It’s mid-afternoon and I’m sitting in a park on Djurgarden, one of the many islands of Stockholm. And I’m doing exactly what thousands of people are doing here right now: sitting around doing nothing andenjoying the Swedish summer. The weather’s been great all day. In fact it was hot for a while earlier today and I had to put my silly hat on, which makes me look so much like a tourist.
I haven’t begun wearing those backpacker sandals though yet. And I could never wear them with socks which, tragically, seems to happen all too frequently here. I saw a young kid at the airport yesterday wearing socks and sandals and had to stop myself from going up to him and begging him to stop wearing them before it was too late.
As well as a couple of doe-eyed couples looking longingly at each other, and another single male backpacker nearby, there are family groups everywhere. It’s school holidays here right now.
This morning at breakfast the hostel was packed to the rafters with kids, which immediately prompted me to set the alarm for about an hour earlier tomorrow.
There’s also thousands of Americans in town. Their presence has really surprised me, since I never thought of Sweden in summer as an American tourist destination. But they’re everywhere, and that accent can be heard everywhere loudly and regularly.
And the gays have started to arrive for Europride, which is at the end of the month. As I got on the bus a little while ago, I saw a couple of Russians (I later discovered) who gave me that up and down look and a “knowing smile”. We chatted ever so briefly in broken English. Which reminds me, I’ve decided I don’t particularly like Swedish gays. They’re all a bit too girly, in my humble opinion.
This was particularly evident in an exhibition which I just visited at Djurgarden about gays working on the Swedish-American shipping line during the 1940s to 1970s. Lots of camp, lots of draq, you get the idea. I suspect The Other Andrew would really like the exihibition as it has some of those classic gay images he likes so much. It’s a good exhibition, and one I’d recommend, based on a book by Arne Nilsson.
I found out about earlier today, as I spent a bit of time this morning at the main arts centre in Stockholm. They have a newspaper reading room up there with delightful views of the city. You can just go in there and read the papers and no one bothers you. I was surrounded by lots of old blokes who obviously couldn’t afford the papers.
I sat there going through as many of the “what’s on” sections of newspapers I could find, trying to work out how I’m going to spend my days here. I can’t just wander around aimlessly. That’s just not my thing. So I’ve found some music to go and see (I’ve already been to a lunchtime jazz concert) as well as a few exhibitions here and there.
Walking through the city today, I also came across a pretty funny exhibition, actually, featuring road signs from around the world. It’s fairly US-based, and so a lot of the humour derives from Americans laughing at examples of bad English translations. I was more amused by the American signs. I mean, they speak English and they still manage to get it wrong.
Anyway, I’m heading back to the hostel for a little lie-down before heading over to Sodermalm tonight.