When The Summer’s Over…

The shitty weather has arrived back in Stockholm with force. It’s cold, it’s wet and it’s not much fun, to be honest. Faced with the prospect of walking to the station tonight to meet Nigel for dinner, I called a cab instead. Well, I didn’t call a cab, I asked the woman at the hostel to call a cab.

I’ve decided calling a cab is one of a number of things I won’t attempt in Swedish. It’s the kind of thing where the person you’re speaking to will be always asking for some kind of minute clarification.

The woman at the hostel and I also had a nice little chat about how I had been learning Swedish. “But why Swedish?”, she asked with an incredulous look in her eyes. It’s been a fairly common response I’ve had here. A lot of Swedes just don’t understand why a tourist would bother. And then after a second, you see the glazed look in their eyes. They realise you’re an Australian, and therefore probably one of those freak ABBA fans from the 1970s.

Baldersgaten 1 – the head office for ABBA in the 1970s.

Despite the rain, it’s been a great day, mostly catching up with a bloke called Gustav who I’ve known through ABBA fan circles for over a decade. Even though we’ve known each other for a long time, he’s still quite young. Late 20s, I think. He’s one of the younger fans in a predominantly middle-aged hardcore fan scene.

After lunch we walked, talked, looked in shops and generally had a good time together. Amongst the many things we did on “Gustav’s Walking Tour of Stockholm” was visit Baldersgatan 1. Back in the 1970s, this was the ABBA headquarters. Significantly, I remember writing and receiving a letter back on letterhead which featured a drawing of the building.

Jag och Gustav i Stockholm

To a young boy from the bush, it looked exotic and magical. Thirty years later, it’s looking a bit drab, to be honest. Now converted into a nurse’s quarters, it looks like any other building around Stockholm. Still, we took a couple of photographs.

More than that, it was nice to really get to know Gustav a little better. Even though we’ve known each other for a long time, it’s mostly been through an email here and there about nothing of major importance. And then last year when he came to Sydney, it was quite short and quite hectic for him. So it was actually the first time we’ve spoken with such depth about a range of matters.

That said, we also gossiped about some absolute rubbish. And of course, we talked a bit about ABBA and our various theories on a whole range of pop-culture phenomena. A great afternoon together.

Swedish meatballs.

Later, I received a text from Nigel, and after giving him a call we decided to catch up for dinner. I was pretty desperate, however, to get back to the hostel, change from my wet clothes, have a shower, and generally freshen up.

We’d agreed to meet at Slussen, but with the rain pelting down, I asked the cab driver just to pick him up and we headed back to his hotel. It was there I introduced him to the Swedish culinary phenomenon of meatballs with potatoes and lingonberries. As I’ve mentioned previously, I haven’t seen much evidence so far of good “ethnic” cuisine in Sweden, but I certainly think they do a great job with their own cuisine: very tasty.

Over a couple of beers, we chatted about our experiences in Stockholm. And then it was off to the train station to farewell him on the overnight train to Oslo.

I got wet again on the way home tonight. But back in the hostel, it’s nice and warm.

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