Friday, October 14, 2005

Day out and about in Södermalm

Today was my first day relaxing and settling in since arriving in Sweden. I've had an amazing few days since arriving in Stockholm but what a whirlwind of activity! Today I took it easy and did a bit of settling in. I mastered the washing room arrangements in the basement of the apartment block. In Stockholm, the apartments have a shared washing room with free washing machines, dryers and a drying room for all the residents. There is a booking system whick took me a little while to decipher. The set up seems so much more sensible that the individualistic approach in Australia: each apartment with their own washing machines and dryer, costing plenty, taking up room and just sitting there, probably only being used once or twice a week at the most. What a waste! It took me a while to work out the buttons on the washing machine. The instructions were only in Swedish and the icons were unfamiliar to me. After making the machine beep at me a few times, I eventually got it to start. I learnt a bit more Swedish this morning while waiting for my washing to run its cycle.

I went out this afternoon armed with my brand new phrases semi-stored in memory and headed off to Södermalm. Södermalm is a big island in the waters that wind in and around Stockholm and is also the highest point of the city. It is also one of the oldest parts of town and very groovy. Lots of little cobblestone lanes with elegant street facing buildings and cute boutiques, cafes and bars. I made a number of transactions; asking for a tea in Tully's Cafe and an English-Swedish dictionary at a book store. Both times I completed the entire transaction in Swedish. The other transactions I stumbled over my broken Swedish and was rescued by the shop owners, all of who speak very reasonable English. Everyone I have come across here is very friendly and helpful. Most are pleasantly amused to interact with a tourist/overseas visitor attempting to speak Swedish when they speak perfectly good English but are encouraging nevertheless. The weather is still beautiful, mild and clear at about 14 degrees during the day. It gets cold in the shade though and as the sun goes down. I've started carrying around my scarf and hat in case I get caught after dark. The sun is setting at about 5:30pm or maybe even 6pm but will soon be setting earlier as Winter approaches.

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