It was a short flight from Trondheim to Stockholm. From the plane you could see the rocky fjords of Norway transition to the forested hills of Sweden. We landed, grabbed our backpacks, and headed from the airport into town. It was time for more couch-surfing, but the old-fashioned kind.
We had met our friend Karolina in Buenos Aires, Argentina over 4 years ago (Mandy and I worked there for one month as medical students, Karolina was on vacation), now our paths would finally cross again. When we first told Karolina the dates we would be in Stockholm, we were sad to find out that she had her own vacation plans. “Don’t worry,” she replied, “I’ll leave you the keys to my place, make yourselves at home, and we will come back a few days early to see you!”.
Now we were on a mission to find her apartment. Without a cell phone or wireless internet, we were dependent upon my scribbled notes from the Facebook messages she’d sent. As I struggled to read what I had written, I realized that if I made any mistakes, we’d be homeless tonight. Undaunted, Mandy led us out of the airport and we began our Stockholm scavenger hunt:
Step #1. Catch the bus to central station.
No problem. And we even ran into a friend of Mandy’s from high school, Jen, on the way. Bonus points.
Step #2. Transfer to the Subway and take the Red Line to Hornstull.
I purchased two “red” tickets from the machine. After checking with an attendant to see how long the tickets were good for, I discovered “red” tickets are actually “reduced price” which we didn’t qualify for. We would have to buy new tickets — or, we could try and quickly sneak past the officer at the turnstile. We chose the latter option, handed him our tickets and sped through. Double bonus points.
Step #3. Exit at Hornstull, the address is: **************** , Number 1.
I consulted the map. After orienting ourselves (twice), with one wrong turn down a side street, we found her apartment building. Lose points :(.
Step #4, We stood outside and I scanned my notes: the building code is ****.
I entered the combination and waited. Nothing happened. Mandy looked at me worriedly as I tried again. On the second attempt, we heard the lock click. We pushed the door open — we were inside.
Step #5. The apartment is on the fourth floor, the key is hidden in a ***** ***** that’s hidden in a stroller.
Four flights of stairs…found the stroller, found the ***** *****, found the key. And the moment of truth:
We opened the door to a super-trendy, but cozy apartment. Getting in was actually the hardest part. The lock was stiff and the spare key didn’t fit well. Finally, on the third attempt the key turned.
Karolina’s apartment was the ideal base for lazy days in one of Europe’s trendiest cities. The place felt so much like home that we put away our tourist pants for a bit. We slept in, explored the neighborhood, and hung out in the local coffee shops (the apartment was in “SoFo”, the coolest neighborhood of ultra-cool Stockholm) and RELAXED — which we were discovering is a necessary component to an around-the-world trip. Traveling, as opposed to vacationing, can be exhausting. The novelty of each new experience puts your brain to work…hard…all. day. long. The thought of putting our backpacks down for a few days brought a smile to our faces.
Slowing it down in Stockholm was perfect. It’s a laid back city on the water that feels smaller than it actually is. In the evenings, we relaxed in the apartment as the breeze carried in live music from the bars down below. We drifted off to sleep, enjoying a mini-vacation from our travels.