After a very short sleep at the hotel, I packed up and headed for Copenhagen main station. I was booked onto the 06:07 train to Malmö where I had to change for the final leg of my journey to Stockholm
I thought I’d better give myself plenty of time because I’d not been to the station before – the FlixBus dropped us off down the road and across the tracks from it. I set my alarm for 04:00 and left the room an hour later.
The temperature was already starting to affect me but that could have been because I was hauling my bag up a hill of cobbled footpaths.
I didn’t realise that in the middle of Copenhagen there’s a fair ground called Tivoli. It has all the usual scream inducing rides. It’s like a Gröna Lund or Luna Park in Sydney but in the centre. Quite weird hearing the screams as one walks down darkened streets. But that was last night.
This morning, the station was very easy to find, and it only took me 20 minutes. I then set about finding my platform. This wasn’t as easy as it could have been because none of the indicator boards had my train included. I began searching for an information office or an employee of the railways at the very least.
The office didn’t open until 07:00 and there was no staff that I could see. It was while I was wandering around the concourse, figuring out what to do next when I just happened to find myself standing at the escalator to platform 7.
The monitor over the entrance displayed my train. I checked it seven times, just to make sure. I then smiled and waited for the train down below.
Sadly, the pink train in the photo was not my train. Mine was grey.
Crossing the Öresund Bridge (the one in The Bridge), you realise just how long it is. An extraordinary feat of engineering. Of course, from the train, travelling beneath the main carriageway, you can’t actually see anything of the bridge, just water, boats and wind turbines but, even so, it’s amazing.
The trip to Malmö was short and pleasant and the very helpful train lady told me from which platform the Stockholm train left. In Swedish. I’d have worked out one or two but I’m no good with eight. She apologised for mistaking me for a Swede. I didn’t tell her how happy that made me.
The final leg of my journey was a very comfortable train ride up to Stockholm with the unexpected bonus of a free breakfast. Of course, I hadn’t realised I’d booked first class.
There was a lot of snoozing in the carriage, sprinkled with reading and at least one episode of Rita. Eventually, we pulled into Stockholm Central and the train emptied.
Emerging into the sunlight outside the station, it felt like I was home. Almost like visiting Sydney. Maybe it’s the familiar. Presumably, ‘familiar’ and ‘family’ have the same derivation. Of course, it could just be the result of needing a change in our life that spawned it. I don’t know why, but I do know how much I love it.
But, on the practical side, I found the lockers and dumped my bags, given I couldn’t check in till 14:00. This hadn’t been a problem when I was doing the train thing but, given the switch to buses, my timings changed a lot.
I wandered down the road and rediscovered the small place where we had fika on one of our first trips into Stockholm. Obviously, the cardamom was calling so how could I ignore its faint yet insistent entreaty?
Having indulged in Sweden’s finest, I collected my bags and started the long walk to Gamla Stan. I knew it would be a slog but I felt like I’d been travelling for days and I needed to walk and breathe air.
Obviously I arrived far too early and was forced to, and it shames me to admit it, have a couple of beers in an Irish pub.
On numerous occasions, I have sworn that I would never visit such a place anywhere but in Ireland. However, in my meagre defence, it was the only place I could find a seat and a beer. And at least the barman was Swedish.
Eventually, I managed to gain access to the cutest little flat I’ve ever seen. I guess you’d call it a studio apartment. Whatever you call it, it’s perfect for me for my first few days.
After an hour rest, to get over the last days of travelling, I headed out to the COOP for the essentials – coffee, sugar, milk. The crowds were unbelievable. We were very lucky last year, what with the pandemic and all. When it was crowded, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as now. Wall to wall people down the main, tourist street.
I’m convinced I’d not want to live on Gamla Stan. Söder, maybe, Gamla Stan, no way. It’s far too full of tourists. Even the COOP had tourists in it, mostly with kids, buying snacky things. The aisles were quite narrow and it was easy to hit the smaller ones as they dithered in the path of my trolley. I reckon I managed to get about five.
After the excitement of buying stuff in a supermarket, I had a coffee and another brief rest. I then set off for the Hairy Pig. This was the first place I intended to eat in Stockholm, and I was determined to do it. In fact, the place I’m staying is about 150 metres away. And if that’s not great planning, I don’t know what is.
Sadly, Joseph is no longer there but, the food is still good and the location fantastic. I managed to get a seat outside and enjoyed the carpaccio elk and Hairy Pig Board, washed down with two glasses of their amazing IPA. All good, but I really missed seeing Joseph as he WAS the Hairy Pig as far as I was concerned. Still, things change. He’s promised to visit us if we’re all in the UK at the same time.
Having eaten my fill, and a little bit more, I went for a bit of a stroll along the still tourist drenched streets of Gamla Stan before heading back to the apartment. Having been up since the crack, I needed to shower and chill before hitting the bed.
One of my favourite photographic subjects is taking pictures of people posing for or taking pictures. Call me weird (Nicktor certainly would) but I love it. Above is one of the many alleys on Gamla Stan. The guy wanted the woman to turn around but she wanted to go further.