Monday, July 20, 2009

Adventures in Driving in Stockholm

I don’t drive often in Stockholm. I don’t do well with big cities. So I park the car and let it sit until I want to go somewhere far away. Or buy lots of groceries.

But I’m in the process of moving to a new apartment. So I need my car. In town.

First, I had no idea how to get to my new place by car. Which is always a rough start to moving. But I checked out trusty Eniro told me I was going to make six kilometers in eight minutes. Through the middle of Stockholm. So I should have been skeptical to start.

Having loaded up my car I started my drive. And after the second turn was immediately told by Eniro to drive the wrong way on a one-way. It was at this point I began bending the traffic laws in my favor. No I didn’t actually drive the wrong way on the one-way, instead I decided that, since I was carrying cargo, I was essentially a bus and took the bus lane. Of course the bus lane was going the wrong way.

And so, I followed a taxi in a somewhat questionable maneuver in the face of traffic. The U-Turn. At least now I had managed to get myself where I was supposed to be according to Eniro. Of course, the eight minutes had already passed and I was nowhere near my new place.

Before leaving for my journey, I wasn’t worried about this part of the drive. I was worried about Slussen. So the fact that the easy part of the drive was already causing problems wasn’t exactly a good sign.

I have never driven through Slussen. For good reason. It can best be described as a jumbo cluster fuck. Apparently, it was designed when Sweden was still driving on the wrong side of the road. So, as my old man says, the fact that it is still in use is damn near miraculous. Of course, it is being redesigned. And after my drive, the sooner the better.

Driving through Slussen was no small feat for me. And I thought I had it. I thought I was going to get through Slussen without any problems. But I was wrong. Because suddenly I was faced with two signs. Two signs which seemed to give conflicting directions. I chose the left.

I chose wrong. Damn it. I have wandered around enough in Stockholm that I have a pretty good idea of the layout. Unfortunately, while it sometimes transfers wonderfully to driving, sometimes it doesn’t. Because of such problems as the aforementioned one-way. But I was convinced there was a road that took me to where I needed to be. And that is to say, off of Södermalm. The island that Slussen connects with Gamla Stan.

Well, that road exists. Unfortunately, there was a dead end keeping me and my Saab from getting to that road. So I turned around and headed back to Slussen. This time I knew what I was doing though. Last time I had a 50-50 chance and chose wrong. This time I still had a 50-50 chance, but I had already eliminated one of the 50s. I liked my chances.

So I stayed right, and got myself off of Södermalm. Thirty-five minutes later I was at my new apartment. Not eight minutes. Even with my foray into the world of Slussen, the trip was pushing 20-25 minutes.

Silly Eniro.

All in all, I’m pretty sure I bent several traffic laws in my favor. Slussen beat me once, but I won in the end. And now I know how to get to my new apartment from my old apartment. Which will only do me good for a couple more days.

Welcome to Sweden. And driving in Stockholm.

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  1. Slussen is made in Hell! I have stumbled and collected extra road tax there more than enough. I could get lost there even by foot. It's ugly and unpractical. What more can I say? It usually rains there. Good luck with moving to Söder, I envy you in some weird way :)

  2. Funny one! Driving in Sweden in general took a lot of getting used to..damn roundabouts! For someone with absolutely no sense of direction, I often turn to GoogleMaps. You won't believe how many times Google Maps told me turn down one-way streets and How many times I actually did! If these "trusted" Map websites can't figure out how to get around Sweden, how the hell am I supposed to manage?

  3. Car question---

    Currently do not have one as I thought living right in the center I wouldn't need one. Though, I think the flat I am getting in August has parking.

    Do you lease? What's it run you a month? Any info would be appreciated.

    But, like you it would probably sit parked most of the time except for trips and grocery store runs...So, not sure if it would be worth it.

  4. a perfect reason to ride the public transportation system , not buy many stuff eller not move out !

  5. Don't you just love that?

    I'm actually suprised you have a car there. I guess I figured the public transportation is really great there so you wouldn't even need one. But for moving it would be quite useful! Also I was wondering did you lease it or buy a car there? For future reference.

  6. I enjoy reading your blogg. That tells me something. You can write. Maybe there are "experts" saying you cannot (?), but I don't think I am alone in thinking it is entertaining and/or interesting to read your material. Today for example. It was really about nothing, but I laughed. I can sense your humor, and my gut feeling is that even for an American audience who may not give a rats as about Sweden, your observations would probably still be entertaining (but hey, what do I know?; I'm Swedish). OK, maybe you won't win the Nobel Prize in Literature, but if I were you, I would seriously consider collecting your stuff into a book and market it in the U.S. If for nothing else, for the potential to earn some cash. Now, I don't know the first thing about book publishing, but among 300 million Americans, I think there should be enough readers to generate a profit for you.

  7. You are apparently not the only one that thinks Slussen totaly sucks. Stockholm city has now decided that they are going to rebuild the whole place.
    Here's some cüül info:

  8. Perhaps the reason so many swedes likes to read this, are that they love to read about their own country? Especially compared to the US? Since we deep inside have this idea we are so much better than the US, and we love defending that feeling in comments?

    That and your ability to write stuff with a lot of humour of course :P

    What do you think Hairy? Make a post about it? :)

  9. @smek – I agree. Completely. In fact, it might not actually just be made in hell, there is a good possibility that Slussen is hell.

    I hope the new design can uncluster the cluster that is Slussen.

    @SwedishJenn – what worries me even moe than google maps not being able to do it is Eniro not being able to do it. It is a Swedish service. Even a Swedish service cant lead me to the right place. And that’s just not good.

    @kmbr – I bought my car used. Very used. It is old and tired but it (usually) gets me where I want to go. So I don’t lease. I do rent a parking spot though which I think is well worth the money.

    @Mike – its true, moving is the best argument for never doing anything.

    @anonymous – the public transportation is pretty good. Well, it gets me where I need to go. The car is more so I can explore Sweden.

    I did buy the car here though. Just found myself a used one.

    @anonymous – thanks! I have a lot of fun writing this thing. I appreciate it!

    @TB – yeah I’m even more excited about that after having taken the car through it. A while ago they had a bunch of the designs at one of the museums in Stockholm. All of them were decidedly nicer than what exists now. Of course, that’s really not that hard.

    @Izi – Ooh, I like it. One reason I have so much fun writing this thing is seeing the reaction of Swedes vs. Americans. Not necessarily writing to provoke or to pit the two against each other, but to see the differences in culture and opinion. Especially because, even though I come from a very American background, I still have a bit of insight into that Swedish way of thinking. I’m kind of an outside insider. Or inside outsider.

    Maybe you are right though, that some of the appeal is being able to read something that you (not necessarily you but you know…) don’t agree with and then getting the chance to react and to argue.

    @haz – thanks!

  10. Thanks for the info. I was thinking of doing the same. But, I am having car withdrawls so I don't know if I am just getting desperate!

  11. Rolig blogg! Är Eugene i Oregon en stor stad? Jag träffade nämligen en amerikan från Eugene i Prag senast nu i helgen och sedan hittade jag dig. Märkligt sammanträffande.

  12. oyoy...not fun at all! I'm dreading having to take a Swedish lisence juck! I would not have been able to do any of that.... not even with an aoutomatic car!

    Did u have to get a Swedish Lisence or u still drive on ur American one?

  13. @kmbr - I know what you mean. it just gives you that extra bit of freedom. I think it is worth is. But I like to explore and get away sometimes.

    @Emma - thanks! It's not really a huge city. But it is a big university town with quite a few exchange programs so there is always a good chance someone is off exploring the world while in college.

    @sassa - the license thing is a pain but you get to do an exciting ice course. so there are benefits to the swedish license.

    But Im sure youll do fine. Its just a drivers license.

  14. Well, many of us believe Slussen was originally constructed as a municipal joke, a circular maze that once entered alsways sent you the wrong way :))

    Whichever the case, Slussen is a good example of Stockholm´s doubtful traffic planning and danger spots for congestion. The only reason they haven´t rebuilt it is they don´t know how to solve the traffic situation around it during roadwork.

    BTW I agree with anonymous - make a book of your blog!

  15. the fact that Slussen has been a running joke for so long makes me really question the skills of those in charge of traffic planning in Stockholm. Or it speaks to the absolute ineptitude of thise who came before them. Or, my thory which I believe to be the most likely, Slussen was designed by trolls. Everyone knows trolls hang out around bridges and like to cause trouble.