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Published: June 29th 2010
Day 32 and I boarded the last plane from Scotland to Sweden before the ash cloud from Eyjafjallajokull caused havic on Europe. I don't really know if it was the last plane, but it certainly must have been close. It was uneventful flight, no dodging of fiery rocks as they blasted from the volcano, just arriving again an hour plus from my destination compliments of Ryan Air. They advertise their flights to major cities, but usuallly forget to mention that you need to bus halfway across the country to get to that particular city. It was however a good opportunity to go moose hunting (from the bus window). I was disappointed with the lack of mooses, but I did see 3 or 4 badgers sleepin on the side of the road. Similar to English badgers they clearly aren't that smart in their choices of resting places.
It was only after going out for a few drinks and arriving home that I heard of the volcanic activity and the closure of airspaces. I wasn't bothered because it was only Thursday and I was due to fly out the next Tuesday so there was plenty of time for the ash to clear...
The general feeling of Europe regarding the volcano I believe are perfectly summed up by a Scottish lad at Edinburgh airport. If you have the time, search Youtube for the "Sky News I hate Iceland" video.
I highly recommend Phillip Jorgensen as a tour guide, especially when he doesn't really know where he is going. (Sorry Phil, I may be still slightly bitter about our walk in the woods). About two hours, four phone calls and trudging endless through snow and forest trails we arrived at our final destination, 5 a side football. Other exciting things to do in Stockholm involve a series of student bars on the campus of Stockholm Uni, a cold trudge home depending on the amount of alcohol in your blood and consuming more beverages to sustain said cold trudges home.
While the rest of the world was dealing with the chaos caused by the volcano I thought 'Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?' There are plenty of lovely lakes to see and apparently they have a lovely telephone system. I decided that leaving Stockholm and catching a train west to Göteborg (Gothenburg) would be my best chance of seeing mooses
in cabooses, the telephone system and lakes. On arrival Göteborg station I was greeted by Sophie, probably the best host in all of the Sweden. We immediatly commenced my quest to find a moose, little did I know that it would take a few days before we were successful. However the hunt for the ever elusive moose led me to experience the cold bitter winds that frequent Swedish beaches, a game of Professional Swedish football and meeting a ridgy didge Uppslandian (person from Uppland, where reindeer frolick and aurora borealis shine) who answered all questions with a kinda slurp instead of yes (not really, but it is how one would give a postive response when the air is so cold you can't speak).
A trip to Sweden would not be complete without visiting Ikea, which I was suprised to discover weren't on every corner. Most of the stuff at Sophie's did come from Ikea though. It was here that I discovered moose lasange, moose shaped pasta and moose shaped lollies. It was amazing, like all my moose dreams had come true! The moose pasta would later make its debut with moose meat in a delicous version of Swedish spaghetti.
While hunting/stalking mooses one day I got to experience my first ever snow fall. After hopping off the bus and making some kind of comment about the rain starting, we realised it was snowing!!!!!!! Sophie will claim that it was really just sleet/hail/rain mix, but I say that it was floating (kind of) and when it was hitting my jacket it still had shape (a blob like ball). The passing motorists must have been wondering where all their good tax dollars were going, with a crazy lady frolicking around in the streets trying to catch the snow in her mouth.
It was probably day 38 of my trip that I finally saw a moose! These moose used to roam the city, but have now retired the city park where tourist can gawk at them all day long. Sadly I didn't see a male moose with antlers, but I got to see a moose calf that was just chilling, doing exactly what I would expect of a moose that doesn't live in a caboose.
My time in Sweden was coming to an end, but the dust from the volcano was not. My flight was cancelled, but since I
was in no real rush I thought why not try the rail system that everyone raves about in Europe. What an adventure that would turn out to be, since apparently everyone else who couldn't fly had the same idea. We arrived at Göteborg station and took a number. 1-2 hours later I was served by a tri-lingual guy named Jose. When I asked Jose for a ticket to France he immediately replied with a rather pleasant greeting... 'puta madre.' For those of you who don't speak spanish, Jose's mother would have washed his mouth out with soap numerous times and probably smacked him so hard he wouldn't be able to sit for a week after hearing that.
During our brief 30 minutes of service with Jose, the end result was that he could get me a ticket, but not now because the system wasn't working. So he asked us to come back later that day and he would sort us out. So we returned later that afternoon, only to find that the international ticket office closes at 530pm. Jose claimed not to remember us, but Sophie said something to the effect of 'you're a puta madre Jose' in Swedish
The bestest Swede in all of the Sweden.
and 10 minutes later I had a train ticket to France. It didn't matter that it cost 5 times my flight, involved 5 different trains, 24 hours of train travel and arriving Paris Gare du Nord, but leaving from Paris Gare l'Est and 20 mins to transfer between them. Jose, bless his little Spanish, Swedish, English speaking soul did tell me that I have to yell at the Parisian's because they will still be asleep, speak quickly and use a ridiculous French accent. That was his advice when I informed him I spoke no French. Jose's last words to me before I embarked on my epic rail trip was that I should return and tell him how it goes...
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