Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Following school on Tuesday the Oregon State group (myself, Laura, Garrett, Nikki, and Katie) left for Stockholm on Wednesday. After confusion about when our train left, my tire going flat on my bike and a bit of luck, Laura and I made it from our dorm to meet up with the other three just in time for the train. Taking the train was fun because as a result you get to see soo much of Sweden. Sweden is really the land of the lakes and riding up to Stockholm you pass so many little lakes here and there I don't think it would be that hard for every Swede to have their own lakehouse getaway. On the train ride I decided it necessary to finish a short book that I had started, "The Old Man and the Sea".  I wanted to read that one before I left since Hemingway won a Nobel Prize for Lit. after writing that book and I planned on going to the Nobel Museum. However I drastically underestimated my tendency to get motion sickness and the reading only made it worse.  I had a route planned out just in case I felt the urge to throw up, but thankfully it didn't come to that. After a 4 hr train ride we got to Stockholm and hopped on the subway for one stop to get to our hostel.
Stockholm has rivers that break up the city into various little islands and we stayed in an area called Gamla Stan, the old town area which was a great neighborhood to be in. Filled with little shops it was also the same island as the Royal Palace and was right next to the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament). We found our hostel tucked away among antique shops and apartments and had a room of 3 bunk beds to ourselves. Simple room but really all you need. Since my stomach had settled down a little from the train ride we had a great dinner at a sushi spot in town. The chicken teriyaki I order hit the spot for me since I haven't really had good asian food in a month. After that we went back to our place and got ready to go out on the town.
We had planned on going to the Ice Bar, which as the name suggests is a bar made completely out of ice. They give you these shiny silver hooded down jackets and pants to wear to complete the experience. Unfortunately it was booked for the night since there was a convention going on in the same hotel. So we decided to just hop around from bar to bar. We went to one called the "Laughing Duck" where we had our first drink. Naturally there was another American there who filled the stereotype of being obnoxious and loud. If someone didn't understand something he said he would just say it louder as if it helped. After that we went to a restaurant/bar that was really warm and cozy. They easily have had the best selection of beer since I have been here in one bar.  We only lasted a beer there as well before we moved on to the Light Bar, which was right across the street from the Ice Bar. The Light Bar was really trendy and fashionable which was yet another reminder that even if you put on a button up shirt it doesn't mean you are dressed up. There was one bar tender that was overly nice to us since it was his last night there... and the fact that we had three good looking girls with us didn't hurt as well. He would give us deals on these extravagant drinks that he would dress up with fruit and candies like he was an artist. If a drink wasn't to his standards he would pour it out. Me being the cheap bitch that I am I was more than happy to take any of those drinks off his hands for free. Katie and I met a businessman named Peter from Gothenburg who ended up joining our party on the couches. He had the dry sense of humor that I have found many Swedes to have but was definitely good company for the night. Him not being a poor college student like us was kind enough to buy us a round of drinks. After saying our goodbyes we decided to head out since we wanted to get home before the trains closed. First we made a necessary stop at the golden arches of McDonalds to get a midnight snack. A diet of beer and fries doesn't do the body good FYI.
I woke up early the next morning and was able to get out of the hostel by around 9:30. Everyone was still asleep but I had wanted to go to a few places while I was in Stockholm, one of them was the Riksdag. The Riksdag is the Swedish Parliament and is an amazing building on its own small island. After a short walk there I was hoping to get a tour of it but my timing was bad. Tours begin next week so I decided to just do more exploring of Stockholm instead.  I went up this long main stretch of shops browsing around and taking in my surroundings. After looping back down and wandering for a few hours I made my way back and looked around the Royal Palace. I was there long enough to taunt the guards. Which one of you reading this wouldn't be surprised if I caused an international crisis? After doing my exploring I checked back in at the hostel but everyone was still asleep so I went to check off another item from my to-do list. Luckily, the Nobel Museum was right near my hostel so I went to it. It was very small but offered a lot of interactive material. In one area was a movie theatre where they highlight some more notable of the Nobel Laureates.  Among them was Oregon Stater Linus Pauling who won two Nobel Peace Prizes. After his video I gave a standing ovation only to be looked at strangely and shunned by the rest of the museum goers. All I ever wanted was to fit in.... They had an area inside in which you listen to audio interviews of various winners which one of them was Ernest Hemingway. It was good to put the voice to the book I had just finished.
After that fun excursion I met up with the group which was then ready to go out. We found this great restaurant that Laura had been to when she had been stockholm. You go down thes steep dungeon like stairs into a basement where there is a decent sized resatuarnt with all these hidden nooks and hiding spots. We found a good little alcove and had some pizza. It was a great atmosphere and a good spot to chat before the concert. We traveled to the dome to pick up our tickets for the Black Eyed Peas concert. After that we went through a mall that was right next door.   A little shopping later the girls had picked up some good items and we headed to the more conventional shops that line the streets of Stockholm. It was the same area I had browsed earlier but it was good to have the company the second time around. We grabbed some stuff to eat along the streets including some sweets. They have a lot of these licorice carts that have sours and licorice for sale which I love taking advantage of.  We decided to pick up some drinks for us before the concert, but in Sweden they aren't allowed to sell beer above 3.5% alc, wine, or liquor in grocery stores so all of it is sold in government owned stores called System Bloget. The one we went to was different from any others as all the beer/wine/liquor were in glass cases and you just go to the counter and order what you want like you are in a fast food store.
After a little time off our feet and a few beers we left for the Black Eyed Peas concert (or BEP as the kids call it). We got to our seats which were high up but in perfect view of the stage. I knew a few BEP songs going into the concert but I had no idea how many of there songs are I've heard before without knowing it was them. The main thing to know is they put on a really fun performance to watch and was definitely worth seeing it if not just for laughs. Following a few hours of the concert we went to a bar to cap off the night and had a beer and some bar fries. However, that wasn't enough so we went to a Swedish fast food chain called Max, which ended up being pretty good.
We had our train leave early the next day so we left Stockholm with a few good memories and lots of pictures. I was tired enough that I got to sleep a good deal on the train ride back and avoided getting to motion sick.
Hope everyone else is doing good and I'll be sure to try and update it more often to avoid these long winded entries! Cheers,
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