Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stop Right There ...

There was once a group of girls who became somewhat famous. They had big hair, big shoes and big attitude, but those crazy gogo bunnies weren't exactly philosophers.

It should be noted however, that they had moments of brilliance. One in particular was the line: "Hey you, always on the run, gotta slow it down baby gotta have some fun." I think. One reason is because it can be applied to most aspects of life in a poor-excuse for a tie-in, and the other is because - well it's just so darned catchy.

Unfortunately that same line was also said while wearing skin-tight rubber, but that aside, I have indeed found that it's applicable here. See there's one thing I've learnt about this town, it's that you really should stop, and take a look around every twenty steps or so, or you will miss something. (Needing a Human Touch is also up there, but I'm more of a 'pause and sniff the roses' kinda guy.)

I suppose it comes from the city being, y'know almost 800 years old, but the architecture and skyline are really enough to keep you amused all by themselves. I honestly believe you really wouldn't need to pay to go sightseeing here as long as you walked down the right streets.

Of course, I'm a big geek, and would be happy to stand staring at the alignment of grouting if given the time. But I think Stockholm has indeed got something fascinating about it.

Apart from amazing architecture, this city is also a history-buff's dream. There are enough museums to sink a ship, and one museum precisely for a sunken ship, strangely enough.

I imagine that I've only seen half the fun too. See as nice as it is here, it's still winter, and winter means cloudy, slushy, wet-pant-hemmed unpleasantness. Also there's not a green-leaf to be seen, which is kinda blah. The nightlife is still quite good too, but I really am looking forward to seeing the city in it's 'true colours' in a few months.

Anyway, enough gushing, it's update time!

So I officially quit my job about a week ago. I'm working the last few shifts, and then I'm free to roam once more, some cash in the pocket and some kind of moving vehicle ticket in hand. Should be fun times.

The situation with my apartment continues to be a bizarre twist in an otherwise pleasant story. I discovered this morning that my roomies don't bother using the shower curtain when they 'duscha', and unfortunately I discovered it while in my socks. Not a nice way to wake up. 

At least my landlord isn't sleeping in the cupboard anymore. Indeed, he seems to have vanished into some nether-realm which I can only assume he gains access to through a gateway behind the refrigerator. It's the only part of the house I dare not venture thanks to a prevalence of foam-based sleeping stuffs strewn behind the sail-boat canvas he uses to block it off.

Good times.

Anyway, I think I'm late for work now, so I'll away. But thank you for reading dear friends, and catch you again soon!

Jimzip :D

Friday, March 19, 2010

Papyrus and Bridge

Well, it's that time again! This week has some chillaxed-to-the-max wallpapers for your downloading pleasure, both warm and exotic, both with a little tropically-infused mystery thrown in for good measure.

The first is Papyrus, reminding me of a calm, sun-filled, riverside nap. The fronds look great with your files scattered all over them. You could be waiting behind to steal away on a boat down the Nile, hiding from angry town guards as you cling to your stolen bread roll, or simply ... relaxing with a special other. ;)

The second is Bridge, a jungle adventure waiting to happen! Are we about to stumble upon a previously undiscovered village as we step cautiously across, a hidden palace amid the bobbing plants and screeching forest fauna, or are we about to plunge into a thrashing river far below?

I know not! I just provide the setting - you provide the story.

Find them here.



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Irish Encounter, and Working for Aslan

'Så, va … vaarr kommer duu ifrån…" was slurred into my ears from a groaning barstool beside me. The man currently occupying it weighed easily in the mid-two-hundreds, and it wasn't just his threadbare sweater that tired of his company. The barman turned away while he shook his head, saying something akin to "...and away we go..." with a roll of his eyes. It didn't take translation to know that this was familiar territory for him.

"Ehh?" the man said, moving closer. His breath smelled somewhat like the arse-end of a brewery, and one eye lolled of its own accord off to the side as he tried to look me straight on.

I sidled away toward the patrons on the other side of me, grinning because the whole thing was somehow ridiculous. "Jag är Australien" … I replied while doing so, to which he then asked which 'part' of Sweden I was from.


Escaping with three drinks in hand, I made for the stairs, the gnashing pop-rock from the stereo blotting out the rest of the conversation he was having to the Heiniken tap, which, I think at that point he believed was me. A couple of young Swedes grinned as I walked past, I still haven't learned the Swedish word for 'newbie' but words weren't really necessary at that point.

Back at the table it was laughs, everyone who had bought a round so far had met my friend and it seemed everyone had a different story about him - the worst by far from one of the girls.

So this is where I found myself on a random Sunday evening. Surrounded by a rowdy, lovely bunch of Irish and Aussies at a bar in Gamla Stan. It seems I always fall in with crowds of foreigners. Not that it's a problem, per se, I mean, sure the goal is to try and get some immersion in a non-english speaking country, but so far I can't for the life of me figure out how to meet the locals. Case in point; first week here. I'm at a concert selected on a whim, thinking I can give my beer ticket away in exchange for breaking the ice with some Stockholmians. Alas, the beer ticket I gave away was met with a "Cheers bud!" in a thick Californian accent. Foiled once again…

Of course, the peeps I've met have been great peeps, and of course, I will keep trying, it's probably just one of those 'when you're not looking' things, and then suddenly I'll find myself eating Swedish meatballs over some glög and discussing a maypole or something.

I should also say that meeting people isn't the problem, it's really the 'connecting' part. Perhaps it's the language thing (working on it!), or perhaps it's just that they can instinctively tell that my backpack isn't from Tiger of Sweden … yes that seems probable. Although it could also be a secret handshake I've missed.

All this notwithstanding, I must say that my workplace has in fact been instrumental in helping me with a) the language, b) meeting people, and c) learning how to run a cafe. It's great because you're never doing just one thing, you're serving, then you're making coffee, then you're washing dishes, then making cakes, running food and trying to tell the visiting Russians that no, you don't understand what "Принесите мне кофе мальчик!" means … it's an interesting situation to be sure.

- I work for Aslan, by the way.

He's a nice enough fellow, enthusiastic, happy and not as lion-esque as one might imagine. I think he's from the middle-east somewhere. But the cafes are owned by him and a friend, and it works wonders with the tourists. I say 'cafes' because the one I work at is actually one of a pair. The other half of the business is next door. Chokladkoppen is where I'm at, Kaffekoppen is the other, but both serve the same food.

Chokladkoppen has quite a name for itself too. I didn't know just how so until I was told by my Irish companions last night, but apparently we're in the Lonely Planet guide to Sweden:

"Chokladkoppen - Stortorget. Arguably Stockholm's best loved cafe, hole-in-the-wall Chokladkoppen sits slap bang on the Old Town's enchanting main square. It's a gay-friendly spot, with cute, gym-fit waiters, a look-at-me summer terrace and yummy grub like broccoli and blue-cheese pie and scrumptious cakes."

So … quite. I don't know if I agree with the 'gym-fit' part, but I'll take the compliment. I mean, I cycle once in a while I suppose. Er, thanks Lonely Planet! Here's what it looks like, romantically surrounded by slush on a cloudy day (it's the orange one on the right):

Chokladkoppen and Kaffekoppen, not in that order. ;)

In conclusion and all in all though, it's been an interesting start to my time here. A bit quiet, a little cold, but I am looking forward to some - slightly - warmer weather to start my trekking about.

Initial thoughts: Stockholm in the winter isn't just cold. It's really very, very neat.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tricky Wiki Wackies

I don't usually mention the songs that I put in the sidebar, but this one was just too much fun.

It was played to me for the first time just two days after I had arrived in Stockholm. Had I heard it in Hawaii three days earlier it would have been wildly appropriate, while cruising Waikiki or sipping a cocktail at a beachside bar, but in -18 degrees with snow everywhere ... not so much. Nevertheless! It's become something of a recent favourite of mine, and I thought it was worth sharing.

Interestingly, I've never really been much of a Bette fan, but I think sometimes all it takes is something that speaks to you. Also, you have to hand it to her, the range of styles that woman can pull off is mighty impressive.

Keep an ear out for the wonderful baseline, the banjo and of course, the spoons. Then there's that awesome album art. Too great!

Tack to Kobbs for the tipoff here. ;)

Find Ukulele Lady here.


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