As of now it has been snowing for the last three days and has been scheduled to snow for the next five. I have been in some less-than-satisfactory weather in my life – that Thanksgiving in Mammoth when the entire mountain closed down, or the freezing rain of Boston – and a day here doesn't compare to those times. But never in those places has the sun failed to shine for so many days. I feel like I am in Seattle.
On the brighter side, some fellow international students and I took a trip to Stockholm from Uppsala (about a 40-minute train ride) yesterday. We left at nine in the morning, which may seem early to you, but as I have had trouble sleeping lately, I had been up for four hours already. More on that later.
We arrived at about 10:30 and walked to the royal palace. Now in London, the palace guards are famous for their nifty red suits and their lack of movement. King Gustav's guards here are equipped with the very latest in military apparel and a shiny M-16 with a shiny bayonet – rather more intimidating. They also move, and therefore, look alive. We stuck around until 12:00 to watch the changing of the guard, which seemed to take hours given the freezing rain we were subjected to. It was a rather comical ceremony. Each time we figured it was coming to an end, a Swedish general would begin speaking into a microphone (which he held too far from his mouth so we could not hear him), alternating in English and Swedish. The highlight of the ceremony was the palace's drummers, which were extremely talented (tossing their sticks as they played and whatnot).
We then decided to find food, strangely deciding to give Sweden's tacos a try. If I'm being honest with you, it was comparable to Taco Bell and did not sit well. This was only a day after I had eaten curry and felt sick – a rather stereotypical Indian food experience I had not yet recovered from.
After warming up inside the restaurant we headed to the Moderna Museet, or Modern Art Museum. Oddly, given what I would politely call an apathy for artwork, I actually enjoyed the museum, which featured works by my countrymen Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Although it was interesting, I felt we spent too long in the museum (but friends make sacrifices, right?).
We left the musuem in search of, obviously, a pub. We found one near Stockholm Central Station but were astounded to find that one pint cost 66: SEK or $8 USD. Some of us abandoned the plan to purchase a fizzy and headed to the nearby Max instead. Sweden's energy-conscious version of McDonald's tastes about the same, but the service is much friendlier! If there is one thing I have noticed about the Swedish so far, it is that they are very friendly people. I just have to be the one to make contact, as they are also very shy.
After a long day, I returned to my room and finally got my first good night of sleep in Sweden.