Walking around and exploring....

Trip Start Aug 06, 2009
Trip End Aug 25, 2009

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Flag of Sweden  , Stockholm,
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yeah!!  First day in Stockholm.  Oh yes, forgot to say that aside from the big water bottle that we bought last night, we also picked up some really fresh green apples.  Packed for the day (green apple, some cookies, water bottle) and headed out to explore.  To start the day right, gotta have my java.  Apparently, Wayne's Coffee is like the Timothy's chain back home.  Decided to go to Espresso House on Sveavagen (same street that our hotel's on) and since it was so nice out, bought a large vanilla iced latte... for 35 SEK (5.83 CAD)... Okay... a bit high for a coffee but it was so good!!

Sat on a bench and had the apple and latte and watched the cars go by.  They looked at me funny.... but then again, I think they're funny too!  :)  Continued on my way and found the Apple store so stopped in there to check it out.  Wow!!  Very expensive!  The 3 year Apple Care Protection Plan is almost 400 CAD!  Found an optical store so went in to get my sunglasses adjusted (Asian face - no nose bridge so it keeps sliding every time I look down) and had to pay 20 SEK.  Found a watch store and got my first bargain!!  Got a watch for my gf and it was originally 398 SEK but got it for less than 1/2 the price!  Woohoo!  I feel good.

Walked to the cultural plaza and watched the people a bit.  Walked into the centre and found a really cool model of Stockholm so snuck a picture of that.  Went upstairs and there's a bunch of people playing chess so watched 2 old men play.  It was good.  When you thought one was losing, he managed to come out on top.  Found a little museum inside so walked through there and got a picture of Snowman poop except it's brown... :)

Talked to a few people about the local festivals and since the closet one coming up is the Cultural Festival, got a map to show me where all the venues are so I can go there on Tuesday.  Bought myself a 7 day transit pass which allows me to go on all the buses and trains for 300 SEK (50 CAD) so will be exploring the underground of Stockholm soon.  Kept walking from the plaza and walked right into an open market!  It was really cool and reminds me of the markets in Asia.  The vendors are competing with each other and it's quite funny to watch.  One guy yells mushrooms (I think that's what he was yelling 'cuz he would point to them) from one vendor and the guy in the next vendor does the same except he would yell louder.  It's really funny!

Kept walking and saw a lot of street performers.  Very good!  The only downside I found so far is there's not enough benches in some of these areas for you to sit and enjoy them.  Had to go to the bathroom and learned that you had to pay 5 SEK (0.83 CAD) to use it!  The Asian in me came out and I found a free way... went to the McDonald's (there's tons around and they look like fancy restaurants), stand in the lineup (it's a co-ed toilet and co-ed sinks, etc) and when the person leaves, grab the door before it closes!!  I learned that the 5 SEK keeps the lights on... I have a flashlight!!  Of course, since it's the restaurant, the lights stay on and having so many years of experience in going to the toilet, I figured I could go in the dark in the case of an emergency.  :D

Found the average lunch is about 65 - 85 SEK (11 - 15 CAD) and dinner starts at 100 SEK.  Hhhmmm... have to be creative... okay.  It's almost 5 pm here and I have to keep exploring.  I have a BBQ to go to tonight at 6 pm so will relax for an hour before I go.  :)  I'm hoping that I'll be able to upload some pictures and maybe videos later.  We'll see!

Okay... I'm back... went to a BBQ dinner and that was really fun.... it was a long way to get there and learned that the transportation system here is confusing!!  We walked to the train station to buy a 7 day pass for people who didn't have it (I had bought mine earlier that day).  The guy in the booth was on a scheduled break so he wouldn't help us... in the end, he sort of helped as there was more of us than him and we wouldn't leave the booth.  :)  So, you get a plastic card and load it up at the machine.  Only problem is, the machine doesn't accept cash, only credit card and it doesn't recognize a credit card with a chip from Canada.  Then if you don't have a chip, it's stupid unless you know your 4 digit pin.  Ugh!  Then when you get on the bus, you scan it and hope it works.  You can't pay money to the bus driver as they don't accept anything unless it's already pre-paid.  *Sigh*  So after all the drama of getting a bus ticket, we finally get on the bus.  Geez... all I want to do is give someone money!!!  I've never heard of anyone where they reject someone trying to give them money.  Well, if they don't want the money, I'll take it.

Finally got to the bus stop where we had to get off to go to the BBQ.  We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked...  I think we took the tourist route so that we could see how Swedish people live.  :)  All in all, we finally arrived.  The food was excellent and I tried whale for the first time.  I must say, it's like beef jerky!  We stayed for a long time (didn't leave until past midnight) but we had such a good time and met new friends.  The conversations were really fun and interesting - we traded secrets on how to go to the bathroom standing up - how can you leave???

Got a ride back from the BBQ and got ready for bed... did I say that I hated communal bathrooms?  If I didn't before, I'll say it now.  Yuck!!  Women are so nasty when they think they have anonymity... After getting ready for bed, I went into our "prison" of a room and was in "lockdown" for the rest of the night.  I counted the ceiling tiles and it's 3.5 square tiles across and 7 square tiles long... prison cell size.  There has to be a fire hazard or some weird code they're breaking....
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