10 September 2008

Destination 5: Stockholm, or, The Day Our Heart Was Stolen by a Fake Tanned Beauty

After an atrociously long time, we return!

Yes indeed, we are still alive and do continue to remember your keen expectations, oh lovely reader. And after our prolonged absence and general laziness in keeping you informed, here we are to provide you with a tiny morsel of gossip to satiate you!

Well, where were we? Ah! In our tales, we have just left Helsinki and are bound for Stockholm. Now we were very much looking forward to visiting Stockholm as a dear friend of ours back home in Our Fair Nation’s Capital is just about the world’s HUGEST fan of everything Swedish and primed us up for our visit by showing us the highlights of Melodifestivalen 2008 (i.e. the massive Swedish song contest that is used to pick that year’s entry to Eurovision!). So, we were indeed excited to be visiting Stockholm, this nerve centre of trendy Scandinavian design; the home of Volvo and ABBA; the flat-packed-furniture holy land!!! Can you tell that our excitement was building to fever pitch????

More so than any of the above, we were waiting to behold the one thing that Sweden is legendary for. Beautiful people. Extraordinarily beautiful tall blonde lithe people.

And so, with baited breath, we landed on Swedish soil, kissed it as the Pope would, and then proceeded in to town where we immediately set about finding our lodging for the next couple of nights. We had reserved a bed for ourselves in a hostel set on Skeppsholmen, a beautiful tiny little island set picturesquely in the middle of Stockholm’s inner harbour, overlooking the Old Town. And we weren’t disappointed with the location at all!! It was rather quite amazing!

The bed that we had reserved was the cheapest available – in a large dormitory of seventeen beds! Yes! Seventeen! We were CERTAIN that there were bound to be shenanigans aplenty…

We quickly shed our luggage and met our kind benefactor in town, a generous soul from our homeland who would turn out to be a wonderful ‘local’ tour guide and fun travel companion over the next few days. Together, we strolled through the heart of the Old Town and we found ourselves quite surprised at how 'continental' it felt!

We aren’t too sure what we were expecting, but nothing quite so French or Italian feeling! It was quite lovely indeed!

After more strolling and a quick ferry ride, we suddenly found ourselves amidst a veritable swarm of people. Surely such throngs of people should be able to easily yield us the legendary Swedes we were hoping to see! Surely this mighty crowd of thousands that lay ahead of us should prove to be a very positive sight for sore eyes!!

As we stood amongst the crowd, a gleaming pair of eyes met ours. We were immediately captivated by the gentle blonde locks of a mysterious woman:

Slowly, as her eyes continued to flirt with our camera, she revealed herself:

And then we saw her in her full fake tan glory!

My how our little heart did leap! Such beauty had never crossed our path before! But wait, gentle reader, for she was not the only true and lasting beauty that we saw that day. Oh no. Behold!!


For lo! We found ourselves in the midst of the crowds that had swarmed Stockholm for the mighty EUROPRIDE parade!!!! Indeed!

Each year, a city in Europe is chosen to host ‘Europride’, a non-straight Pride festival for all of Europe – much akin to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

And, as you may or may not be able to see from above (beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, dear reader), as with the Sydney parade, most of it did seem to be about being as freakish and fun as possible!! We had a ball!!!

(so to speak)

What did strike us most about the parade though was the extent to which participation and inclusion was so central to everything: there were countless young families there watching; there were lovely old grannies sitting in their fold-up chairs; people were hanging out of their windows to watch; the parade featured very prominently out-and-proud non-straight members of the police force, the fire fighting service, the army, the medical professions; students; parents and friends; in fact, ANYONE could (and did!) join the parade…

It did make us wonder when we would ever see members of the Australian army marching in the Sydney parade…

And finally at long last, the parade was over. It had continued to rain throughout the afternoon, and so in the interests of health and sanity we went to the hostel to shower and change before the evening’s activities commenced.

It all began with a quiet drink with some friends of friends at a choice locale in the Old Town. Things quickly turned hysterical when our aforementioned ‘local guide’ went to the bar to buy a drink, and returned with a dear aged woman by the name of Elsie. She was slightly crazy. The conversation was completely one sided and went something like this:

“Ah! Hello! My name is Elsie. I just met your friend at the bar and I wanted to come and talk with you some more. You know, I lived in China. And I also lived in Tijuana, Mexico for four years! It was hard you know. There was sometimes no water for up to four months! I know! And so now, my children are grown up and I am here. At this bar. With you. What am I doing here? Hahahaha! Oh, I must introduce you to my friend. He is Finnish. He is a gardener at a nice garden that I like. We become friends there. And he has brought me here for a drink at this bar. He is really very nice. I do like him. We are good friends, but you know, I would like there to be more with him. You know what I mean? I want more from him! But I cannot. I cannot hold this against him because he is a homo. You know I lived in Tijuana? One day, my husband went skiing and he never came home. We went to look for him, me and my son, and then we found his car and he was inside. Dead! He had a heart attack and had been there for two days! And now here I am. With you at this bar. And I would like more from my friend. He is Finnish. I would like to have more from him, you know?? Hahahaha. But he is a homo. You know I lived in Tijuana!”


And so it went. Eventually, we decided to run away and head to a place called Club Lino where we were guaranteed to have a fun night out.

And did we ever!!!

Please now be advised that Club Lino is the greatest nightclub of all time!! We were amongst the first to get inside, and from the moment we entered until the moment we left, there was no other music to be played but craptastic pop!! And by craptastic, we mean EUROVISION!!! Yes! How amazing!! Can you just imagine?

I ask you, could anything be more gay? A nightclub full of the gays celebrating Europride by dancing around and singing at the top of their lungs to all the hits of Eurovision and Melodifestivalen?!

This, dear reader, is an evening that we shall treasure forever.

What we remember of it anyway!

It wasn’t until a day or so afterwards that the memories started flooding back – courtesy of photos being uploaded to Facebook. If one knows where to look on there, one may find pictures of Eurotrash dancing around to Eurovision hits with a Union Jack flag wrapped around our head as a burqa.

We don’t know why.

As the evening wore on, the sun rose and it came time for us to rest our poor weary soul. And soles. Our feet were sore!!

So we trollopped back through the streets (without a map, mind you – it’s a miracle that we made it back to the hostel at all!! Amazing!) and got to bed, and discovered that in our dormitory room of 17 beds, there were naught shenanigans in progress!! It was just us! The trash bag of all seventeen hostellers, coming back in at 4:45am.

Ah, we were so proud of our efforts.

And so, beyond this, we didn’t really experience too much more of Stockholm and so are unable to provide with the usual in depth cultural analysis that you have come to highly regard and expect from Eurotrash.

We think perhaps that another visit to Stockholm later this year will be due…

And so, we boarded an overnight train to our main destination: Oslo, Norway. What grand adventures lay over the border? Oh, so much has happened already since leaving Our Fair Nation in mid-July… and it’s just the beginning.

Hang in there dear reader, more to come soon!