Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hats with Earflaps

I am in Sweden now and am staying in a hostel, like I did in Berlin.  I had never stayed in a hostel before and didn't know what to expect.  But since I will be traveling for almost 6 weeks,  I didn't want to spend money on hotels.  

Actually, it's fine.  I researched a hostel for Berlin before I left Azerbaijan.  The one I chose had a location better than most hotels, I could walk most places, it offered free walking tours, a wealth of resources, like computers with internet, a library of travel books, knowledgeable employees and guests with advice about what to see and do, and an opportunity to meet other people.   They pointed me to a laundromat a couple of doors down and gave me advice on how to get back and forth to the airport and to navigate the transportation system, all advice having a basis in cheapness.

With that experience under my belt,  I researched another hostel for Stockholm.   This one is different because Stockholm is different.   Because it is a smaller city with a more conservative outlook and in a colder and much more expensive place, the common areas of the hostel are different--and much bigger.  People don't eat out as much, so they have a big industrial kitchen and communal eating area.  There a living rooms on each floor with books and wifi and movies every night.  In Berlin I was out getting half-price California rolls or pho; here I had a sandwich. 

I flew from Berlin to Stockholm for $15 on Ryanair.  They have a lot of add ons, like preferred seating, checking a bag, buying a soda or sandwich, but I didn't pay for any of that.  I even had to stuff my purse in my bag, since the rule says only one piece of carryon is allowed; otherwise the charge is 35 Euro.

We arrived in Stockholm at an airport that is far from the city.  On the bus ride in to the city, the countryside was flat and snowy--it reminded me of the opening scenes of the movie Fargo.  The sun set about 3:30 p.m., but the city is lit up and  looks pretty and Christmassy.   Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, the oldest of which I will look at tomorrow.    There is an old city, a palace and the park is made up of the former royal hunting grounds. 

The first time I saw women in Berlin wearing knitted wool helmets with earflap and braids hanging down, I thought it looked pretty crazy, but now I am used to it and may look for one for myself tomorrow.  The navy watch cap is getting some strange looks.   The Swedes like the knitted helmets too.

No comments: