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City Backpackers Hostel Stockholm

Posted at:16 July, 2015 in Ambassador Blog

July 11 (cont’d)

My plane from Warsaw (Modlin), Poland landed in Stockholm (Skavsta), Sweden….

… An €18 shuttle bus for the 80 minute ride from the airport to Stockholm city center was a quick reminder about Scandinavian prices.  Ouch!

I arrived at the City Backpackers Hostel and checked in.  The hostel is very nice, tidy, and well designed.  There is character inside as an old 1980’s Macintosh computer sits on the front desk with an iPad installed inside to make it seem like the old Macintosh is doing the modern heavy lifting for you.  Super cool.  It is the first hostel I have been to where it is required to rent sheets if you do not carry your own (and who does?)  City  Backpackers Hostel is so clean inside of the building that you have to take your shoes off to enter your dorm.  Wonderful trouble-lights that we have on the ranch for working on cars act as reading lights for every bed.  The beds are soft with covers that feel like you are laying on pillows of feathers.  Comforts await here.

City Backpackers Hostel.

City Backpackers Hostel.

While the girls got mixed up and ended up using the men’s bathroom, Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ came on.  In a bar in Stockholm, Sweden, an Abba song came on.  As if!  I feel like I have lived!

I went for a walk though Old Town Stockholm to see the city.  It has a that Scandinavian feeling I have previously experienced in Copenhagen.  On the walking street of Drottninggata, there is music everywhere.  It is nice to have buskers entertaining on nearly every corner.

My friend Julie was waiting for me with her friend Fatima at Medborharplatsen.  I had not seen Julie in 5 years, so it was great just to see her face.  We went to a pub where I ate ‘Skagen’ which is a traditional Swedish food of shrimp mixed with a white dressing and placed on top of bread.  It was fantastic, as it should be for €16.  Ah, Sweden…  You are beautiful but you come at a cost.  We had a couple of beers while we chatted about the flow of life and then went into a second bar.

* I know that you are already singing it in your head, so you might as well play it.  Here is some Dancing Queen for the rest of the read.  (Hopefully you are not in a slippery shower right now, reading this article while shampooing your hair and about to start dancing.  That can be dangerous, so please be careful…!)

July 12

I got up in time for breakfast at the City Backpackers hostel.  Let’s talk about a breakfast…

…You have your choice of a sandwich, a cinnamon bun, or a DIY waffle.  Accompanying that was a yogurt in an old fashioned jar, fruit variety in an old fashioned jar, muesli, orange juice and tea or coffee.  It is fantastic!

At Central Station, which is very close to the hostel, I was trying to figure out how to buy a metro ticket.  A 75 minute ticket costs 36 Swedish krona (about €3.60) from the ticket machine, but I was not sure if I was buying the right one so I went to a lady at a ticket window.  She told me the ticket was 44 krona.  I asked her about the 36 krona ticket.  She said that it is 36 from the machine and 44 from her window.  I went back to the machine, which did not take cash, and used my credit card to buy the ticket.  Human contact costs about €0.80 in Sweden!

It was a lazy day in Stockholm and after breakfast required a nap and then some work to catch up on life.  I went to the front desk of the hostel to see what I should do in Stockholm for the rest of the day and they just suggested I walk around the city or else go to Skrogskyrkogården which loosely translates to ‘cemetery forest.’  I was told that the gravestones there are amongst trees.  It sounded peculiar, mysterious, and off the beaten path.  Count me in.

Skrogskyrkogården was very beautiful

A forest grows and grave-marking headstones peep up from the green grass.  It does not look like such a bad place to spend some time…  There were people jogging around and people were sitting in the silence.  It is a large and beautiful area of green abundance.

At 70 minutes since I had purchased my metro ticket, I showed it to the ticket checker lady who let me pass and headed to Gamla Stan which is the old town of Stockholm.  It is quaint with narrow streets, cafes, pubs and it is where the Royal Palace is located.  I arrived just as they were having the ‘Changing of the Guards’ ceremony.  Lucky timing.  It is a ceremony that requires much marching and much yelling back and forth between guards.  And they carry big guns!  One of the guards was a lady.  Nice work equal-opportunity-Sweden.

Skrogskyrkogården (Forest Cemetery).  A really nice place to spend some time.

Skrogskyrkogården (Forest Cemetery). A really nice place to spend some time.

I walked through the city towards the City Backpackers Hostel.  There are a lot of beggars in the streets of Stockholm, more than I have seen in any other city so far in Europe.  It came as a surprise to me as I would have assumed that Sweden would have a very great social system.  The consensus from the people I discussed this with was that this is a new phenomenon in the country and is only about three years old.  It seems to make the Swedes uncomfortable.

In the evening I went out for meatballs and a beer at a suggested restaurant called Tennstopet.  I could not be in Sweden and not have meatballs!  A stern-faced blonde lady in her 60’s was my waitress.  She brought me a plate of seven small meatballs with gravy on them, a small bowl of package-mashed potatoes, some cranberries and a few sliced cucumbers.  I counted the seven meatballs in front of her when she delivered them.  Together, the meatball plate and the pint of beer cost about €30.

I walked back towards the City Backpackers Hostel.  Right next to it is a very beautiful garden on a hill called Tegnér-lunden where a terraced group of ponds flow from one to another as gravity brings the water down.  It feels fresh to be there in the evening, and it was a nice last stop before heading back to the hostel to get a good night of rest for an early morning train.

 

Shoes off in City Backpackers hostel.  I like this idea.

Shoes off in City Backpackers hostel. I like this idea.

July 13

I woke up at 6:29am, just two minutes before my phone alarm was about to blast Pantera’s song ‘The Sleep’…

….and wake everyone else in the room as a process of pulling me from my slumber.  Seven other people owe my subconscious internal alarm a ‘thank you’ for that two minute early awakening!

Shower.  Delicious breakfast.  Out the door of City Backpackers Hostel.  Train station five minutes early!  Feel pride at not having to run for the train.  Climb onboard and find a comfy seat.  Fall asleep.  Arm tap – “Is this your seat?” is the polite Swedish question meaning ‘You are in my seat…’  Change seats.  Fall asleep.  Travel.  Arm tap – “Is the correct seat for you?”  Change seats.

The trouble with Swedish trains is that all Swedish tickets allocate a seat, but on an old train there is not marking of what seats are reserved and which are not so it is a total crap-shoot.  And with the Eurorail pass there is no seat definition, so you really just have to get lucky and find a seat that hopefully no one has reserved as the train stops in towns and drop-off/pick-up people along the way.

City Backpackers Hostel Stockholm
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