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25 August 2011

Gothenburg (or, Yot-eh-bore-y)

Day 66-68: Monday - Wednesday, 25 - 27 July 2011

After a pretty bad ordeal with my train from Stockholm, I still didn't feel that great as I arrived in Gothenburg. I got a call from my host, Hampus, as I arrived, and he was there at the train station, with another couchsurfer he's hosting, Bernhard from Germany. It was both their first time couchsurfing, but they are really cool guys. Hampus has just started working at a bar and is enjoying it (and its perks) very much, and he will start studying geology in the fall. Bernhard is a music student in Dresden and a bass player in a couple bands. Anyway, we met up, had some food at Burger King, got our transit tickets, and I bought my Swedish flag. We then went to Hampus's apartment, in the "ghetto" of Gothenburg. It's nice and spacious, and the many immigrants make the neighborhood feel somewhat like England to me.

We hung out for a bit, having a coffee, and then Hampus enthusiastically showed us around the city! We took the tram in to the city center, and walked around to the university and his high school. We passed the science center, where we glimpsed a couple anacondas, and in the distance was a brand-new theme park ride that dropped riders several hundred feet straight down from a tower.

Worst Train Ride Ever?

Day 66: Monday, 25 July 2011
Trip update. I'm traveling on a train from Stockholm to Göteborg (which is pronounced "yot-eh-boory", or you could just default to the English name, Gothenburg. I'm blasting through Sweden, only stopping in these two cities. I had thought that I might just casually hitchhike across Sweden, but time constraints ended up popping up: I just need to get to Berlin by the end of the week.

This morning, I was up and out by 7:15am. My train was at 07:44, so I got to the train station at 07:35 and rushed to get my ticket, but it wouldn't work. What the hell?! I went from store to store, asking for help, but they just sent me to another office. I thought I'd just board the train without a ticket, but right when I got to the platform, the train was pulling out.

So I missed my train. I returned to the main part of the station and used one of the automatic machines to get my ticket. Now, it worked! Great. Whatever - I'd just get on the next train, so I found the platform and went there. It had begun to rain, steady rain. The train was scheduled for 8:10, and then after a few minutes, a voice announced in Swedish that it was delayed to 8:25. Then it became 8:30, and then 8:35. The train finally arrived, I boarded, and it left at 8:43. Wow. Swedish efficiency? WTF!

I'm at the point where I just get things done, travel-wise, without feeling as excited about every small detail as I used to. I've just seen so much, it's really draining to maintain that level of energy all the time. It's just time for some down time, and unfortunately Sweden has been having lots of down time so far. People always rave about Sweden, but frankly, I really don't see it as such a paradise. Based on my couple of days here so far, I don't know if I'd want to live here. It wouldn't be bad, but Finland just seems so much better.

Many bad things have happened on this trip: I've broken my camera, left my laptop behind, lost my brand-new phone, and gotten countless cuts and scrapes; 2 pairs of sunglasses are gone. This morning, I missed my train because I couldn't get my tickets printed out. And the train I got on was delayed 15 minutes, then 25 minutes, then 30 minutes. And I didn't have any seat reservation, so as people boarded the train, I was kicked out of each seat I sat in. But what could I do about it? When I was younger, I might have become frustrated and angry in each situation. But that doesn't do anything about the situation. So I just let go of these things as soon as possible, and the worry and stress disappears with them.

That's the thing that I'm trying to learn on this trip, to stop worrying about situations I can't change.

Rocking Stockholm

Days 64-65: Saturday, 23 July 2011 - Sunday, 24 July 2011
We learned that the day before, there was apparently a terrible tragedy in Oslo - a big bomb had exploded and some guy had rampaged and killed like 80 people on an island. It was surreal to learn this, especially because Lisle had to go to Oslo next. And if things had worked out differently, I could have totally been in Oslo at the time too. But it didn't. And I'm in Stockholm.

Next came our quest for IKEA. We went outside to wait for the IKEA bus, and after 15 minutes I realized that it only runs Monday-Friday. Could anything else go wrong?! We went to the tourist information office to ask them, but we had to take a number and it would be like another 45 minutes just to get some service. Lisle went outside to the map store to ask for help, and I found a free internet terminal to research. We both arrived at the same conclusion: Take the metro to Skårholmen and take a bus or walk from there to IKEA. It wasn't that hard. So we went ahead.

The IKEA in Stockholm is supposed to be the largest in the world, but I don't think it was. It was 4 stories high, with each floor designed as concentric circles. Still, I think the IKEAs that I've been to in the US are still bigger. I felt lied to.