"Since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be?"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Midnight in Stokholm

A few notes about my Spring Break in Sweden so far: written from my hostel in Stokholm.

Flew into Göthenburg Friday night after my last Aesthetics tutorial. I felt so drained-- so beyond exhausted. This term has truly zapped every last ounce of my strength. I dreaded waking up and starting another day: feeling so physically burdened even after a full night's rest. I think I was shaking after I finished my last tutorial with T. My mind was running on exhaust fumes. Despite that fact, I think I ended my postcolonial lit tutorials with him on a positive note. We had a fantastic conversation about the nature of good and evil as it pertained to Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. I was trying to explain my views on good and evil, referring to St Augustine's theory. Overall, a pretty amazing conversation. For once he had to cut me off and say we needed to stop. I was almost on the verge of asking what I should read for next week. So hard to believe tutorials are over. Forever. I don't know if I can really accept that yet.

When we arrived in Göthenburg, we found our hostel, which was actually a very nice place. Clean. even had a tv. and we had the room to ourselves. Saturday we spent the day taking a ferry to the islands on the coast. The bus system wasn't too difficult, but it was complicated by the fact that we couldn't pronounce (or remember how to spell) most of the stops: Jorkingaten?, Saltholmen?, etc. The islands were beautiful though. We sailed along to the last stop, an island called Vrängo, and explored the place. A few people got off on the stop with us, but other than them we really didn't see a soul on the island. It was chilly, but the sun shone so warmly that we didn't find it cold. The water at the edge of the beach was so clear that you could see the seaweed waving down at the bottom for a good ways out. Casey collected sea shells and bits of green seaglass on the little patch of shoreline. We also climbed up a bit of the small island mountain to see the view of the coast, which was pretty stellar. Coming back down we followed a woody trail and stumbled onto a nature reserve. The pathways led us to another open beach area with picnic tables and campfire sites. I could vividly picture a pretty Swdish fmaily with blonde children packing a picnic lunch with bread, cheese, and cider-- eating and playing by the shore during a long August afternoon. You couldn't imagine how lonely it felt on that island. So quiet and deserted, but oddly not sad. Ireland possessed a tragic sadness which somehow oozed out of its misty green hills, but Sweden seems oddly cheerful in its cold loneliness. As though it is content to smile and endure the frozen winter months. They paint their houses yellow to match the sunlight they carry in their jacket pockets.

Today we took a train from Göthenburg to Stockholm and saw a good bit of the countryside on the 3 and a half hour trip. I read a few essays on The Sound and the Fury and watched the yellow fields of Sweden roll past my window. I'll always associate yellow fields with Sweden now: yellow hay fields and red houses-- ice covered lakes and yellow summer homes. Stokholm seems like a nice place-- somewhat more nice than Göthenburg, which seemed a little run down. This is the major city of Sweden, so it makes sense that it would be more modern and well kept. After arriving here and finding our hostel, we went looking for the Royal Palace, and eventually found it after some wandering and stopping to take pictures of the frozen lake. The ice is beginning to thaw in patches, and break up into jagged pieces, like a broken mirror floating in a large bathtub. It was another lovely day, and the sun was setting over the harbor as we found the palace, so we were able to take a few lovely sunset shots of the palace and the bridges over the lake. For dinner we found a little hole-in-the-wall place and asked for a very Swedish meal, though we couldn't by any means pronounce its name. It was some kind of roast beef(?) with a uniqely flavored sauce over rice, lettuce, and french fries. Odd, but delicious after I got used to the flavour. Katie and I split a little carton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream on our way back to our hostel, and it cost us about 400 SEK, which is about... 4 dollars? ish?.. we're having a very hard time figuring out how to transfer crowns to pounds and dollars in our heads. Tomorrow we leave for Copenhagen and will have a whole new currency to deal with, but it'll be a new adventure.