I have now been in Stockholm for 24 hours, and what a 24 hours they have been!
I boarded a plane at JFK around 11:30 pm EST and arrived in Stockholm at 1:00 pm CEST (7:00 am EST). Although I planned to sleep on the journey, I did not, and I can’t say that I’ve acclimated to the time difference yet (Last night I woke up at 1:00 am CEST… You do the math…).
After deplaning (such a strange, obvious word… Like something directly translated from German to English…), I headed to customs.
I dread customs.
First you wait in a long, long (sometimes requiring more “long”s) line with your bags and anything else you had with you on the plane. I, being an over-packer, usually have a heavy load to carry. Plus, since my stuff was in an over-the-shoulder bag, there was no relief except for when I put my bag on the floor. This strategy is not a long term solution because the customs line moves in increments long far enough to warrant moseying forward, but short enough to make picking your bag up and setting it down again not worth the effort.
Next you have to convince some strangers that you are, in fact, the person your passport (if it’s real) says that you are. Not only that, but you have to state your reasons for being in the country (and answer other probing questions that vary in severity and intensity depending on the country and how seriously the customs officer takes themselves or their job). I am naturally highly anxious around authorities. I start to sweat (more, because for some reason, no matter what I do, I sweat profusely while traveling/while being alive). I coach myself in my head, repeating the replies to all possible inquiries. Then when I get to the front of the line, I have a second of panic and approach the customs officer with fear in my eyes.
They can smell fear.
Or maybe they’re taking their cues from my sweaty face coupled with the anxious, rapidly darting eyes coupled with my almost inaudible voice, which oscillates between a pitiful stutter and a stream of mumbled phrases.
Either way, I am treated suspiciously during customs, a self-perpetuating cycle.
After that, I know I have to navigate the airport and face the public transit system. Like Frank Sinatra said, If you can make it [in New York], you can make it anywhere, so I have much more confidence in subways and trains than I do in pretty much any other mode of transportation. However, unlike Frank Sinatra, I do not like New York, and in particular, I do not like New York in June. Fortunately, as soon as I enter the Arlanda airport, I know I’m going to like Sweden much better.
So far, Stockholm has proven to be much more introvert friendly than New York City. Exhibit A: The restrooms in the airport are spacious and isolated. Each stall has its own sink and paper towel dispenser, and the stall door goes all the way down to the floor. If I hadn’t had my bulky luggage with me , and if the floor hadn’t been a little wet from having a recent cleaning (?? the janitor was nearby…), it would be an 11/10 on my public restroom rating scale.
(Yes I have one of those. and Yes I have no problem sharing that I do.)
Getting to the train bound for the city center was so. freaking. easy. Pretty much everyone in Stockholm speaks English, and signs have English translations beneath the Swedish. While this doesn’t help with the stereotype of tourists from the United States expecting all foreigners to accommodate their ignorance of other languages, I appreciated the signs. They led me to a cold, isolated underground cave where I’d catch the express straight to Stockholm (the entire trip of 43 km took roughly 20 minutes).
I thought I was alone on the platform (which would be a trend that continued in Stockholm’s subways) until I walked past the pillar obstructing my view. I breathed a sigh of relief and assured myself that these men I saw were also waiting for the train and that the train did run on these tracks and that I was not lost in a foreign country (again).
The train was sleek and the seats were comfy and the windows were large. I had my phone and my earbuds fully charged (anyone who knows me, knows that this is a surprising happening. Usually my phone dies at the exact moment when I need to make contact with others… Usually it’s an emergency, and usually I am stuck somewhere until I locate a charging station… ), so I vibed to the new Sza (HAVE YOU LISTENED TO CTRL YET???) and watched the gorgeous Swedish countryside stream by.
I took a taxi from Central Station in Stockholm to my hotel (which I later figured out is actually a 5 minute walk from the train… *sigh*), and battled impostor syndrome while checking in at the chic front desk.
THIS IS THE BEST/NICEST HOTEL I HAVE EVER BEEN IN.
I’m not used to this level of luxury.
Is all of Europe like this??
JK I know it’s not, but let me have this moment, alright?
I make it past the front desk, but not without eliciting the sympathy of the clerk, who could tell from my awkwardness that I do not spend time in places like this often (or ever).
Following a 5 minute freak out over how cool my room looks. It takes about 10 minutes for me to figure out that the lights aren’t working. It takes about 10 more minutes for me to rationalize to myself why calling the front desk makes sense and for me to prove to myself why calling the front desk won’t get me kicked out of my room.
I call several times because I get impatient with how many rings it takes for someone to answer, and when a friendly woman answers the phone in Swedish, I gradually get to the point of my lights not working (I had to apologize for not speaking Swedish and then do a rambling lead in because that is how I am when I am uncertain about myself). She laughs kindly when she tells me that the answer is a little cardholder near the entrance to my room. PSA: It shines blue until you insert your roomkey. Once the key clicks into place, the blue light turns off and the electrical stuff in the room works. After we hung up, I wanted to crawl underneath the gorgeous art deco/steam punk dressing table and melt away.
Which brings me to more about this perfect hotel.
Art Deco, 20s inspired, and the attention to detail is spectacular. The shower has a painting of exotic birds on the tile. The side tables have marble tops. And the lighting is ON. POINT.
The only thing the room is lacking is a view, but seeing as I only could afford this place because of a mega deal I found online about a week before I arrived here, I am not gonna complain.
I’ll hate to say goodbye tomorrow morning, but I’m glad to have the memories… (isn’t that how that saying goes?) (Edit: I just googled it and that is… not like how the saying goes…)
Now on to what inspired the title of this post: they use different outlets here.
I was unprepared for that, so both my phone and my computer died and were dead for the last 12 hours (maybe my computer was dead before that… idk).
To make matters worse (or rather, to make matters more entertaining for you to read about), this weekend (specifically today, June 24) is a holiday in the Nordic/Northern European region called Midsummer. This is noteworthy because everything (including the stores that sell electronics) closed early yesterday (Midsummer’s Eve), and most businesses are still closed today, the actual holiday.
How was I going to get an adapter with all the stores in walking distance shut down for a summer love fest (Follow the Midsummer link and you’ll know what I’m talking about)?
As an individual of sound mind, I decided to go all the way back to the airport where I knew some random kiosk would have what I needed.
The fun part of my situation was that I was forced to focus on the city and not on social media updates and other distractions (like blogging… sorry not sorry. I’m missing out on the city right now!).
I wandered the deserted streets looking for food (because again most shops and restaurants were closed) and allowed my embarrassment of speaking poor Swedish deter me from the few open pubs and cafes. Eventually, I found a 7/11 and decided it was my best bet for a snack to tide me over til I could order something back at the hotel.
Surprise, surprise! All the snack foods were Swedish! I found some flavored aloe water and some ice cream, then took a chance on a bag of potato chips with a label I couldn’t read. The cashier must have thought I was a mute because even though I heard and understood his Swedish, I spoke a total of 3 unintelligible words throughout the entire transaction.
The chips were gross, so later, I found an open Chinese restaurant and gambled on a chicken dish. To keep with the metaphor, I lost my bet.
Hungry, grumpy, and reluctantly unplugged, I turned on the TV and was mostly disappointed… Just basic cable and Disney Channel…
I used up the last of my cell phone juice to update my family on my status and like a few posts on Facebook, then I settled in for sleep. The time was 9:30 pm CEST (3:30 pm EST), but I was so tired.
I woke up at 1:00am CEST (7:00 am EST so not far off from my “normal” wake up time), and realized that I have greatly misjudged Swedish TV. My beef is only with day time programming, because late night is lit. One after another, the throwback movies from the US reminded me of what life was like back in the early 2000s. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift” came on and I remembered the time when Bow Wow was a (good) thing. Then the Matrix trilogy (which I LOVE) played, so I stayed up through the last 4 hours of it.
Worth every panic inducing second.
Are we in the Matrix?? We might never know…
I finally went back to sleep. It didn’t last long, but this post certainly has. Still a half a day left in this gorgeous city. I’m gonna go take a bus tour!