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Stockholm... friends, muppets and lessons learned.

Stockholm, Sweden

We arrived in Stockholm after a short one and a half hour trip with Ryan air from Krakow. We got a steal of a deal too! 260 Zlotes for the both of us and our bags, that’s about 100 dollars Canadian. There was a small mix up when we dropped off our baggage; Ewa got the luggage tracking tag for someone else’s bag as the ticket agents were using the same printer for both a flight to Bergamo as well as Stockholm. We noticed about 2 minutes after getting the tags (because duh you should look at them!) and went back to the ticket agent where he very politely reassured us that yes they noticed as well and already changed the ticket on the bag and are now reprinting the portion that the passenger gets…yes of course it will get there, no worries, all is good in the Ryan Air world, we never loose luggage ever compared to other airlines. As we were on the flight Ewa read the statistics ( she never liked statistics class..) and Ryan Air (according to them) only have a 0.36% of lost baggage…well good for you Ryan Air. Not bitter, not bitter. You all can guess as to what happened when we got off the flight, Ewa did not get her bag. The big metal gates to the squeaky baggage belt came crashing down ending all hope that maybe just maybe it would appear. What did appear though was a nice Italian suitcase, with Ewa’s name on the luggage tag, go figure. Maybe it’s because we have been talking badly about Italy that this happened; noted, don’t piss off the Italians. Karma decided that if we didn’t like Italy so much then maybe Ewa’s bag should go there and when it returns we will have acquired maybe not a love for Italy but at least an appreciation, who knows, the world works in mysterious ways. After spending an hour trying to fill out the lost baggage report, we finally left the airport to meet up with Chad’s friend Chris back from the U of Calgary Engineering days.

On the hour and a half it takes to Stockholm center from the Ikea Airport (as Ewa likes to call it- it really does look like Ikea decorated, or Skvasta for everyone else) it slowly started dawning on Ewa that she had nothing to her name except for a little make up and a roll of toilet paper she always has in her backpack (just in case). No toothbrush, no underwear, no warm shoes…we are in Stockholm and it’s September; fall has definitely set up camp.
We spent the next few days basically trying to buy the essentials without buying too much in case (oh lord please) we got the bag back, looking for stores to buy replacements for everything in case the bag didn’t come, and we also spent it on skype (oh thank the lord for Chris’s skype) to call the Bergamo airport, the Krakow Airport and of course the Stockholm airport to find out where the hell the bag was! It could not have disappeared into thin air, it weighs 15 kg!

But we learned some valuable lessons from this experience. 1. Put a TAG on your bag with your name on it and while you’re at it, a phone number would be good too 2. If you will be travelling for a long time maybe it would be a good idea to document the things you have in your bag, in case you need to make a claim with your travel insurance people 3. You should also take pictures of the things you have in your pack because how are you going to prove to your insurance people that you actually owned this stuff if you don’t have receipts for all of these things? Huh? How? 4. The insurance policy you have probably has a lot of ‘small print’ that makes making a claim or getting any sort of reimbursements next to impossible, kind of like trying to talk to someone real from Ryan Air about where the hell your bag is.

Thankfully one day before we were to leave for St. Petersburg the Stockholm airport called at 8am and informed us that they found the bag! Yipeee! When Chris asked what happened to it, they of course didn’t know. Where was it? Not sure. Apparently it showed up in the middle of the night. Yippee!!
Of course we did not spend the whole time on the phone or shopping, we had a very nice weekend with Chris and Camilla, the newly engaged couple!

We expected to see and experience a lot of conversations from people in Sweden who sounded like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets… however, as it turned out, Stockholm didn’t seem as strange as we first thought. It seems that the country, with it’s great social programs, ensures that everyone has a second language. English it seems is maybe the #1 second language, and everyone seems to speak excellent English! However, some people definitely had the melodious Chef-esque accent. Even Chris has acquired a Swedish accent. On our stop in to a Dr.’s office to get a new prescription for Malarone (all of Ewa’s pills for the anti-malaria drug were in her bag) we entered into Dr. Honeydew’s office (you know who it is…seriously google it). Yes, imagine Dr. Honeydew from the Muppets sitting behind a desk talking to you about prophylaxis, now you’re sitting with us in Sweden listening to this Dr. tell us how he has no idea how we got so much Malarone and how it was unnecessary. Ewa almost laughed out loud with the situation. He apparently doesn’t know that Canadians are pretty relaxed about almost all things.

A few other things to note about Stockholm, the metro has excellent electric trains that are smooth and quiet. The engineer in Chad was pleasantly surprised and ranks these trains in the top 2 his ever ridden on. Not all Swedish are blond and tall (apparently those are the Finns that have migrated). However a great many of them are. The Swedish love their food in tubes or tube like encasements. Salmon paste, rice porridge, chili, sausage, many more things than you would expect can be found in a tube in Sweden. Ewa’s momma loves the kaviar tube you can get from Ikea ;)

The first night we were treated to a Swedish dinner by Chris and Camilla, and we wet to bed relatively early after the long emotional day. Thursday night, after a day wandering around the city we were off to a night out at the movies and for dinner on the town. On Friday we were able to meet up with Chad’s friend Hanna, who had spent a year in Canada in Innisfail on a high school exchange. That same day we met up with Ewa’s friend Agata, from Warsaw, now living in Stockholm. Although it was a short visit on both accounts, it was great to catch up and spend a few moments with each other. That night we ordered some take-out and just stayed in and chatted. We also found out that one of the movies Chad and Chris and some other engineer friends made is actually on the internet, Ewa thinks everyone should check it out! Pretty impressive! Just google UofC Mech engg 2003 video on Google video..tee hee.

On Saturday Chris and Camilla showed us around Stockholm, we went on a bit of a walking tour and then went to see the Vasa Museum which houses one of the oldest and biggest sail ships of the Swedish navy. It was impressively large and beautiful, what is more impressive is that it was supposed to be the pride of the Swedish King who at the time was at war with Poland over control of the Baltic Sea….that’s not the impressive part. The impressively sad part is that after all that work and labour that was put into it, it sank after only sailing about 150 meters. FAIL! After about 300 years of being underwater someone did some research about it and decided that hey it might still be down there! The low salt level of the Baltic Sea which doesn’t allow for some wood eating worms to get at the ship, allowed the boat to be preserved in almost perfect condition. It was pulled out of the ocean in the 70’s after extensive diving work and expertise. The evening was spent celebrating Chris’ and Camilla’s’ friends housewarming at a restaurant. The restaurant was right on the river and had a great multi-level patio that overlooks the water. We shared a beer outside before heading in for a great meal. Afterwards it was a long evening full of good conversation, whisky and beer!
On Sunday Chris prepared a feast of a Canadian breakfast for us, the biggest pancakes ever, with yummy bacon and scrambled eggs, just like home. Sunday was a night of introducing our Swedish hosts to our attempts at Polish cuisine and Russell Peters (great Canadian Comic) however, one of the highlights, Sunday was also the day of getting the bag back!

Monday, we were up early and off to see some of the city before we had our evening flight to Helsinki. We decided it would be great to head down to the museum island for a visit to the aquarium (they also have an assortment of small monkeys!! How can you go wrong with cool underwater creatures AND monkeys in one place! However, we didn’t pay any attention to the opening hours and as it turns out, as with many museums around the world, this one was closed on Mondays. SO, we spent the day seeing more of the sights, we took several forms of public transportation around the city (boat, subway, busses, water ferrys) Then we had to be off to the airport for our flight, a short 40min flight to Helsinki. When we got to the airport, the ticket agent nicely asked to confirm that the bags were going to the final destination (St.Petersburg). NOOO…Helsinki please & thank you! As although we followed our 4 rules listed above, we hadn’t placed a lot of emphasis onto our new rule #5 - ensure that you have at least provisions enough in your bag to get you through 2 days of living.

permalink written by  ECRadventure on September 7, 2009 from Stockholm, Sweden
from the travel blog: ECRadventure's Travel Blog
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