“Ooh, how decadent” purred a colleague of mine at work when I told her I was taking the week off work and flying to the other side of the world and back. Stockholm, Sweden to be precise. I guess it might seem decadent but for me, it was a chance for a quick trip to my favourite city in the world and feels more like a homecoming.
I did live in Stockholm for a couple of years between 1999 and 2000, and was still a regular visitor up until 2004. Then things like a change in career and growing credit card debts meant I didn’t have any leave from work nor the money to go.
A few things happened this year that made me yearn to return to Stockholm. Firstly, my best friend from Sweden, Gustav, came to Australia for his first visit in February/March. That was a fantastic time and I realised how much I miss him and how much I miss Stockholm. My favourite male singer, Peter Jöback, then released a single Stockholm inatt (Stockholm Tonight). It is a beautiful song and talked about places in Stockholm that I recognised. It made me feel happy and sad and made me yearn for Stockholm even more. And of course, Peter was doing a big tour of Sweden.
I run a website for Peter which is coming up for its tenth anniversary at the end of October and a Swedish friend emailed me to say what better way to celebrate the tenth anniversary than to see Peter live in concert. I think she was mainly joking but that was the final trigger for me to think “well, why not?”. I found a great deal from Thai Airways, asked Gustav if I could stay with him and worked out all the sums. I could manage it. There may be some of it on credit card but with a bit of frugality, I could have that all sorted by Christmas. So I took the plunge and booked the ticket.
To cut a long story short, I’m sitting in Gustav’s kitchen, typing out this blog entry on his laptop. And I couldn’t be happier. Not too sure how decadent I feel but certainly happy. I arrived yesterday courtesy of Thai Airways, my first time one that airline and it won’t be my last. The service was good but what I really liked was the extra legroom they give economy passengers – 34″ as opposed to 31″. Trust me, 3″ may not sound like much but it is. I didn’t feel squashed in. It also helped to have an empty seat next to me.
I arrived early yesterday morning feeling a mixture of excitement and nostalgia. I had a big grin on my face as I came off the plane which pretty much stayed with me throughout the day. It just felt so right to be back in Stockholm. After no time at all, I felt at home and like I had never left. Not that much has changed. A few new buildings here and there but still essentially the same. And the same vibe and atmosphere. Walking through the Old Town in the early evening was beautiful as I got to see both the city and Södermalm (just south of the city) all lit up. The giant passenger boats slid past, lit up like a giant cities on their way to Helsinki. Globen, the concert and sports venue shaped like a giant golf ball, looked splendid lit up in red, white and blue.
I guess only being here for a week will hopefully mean I have no time for jet lag. My sleeping patterns are a little out of whack but will hopefully settle. I have the excitement of seeing Peter Jöback in concert twice, and on Saturday, Gustav and I will see a dinner show with Nanne Grönvall, another favourite singer. And then there are other friends to catch up with.