Ah, Sweden. When I think of the time spent in Sweden I think of a few things. I think of the night that Zach and I ran into some other Americans and went bar hopping, and I think of Zach’s Swedish family reunion in Falun, I think of bars with his aunt and uncle and dinner with all of his family, and finally I think of so much walking.
One Friday we ran into some Americans at this Swedish rocker bar we had been going to for the cheap (relatively) pints. It looked pretty dead so we were in the process of leaving, but then one of the guys at the bar grabbed Zach and started yelling about the Red Sox. Zach was wearing one of his Red Sox hats, so that made a bit of sense. It turns out several of the guys that were there were from Boston, and all of those were Sox fans. We started talking with the guys, they were in Stockholm for a couple of days before they headed to Munich for Oktoberfest. We told them about our upcoming travels and we all hit it off pretty quickly.
They asked if we new some good bars and Zach said that not only did he know some good bars he stays just around here and knew the area pretty well. Then we were off towards Sodermalm. We started walking. We started slowly losing guys, one at Medusa, but were still rolling 6-7 deep. We had to stop for gyros for the guys, but Zach and I had already eaten. I don’t remember that much of what we talked about on the walk, but it was the general back and forth that all men know well. The drunken getting to know people that you will probably never see again. I’m not dismissing it, because it is fun, but calling it like I see it. We traded stories, and talked with them about where they were from. Aparrently a couple of them were from this town outside Tampa Florida. That immediately peaked Zach’s interest because that is one of the places that we were looking at coming back to. They said it was really cool and way better than Miami.
We got to Soder and went to Pet Sounds, which was the bar Zach and I went to briefly the night before with Anna’s friend Elin. They were about to close so we couldn’t get any beers. They even resisted the charms of the Boston guys trying to bribe the bartender to serve us anyways. We then tried to leave, but some of the Bostonians were reluctant. Finally all of us left. Zach, me and the lead Bostonian? The lead Bostonian noticed we were about 5 people short and we went back, and noticed that they had picked up a couple of people. A few girls and their assorted boyfriends. More the merrier as I always say. The new Swedes had an idea for some bar that Zach hadn’t heard of. They said it was open late so we were all down. They tried to GPS us there, but were having issues, but we eventually ended up in front of this club.
So clubs in Sweden are even more expensive than the bars, up to $15/pint, way out of our price range. Most of the Bostonians opted to stay, but Zach, me and two of the guys went back to Medusa for a nightcap. We had a couple of pints at the Medusa, and the Bostonians decided to head out. It was a weird goodbye. I’m not used to picking up new friends at the bar like that and bonding that quickly. We shook hands and they took off. Zach turned to me, “Well that doesn’t mean that we can’t drink for the rest of the night.”
“Agreed,” was my witty rejoinder.
Then some drunk guy came up to us to try to get us to watch him beatbox on the set. He was speaking in an odd mix of Swedish and English I’m told they colloquially refer to as, “Swenglish.” Zach’s Swedish is much better than mine, which is basicallly non-existent, and he tried to talk with the guy. He was very drunk and insistent on something. I don’t speak Swedish, so I’m not sure what it was, but he sure wanted us to know. After maybe a half hour of this we decided to head back to the apartment. We then sat at the kitchen table and drank and talked, just like we had earlier in the night. I don’t remember going to sleep, but I was awoken by the church bells. They seemed to come from everywhere. I later learned from Anna that the apartment was between two different churches whose bells went off at the same time. So it was bells in stereo to wake you up in the morning, fine most mornings, but a little rough on that one.
The Thursday before we left we went into Stockholm to get our visas and have dinner with Zach’s uncle Johan. It turns out that the consulate was closed on that day for Ghandi’s birthday. Ghandi, always messing up our plans. This meant that we had to get our passports/visas the Friday before we left. We were cutting it pretty close, but we like to live on the edge (heh).
We met up with Johan, and his infant son Jonathon and walked around Sture Plan. We took in the sights, and just enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t raining.. He walked us through some of the French style open markets. I assume they were expensive because there weren’t any prices on anything. I asked Johann about it and he said that it was probably a “If you have to ask, it’s too much for you,” kind of thing.
We grabbed some Texas Style ribs and stuff for slaw, and went over to Johann and his wife Karin’s place. It was very nice and we picked up Zach’s other cousin from daycare. Johann had grabbed some ciders, and some beer at the store and we started chatting about a little bit of this, and that. We talked of Johan’s plans for living in the city, our upcoming departure for India, Johan’s travels in the past, and the lessons he learned from them. It was one of the nicer conversations I’ve had in a good long while. Dinner was equally pleasant, and the ribs and slaw were great, true southern style. Also known as the best style (keep your vinegar off my meat New Orleans GLARE).
We left when the children were going to bed. Zach and I were going to stop by Medusa for a pint, but it was completely empty. So instead we stopped by the store, grabbed a couple of what the Swedes call light beer (3.5% abv), but back home we call “near beer”. We then walked to the waterfront and watched the city and drank our beer. We eventually wandered back to the apartment and saw Anna who had just got back from her business trip. It was a pretty early night, so that we could go out the next day for a quick beer with Anna before we took the train back to Saltsjobaden.
On Friday we got up and had some trail mix, then we goofed around online for a few hours. After that we went on a long meandering walk around the city, and grabbed our passports/visas. There were buildings and people, I think I went through some part I hadn’t seen before. I’m not super good at remembering that kind of thing, but it was nice.
So then I set up some networking stuff for Anna and we said bye to Zach’s other uncle Anders and his wife Annika. We got to the bar at maybe 5-10 mins before 8PM. You might ask me, “Noah why does that matter? Isn’t the bar open until like 2AM?” Why yes it is randomly nosy person, but until 8PM the beers are only 24kr. Yes that’s right they are only $3.32 USD. That’s a pretty good price for a pint in the states, but it’s unheard of in Sweden. That’s less than a dollar more than you pay for a cold near beer at the grocery store. Pints in Sweden are about $9 at a cheap place and up to $15 at clubs. Fortunately the bartender was OK with selling us 2 a piece. We sat down and drank our beers, figuring that we would head out after that. I grabbed the next round, then there was another, and another, as these things tend to happen.
At some point during these rounds a very drunk Swede started talking to Anna in Swedish. I had seen this guy sitting next to us for a while eyeing Anna. He looked at us oddly then Anna said something and he laughed. He had been talking to us and wondered why we hadn’t responded. Then he realized that we don’t speak Swedish. He started referring to us as Englishmen, and started chatting. He was in that perfect meet new people level of drunkenness. He was a bit boorish, but still entertaining, and he had avoided pissing anybody off too much. He was drinking slowly, which was probably for the best because he was already clearly drunk.
He asked where we were from and we said Oregon. I have learned since coming to Sweden that almost no one knows where Oregon is. Zach mentioned that he’s originally from California, and I said that I’m originally from Oklahoma. He kept trying to ask me a question that I was having trouble hearing in the very loud bar. He wanted to know what Oklahoma was known for being better at then almost anybody else in the world. I had to think about that. I like Oklahoma, but it’s not really known for being really good at anything. In Oklahoma we generally fight with South Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee for being the worst at things, or the best at bad things. Like highest teen pregnancies, muders per capita, childhood obesity, and lowest teacher pay. I really thought about it for a minute then I had it.
“We make the best meth in the world!” He started laughing and asked,
“Yes, three of our biggest exports are marijuana, corn, and meth.” We also have the musical, but I try to never bring that up because, especially with drunk people, they start singing it. He seemed to accept my answer, and said that I was alright. Hey, if a drunken Swede thinks it, it must be true right?
Pretty soon after that he had to go before he passed out. He seemed convinced that Anna and Zach were a couple no matter how many times they said that they were family. As an aside Anna started introducing Zach as her brother because she thought being called his aunt made her seem old. I find no end of amusement in this by the way. Also because having a brother from another country is odd, but I guess it could be possible with step-siblings.
We finished up our last rounds then walked to the train station and went back to Saltsjobaden. On the train we were hoping that the kebab place would be open. It was not, much to our chagrin. We walked back, and had an argument about something inane. Zach kept trying to get me to bet him. I knew that I was a little drunk at this point because the only time Zach tries to bet me money is when I’ve been drinking. Over the years he’s won a lot of money off of me in these bets, but I made a rule never to bet while drinking. I have been pretty good about this as well, so I wouldn’t. It ended up being for the best though because I was wrong (but I won the moral victory, also known as the useless victory).