Back to my ‘trip of a lifetime’ – I just need to say that I won’t be able to get this series done before I leave for my trip to Thailand and Myanmar, which begins this coming Saturday. I was hoping to, but sadly I have just been too busy in the last month taking on extra hours and also having other projects I needed to complete before leaving. So it will be mid-March when I return to this story, and there’ll only be a couple of posts to complete it I think.
But back to the story. When last I wrote about my first solo trip, I told you of my time in the middle of the Northern Atlantic, on the tree-less and challenging (for me) Iceland. I would remain in Scandinavia, going from a country that has never won Eurovision to another that has one numerous times. But I hadn’t even discovered Eurovision back in 1999!
Sweden. My itinerary for this country included…. Well just Stockholm as it turned out. I was fast approaching my friend’s wedding, to be held less than a week later, down in a small town in the central part of Germany, so time originally devoted to Sweden was cut out for me to make the journey south to be at the wedding. That would be four extra nights I think, two on transport and two in a lovely little guesthouse.
And so it was that I arrived in Stockholm with just a handful of days to fill, at the cheapest bed I could find which was an HI hostel that was set up in a school. If I haven’t mentioned these beforehand, I don’t know if this still happens but in Europe and especially Scandinavia, in 1999 at least, schools with boarding facilities would turn these facilities over to Hostelling International to raise money over the long summer months when school was out and no-one was using the dorm rooms.
Yes, it was all very temporary but the rooms had 4-6 beds inside and because they were primarily for students studying, they were more roomy than many purpose-built hostels that just try to cram in as many people as possible. I remember being quite comfortable here, the only issue being that the campus was very spread out and from check in to the building with my bed in it was quite a hike. They even used the kitchen facilities to give us breakfast. Again, quite a walk.
Into town can’t have been that hard, or I’d remember it. The strangest thing happened in Stockholm to – I bumped into someone I (albeit vaguely) knew from home. Someone in a different year to me at my TAFE. I went out with a group of people on my second night there, and spent the night out walking about, having a few drinks, and visiting the ‘Grona Lund’ amusement park. Which was, you know, nice. It wasn’t until a few hours had passed that we realised we knew (sort of) each other!! Nevertheless, bizarre chance meeting. I met a friend from high school ever so briefly on my 2004 trip when I was in India. We were passing on a road, and said the briefest of ‘hi’s! to each other and that was it. Have you ever had such a bizarre chance meeting.
I remember… not THAT much from this trip to Stockholm. I saw and did far more in my 2007 visit to the Swedish capital. One thing I do know about this capital is that it is built on water ways and rivers and so it seemed only natural to take a boat tour.
And I did just that in 1999. We saw an island where people used to live thousands and thousands of years ago, and we took a dip in the water which was pretty decent – much warmer than that of England! I wish I remembered more, names, places etc. But, sadly that diary as are so many others, is no more. I know I got my jacket dry cleaned at this point though…
Because after around three nights in Stockholm, I took the train southwards to Copenhagen, where I changed trains for Germany, and was soon at my friend’s wedding. It was somewhat surreal. The train ride included the train actually slotting onto tracks on a ferry before hitting Denmark. Pretty remarkable stuff! And it was quite the epic journey.
Until I crossed the border into Germany, it was all covered on my Scandinavian Train Pass as well, which I’ve written about before. These days I can’t find any information about it, so am not sure whether they still offer one, but boy did it save me hundreds and hundreds of dollars in 1999!
And the wedding. In a picturesque, postcard-ish German town called Lippoldsberg, about half way between Hamburg and Nuremburg. Well, I remember a little of this day when everything was conducted in German and I was the odd one out – I was the only person there who couldn’t speak German!
Two quick nights and then back north again it really was a long way to come for such a short journey, but it was great to be there for my friend, as his only Australian guest at the wedding (he’s Australian). A special part of the journey!
Anyways – for now there’ll be a little break from this story as Saturday is my flying off day to Bangkok! Very exciting! So stay tuned for current adventures as they happen! May the journey never end!