Swedish soil and Swedish signs

I am a funny traveller. I plan to go places all the time (mostly because someone I love is there) and when I need to start travelling there, I despise the process and want to stay at home. But now I’m here, safely landed in my dear friend Linus’ apartment where I get to monitor the flowers while they’re gone, and I don’t regret getting on that plane. Talk about ambivalence.

When I packed for this trip in Düsseldorf four days ago, the weather report stated that it would be zero degrees Celsius at the lowest, no snow. I considered leaving my snow pants at home  but my friend Michelle clearly instructed me to bring them. Let me tell you this: there are minus degrees and it is snowing in Stockholm. I have lived in Germany so long by now that I forgot how troublesome it is to drag a 20-kg-suitcase through un-cleared streets full of snow.


Photo: Chiva Congelado/flickr.com


When we landed in Arlanda, the entire terminal was dead. Nothing opened, no people anywhere, basically a ghost terminal. Also, the 8-o-clock-flight from Hamburg always lands as far away as possible from the center of the airport. Today, as I strolled through the terminal, I noticed things are happening here (they may very well have been there longer but I never saw them). They put up large installations by Marie-Jo Lafontaine. Transparent portaits of young people, along with neon letters in all languages of the world, reading: “I am a citizen of the world, my homeland is everywhere, I’m a foreigner everywhere.” I thought it was very fitting for the place, our times, and my life.

The next sign I encountered was more easy-going, in the elevator at the station. Even in Stockholm, they combat public urination. But they do it in a funny, almost charming way, with a little fellow protectin himself with an umbrella and asking to please not pee in the elevator.


Other than that, I’ve managed to meet my friend Mia and hear about new developments at our former shared workplace, boost the Stockholm economy by spending lots of money on…what, actually…public transport I guess, and finding the place I want to go to tomorrow thanks to my favorite magazine amelia (an old women’s magazine according to my friends): Fotografiska, the Photography Museum has opened a store in central Stockholm and I am in need of a large above-sofa-adornment. Maybe there’ll be a match.


I miss Carl Gustaf and Silvia

Hamburg when stepped on the plane

Hamburg when stepped on the plane

I am back in the city where they sell peas in the candy section. Yes, that was the most striking thing tonight as I strolled through the well-known Coop store. Actually, the thing that was even more noteworthy – almost shocking – was when I rushed outside the terminal (still foolishly thinking I would make it to the 20:12 train when my plane landed 19:55) and was not as usual met by the King and Queen of Sweden. Okay, no, I am not usually personally picked up by the Swedish head of state when I come to Stockholm (but if he wants to consider that, fine by me, it would spare me some pendel-pains), but as every passenger who comes to Stockholm, I passed through the corridor where the King and Queen welcomed you in almost-full size, followed by Astrid Lindgren, Björn Borg and other Swedish celebrities saying, “Welcome to my home town”. Now there is an Ericsson advertisement. I do wonder how that is in line with the overall nation branding strategy.

In the loose candy/snack section, you can now get peas.

In the loose candy/snack section, you can now get peas. It is what the world has been waiting for!

There are few, possibly no, other places that evoke such conflicting emotions within me as Stockholms with its well-walked ways, familiar sights, predictable routines, an incredible load of distinct, significant memories – the beaten and beloved track, kind of. Now I am snug and warm in the comfort of Marita’s and Fredrik’s home, one of my second homes in Stockholm. I even got a cherry stone pillow belt (I wonder if that is something non-Germans know) from Marita who is a devoted caregiver to the disk defected friend. Tomorrow I’ll hit town (read: slowly walk) to meet near and dear ones!

P.S.: Meanwhile, if you miss me and can read German, read my recent Elbsalon posts about a café name Milk, Sunday’s exhibition about decision making and rap music for the sea rescue service.