Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Eventful Swedish Weekend

I have seen country music in Sweden. And it is glorious. As the immortal Alan Jackson pointed out in Eskilstuna, there are small towns everywhere in the world. And where there are small towns, country music lives strong.

It’s been a while since I saw that much flannel. That many cowboy hats. That many farm boys. It was wonderful. But not as glorious as the guy walking around with a case of Norrlands Guld, leather chaps, and a belt buckle the size of a small child. Turns out rednecks can be found the world over. Rödanackar if you will.

Last night was Midnattsloppet. A 10 kilometer run through Södermalm with over 21,000 participants. You would think that Midnattsloppet would be run at midnight. You would be wrong. Because the race started around 10 and the only people still running at midnight were the stragglers. Of course, I wasn’t running at all. I haven’t run a single step since my half marathon. And I feel surprisingly good about myself.

In fact, instead of running, I headed over to a friend's and watched a bit of the race from the comfort of their apartment. It was an impressive showing of people crossing as thousands of green t-shirts congregated just past the finish line. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was at an opposition rally in Iran (as the horribly blurry picture can attest to). But I was not.
Trying to be a responsible young man and get home at a halfway decent time I left just after midnight. I wanted to catch my bus home. But first, to further contrast the athletic endeavor that I had just borne witness to, I stopped at McDonalds. I wanted a caramel sundae. Obviously. With my caramel sundae in hand I headed to my bus stop.

The busses I take to get home have a bit of a gap in the schedule later in the evening. I’m still learning the bus schedule but have a decent idea as to when everything leaves. But decent only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Or something like that. Because I arrived at my bus stop to see that I had 45 minutes until my bus left. It seems that I had landed right in the bus schedule gap. Awesome.

There is another bus stop near my apartment if I am willing to walk. And at 12:30 in the morning I am willing to walk a bit if it saves me 45 minutes. So off to the other bus stop. This one was leaving in half an hour. Awesome. Again.

I am an impatient person. Instead of sitting at the bus stop having my nose assaulted by the smell of beer and urine I started walking. There was no way I was going to make it home faster than the bus, but I could at least move up a couple of bus stops. Despite the rain I had convinced myself that this was a good idea. Despite me wearing shorts. Despite me only having a hoody on.

So I started walking. Plenty of Swedish sidewalks are set up so that rather than the bike lane being on the street with the cars, they are on the sidewalk with the walking lane away from the street and the bike lane closest to the street. So I parked myself in the walking lane, because I was walking. I was as far away from the street as I could be. And then a taxi went flying by driving the opposite direction of me. Suddenly, I tasted the mix of motor oil, dirt, and fresh rain water. Which is not a pleasant flavor. My face was covered in water. The right side of my body was dripping wet. I had been splashed. Clearly patience is, in fact, a virtue.

So on I went, shaking my head in amusement. I was walking home at 1 in the morning. Sober. In the rain. Having just been splashed by a taxi. Taxi Stockholm in case you were wondering. Please tell me these things happen to other people.

Welcome to Sweden. And weekend adventures.

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  1. Oh dude! you're gonna have to make a mini printout of the bus schedule and stick it in your wallet.

    kinda funny that right when you left, the music stopped. it was 00.22, barely after midnight, so i'm not sure what the whole midnight deal is about.

    btw, i'll have the photos posting tomorrow, a couple came out awesome, rest were pretty blah.

  2. I have a similar thing when I have to change from the Tbana at Gullmarsplan. I was there at 3am (again! this is becoming too much of a regular habit for a guy who never used to go out). And it was 30 mins for a bus, its about a 30 min walk home, but its progress right?

    Its great with the Ipod and helps with the hangover, but no Ipod last night so I had to content myself with singing all the way home, oh dear! I hope I wasnt too loud!

  3. @sapphire - I know, I have the bus numbers saved in my phone but not the times. I was convinced that the gap started at 1. I was wrong.

    @let me tell you - YES! thats my theory. its progress. even though it might take the same amount of time at least something is happening.

    and I agree with the ipod. but I also forgot mine last night. I was none too pleased with myself.

  4. amazing! it's just quite rare.
    i'l like to hear though would you prefer: "staying till 2 at a suck night club(for some reason), then picking a subway , having a forty winks then not hearing the name "Slussen" wondering why, checking the map and oh shoot i'm on the opposite direction! getting off at the next stop .30 min waiting and getting home by 3 in one piece, dog tired but sober" instead of being splashed by a taxi

  5. Hm.. Are you single? ;)

  6. Hmm, seems you need a better phone ;)

    Connect to Either you can "plan" your trip but you can also get realtime info about "your" stop, as when the bus is coming. For example:

    -------------------> phone window
    Mälarhöjden (Stockholm)
    Uppdaterat kl 17:55 - Uppdatera

    135 Hägersten (Klubbacken) 4 min
    153 Bredäng 6 min
    153 Bredäng 17:19
    135 Vårbergs Centrum 10 min
    153 Bredäng 15 min
    153 Bredäng 23 min
    -------------------->no more phone

    Usually taxis do not splash me. But birds shit on me, quite often even :( Still have to figure out why actually.

  7. It seems to me like the most obvious solution is going amiss here... Why didn't you just catch a cab/taxi/bulle? Surely it wouldn't be that dear, it's not that far?

    Me, I'm scared of riding in cars with strangers (unless I drive, duh!) so I'd have walked or waited, but I'm sure you're braver :)

  8. Floridian in FinlandAugust 17, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    I'm so jealous! I'm so missing blues, jazz, country and latin music here.

  9. @Michael – you win. Or lose. Either way I prefer being splashed by a taxi.

    @anonymous – I’ve been getting that question a lot lately. I’m not sure if it’s because I seem incapable of taking care of myself or because my boyish charm is just really shining through.

    @Nick – that sounds way too complicated. Im just happy when I can text someone without my fat fingers getting in the way of each other. Although that does sound pretty handy.

    I’ve heard that birds dropping bombs on you is actually good luck.

    @terander – because I am cheap. Obviously. Of course cheap left me very wet.

    @Floridian – it’s true, they are hurting a bit for country music. But Alan Jackson in Sweden is hard to beat.

  10. But there is no answer..?

    And yes. It's your charm.

  11. Well the ladies aren't flocking to me. Lets put it that way.

  12. @Hairy Swede -- no, people _claim_ it is good luck but that is pure bs for just laughing behind your back = skadeglädje. I have started to define good friends as the ones that help me remove the shit (while still laughing) over the ones that must first laugh hysterically and then help me.

  13. probably a good rule. and having myself been bird pooped on, Im with you, its not good luck. its just gross.