Your Swedish is very good

Up early only to realise I could sleep a bit more. I was travelling back to Stockholm and my train didn’t leave until 11:44. Checkout was by 11am, so I had plenty of time. I managed to take advantage of it.

It’s funny. When I arrived in Uppsala and didn’t really know where I was going, it took me ages to find the flat. Today, leaving by the quickest route which I now know quite well, it took me no time at all

Of course, I was early. I popped into a café for a coffee and a poppy seed roll. The woman serving me said my Swedish was very good. I said there wasn’t a lot of it. We laughed as I recited all the words I know. I left her laughing, the sign of an ex-performer. It reminded me of this visit to Paris when my French language skills were applauded.

The train to Stockholm Central was very comfortable, as usual. I’ve come to expect the comfortable trains. The one I caught from Stockholm last week was the only crappy one. And I’d almost forgotten that one.

Gaz tip: It’s definitely wise to book train tickets when travelling. There’s a handy app. However, it’s good to know that you can easily buy tickets at the large stations. Even Tierp, by no means large, had a ticket machine.

Arriving at Stockholm Central, I immediately went in search of an empty locker. This is something I love about the large stations in Sweden. There’s always lockers for your luggage. Unless you’re staying in a hotel, dragging your bags around with you is not a desired option. But, in Sweden, there’s lockers.

There are two sizes of locker. The big and the ordinary. My parrot bag won’t fit in the ordinary so I have to use a big one. That’s not a problem. Usually.

Do you think I could find a big locker today? I tried downstairs where there’s hundreds of lockers. There were a number of ordinary ones standing empty but no biggies. I thought I’d go upstairs, where they are not so obvious. Again, there were no big ones.

Actually, there was one big one and I stuffed everything into it and turned the handle only to have nothing happen. It was clearly broken. That really got up my goat. I was starting to think I’d have to sit in the station concourse and have train food while I waited for my check-in time to come round.

Then I spotted a handy sign. It indicated how many lockers were available in the three locations. It was then I realised that there was a third location: The bus terminal across the road. I was going to quickly run over there until I realised I can’t run and I had a heavy bag with me and a walking stick. I dawdled instead.

And, yes indeed, there were more than a few big lockers and almost 100 ordinary ones. I happily stuck the parrot bag and my shoulder bag inside one, locked it and left, a happy chappy.

Now, when heading out for lunch at 12:30 in summer, in Stockholm, it’s wise not to catch a tram to Djurgården. It will be packed, mostly with tourists and people with children dreaming of Skansen or Gröna Lund. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wise. I was crammed into a seat, not enjoying myself at all.

Anyway, I managed to squeeze out of the tram at the Nordiska Museet and walked back to the beginning of Djurgården, a spot I’d not visited before. I walked through the Visitors’ Centre and found a bar, Strandhäxan Bar to be precise, with food. Well, sandwiches which consisted of two thick slices of fried bread with half a fried chicken inside, nestling happily on a bed of coleslaw. It went very well, accompanied by a couple of Pilsners.

The view wasn’t much but at least I was in the shade. And, while the beer and chicken was great, the choice of music wasn’t. Too much rap and not enough pleasant stuff. Still, I just let it wash over me as I ate and watched and thanked the goddess Freya that I was back in Stockholm.

Eventually, I headed back in an almost empty tram. Much better. Presumably the families were still entertaining their kids. I retrieved my bags and headed for the Metro. Or Tunnelbana as we New Swedes say.

I have to admit something here. Before anyone thinks I’m never wrong when it comes to catching public transport. For the first time in a long time, I caught a train going in the wrong direction. It didn’t matter. In fact, it was helpful because T Centrum was very crowded so going one stop back meant it was more comfortable when I eventually went forward. I think.

Anyway, it didn’t mean much and I was soon getting off at Mariatorget for the 200m suitcase drag to the apartment.

There was a moment when I couldn’t find the building. This annoyed me because it was no fun hauling the bag around, up and down hills, dodging e-scooters, bikes and men drinking outside bars. It then occurred to me that, of course, I’d turned left when I should have turned right. Once I’d realised it was because I’m a navigational dunce, it was all good.

And the apartment I’m staying in is gorgeous. At first, when I walked in, I thought I’d got the wrong place. It was one of those places that looks as if the owner has just stepped out to the shops and will be back momentarily.

I’m going to be very spoiled for my last week in Sweden. Even more so because the ICA is across the road and the Systembolaget is around the corner. I couldn’t be happier.

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