Ah, Sweden!

Alright. So I've been a bit nostalgic lately and, going through my old "memory" books (what a treasure!) I found a bit of writing that I actually really enjoyed reading through again. It was probably the worst day of my life at that point (well, not really, but almost!)--here it is, in the painful glory of a trip gone wrong....

I had just crossed the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm on my way back from a wonderful trip to visit first Johanna and her family in Gothenburg/Salto and then Niclas and Karen in Helsinki for New Years and was on my way home to Stuttgart when.....

January 6th, 2003:

Marion Keyes once wrote (boy, does that sound cheesy or what?)

Everything was good or bad, fat or thin, big or small only by comparison with what surrounded it.

Keeping that in mind...the past 24 hours haven't actually been that bad!

I had just spent over 2 weeks of vacation traveling with friends

(okay, it was COLD, but so what? Some people never get to see snow)

New Years in a mansion

(thank god I picked up some "rules" in a book somewhere--you know, the ones about how to put your napkin in your lap properly, start from the outside with the utensils, sit up straight and don't drink too much--and didn't make a fool of me)

was driven to the ferry terminal yesterday afternoon after running out of money finally

(some people don't have money to run out of)

had normal cabin mates aboard the oh-so-tacky Gabriella or Mariella or what's-her-name, even if my cabin was below the water line and when we hit chunks of ice they scraped oh-so-slowly past the crown of my head, anyway, I wasn't sleeping on the floor...

(Some people probably had to swim.....)

Anyway, I spent 14 hours resting in my cabin

(probably why I didn't have a nervous breakdown today)

and when I reached Stockholm city terminal this morning had no idea how I was getting home because as I mentioned before, I had run out of money AND pay phones in Sweden only make collect calls within Sweden

(but some people can't make collect calls, they have no one to call, how sad!)

and so spent 15 Euros on phone cards, which I used almost exclusively to call Mom and Dad and harass them at 5 am because I didn't know what else to do

(poor kids without loving, understanding, with-senses-of-humor-at-five-am-even-when-grouchy-parents LOL)

...where was I?
Oh, yes, so after 15 Euros of phone cards--!mercenary rates!--and one indulgence

(the biggest cup of takeaway coffee I could get for ONLY SEK 150, or about 1.60 US/1.50 Euro--yes, the Euro is stronger than the dollar right now--with loads of cream and sugar)

and about 6 hours of waiting around the train station

(some very melancholy-looking, strange Russian man asked me very gently and politely if I would come to his hotel room with him, the dear)

Dad managed to work his magic

and I used my last SEK 75 to buy an SEK 80 ticket to Arlanda and here I am.
I had enough Euro change to buy a bag of chips and have refilled my water bottle from the bathroom sink
(bless Sweden, their water is always potable!)

and found the book I have read 3 times now--by Marion Keyes, who else?--and now I only have like 100 minutes left before my plane boards and I fly back to Stuttgart

(where it's probably raining--but I'm sure there's a drought somewhere soooooo)

and hopefully be home by midnight or so! Things could be worse.

(I am fickle, I didn't think so this morning when my doom-and-gloom male parent sighed heavily into the phone and said "I don't think I can do anything" or something equally spirit-quelling and I mentally put my face on a milk carton--not in Sweden, though, they put happy things on their milk cartons here--and attended my own funeral--purely ceremonial, of course, as my body was never found. I tried to hitchhike home and the gentle Russian got to me first.)

Speaking of Russians, there were tons in Stockholm today even though it's a holiday

(and did you know that it's impossible to buy an international train ticket in this country on a holiday? Future travelers be warned!)

and the women reminded me of Ekaterina Gordeeva with jaunty little fur hats and entire colonies of beavers or something similar as coats--and the men were nothing like Sergei Grinkov--all eyelashes and pouty mouths, sure, but short and squarely built. My other great encounter was on the ferry--did you know there are actual gypsies here? They wear floor-length show-girl-can-can dresses with ruffled collars and hoops! honest! and carry two squalling, dark-eyed babies apiece and ride the ferry endlessly back and forth between Helsinki and Stockholm to visit their "relatives" on either end--

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