A reason to learn Swedish

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Flag of Sweden  , Småland and Blekinge,
Sunday, July 6, 2008

Off the boat and onto the bus to Stockholm's train station.  I missed the 10:15 train to Kalmar so there were two choices - the 10:40 train, which had really crappy connections, or the 12:20, in which case I could probably try and have some more of that fish soup ... I haven't been too keen on Sweden, so I decided to take the 10:40.  I thought I would like Stockholm more, but so far Oslo has been the highlight of Scandinavia. 
The first train was full and I didn't bother with a seat reservation.  The conductor told me that I would most likely have to move, but luckily it never happened.  I changed trains in Alvesta, where the on-board displays showed EVERY seat as being reserved - it was all lies!  I ended up grabbing a folding seat because of that, but nobody ever showed up to claim those "reserved" seats.  No matter, it was only an 80 minute ride, anyway. 
It was quite cloudy all day, but became sunny as we neared Kalmar.  I wondered if there was any relation to the Spanish word calmar, which means "to calm".   Kalmar is a tranquil little town on the water, and a good place to relax, but it's not really to my liking.  The guidebook suggested spending two nights here, but I am glad that I chopped out one night.  But perhaps I found a reason to stay a bit longer ...
I booked a room at the Sjofartsklubben, a former girls school that is now a dormitory for the Maritime academy - they rent it out to tourists in the summertime.  When I called to make the reservation, the girl that answered had the cutest, sweetest accent - I remember thinking "Hmmm ... I wonder if she's hot ...", then told myself "Nah, it's probably an old granny!" 
When I walked in ... dios mio!  OMG!  Definitely NOT a granny!  Maybe Kalmar has no relation to the Spanish word for "to calm", after all - because my heart wasn't calm, but racing when this girl stepped out to greet me!  There are beautiful women that make your heart beat faster, and then there are beautiful women that give you a heart attack - she fell into the category of the latter.  Unfortunately, her boyfriend seemed to be hanging around the place :(   
Do you know that Spanish demeanor and sensibility I always talk about?  Well, apparently some Swedish women have it too!  Hmm ... perhaps the goal for next year is to learn Swedish and make a return trip to Kalmar ...
Off to sightsee - Kalmar reminds me a little bit of Parnu, Estonia (see Euro 2007 blog entitled "Surprise! We got "Mary-ed"!" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/euro-2007/1189018680/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong ).  It was a very quiet Saturday - Kalmar is supposed to be a university town, but everybody is probably already gone for the summer. 
The park around the castle was quite nice, and I managed to score a student discount at the castle, despite not having a student ID!  I'm glad some countries don't check for it.  I wasn't too impressed with this medieval castle, but I did learn some interesting facts. 
Back in the day, people used to drink 5-10 L of water and beer per day, because water wasn't clean enough to drink.  The alcohol content was quite low, however.  The king used to drink 12-14 L!  And at castle parties, they used to surprise guests by baking live animals into bread, so that they would jump out on the table when they cut it open.  What kind of surprise is that?  I'd much rather be surprised by a big chunk of bacon or even better, a t-bone!   
Lots of restaurants in town were closed, but there wasn't anything both appealing and affordable, anyway.  So it was off to the grocery store, where I played a little game of "Shopping by numbers".  I had 116 Swedish Kroner left in small bills and change.  Wings, ribs, cheese buns, brownie yogurt, cookies, water, and juice - I managed to use up 114.5/116 Swedish Kroner - not bad!
A Swedish guy was also staying in the hostel, but didn't speak any English - he kept telling me "Kalmar - best team in Sweden.  1-1!  TV!"  Nice guy, too bad we couldn't communicate.  It is possible that he used to speak fluent English, but simply forgot how when his brain fried upon seeing the receptionist here. 
Off to the waterfront for a walk - the town was pretty dead.  I somehow managed to walk around for over an hour, despite it being a small town with nothing going on.  The main square did pick up a little bit later in the evening.  There are all sorts of nasty little bugs floating around everywhere; I kept inhaling them up my nose.  Mmm ... free food ... inhaled up my nostrils ...
Back to the hostel for some English-language TV - it's been too long!  The only thing in English was Scrubs, and they were having a marathon.  I can't believe I've never watched this show back home - I laughed my ass off!    
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