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.
As evening arrived I got a bus from Sergels Torg to Kaknästornet. I'd been there last time as well, enduring a howling gale at the top which probably gave a wind chill temperature of about -30°C. This time it was a cool autumn evening, and I watched the dusk fade and the city lights come on.
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.