Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?Tue Oct 30, 2012 22:53 (UTC -7)
The Hotel Micro lived up to its name. It was a lot like a dormitory, actually. It had a small common room with a TV and one of those vending machines that makes coffee. There were separate men’s and women’s restrooms with shower facilities. Our own room was the size of a small closet. The bed took up half of the room, and it got crowded when we were both standing up at the same time. But it was clean.
It was raining, and we needed to do something. Down the street, we found a convenience store that had hot coffee and just enough room for two people to sit. As we drank, we told each other in full detail how we had made it to Stockholm: Kate by ferry from Finland, I by plane from Seattle. And after we had had enough, it was about lunchtime, so we went to an Asian buffet around the corner from the main train station.
I still wasn’t entirely sure what there was to do in Stockholm, but we walked around and saw old, palatial-looking buildings, the likes of which you never see in the US. And after crossing a few bridges (for Stockholm is a city of islands), we encountered the Kungliga Slottet: the Royal Palace. But by that time, it was getting late, and we probably wouldn’t have much time for a tour even if we wanted to go. So we didn’t go in.
Nearby was the Swedish Parliament. We wandered around the front yard, and I tried to avoid stepping on the grass. I remembered a detail from my trip to Washington, DC, with some friends. It was a quiet Sunday, and a Capitol police officer sat in his patrol car, just waiting for us to step outside the lines delineating a crosswalk that spanned a narrow section of a deserted parking lot that lay between us and the seat of the legislative branch of our government. We didn’t give him the satisfaction and/or authority to kick us out. But here, with Kate, in front of the Riksdag, there was no one.
For previous trips to foreign countries, I had taken pains to learn common phrases in the local languages. I would practice saying “Excuse me,” “Do you speak English?”, “Yes,” “No,” “Thank you”—the basics. For Sweden, I hadn’t done that, and I felt extremely anxious about having to ask if people spoke English in, of all things, English. There’s nothing I hate more in the world than sounding or looking like a stupid tourist. For the same reason, I had gone out of my way to avoid wearing obviously touristy clothes.
So when we went to have dinner at a hole-in-the-wall place that was teeming with locals, Kate encouraged me to face and/or get over my fears. I placed my order with something approaching total humiliation, even though Kate had already spoken to the cashier in English, and even though I think I had heard other people doing the same. I felt a little better once I had something to eat, but I was still a stranger in a strange land.
Waxy.org’s Andy Baio muses on the legally baseless but extremely common phenomenon of YouTube uploaders including disclaimers with videos they don’t own the rights to. See also: the YouTube Disclaimer Blues.