If nothing else, may this last part of the story be a cautionary tale for anyone traveling with a not so great companion.Dump them, Dump them as fast as you can. Even if it means staying up late and waking up early to sneak away. Think about it this way, is it better to find interesting things to do to avoid them or be stuck in a constant state of aggravation with them? Hey, all the walking you do to fill your days will mean you go home a little bit healthier and thinner, perfect for finding a new mate. (For the previous part of the story, see the last two posts.)
Finger still in the air I instantly knew where I was headed. I had wanted to see the Botero exhibit since I landed. Finally, free of any restraints I started my version of a great trip and those lovely round ladies was where it was going to start. Not to turn into one of those snotty art nerds (if you know Botero you will understand and if not, google him) but his paintings bring me a smile on my face and the only time in my life I desire to be a little plumper. So, with my museum visit done and me officially a cultured traveler, I was off to satisfy my true inner being. The search for a hot dog and a good bar had commenced. The Hotdog was an easy find. A gruff man sticking his head out of twinkly light covered window barks something to me Swedish. I, of course, being an American tourist did not bother to purchase a book on translations. Luckily, most foreign countries are prepared for our arrival and put pictures out for those of us that are language impaired. I point to what looks like a safe choice and he looks at me and very clearly says, "No." No need for translation I can understand the look and stance of "your an idiot, pick something better." He then turned around and proceeded to make my decision for me. What he handed me was glorious. A toasty warm bun piled so high with trimmings that you could only see the pinched ends of the hot dog sticking out. At the very top was the piece de resistance, these golden fried onions. I will never forget that first bite and thinking, “Can I just put this on everything I eat for the rest of my life?”
I walked the streets eating my giant pile of everything with no shame and took in the sights of Stockholm - The amazing amount of attractive locals with their innate ability to layer without looking bulky or uncomfortable. The Swedish version of rebellious goth teens sitting in large groups on the steps of yet another beautiful building. They were quite a sight at first with their dower looks, harsh dress and their jet black hair with striking blond roots peaking out. I turned a corner and the familiar sounds of home were echoing down the street. Is that drunk laughter? It is, I would know that sound anywhere. My body automatically headed toward it. Like a heat-seeking missile, I was programmed to head toward that sound. There in front of me was a room filled with my people. Everyone talking over each other creating a din of chatter and laughter. The savior for all Southerners traveling- The Irish Pub. My fellow loud people with no sense of shame or moderation. Hours later I left with a nice buzz and a headful of things to do. The first on the list was a ferry ride to an Island my new Irish besties insisted I must experience.
I woke up a little fuzzy but the high of new adventures overpowered my want to lay back down. Heading down the streets toward my much-needed coffee fix I couldn’t help but notice how immaculately clean everything was. I had terrible urge to throw a piece of trash and test my theory that a tiny door would open and an Elf with a tiny broom and dustpan would sweep it up and retreat back into his tiny door. How else could it be this damn clean? After I filled my belly with fresh milk, ( Y’all, they drink a lot of milk, I’m not complaining I am fellow cold milk lover but the amount was impressive), coffee and pastries it was off to the ferry.
I could go into the beauty of the ferry ride but honestly, it was a shit day and all I saw was gray sky and mist. I am sure if the sun had decided to come out I would have reveled in its beauty. The Island was nice and quaint like small islands tend to be. Picturesque little shops and houses with cobblestone streets and precious gardens. Once I had walked off my indiscretions of the night before it was time to reward myself and there was a local pub calling my name. That nasty habit I have of visiting with folks reared its ugly head again and quickly I had a bunch of pals who’s name I wouldn’t remember but I would know where I could always find them. They begged me not to leave, offering me to stay in their spare rooms and couches but that wouldn’t have been responsible. With all the power I could muster I just made it on the last ferry out. I knew I might have a problem when I swore the ferry driver was messing with me and spinning the boat in circles. Seems that was my alcohol laden brain doing that for me, not a maniacal ferry driver with a deep hatred for me. I’ll close my eyes and it will stop - bad plan very bad plan. I was woken up by a very nice lady informing me that we were there and everyone had to get off. I wondered for a minute how the hell she knew I was American. Was it not normal for locals to go to sleep sitting on their shoes and purse fearing the next robbery and a bundled up jacket as a pillow? As I departed the boat I stopped and my tired brain absorbed the fact that I had just left this view. “This is the Island?” She looks at me, “ Yes, that's where this ferry goes.” “But I am supposed to be back in Stockholm.” “Well, now you’re not, Goodnight.” And she just walks away like this isn’t our co-emergency. I had no place to go but back to the bar. To my surprise, I walked into a Nordic re-creation of cheers. Greeted by hoots and hollers, cheers that I was back. The shame of obviously sleeping past my stop washed away by the pure excitement they had over my presence. The rest of the night was a blur of dinner and drinks. I wonder if I returned now if they would recognize me. I would like to think I could open that door and get the same reaction. Too bad I have gotten too old to remember the name of the damn place. No matter, I can always have the memory of being the most loved person in the room if only just for one night.
I did the normal things the rest of the trip. Marveled at the amount of 7-Elevens, taking mental notes of their McDonalds choices, learning the valuable lesson of peeing before you get on the Subway ( they really frown on public urination), taking long walks and seeing how much milk I could ingest in one sitting. A trip that started horribly ended with me boarding a plane with a belly full of milk and head full of memories. I didn’t see that boyfriend again till months later when he returned from his travels. Our reunion involved apologies and tears ( not mine) and my now semi-famous line, “You can’t cry at the bar, no one came here for that!” Which in turn landed me a reputation of not being the most sensitive soul. Really, shouldn’t that had been decided already? What’s a girl got to do to get the point across?
I should thank him one day. It was one of the best lessons I ever learned. The only person that can ruin your trip is you. Robbers, police, and boyfriends will try but just put that finger in the air and head off into the horizon. There is a pub full of people waiting for you somewhere.