For four months, I studied abroad in London, England. These notes are select entries from my experiences in the United Kingdom and Western Europe from that time.
Saturday, December 5 –
I awoke at 8 a.m. to my set wake-up call but I decided to go back to sleep. I woke up at 9:30 and went to the breakfast room and stuffed myself with a large Scandinavian breakfast that was served until 10. I came back to my room, showered and established an action plan.
Then I left the Hotel Alexandra and arrived at Central Train Station at noon. I booked a train ticket to Oslo but wasn’t able to get the 16:00 p.m. that I wanted. Instead I had to settle for the 14:00 p.m. through Göteborg. Therefore, I did not have as much time to see Stockholm as I intended.
I stored my gear in a locker and left on the T-Bahn to the Stockholm Stadshuset, which is where the Nobel Prizes would be awarded in five days. It is the town hall for the City of Stockholm and protrudes elegant into the sky on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. I enjoyed seeing the ceremonial hall for the Nobel ceremony.
Afterwards, I walked to the coast of the Baltic Sea and took some photos. The sky was very gray and snow was falling, but it was very unique compared to my hometown where it hardly ever snows. On a nice weather day, many consider Stockholm to be the prettiest city in the world. The city is extends beautifully across 14 main islands and an archipelago of small islands on the Baltic coast at the mouth of Lake Mälaren. Even in the snow, the city looked gorgeous.
As I returned to the train station, I took some Swedish kronor from the Automat (ATM), bought some groceries and postcards, withdrew my gear and used my Swedish phone card to book my accommodations in Oslo since I would be arriving late.
I caught my X2000 Swedish express train at 14:05 p.m. for Göteborg and what a journey it was! This futuristic train (similar to the French TGV) was comfortable with plenty of leg room and leather cushions seats. It traveled very fast – almost 280 km an hour! I had a ham sandwich, some chips and a Pepsi on board the restaurant car for lunch. I enjoyed the beautiful Swedish countryside zooming past my coach, blanketed in a layer of snow adding to its winter wonderland appeal.
The snow became quite heavily after a while, but the weather doesn’t affect trains that much. I drifted to sleep for about an hour before waking up and catching up on some journal entries and reading about Norway.
We arrived in Göteborg at 17:17 p.m. I then caught my train 20 minutes later towards Oslo with a reserved seat once again. I have had no problems in Scandinavia or the Netherlands linguistically because almost everyone speaks English quite well. Of course, they appreciate the smallest effort of speaking their language. I found the Swedes to be very collective like their socialist reputation and Stockholm was very ethnically diverse. They seem to be fairly tolerant and liberal people.
My train was delayed by an hour and a half due to heavy snow on the tracks halfway to Oslo. As a result, when I arrived I had to find another place to stay because the other place I had booked closed reception at 23:30 p.m. I found a room at the City Hotel, which is about the fourth hotel that I have stayed at during this trip to Europe. I went to bed shortly after 12:15 a.m. and requested a wake-up call for about 6 a.m. It was great to be in Norway!