After the epic Midsommar party in Alingsås and the slow, sleepy day spent cleaning up the aftermath, Jonas, Pauline, and I climbed onto the train for a short journey to Gothenburg. We arrived early in the evening on Saturday to a city eerily quiet and still, deserted for the holiday. As we walked through the empty streets, the threat of rain hanging over our heads, they pointed out their favourite places to me, painting a picture of a vibrant and busy city full of things to see and do. That night, though, I was so tired that I barely registered the shopfronts passing by outside the tram window; I climbed the myriad steps up to their flat, overlooking the city to the north, in a haze.
On the second longest day of the year, I was wide awake at 4:30 am, thinking I had missed my alarm. Just a few short hours after the sun disappeared, it returned; light was already filtering in through the high windows to spread a gray glow throughout the room. After languishing a while longer beneath the warm duvet, I blinked the sleep away from my eyes and dragged myself out of bed. There was no time to waste, as today was to be my first Swedish midsommar celebration.
Despite the early hour, the train station buzzed with activity. It seemed that I wasn’t the only person doing my holiday travels on the day of the celebration. With a farewell to my lovely hosts from Malmö, I hopped onboard the roomy SJ train, which smelled oddly of sea water, and settled in for the long, roundabout journey to Alingsås. Because I booked my train sista minuten (“last minute”) that morning, I would be taking a journey northeast to the interior of Sweden and then back west towards the coast to my destination. The train line I took encompassed such tongue-twisting Swedish names as Falköping (“fall-show-ping”), Jönköping (“yawn-show-ping”), the bewildering Nässjö (the “sj” somehow turns into a “hw”), and Skövde (wait for it… “hove-duh”). But despite my bemusement at the town names, I spent most of my journey staring out of the window and listening to music. Sweden is the perfect place to travel by train – no books or distractions are needed.
Down the Ribersborgsstranden, not quite to the bridge, sits the Ribersborgs Kallbadhus (also known as Kallis). It’s over 100 years old and has been declared a historic building by the City of Malmö. Extending out from Ribersborg Beach into the Øresund, the pistachio green bathhouse houses a cafe, restaurant, and separate men’s and women’s sides with two saunas each, as well as a mixed sauna in the middle.
On the heels of my jaunt to Eastbourne, my wanderlust was somewhat satisfied – but not for long. The trip was a soothing, temporary relief, but it didn’t address the root of the problem. Besides the occasional trip home for some Christmases and Easters, I had not left England since moving here in 2010. The whole of Europe was on my doorstep — just a short flight or even a train ride away — and despite this, I always had excuses that kept me from going. One of the biggest of these excuses was, of course, money. Travel is expensive — there’s no denying that. But it came to a point where I sat down and reasoned with myself: travelling Europe is a lot less expensive for someone based in the UK than someone based in America; there was no guarantee that, when my time in university is over in two years, that I will be able to renew my visa and stay here. Suddenly, two years seemed like a very short time to fit all the European travels I dreamed of into.
My wistful pasttime of browsing budget airline sites took on a new, intent fervor. Where did I want to go that I could go for cheap? When would I go? I wanted to eschew touristy places that would be packed during the summer months. I took a look at the week I had set aside as my travel week, and noticed that it would encompass the summer solstice. In that moment, I knew where I had to go – Sweden. View Post