I’ve now been to all of the Scandinavian countries.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden- Some countries I’m in for years. Some countries I’m in for days. While some countries I’m in for hours.
Country count isn’t about duration of stay, it’s just a measure of how many lands you’ve set foot in. If it means anything at all it’s just a show of how geographically dispersed your travels have been: i.e. someone who has visited 100 countries across all the continents is probably going to have a deeper picture of the world than someone who has spent years and years in a single region.
Country count is a collection, and collecting is just something that people like to do. We like to represent our existence, we like to quantify our experience, we like to compare swords at the great urine trough of travel.
I just entered Stockholm on a flight from Prague. It’s my first time in Sweden: country number 90.
We are on a 22 hour layover on our way to New York City, where we hope to set up a base of operations for a while. It was around 11 PM and we booked a cheapish hotel by the airport — the Good Morning Hotel — and tried to go to sleep. The midnight sun was shining through the windows — one of the experiences of Scandinavia in the summertime.
I laid in bed for a while. The last time I was in this region during the summer was Iceland in 2010. I tried to ride a pink bicycle around the country. It sucked so I didn’t make it very far. I just sort of camped out, spending many nights just hanging out in the midnight sun. There is something about it that makes you think deep about life, about the ephemeralness of it all and how none of it really matters. You’re born, you laugh, you die. And that’s okay.
If you get a round trip ticket into Stockholm from the airport on the bus you get a ten cent discount. No joke. Instead of paying $20 you pay something like $19.90. Thanks, Sweden. Much appreciated.
The historic part of Stockholm has been refurbished as a Disney-esque tourism zone. It’s not a place for real culture, everything is set up for visitors to spend elevated amounts of money for things that look, feel, and taste “Swedish.” It’s real but a stage set as well, the inauthentic authentic — places trying so hard to be what they think they are that they become something totally different.
No big deal, these zones are all over Europe still pretty to walk around.
Unisex public toilets
I took my daughter into the public toilets in Stockholm central and found myself confused? Where’s the ladies room? What one is the men’s … The tide of all sexes and genders are going to the same place. There is only one bathroom.
Basically, rather than having a men’s room and a women’s room they just had one large restrooms with door-ed stalls around the walls and an array of sinks in the center.
No big deal … male bathrooms in Asia are often cleaned by women and while the men are using it — I once had an older Thai woman cleaning something at my feet as I used the urinal. But what was interesting was the inefficient use of space. Without urinals, which can be crammed close together, it meant that everyone had to use a stall, which takes significantly more space and water.
But I suppose Sweden has an excess of both … and a lack of people. I’m not in Asia anymore.
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