Flying with budget airlines can leave you miles away from the advertised destination. Stockholm Skavsta is no different. It’s the equivalent of having an airport in Athlone being advertised as Dublin Athlone Airport. Late night flight arrives into this desolated corrugated iron-looking shed of an airport. There is only one mode of transport to Stockholm from Skavsta at 11:00pm, a €15 hour and a half bus journey. Thankfully there was wifi…
Pulling into Stockholm bus station after midnight the adventure to get to Sisi’s, the Jameson Brand Ambassador for Sweden, begun. Google Maps is one of the best travel tools out there, specifically the offline areas feature which allows you to download a map of an area and use this without then need for internet connectivity. Sisi had been fantastic at informing me on how to get to her apartment and with the help of Google Maps I made it to the Stockholm Metro, the T-Bana.
Taking a guess on which ticket to buy the machine spits out a paper ticket at me. Confused as to how this paper ticket is going to work I walk up to the manned control station at the barriers, the obstacle between the metro and I. Turns out that if you don’t have a plastic ticket you just need to show the barrier controller your purchased ticket and you’re free to pass through. Stockholm has 24hr public transport so there must have to be someone employed at each T-Bana station 24/7 to facilitate this paper ticket system???
With no idea where to get the train from I ask a passer by who brings me down to the correct platform. Google Maps had told me to get the number 17 train on the Red line, little did I know I could have gotten on the other trains heading on the Red line, after 20 minutes I realised this and eventually got to the station near Sisi’s place. 10 minutes later, nearly 1am, I was on a couch able to chill out sharing stories with Sisi. Sisi was working at a festival all week and would have to leave early the next morning but was so kind to stay up waiting for me and for accommodating me that night, especially for the week that was in it for her.
After a day of exploring Stockholm it was time to head to my first ever official Couchsurfing host’s apartment. Boel, a Swedish country girl, welcomed me with a traditional Swedish dish, Korvstroganoff, a delicious sausage stroganoff with rice and some Italian red wine I brought from Treviso. Boel had set herself the goal of visiting 50 countries before she turned 30, which she achieved! My goal is to visit 50 before I turn 25. This similar goal was not nearly the end of our similarities of opinions or outlooks on life. We traded stories and experiences all evening.
At one point ‘Zombie’ by the Cranberries came on and Boel instantly recognised it to my bemusement. It used to be her song back when she was in a band during her teenage years. Another crazy moment occurred when I told her that I ‘should’ be in college right now but I am travelling instead. She stopped me. She hates the word ‘should’. Never before had I thought about what the word means. When we use ‘should’ it is when we are doing something that society or others think what we are currently doing isn’t the correct thing to be doing at the moment. Incredibly, during this profound discovery a song came on that was all about the word ‘should’ which left us in stitches of laughter.
It was a fantastic evening. So refreshing and reassuring to hear that someone else thinks similarly to me on so many levels. I have been keeping notes of my adventure and I had found out lots about myself in those few days prior to my arrival. As Boel relayed some of her experiences they were so so similar to what I had been writing about in my notes, it was unbelievable.
The next morning she had to leave early but left me a spare key. The trust shown by Boel, Sisi, Silvia, Stefano, Davide and Milos and friends to this point was incredible. It has left me very confident in the spirit of couchsurfing, ridesharing and in the future of us humans.
Hope for the best from others and expect the best from yourself. Sometimes it will not happen and we need to be ready for that, but mostly trust and encouragement works better than suspicion and negativity.