All stories should start at the beginning, right?
-Morty Smith, “Look Who’s Purging Now?“
During the Planck epoch, the universe was in a state of extreme density and temperature. OK, maybe 13.8 billion years ago is a bit too far, even if it is the beginning.
For about 6 months now, I travel a lot for work – mostly outside the United States. Having grown up in the US of A, I have come to realize something now that I’m wandering the rest of the world. We’re missing out! Don’t get me wrong, The USA is a HUGE place, I haven’t seen 90% of it, BUT,
the world is way bigger.
My newfound career as a Field Service Engineer puts me in random parts of the world for anywhere from a day to a fortnight (I used that word just to drive traffic given the game’s popularity). So, don’t expect even any accurate information about these wonderful foreign places from me, just expect my honest experiences trying to see the world with eyes unclouded by hate. I’m no expert, but I’m having fun, and I do my best to learn what I can while I’m there, so that I can share it with all of you folks that I miss so dearly on a daily basis. On that note: come visit me sometime somewhere.
All that being said we’re going to start with a fun bit about Sweden. Really a fun bit about Uppsala, Sweden, a little town home to a big university and a lot of bicycles. No really, a lot of bicycles.
My friend Sam has spent a lot of time in this town and I think he hit the nail on the head when he called it “pedestrian”. It’s almost poetically pedestrian, life goes at an easy pace and without incident. Everyone just bikes around doing their thing and then drinking wine after work with friends.
Alright, you guys know I love telling stories, so here’s my welcome to the Nordic countries story. It’s the first morning I’m in Uppsala, the first morning i’m in Sweden nonetheless – so I head down to the lobby to get some breakfast.
Needless to say, I was kind of blown away by the buffet. Loaves of fresh baked bread on slotted wooden cutting boards, grains and oats and nuts in little brown paper bags, other wooden boards stacked tall with meats and cheeses. So, I’m just standing there, soaking in this impressive smorgasbord (that’s a Swedish word) – when I realize something. The music playing is this low, slow-paced, war drum like sound. Just this slow, quietly thundering, repetitive, rhythmical thumping. As soon as I clue in on it and start to feel like a Viking or something – I shit you not – the drums stop and the sound of an eagle screeching plays over the speakers. Now, the rest of the music was more normal hotel lobby music, but I’d like to think they played that song just for my own personal experience 🙂
CREAM – The Money
First thing I did was pull some cash out of the ATM, since they don’t use the euros I got banging around in my bag (Germans love their cash, it’s obnoxious really). As cool as this money looks, most stores I visited do not accept cash. Card only. Finally, I feel like I’m living in 2019
This part of the blog may always be lacking a bit, but I will do my best to get better, because my chef friend Felix asked me to, and I love that man to death. That burger was delicious, but it actually took almost an hour to come out after I ordered it, the service industry doesn’t have the same high expectations in Europe as it does in the US. The pastry game is off the charts here, those glass cases of sandwiches are EVERYWHERE, and yes that’s a random freezer just brimming with crustaceans. BUT, the thing to really check out here is that wall of candy. Swedes LOVE their candy, those walls of bulk candy are everywhere, and there are always a mob of people filling up bags with candies.
The Great Outdoors
Uppsala was home to Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. Yes, I shamelessly ripped that from Wikipedia. Basically he’s the reason that we know what a species is, and that each species has a 2 word Latin name, I think. As a result, there are two botanical gardens in Uppsala and they are amazing.
Stockholm, Land of Steep Escalators
I’m not trying to disappoint you guys, but for real I’m a pretty lame traveler. I hide in my hotel room a lot, when I’m burnt out I hide in the hotel lobby, and one day in 2 weeks, I visited Stockholm, which is only 20 minutes away (read: 3 hours I was in Stockholm and then got a train back to Uppsala in a sweaty panic). I think it mostly stems from me travelling alone, but whatever, anyway. I saw a lot of cool things in Stockholm, but really I didn’t go very far, just ankle deep at the shores of the Swedish capital. I’ll get better at this blogging thing, I promise 🙂
The Travel Hack
So, I’ve stayed at my fair share of hotels, and a few other peoples’ fair shares as well. And one of the hotel amenities I never have a use for, is the ice machine on the floor. What I have been missing out on! Before going to the gym add equal parts cheap booze from the grocery store, ice from the ice machine, and you’ll come back to cheap ice cold heavenly spiritual restoration.
The Mega Fruits
A quick recap of some basic quality of life details:
Number of guns the police carry: 0
Number of times I heard Kanye West’s voice: 0
Price of a decent 1 bedroom apartment: ~4-600 euros a month
Tax on alcohol ranges from 50-100 percent, so booze aint cheap.
Public transportation: 10/10, cheap and goes everywhere all the time.
Healthcare: According to several locals, you pay 15 euros, no matter what. Cancer, advanced MRIs, common cold, leg amputation, prototype prosthetic re-implantation (i made that up), it’s all a one time fee of 15 euros if you have to go to the doctor. The taxes are higher, but it’s worth.
I wouldn’t be The Department of Emigration if I didn’t provide some assistance emigrating did I? Granted, I hope my fantastic tales are enough to drive interest at least, but at the end of each post, I will do my best to put links to some information or resources on what you gotta do if you want to LIVE in the places I just was fortunate enough to VISIT. For now, I’m going to come back to this because, well, I’m in Helsinki at the moment, and I want to butcher some more Finnish phrases before I fly to Japan tomorrow 🙂
I miss you all, and I love you all. -Findlay