, towards the E6 motorway, so we headed out in that direction. We walked, and walked, and walked. My feet began to hurt. We walked on, and I started cursing Eldrik for travelling with a ridiculous wheely suitcase thing instead of an obviously more practical backpack. The constant rumbling got a bit tiring after a few kilometres, and eventually he started wheeling on the grass.
After about an hour, we began to think that we weren’t in the right place. The hostel was supposedly on Växjögatan, and Eldrik grabbed a passer-by to practise his Swedish on. I could just about follow the gist of the conversation, and it went something like “Excuse me. Do you know if Växjögatan is near here?” “Växjögatan? I’ve never heard of it” “Um.. ok. Do you know of any hostels near here?” “Nope”
So we had definitely gone wrong. We were near a huge shopping centre, and there was a fast food place open, so we boosted morale by eating dirty burgers, then got a bus back into town to reconsider our options. Plan B was to check prices at hotels in town, but they were way beyond our means. We then moved onto Plan C, which was to skip Halmstad and head on to Gothenburg. We headed for the station, only to find that the next train wasn’t for almost two hours. So we quickly put together Plan D: we found a map of the town at the train station, and it appeared that my guide book had sent us out of town on the wrong road. We would head down what we thought now was the right road, and if we hadn’t found the hostel within 45 minutes, we’d get out of this place and head on. So off we went out of town again, and this time after about half an hour we found what we were looking for, the Hostel Laxen.
Once we’d recovered from our explorations, we got a bus back into town, and went out. After a few hours in the town centre I decided to head home. There were no night buses out in our direction, so I walked another three miles back out to the Laxen. In the morning, we walked back in, again, and headed north. We’d walked thirteen miles during our stay in Halmstad.
When we got to the station, we found that the next train to Halmstad wasn’t for another hour and a half. We decided that as it was only a couple of miles away, we might as well pop over to Denmark while we were here, and so we got on a ferry heading across the sound in the howling gales. Once we’d docked, we had about twenty minutes to spare for a quick walk around town, before we had to get on the ferry back over to Sweden.
We got told off on the train from Malmö to Lund. We hadn’t realised we were sitting in the quiet carriage and talked until we were instructed not to. “Förlåt”, we said, and sat in silence until Lund.
We stayed in a hostel in a train carriage by the station in Lund. I’ve travelled on so many night trains that I was conditioned into expecting it to rock about constantly, so I swerved erratically around to compensate for the non-existent motion as I walked down the corridors.
In the evening we went out to a club called Sargasso. It was a Friday night but it never really got going. Every club I’d been to before in Sweden had been fantastic, so it was a bit of a shame that we picked a bad one here, but then in a university town, nothing much goes on when the students aren’t around.
The next day, the skies were clear and the air was cold. We decided to head north, to Helsingborg.
I went to Sweden with Eldrik, who’s been there about a million times; this was only my fifth trip. We met at Stansted on a Friday evening, and flew to Copenhagen. A quick trip across the Øresund took us to Malmö.
This was my third visit to Malmö, after two earlier trips on hot sunny summer weekends. We walked from the train station to a hostel in the south of the city, past locations which we recognised from “Lilya 4-ever”, the most depressing film I’ve ever seen.
We didn’t plan to spend much time in Malmö. In the winter there was nothing to keep us here once we’d had a quick look at the Turning Torso, the tallest building in Scandinavia. We walked out to Västra Hamnen to see it spiralling up into the low clouds, then headed to the station for the short trip to Lund.
I was right at the bottom of my bank balance, and I could only just afford to re-cross the Øresund to catch my flight home from Sweden. I had an afternoon to kill in Malmö, and I wandered out to Västra Hamnen, where upmarket new flats overlook the straits. New since the last time I’d been here was the Turning Torso, the new tallest building in Scandinavia, which spiralled up over the city.
I sat by the sea in the warm sun. I looked back over the past ten months, during which I’d been to South America, Bulgaria, Turkey, France and now here. It had been awesome, but I knew that there could be no more holidays for now. I was in urgent need of a job. As storm clouds gathered over the Øresund, I headed for home.
Back at the hostel, there was an American in my room who fancied checking out a club, so we went to the Berns Hotel for a night out. The music was good, I met fun people, and all was good, until at 2am a fight kicked off near where I was sitting, and left someone unconscious on the floor. I decided to head home at that point.
I went for a long walk the next day, from my hostel in Gamla Stan up Drottninggaten to a small park, then back down towards the harbour. I walked around Nybroviken, and across a bridge to Djurgården. It was starting to rain as I reached Skansen, and I got a boat back across the harbour to Gamla Stan. With rain now falling heavily, I spent the rest of my time in Stockholm in a cafe on Vesterlånggatan.
In 2003 I’d been on 12 holidays. 2004 was going much more slowly: by September I had only been abroad three times, and they’d all been to Italy. A three month post-PhD period of voluntary unemployment from March until June had been fantastically relaxing, but having no income did have an impact on my travel plans. By September I’d been working for the Home Office for three months and I could afford to hit the road again.
I flew to Nyköping early on a Saturday morning, and got to Stockholm at about midday. The thing that was amazing straight away was that I could walk around without risking frostbite. On my first visit here it had been -17°C but today it was 30 degrees warmer than that. It made for a very different atmosphere. All the waters of Mälaren were liquid, there was no snow, and I didn’t need gloves or even a hat.
I went to a lot of places that I’d been to before, just to appreciate them in warm weather. I walked from the station across to Gamla Stan, and then south to Södermalm. I got the Katarinahissen lift up to the heights, and looked back over the city. On my last trip I’d lost all feeling in my fingers when I had to change the film in my camera up here.
We headed back across the Öresund. Malmö is not nearly as fun as Copenhagen, and we didn’t do much except find our way to a coffee shop and chill out there. In the evening, Andrew left to get a night train to Berlin. He was just at the start of a longer trip. For me and Eldrik, though, this one was over. We got the bus to the airport and headed home.
The Stansted Express is run by geniuses of the highest calibre. They had decided that the May bank holiday weekend was the perfect time to cancel all the trains to do some maintenance work. Catching an early flight to Malmö required me to arrive at Stansted the night before and sleep on the floor. So I was not in a great mood when we arrived in Sweden. It was raining heavily.
Luckily the sun broke through the rain. We headed into town, wandering randomly and stopping for coffees and hot dogs on the way. We ended up at Västra Hamnen, where grey skies made the Öresund look threatening. The bridge to Denmark looked pretty impressive, and we were looking forward to heading into a new country the next day.
We saw in 2003 in Sturecompagniet. It was a pretty awesome club, if a little bit more pretentious than my normal sort of place. But at some point in the small hours they played some ABBA, and everyone forgot just how cool they were trying to appear and went crazy for them.
For some kind of licensing reason, many Swedish bars had casinos in them. Sturecompagniet was one, and when we finally decided to leave at about 4am, Dan was at the poker table. “You coming?” we asked. “I’m just going to win back what I’ve lost”, he said, angrily, and we left him to it. I wondered if we would ever see him again, but he appeared back at the hostel the next morning. He didn’t want to talk about winnings though.
It was only -6°C on new year’s day, and it felt warm. With all the soon-to-be-destroyed hope and optimism that a new year brings, we headed back to Västerås to fly home.
It was new year’s eve. During the day we headed through Gamla Stan to Södermalm, and went up Katarinahiss, a lift which allows the lazy to avoid walking up from sea level to the moderate heights. The views of the city from the top were pretty awesome. I finished a film while we were there, and changing it required me to take off my gloves for a few seconds. The pain of the cold was stunning, and as I hurried to get the new film in I could feel my fingers becoming unresponsive. Luckily I did the job, closed up the camera and got my gloves back on before I got frostbite.
We thought that Gothenburg had been pretty cold, but Stockholm was chillier still. The skies were clear, the ground was covered in snow, the lake was frozen solid and all looked beautiful, but -15°C was punishing. We went to Kaknästornet, a TV tower on the outskirts of the city which was the tallest building in Scandinavia at the time. At the top, a howling gale was blowing, and the wind chill was extreme. We discovered that if you dropped some water it froze solid within a couple of seconds.
By wearing two pairs of gloves, three coats and two scarves, I felt OK. Ground level was a bit tamer, but finally the inevitable happened and someone slipped over as we walked to the bus stop. Dan was the unlucky victim, and in the evening we found an excellent bar for him to pay his forfeit in.
We tried to go out on our first night in Sweden, but we came up against savage licensing laws. We were all 25 or over, but not all of us could prove it – Dan had left his passport at the hostel. All the decent-looking places were out of bounds to us, and we ended up in a fairly rubbish bar, that did at least play some ABBA which was quite amusing.
I woke up at 8am the next day, and it was pitch black. When daylight finally arrived we went to look around the city, which was covered with snow. We walked up to Skansen Kronan, a fort on a hill, and endured the icy wind to take in views of the city. We had a bet running: whoever slipped over first would buy a round of drinks. This was no small penalty here in Scandinavia. On the way down from Skansen Kronan, Dan had a major moment, but after a few seconds of flailing he recovered his balance. We were all buying our own drinks, for now.
I went to Sweden with three friends for New Year. John and Dan were feeling wealthy and flew with SAS to Stockholm. Eldrik and I were feeling not wealthy and we flew with Ryanair to Västerås. We were all converging on Gothenburg. We landed in darkness to find Västerås covered in snow, and got a night train to Gothenburg.