When the time came to leave Sweden, a storm was brewing over the airport. My flight got delayed for more than 3 hours and I missed my connecting flight to Ljubljana in Copenhagen. Despite being a bit annoyed by the waiting at the first it turned out to be a good thing in the end.
The staff at the airport was nice, they booked me another flight for the next day evening, paid for a nice hotel in the city and a taxi to get there. To top it off since I was on a business trip I didn’t have to get extra vacation day but my company actually paid me extra since I was stranded there an extra day. 🙂
When I arrived to the hotel it was already pretty late, so I only ate dinner and went to sleep. The next day I had a whole day to explore the city, before the night flight back to Slovenia.
The city of Copenhagen is a mixture of modern and old buildings, full of cyclists and nice walkways to walk by. Despite being very hot, the city was crowded with tourists.
After couple of hours of hiking around I managed to get to the famous canal – Nyhavn, from where all the tourists take photos and of course why would I be any different? 🙂
I spent the rest of the day exploring the old town, interesting the vivid colored buildings are not limited to the canal.
After the long day of walking I took a subway to the airport and late that night returned back to Slovenia.
Despite a small inconvenience of missing the connected flight, it turned out great Denmark – Checked [X].
Since I was already in Sweden, I decided it would be cool visiting my favorite place up north – Luleå. Last time I went up there I took an overnight train that took about 13h to reach Luleå, if I remember correctly. Since now my time in Sweden was much shorter than back then, I decided to save up time by going with a plane. Surprisingly the price was about the same if not a bit cheaper compared to the train. I took a morning flight and in about an hour of flight I was at my destination. It felt surreal stepping off the plane and seeing a town I once lived in after all this time.
I was staying in a cozy hotel in the city center. It was so weird seeing the city in the summer, since my memories from it are mostly from winter, when it was dark, cold and snowy. This time it was the opposite, the streets were crowded with tourists, it was warm, 20-25C and it was sunny, so sunny I managed to get some sunburns on the first day (or night? midnight? 🙂 ).
This time I was up in the north about 3 weeks earlier than 5 years ago, this meant that there was no real night yet. In the evening I went for a long hike to Vaderleden, to the bridge between LTU and my old room with the view over the lake. I spend couple of hours there, watching sunset. Everything felt so surreal, like I was dreaming, it was familiar, like I never left all those years ago yet different. At midnight I snapped couple of pictures, and slowly returned to my room in the city. By the time I reached my hotel the sun was already high in the sky.
I spent a week up there. The whole idea about the revisit was to just hike a bit, relax and recharge my batteries. I visited my old place at Vaderleden, the supermarket I knew so well and every place and cranny I could think of. The weather was so nice and warm.
The week flew by and soon it was time to leave Luleå for the second time and return back south. All in all it was a nice visit and I’m happy I did it. The city hasn’t changed much since last time, but all the time I had the feeling that something was missing. I guess more than half of my experience I had last time was made by people and friends surrounding me back there.
I have seen Jean and Maggie a couple of times during the conference already, but when the conference ended it was time to move from the city center to their apartment, just on the opposite side of the conference complex. It was great seeing them again after 2 years. Time flies by so fast, the last time we saw each other was when they visited us in Slovenia.
I started my first day of vacation with Jean showing me his workplace – he works at King (The Candy Crush developers). I must say I haven’t seen such a great offices anywhere. Everything was decorated with motives from Candy Crush game, they had arcades, trampolines, pool and foosball tables, about 50 micro ways, free drinks and on and on, they even had a zen garden and rooms with beds, where you could take a short siesta. It really looked like a joy to work there, I’m wondering how they can do any work done.
After the tour of his office, we went to visit a friend of his, where we had a BBQ at the top of the roof of 15 story building. The views were nice, the sun was setting, and the food was great. It just so happens that his friend is from Croatia, so it was lots of fun teasing him (and his Croatian friends that were there) about losing the finals a week before.
One day we rented a car and drove about 200 km out of the Stockholm, it was interesting seeing this part of the Sweden, again lots of forests, lakes but the vegetation was different from the north. There was also a farm here or there. Our destination of the day was moose farm/safari. We were able to see the moose from close, even pet them a bit, it was so much fun. They are such a funny animal, very high and big on four tiny legs. Their fur was really fatty/sweaty, hard to describe, supposedly they excrete something that helps them stay cool/fend of mosquitoes or something during the summer. There were also some baby moose running around happily, such a joy to watch.
After the moose farm we also visited a nice castle/villa near a lake. It is especially known by having lots of traditional Swedish deserts. I tried several cakes and after we were full we slowly returned home to Stockholm.
It was fun hanging out with Jean and Maggie, we visited different parts of Stockholm, tried tons of different restaurants and also cooked some interesting dishes at home. We also visited an “old school” arcade, full of Japanese arcades, supposedly they are still popular there.
One day Jean and I went to the outskirts of Stockholm and rented a canoe. It was supper fun paddling along the small islands in Stockholm’s archipelago and looking at big villas at the water’s edge. It was really serene and calm, a place to relax and talk. Will have to look if anything similar is possible here in Slovenia.
I was also very happy to try Japanese food again, another restaurant that I found really fun was an Italian restaurant, where kitchen was open, so you could watch how they made your food. Supposedly couple of months ago it was even more open, as you directly told the chef what you want, and he made it right in front of you, but it was supposedly too stressful for them, so they change it, nonetheless the food was great. As usually, when I’m with Jean I also tried something weird, this time it was some weird tea with milk and weird balls of soy or something inside – really disgusting stuff.
All in all the days flew by in an eye blink. It was really fun hanging out with them and visiting the city. The Stockholm during the summer is totally different experience than visiting in the winter, while the winter version is fun to experience, I would definitely recommend coming in summer as there is so much more you can do and see.
Soon it was time to say goodbye, we went for one last lunch at a pizzeria nearby. Its fascinating how Swedes (or rather people owning pizzerias up there – they are not native swedes in general) have absolutely no idea how pizza should look like. They always put a lot of some weird ingredients on it, the pizzas are usually very large and taste mediocre at best.
The reception event for the conference happened on Sunday at the Stockholm’s Skansen ZOO. The last time I was here we also visited the zoo, but it was during the winter, when half of the animals were hibernating or sleeping, or were not seen since it was dark at 3pm already. This time we had all the zoo for ourselves, since the event started just after the zoo closed, at around 5 pm.
The weekend, we visited, was also the weekend of the finals of the football world cup and on the sunday France was playing against Croatia right around this time. I’m saying this because when we came to the event, we were the only Europeans there, everyone else were in a bar or somewhere where they were streaming world cup. Speaking of streaming, it was weird, in whole Stockholm, we couldn’t find a big TV/Screen in the open, where they would stream the cup, this is especially weird, since Sweden did quite well at the cup. I’m confident that even Slovenia, that did not qualify for the cup, had more screens in the open than Sweden. So in the end, Vito and I ended up watching the final game on the phone (thank god for roaming in EU), surrounded by hundreds Asians, looking weirdly why two guys were screaming at the phone.
After the game finished, we had free time to go around the ZOO. The sun slowly began to set, even in Stockholm, days were much longer than in Slovenia at that time, sunset was around 9.30pm. The animals were playful and active during this time, and it was a wonderful experience, much better than my last visit during the winter.
When the sun finally went down, most of the animals went to sleep. I found an elk that was particularly interesting at that time, the sun was setting and it highlighted his puffy hair over his antlers, it looked like his outline was shining.
It’s been a long five years since I left Sweden. A lot has happened in the meantime, I have visited 3/4 of countries in Europe, been in Australia, Hong Kong and USA, some of it as business trips to different conferences or meetings. It just so happend that this year the biggest conference for AI was happening in Stocholm, it was a no brainer, I had to go. I have planned my trip so I had about 8 work days in Stocholm at the beginning then 4 days with Jean and about a week in Luleå.
We flew from Ljubljana over Copenhagen to Stockholm. We arrived in early afternoon and quickly took the fast train to the city. The train is I believe quite new, and much faster than the one I took to Luleå all those years ago, somewhere at the midpoint the train slowed down a bit, probably waiting for another train to pass, and my coworker complained why are we going slower than Slovenian trains, after checking the actuall speed, the train was still going 180km/h.
We soon reached our hotel, it was located in the city center, on the same square as the cinema, from where I watched Hobbit last time I was here. The hotel was nice, with view over the square, the whole hotel was themed like an movie stodio, with losts of props from movie sets in early 20th centruy.
The first thing we did, after checking in was fiding some food. As it usually turns out in foreign countries the easiest thing to find is usually a fast food joint on a nearby corner. Since we were in Sweden, we decided to go into a Max – a Swedish version of McDonalds, although much better. It was interesting to find that you did all your orders through machine, got a number and when your number was up you could go pick it up.
First couple of days were very intense workwise, I had one presentation the next day early morning and another in two days. Despite the work I still managed to walk around the city a bit, find my favourit food in Sweden and do some basic sight seeing.
The last time I was here in Stocholm it was early January, the days were extremely short, there was snow, cold and fog. During the summer it was completely different city, we were just so (un)lucky to go there during one of the biggest heat waves in Sweden’s history. The skys were clear, the sun was shining 18 hours per day and the heat, the heat was unbearable. Since usually Stocholm only has couple of hot days (about a week) per year, almost nothing has AC. The worst was using metro, it must have been over 40 degrees inside, and to top it off they were always crowded. Another thing I noticed severly different than from my memories were amount of people on the streets. The streets were crouded, there were really a lot of tourists in the city and you could spot them a mile away.
The conference was in a big convention center to the south of the city center. It should be an easy place to reach, just hope on the metro infront of our hotel and jump off infront of the convention center. However, commicaly, the escelator broke (so it turned into the stairs?) on the main train station and because of this almost all lines had some problems, ours for example didn’t run. So instead of 20 min of no-transfer travel, we had to ride 2 trains, walk 20minutes to change train somwehre in between and all this in 35C. To ease the transfer, we took a taxi couple of times, when we had lectures really early in the morning, the taxi fare was about 50€ for 15min drive.
Despite all, the conference was interesting, but what was more interesting were the events that accompany it. We had a welcom event at the Skansen ZOO, then reception at the city council, dinner at Vasa museum and another dinner at University of Stocholm.
After one week the conference was over and it was time to move to Jean’s appartement. He was located just beside the conference venue, so I was able to visit him few times already.