The past two weeks I spent doing trips to Stockholm and Uppsala. These trips were planned not only to give our living situation on 26m² a breath of air and my boyfriend time to study for his math test, they are also part of my mission “worldtrip”. Since it is my first time in Scandinavia I feel like I need to do some sightseeing before being off to South America.
Sweden´s capital Stockholm is a typical European city. Stockholm´s unique selling point is the water which surrounds the city and separates it into many islands. The capital and it’s ca. 855,000 inhabitants is spread out over 14 islands which are connected with 53 bridges. The whole archipelago around Stockholm includes 24,000 islands (wikipedia) that are often not bigger than a family home. If you book one of the boat tours offered in the harbor you get to see many of the not inhabited islands on your way.
My hostel “Moosebacke” is located in a former movie theater and was renovated a couple of years ago. The rooms are clean and the staff is friendly but cinemas are not famous for windows and this is how my room feels more like a prison cell than a nice hostel room. The hostel is in the “in” part of town “Södermalm” which is easily comparable to the famous “Berlin Mitte” and is located south of the city center. Once a factory quarter with a reputation, Södermalm was redesigned in 2007 and the area south of the street “Folkungsgatan” was stylish renamed into “SoFo” based on New York´s SoHo. In SoFo you can find plenty of effortless cool indie shops, bars, cafés and individual designer stores that sell vintage clothing, sports articles, toys and oatmeal-cookies. The first day in Stockholm I spent exploring every little street in SoFo, browsing through second hand stores, piles of vinyl, galleries and cafés.
The following days were enough to fall head over heels for Stockholm. I love the early 20th century architecture, the waterfront and sunshine, beautiful and cozy cafés with excellent English speaking staff and the “Stockholm vibe”. People here are well-dressed, balanced, happy and tolerant about religion, nationalities and opinions. In Stockholm I found stroller ramps on every tiny bump, whole FLOORS labeled with “children´s floor” with toys in public buildings, free information material and even merry employees in public service! A friend I met in Stockholm said: “Wow, they are very tolerant with all those gay nannies here in Sweden!” But guys, the reality is: Those good looking well shaped men are not gay. It is daddies hanging out with their kids during the day. They are not ashamed meeting their friends in a café bringing their smaller ones with them. And having a baby does not mean for them not to look good at the same time. Who says leather jacket and baby carrier does not match?
Having the feeling that in Stockholm the world is okay I leave the city and am taking the train to Uppsala.
Uppsala is one of the biggest universities in whole Scandinavia. Most of the 23,000 students are members in student organizations so called ”nations” that organize costume parties, movie or karaoke nights, official balls, parties etc. all week long. Besides that students may benefit from cheap lunch buffets and low priced beer in the nation pubs. As a non-student I personally found it harder to socialize. The doormen at the nations are instructed to not let non-students inside and are very strict about it and food in restaurants or cafés costs a fortune.
I am a volunteer at this year´s 30th international short film festival in Uppsala. My job is to help in the guest office where the movie directors are arriving, asking for advice and information or hang out to socialize. More than 150 volunteers from all over the world are helping during the festival week to ensure perfect performance. The festival repays the volunteers with free festival passes and unlimited access to short film screenings. In my week in Uppsala I meet volunteers (mostly exchange students) from Venezuela, England, Burkina Faso, France, Lybia, Sweden and Germany. When there was time for a little chat we compared our countries’ school systems or listen to our colleagues’ childhood stories. Our backgrounds could not be more different and still we spend this week sharing our experiences and learning from each other.
When I start to realize how fast the time in this week in Uppsala is passing I am already sitting in the train back to Östersund. Home sweet home!