Not the only Aussies after all

The cry went up on the bus: “LOOK! ELLIE! A MOOSE!” Colin said it was his second sighting of one. Ellie was at the back of the bus so I have no idea if she saw it. I was on the other side of the aisle, so my moose count remains at zero. We were on our way to Stockholm, for a tour of the rikstag. That’s parliament for the non Swedes reading this. ‘We’ being the SFI students.

There were 25 of us and, in the second-biggest surprise of the day, three members of my class arrived before the bus left. Given their usual appalling punctuality, I was amazed.

I’ve seen the outside of the rikstag many times, but this was to be my first look inside. Obviously, there was an obligatory wait outside while the tour guide was found.

I felt sorry for poor Arij who was feeling quite cold due to the wind, whipped along by the canyon between the old parliament building and the new extension which was once the Bank of Sweden. I offered her my jacket but she refused. To be fair, she’s quite tiny and it would have looked like a marquee on her.

Eventually, armed with a tour guide, we headed inside, through security and to the lockers. Here, there was some confusion when a couple of my fellow students didn’t understand how keys work. They’d placed their stuff in lockers then left the keys in the doors. This was followed by a bit frantic gesturing and frenzied instructions in how to lock up valuables.

I have to say, right here, right now, that the guide was excellent. Okay, I didn’t understand the vast majority of what he said but he said it with great aplomb.

Therein lies the problem. Being the dumbest in the class meant I didn’t get a lot of information out of it. Well, maybe a desire to go on an English tour one day soon. Fortunately, there were brochures in English.

One describes how the parliament works but the other, a small brochure which, more or less, follows the route we took, was an excellent aid in explaining what I saw but didn’t understand.

For instance, the room, featured in the photograph above, was the 1905 Chamber and is now called the Second Chamber. This replaced the original rikstag, which was on Ridderholmen. According to the brochure, it had become ‘cramped, draughty and outdated.’

Then there’s the grand staircase in the old building. This is where, the guide told us, Emmanuel Macron entered parliament when he visited a short time ago. It’s also how the king gets in when he opens parliament each September.

Incidentally, apart from the opening, during which he wears a suit and no crown, the king has nothing to do with the running of parliament. The monarchy used to, but this soon stopped when the Swedes realised that kings were just ordinary citizens like the rest of us and not emissaries of god.

We walked around a lot of the old building, seeing lots of interesting rooms, paintings, gavels and busts of pompous looking men but, for me, I really loved the new building. It is quite amazing. We got to sit in the visitor’s gallery for a short while, watching and listening to the proceedings.

It was opened in 1983 and is modern, bright and must be quite the sight when it’s full. Today, it wasn’t full. There were about 20 people in the chamber. Two stood at the podiums and debated something in Swedish. Each speaker is given two minutes (there are timers behind them on the wall) to present their case and subsequent response. It was all pretty civilized. It felt a world away from stuffy old Westminster.

Originally, we were told we’d be let loose on Gamla Stan for lunch and souvenir hunting. This, however, was not the plan. As we stood, waiting outside the rikstag, Arij told me there was to be no lunch. She sounded very disappointed.

As we left parliament, heading back towards Gamla Stan, I figured we’d get an hour for wandering but, as I followed the rest of the group in my usual paceless fashion, I found myself herded back onto the bus which then proceeded to take us all back home. I could so easily have let them know I was staying in Stockholm and caught the train back. If only I had known…

Anyway, that was just a small blip on an otherwise splendid excursion. It was great watching the majority of other students seeing Stockholm. Some of them were like excited children visiting a playground for the first time. I found it quite odd that this was the case, though, given my experiences in class, I’m not completely surprised. There seems to be an entire lack of curiosity in some of my classmates. Even so, they seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

Oh, and the biggest surprise of the day was meeting a chap from another, more advanced class. His name is Colin and he’s from Brisbane. We talked Australian for a bit. His wife is Swedish, and they left Oz after the pandemic, along with their two kids.

I told him that my favourite sister-in-law lives at Mount Tamborine, and he smiled and said that was where he proposed to his wife. We both smiled at the memory of the Polish Place and the German clockmaker shop.

It seems that we were not the only Aussies in Trosa. Apart from Mirinda and me, there’s also Colin, Brad and Chris. Mirinda reckons we should form some sort of support group for Oz immigrants.

All in all, it was an excellent day out for all of us.

Even Arij, who survived both cold and famine. She’s the littlest person in the photo above.

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2 Responses to Not the only Aussies after all

  1. nic says:

    so, i know 3 people in this group. you, and the blond woman inred to the right, zuzanna, my neighbiur from Slovki. and the woman in black + black/white dots to the left is one of my “familje-kompis”-friends…..

  2. Mirinda says:

    What do you mean that they lack curiosity? And was there actually an elk?

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