Meet me in StockholmSun Sep 30, 2012 23:58 (UTC -7)
That’s one word I would use to describe my recent trip to Europe with Kate. It lasted just over two weeks, and it’s been two weeks since I came back. Guess which two weeks seem longer.
Having gone to Europe for two months three years ago and to Russia for two weeks a year and a half ago, it seemed perfectly natural that I should find myself over on that side of the world again just when I was. Although I think of my previous trips in fairly broad terms—through the pictures I took, the trains and buses I rode, how much and whether I slept—little details of the landscape that I had forgotten about popped up as if they had been in front of me all along. The files of unfamiliar cars heeding strange signs, the colorful packaging of products I’d never heard of, the advertising copy in never-quite-perfect English. All of it seemed to say, welcome back. And I had never even been to Sweden, or Serbia, or Montenegro.
On the morning of September 1, I arrived at Stockholm Arlanda Airport after a layover at O’Hare. (Kate wondered if all Americans know where O’Hare is. I said yes. Probably no one would assume it was Midway, but why leave any doubt?) Kate arrived by ferry from Turku, Finland. We had booked a room at the Hotel Micro, a one-star hotel near the city center (there’s another term I never hear in the US—”city center,” I mean, but the same could be said for “one-star hotel”). There were two other hotels at the same address, but fortunately, I had done my homework on this one. The Hotel Tegnérlunden was on the lower floors; the Hotel Birger Jarl was on the upper floors. The Hotel Micro was in the basement.
The hotel(s) faced a small park, called Tegnérlunden, where we had agreed to meet. An expensive train called the Arlanda Express whizzed me from the airport almost all the way there—it took me to the main train station, and from there I had to walk about eight blocks, although I did manage to get lost on the way. And there was the park, but no Kate. It was cold, cloudy, and drizzling—the weather I expected Seattle would greet me with once I got back home.
It’s a little nerve-wracking traveling halfway around the world to meet someone at an appointed time and place, especially in such miserable weather. It was a Saturday morning and some local woman was walking her dog in the park, and here I was sitting in the rain with a big suitcase. She must have thought I was some kind of freak. I wasn’t, but I sat there just long enough to start to freak out a little. My cell phone didn’t work in Europe, and there were no Wi-Fi networks for my Kindle to connect to. If Kate had sent me an email saying that her ferry was delayed, I wouldn’t have been able to read it. I thought of going into the hotel and seeing if she was there, but I knew that if I did that, that’s when she’d show up at the park, looking for me.
In the distance, a ponchoed figure approached. There was no way it could be her, I thought at first, but then I saw a familiar sweater and a familiar face. We were back together.
Terms of Service; Didn’t Read is a new project that aims to summarize websites’ terms of service with a rating from A (best) to E (worst). I’m using their browser extension now, and it doesn’t have information for many sites, but they’re currently raising money to fix that.