I can confirm “Sandra In Sweden” exists and is not just an imaginary internet friend. She is a real person. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for about six months now. She’s an American married to an Australian and on her blog she writes about their life in Stockholm. They’ve been in Stockholm five years now.
This month Sandra and I have swapped lives. She and Robert have been visiting Robert’s family in Australia. Co-incidentally, Robert spent much of his early life in Young, which isn’t far from where I used to live in Wagga Wagga. So while they’ve been travelling around the region visiting family and friends who live in the Riverina and Central West and visiting places I know very well, I’ve been in Stockholm visiting the places they know very well. While they’ve been enjoying the sunshine in Australia, I’ve been enjoying the ice and snow in Sweden. For me, the ice and snow are interesting and exotic, not so for Robert and Sandra.
I got an email from Sandra the other day asking when I was returning to Australia. Suddenly it became obvious we had a small window of opportunity to meet each other. So at about five o’clock today, I paid a visit to their fantastic apartment on Sodermalm, which, incidentally is the place in Stockholm I’d most like to live. Literally ten minutes after they walked in the door of their house, I was there to “welcome them back”.
Over an hour or so we chatted about our lives, and made some interesting observations about both Swedes and Australians. We discussed, for example, the “Stockholm Trance” as I like to call it. At this time of the year when the sun has started to re-emerge you often see people with their eyes closed and with their faces aimed directly at the sun. Their necks are out-stretched to gain the maximum exposure. After a few seconds you see them suddenly open their eyes, as if they had taken a micro-sleep. It’s fascinating to watch, and on the more than occasional cold day I experienced, found myself doing the same.
And, of course, we discovered life in Australian country towns. We talked about Australian wine and great and not so great places to live in Australia. “Would you recommend Perth?”, they asked. “Nah, not really” I replied.
What a great couple they are, and meeting them was definitely a highlight of my final day in Stockholm.
After yesterday’s glorious weather, today was reasonably grim. Although it didn’t rain, it was overcast and visibility was low. From the top of Katarinahissen, for example, you couldn’t even see Gamla Stan. I spent most of the day walking around the city picking up some souvenirs and gifts, mostly Swedish chocolates and a couple of small books, bits and pieces. Unfortunately the jar of Swedish jam I bought never made it through airport security. “Too large”, they told me. “Not large enough”, I thought.
I also bought myself a present: a mouse pad of the T-bana network, but with made up names which are parodies of the actual stations. Even with my Swedish which resembles that of a five year old, I was able to pick up the jokes.
Despite the weather, my last day in Stockholm was great.
Sitting here on the aircraft making my way back to Australia, I’m both pleased and disappointed to be coming home. Pleased for all the reasons you might expect, but disappointed also because I feel like I would have liked to have spent more time in Stockholm. I feel like I was just starting to get underneath the surface. I’ll be back.