Swinging in Sweden

Trip Start Jun 01, 2002
Trip End Sep 11, 2007

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Friday, November 28, 2003

Well yes it is that time again, for you to cancel all your morning meetings and duties and kick back and enjoy a bit of story telling from your long distance friend/enemy me!! Being in old London town there are not too many opportunities to catch up with your close friends who you have grown up with. Of course you could get on the phone or drop them an email, but for some reason boys seem to have this ability to not see or talk to each other for years and years and when you do finally catch up, it is just like a normal day. So when I heard a very good mate (Coxy) from Australia was coming over to London, I got all excited and then to hear that he is going to Sweden and I was invited, I got even more excited that I went out and got the latest IKEA magazine.... yes friends Jay was going to land of Swedish Meatballs, IKEA and Swedish Massages!

London 2 days before departure to Sweden.

With Coxy and the boys swinging into London, I decided to greet them through the big steel custom doors, or perhaps I was a bit worried that he had just come from Sth America and some "beautiful" woman who had asked him to carry this package through customs and give to a go named "Tony". So when I saw Coxy come on through without that "customs rubber glove limp" I knew all was good!

The funny thing, is when you waiting for someone else at an airport, you watch other people more. There is something about standing at an airport and seeing people do the whole meet and greet thing. Some stereotypes that stick to mind are:-

The Couple:
Yes the couple who have not seen each other for a period of time. As he/she comes out of the doors, the other partner rushes up to them with open arms and already the tears have started. At this point, they decide to greet each other with a kiss, not just a normal kiss, but a tongue lapping Olympic length kiss. They finally break apart due to lack of oxygen or the banters of "get a room" are too much to handle.

The Parents:
The Mum and Dad coming to stay with the kids in London. The first words are not "How are you Son?" but more along the lines off "Ohhh not really sure about that shirt dear" or "Ohh it is so crowded" or even "Gee you are looking skinny, are you eating properly or have you got a disease or something dear?"

and of course

The BackPacker:
After hauling 45kg half way around the world on your back for the past 3 months. The first thing you do at the airport is look for that big blue letter "I" for information and then start the self thought questions ; Where am I, What Time is it, What Day is it, Where am I going to stay, What is the currency, Why did I pack 45kg and When is my next flight. and am I really having fun here?

So after a quick coffee and catch up, I was off to work and gave Coxy, the keys and map to my place and hoped he would make it there in one piece and hopefully would not scare the shit out of my housemates! With the organised drinking venue for that evening sorted, let the catch up's begin.

The catchup that night was lost, I just remember saying something along the lines of is that 8 or 9 pints? And the rest is history.

Swinging in Sweden

Coxy: "Ok Mate, I land about 2 hours before you in Sweden will kick back with Emma & Fred and wait for you"
Me: "Excellent, cannot wait.... catch you there buddy"

Normal conversation, right? More conversation, should have been invested into:-

First time in a long time everything was going to plan, got the airport in plenty of time, through check in and customs with no problems, even got myself a window seat on the "first in first served" seat basis for the cheap airlines. Ahhh things were going well. A bit of a chat with the old lady next to me about the theatre in Sweden (not really thinking I would see any theatre but she was nice to talk too). Ahhh things are going well.

As the plane was a little behind schedule, I was a bit concerned about Coxy and crew waiting, so I wanted to get off the plane and get through customs as quick as I could. A nice touch down and the doors open and the Swedish night air hits me. Literally, here I am in a T Shirt shivering and I have only been in Sweden for 36 seconds. Lucky I decided to throw in the jacket and woolly hat in my pack! The airport I am at is really not really an airport. It is more like a farmers shed with a big long driveway! I think to myself, that the guys must have been bored waiting for me, looks like there is nothing to do for miles.

Off towards the customs area and as I approach the window, the lady asks me some questions about why I am here and my length of stay etc. She then hands back my passport, before I take ownership of it again, I ask her to put a stamp in it. "You Australians, have this thing about getting stamps in your passports" she joked as she stamped my number one asset. Into the baggage carousal, to find it is broken and after about a 15 minute delay it kicks into gear. So imagine it 300 odd people standing in this shed, waiting for their baggage speaking all Swedish and minding their business.

And that is what I was doing, minding my own business, when there is a tap on my right shoulder. I turn around to find this 7ft blonde haired blue eyed giant man standing behind me with the words "CUSTOMS OFFICER" plastered across his chest. Oh Fuck!! Mental checklist begins......

1. Did I bring that 4kg of Cocaine with me on this trip...... NO
2. Did I bring those 10 rare snakes from Nth America.... NO
3. Is this Customs Officer carrying Rubber Gloves and Lubricant........Phew NO!

(In your best Swedish accent)
Him: "Excuse me, are you THE Australian"
Me: "Ummm Yes..... sir"
Him "Okay, your friends are running late, they were at the wrong airport"
Me "Sorry, wrong airport"
Him ""Yes there are two airports, Gothenburg"
Me " You are kidding me..."

Turns out the guys had realised I was not flying into the main airport and made a few phone calls and tracked down the customs guy to pass on the message. Talk about a friendly country!!

So I grab my bag and head out steel doors, to find that the customs man was correct, there were no friends there for me get hugs and kisses from. Slowly, the 300 odd people filter through the airport and then there is just me! Yes me, my backpack, my book in the tin shed! Turns out the distance between the two airports is about 1hr, so I might be waiting a while. Well at least I am indoors and it is warm. As 10pm kicks around, the last of the staff at the airport leave and a security guy comes up to me and explains to me that they are leaving now. A bit naively, I am thinking so what, you are an airport, airports stay open 24 hours a day - why are you telling me. Well big ones stay open. Little Shed like this one close at 10pm..

10:05pm I am now sitting outside the airport, in minus 6 degrees freezing weather, trying to read my book under the flare of a glowing advertising sign. Hurry Up guys!!! Thank god, I put my jacket and beanie in - I really did consider not taking a jacket for some stupid reason. Then there it is, the head lights of the car, I am saved and from about 500 metres, I can hear them laughing there heads off already! As I open the door, there is more laughter and more banters of "you idiot"! Well, when I saw the customs guy at first, this was not a bad result compared to the alternative.

Gothenburg, a city of about 50,000 people I think, really nice place and really good bars! I could tell you that the next day we went for a big walk and took photos like tourists and had a nice lunch, but that would be boring. I could also destroy the myth that every single Swedish women is amazingly beautiful - it is every second one! I could also tell you that I think I have never been so cold - and it is not even winter there yet!

The Swedes do not really have normal names, well they are a little bit different to what we know. And to be brutally honest Coxy and I had a problem remembering everyone's name, so we did we do best - made things up. See on the Saturday night Emma had organised a few people to come over to her apartment before hitting the town, so with the beers going down well people coming in left right and centre it was starting to get kinda hard to remember everyone's name.

"Coxy, I think we should rename everyone and give them Aussie names or names we could remember. Good idea!!! "Ok the guy with the hat, call him Thommo, and the guy with beard, Dimo. She looks like a Mary and that one looks like Princess Leia from star wars, that is so George Constansis from Seinfield and there is Dennis the Menace".. So we stood there and started pointing out people and giving them names suited to what we could remember. Now this is where it becomes funny, the people at the party wanted to know their "Aussie Name" and there was one young lady we could not think of name that suited her and she got really upset. So we had to make one up for her!! So here we are in Sweden a room full of drunk Swedes and 2 Aussies and all you can hear is "Heyso, my name is Jonno" or "They have called me Steve Erwin, the crocodile man" - oh to be a fly on the wall that night.

After another huge night and with a rocking hangover there was only 1 thing left to do on our last day together whilst in Sweden. Home cooked Swedish Meatballs. If you are ever in Sweden and you run into Emma's Mum beg her to make her home cooked meatballs because they are so so delicious! But be careful, they do not look very big, but once you have knocked off about 20, you will not be able to get up from the couch ever again. Whilst, the ladies were preparing the meal, the boys decided to go for a walk in the Forrest. Now I am not going to say we got lost or anything, but as the sun was setting and the temperature was dropping I was kinda hoping we would find the way home again very shortly. We did of course, but am sure it was not the correct way out!!!

So there you have it, Sweden, not really done in the most toursity way, but very very enjoyable. A big personal thanks to Emma and Fred for opening up their home, friends and Mum's Cooking and looking after us. I will definitely be coming back and will be sure to get to the IKEA store next time! To Coxy, thanks for making it London and had an absolute ball!

Until next time - stay well!!!
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