This morning we woke up and it was snowing. There was a little black bird hanging out on the windowsill, not looking particularly bothered by the cold. We are staying in a hotel, slightly more posh than we expected. The place we were planning to stay in wouldn’t let us in – they have a somewhat questionable policy of not answering their doorbell or their phone. This made for a reasonably tense hour while it was getting darker and we didn’t have a place to stay. We went to the pub in the corner – The Shakespeare Inn – which makes a rather odd vegetarian pasta but also has extremely helpful wait staff who directed us to another hotel and let us use their internet.
Our first destination was the Kungl biblioteket (National Library of Sweden). It has lots of teeny-tiny spiral staircases, and rooms that surprise you with their existence. It was the first place I visited where I really noticed that English was not immediately available to help the tourists. None of the signs were in English, and we had to guess what was expected. It wasn’t really a big deal, but I liked it. one of the fortunate things about speaking English is that you can spend time in a place where most things are in a different language, and get along okay, because everyone speaks your language. it took about an hour to get to the library (a ten minute journey max) because we kept on getting side tracked by the snowflakes, the exciting photo opportunities, and the cars driving on the right.
After the library we spent about another two or three hours wandering the city. We saw ice-skating and tobogganing (pulkkamäki, for you Finns out there), dogs of all kinds frolickingin the snow, and lots and lots of birds in the water near the bridge to the old town. in a shoe shop, we met a dog named Stella (STEL-LA) another addition to the dogs I know withl woeful eyes and little emotional robustness.
The snow makes it difficult to tell where the footpath ends and the road starts. This, coupled with the driving on the other side of the road, and the lack of peripheral vision while in a jacket means that we spend a lot of time telling each other to be careful. generally the cars travel pretty slowly in the snow. So far most people have been very friendly. They all speak in English as soon as they realise that we don’t speak Swedish. although we did manage to have one conversation without using any English – didn’t require much Swedish either, admittedly. People indulge us in our ‘hej’s and ‘tack’s, but can’t understand our order of ‘varm choclad’. ah, well.
Today, at – 5 degrees, it is warm. now it is either time for night exploring, or bed, not sure which. Tomorrow we are in a ferry to Turku, our first stop in Finland.