Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I heart Stockholm

So, last week I got the pleasure of spending some time in my favorite city: Stockholm*. Seriously, I heart Stockholm. In fact, my heart hurts when I visit because I miss living there so much. And I would move back in a heartbeat (ok - I've now said heart three times - I think I will stop now as I'm annoying myself)... but unfortunately, this is not possible right now. This makes me very very sad (but more on this later).

The trip was a little bit about work and more about fun - just the way it should be!

I arrived early evening on Wednesday and I had just enough time to run into H&M and do some serious damage to my poor bank account.

You might be wondering, why would I go shopping in Sweden when I live in the best shopping city in the world? I was wondering the same myself... But the sad truth is that I have become very Swedish (at least that's what I'm told). When I first moved to Sweden I couldn't understand why H&M was on every single corner. I also hated the fact that there was not a larger "selection" of clothes or shops. I found the shopping boring it irritated me that everyone wore the same thing.

So, now I live in London where there is a whole big bad city out there with tons of things to spend your hard earned money on, and you know what? I prefer shopping in Stockholm. Go figure. But, it's easy to shop in Stockholm. Stockholm stores are limited, but they have all the things I want. There is no searching through racks trying to figure out the latest trends. In Stockholm, it's all there in front of you. And yes, the population and the dress code is pretty homongenous but Swedes are extremely fashionable as well as attractive and I swear it feels like you are in a photoshoot everywhere you go.

A non-Swedish friend of mine described it as like "being in the twilight zone. It's just too perfect to be true. But the scary part is, it is really that perfect." Well said my friend. He didn't particularly like living in Sweden (he only lived there for one year). After 5 years living there, I have learned to love it. Actually, I think it took leaving Sweden to give me some perspective make me realize just how perfect Sweden really is - and just how Swedish I had managed to become!

Oh Stockholm... oh how I'm going to miss you.

After my impromptu shopping trip, I met an old colleague/friend for a glass of wine at Anglais and then we moved on to Vapiano for fabulous pizza and more glasses of wine and lots of catching up. It was a lovely evening... which I immensely regretted (at least that 4th glass of wine) the next day when I woke up with a headache.

Of course being the crazy person that I am, I decided that I would not let a little wine headache get between me and a lovely morning for running (seriously it was a gorgeous day). So, I ignored the pounding in my head and threw on my running shoes and went out to pound the pavement for an hour run in my most favorite park Hagerparken - where I used to run every day when I lived in Stockholm. Let me just say that this obviously did not help my headache which proceeded to haunt me all day until - well... until I started drinking again!

After work my fabulous Stockholm team brought me for drinks and dinner to celebrate the fact that I'm leaving my current job for a new one. They surprised me by bringing me to Wallmans Salonger where we saw a dinner show made up of songs written by Bjorn Ulvaeu and Benny Andersson (most famous for being part of ABBA but also for composing 3 musicals the most famous of which is Mama Mia).

Those Swedes sure do love their ABBA. I have to say that after all the time I spent in Sweden, ABBA has grown on me, but I still find that I do not know most of the songs and certainly cannot sing all the lyrics like most Swedes can. Anyway, the show was a lot of fun and it was a great night!

Friday started with another wine headache but this time I decided to skip the run. Another great day at the office and then back to Diplomat for more drinks with colleagues. We then headed to Anglais for more drinks. What else?

And GUESS WHO I SAW at Anglais? You got it. The Beautiful Swede was there!! The thing is that he had been on my mind since landing at the airport. Last week after writing about him, I had a very vivid dream about him where he met me at the airport and tried to force me to talk to him. I had this strong feeling that I would inevitably see him in Stockholm - it's a small city and you spend your life there bumping into people. So, I unfortunately found myself looking for him everywhere. Searching the faces of any tall handsome men (believe me there are a lot of those) to make sure it's not him.

I promise, I did not WANT to see him or interact with him, but I could not help looking for him. As if by searching for him, I could be sure to avoid him.

Anyway, many people came out to meet me at Anglais (I have great friends) and we were standing by the main door (and I was keeping half an eye on the door kind of waiting for him to walk in - I even commented  to my friends that I was nervous about bumping into him) when suddenly one of my friends suggested that we move over to a different part of the bar (it's a big bar). I thought it was a bit of a strange suggestion but didn't dwell on it. And by that time I'd had enough wine that I swear I'd finally stopped thinking about him. About 45 minutes after we moved, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a tall beautiful guy with a familiar face walking fast headed toward the second exit caught my eye. It was him!!! The Beautiful Swede!

AHHHHHHHHH! My heart stopped beating and launched itself into my throat. I felt nauseous. I forgot how to breathe for a second and my legs started to shake! Panic! What do I do?

So, what did I do? I did what any girl in my position would do. I ducked down and covered my head with my hands protectively and hid in the group of girls who instinctively surrounded me and I closed my eyes - as if I closed my eyes then he wouldn't see me either! When I finally dared to stand up again and started to breathe, I realized that he had just headed to the exit and it seems that he did not see me. I had a friend check that he was really gone (he was). And I eventually regained my cool and went on with the night. I wasn't going to let a little ex-boyfriend siting ruin a night with my friends. However, I still can't believe that he was there and even more unbelievable is the fact that we managed to avoid an interaction! Amazing.

My friends admitted that they had seen him earlier and that was why they suggested we move away from that side of the bar. They didn't want to tell me he was there because they didn't want me to either decide to leave or decide to speak with him (I think I would have left) so they hoped that we would not bump into each other.

With that tragedy narrowly adverted, we continued on to Undici for a night of dancing to bad Schlager music and getting hit on by old Swedish men (there was some kind of private golf party going on so the place was packed with uninteresting old men and minor Swedish celebrities).

After a rather late Friday night, Saturday morning's 10 am meeting for the kick off of our friend J's hen party came way to soon! But I'm happy to say that I successfully made it there on time and without even a headache to show for my late night the night before!

In traditional Swedish fashion, my friend had been "kidnapped" at her house that morning by her two bridesmaids and then brought to meet us. I like the way the Swedes approach hen parties (and bachelor parties are apparently even more crazy) - it's always a surprise, it's always well planned and thought out, and it's always a full day and evening event with lots of activities designed to make your friend who's getting married feel special.

The rest of the day consisted of pony racing (which involved driving a cart pulled by a pony - see picture below) and belly dancing followed by a dinner at F's house and then off to the nightclub Berns for some clubbing.

My friend who is getting married had various tasks to do during the night. One of these tasks included finding and taking a picture of a Swedish celebrity. This is not hard to do in Stockholm, if you glance around almost any club you can always find some kind of B list Swedish celebrity.

The celebrity she found was named Torre Kulgren (see picture to the left)** - famous for being a "Geek" who tried to play football (and yes, I mean soccer) on a Swedish reality TV show. I have not seen the show but it was explained to me that he apparently became the star of the show because he was just so socially awkward and therefore hilarious.

For some reason, I started talking to Torre later in the night - I think this was in part due to my new BFF C who I had met at the hen party and was having an awful lot of fun with that evening. Anyway, Torre took a liking to me and tagged along with us for the rest of the evening. As my new friend C put it, "well you found yourself a pet." And I know that it's kind of mean to say that (I'm not really a mean girl), but that's the best way I could describe him.

Unfortunately, my new "pet" made it difficult to talk to other men. But that was ok I guess - it doesn't have to be about meeting hot boys all the time. Besides, I found Torre completely amusing (and nice) and he kept flattering me by telling me how cute I was. But, I have seriously never met such a socially awkward person! I wish I had been able to remember some of the really funny things that he said when he was not even trying to be funny (but alas the wine did me no help here). And you should have seen the world's most awkward hug goodbye he gave me at 4:30 in the morning when we finally left the club (yeah - I killed it this weekend with late nights every night). Leave it to me to find the most dorky man in Sweden to hang out with for the night!

All in all, it was a great trip to Stockholm. It always is. Although I didn't meet any hot boys or kiss any Swedish boys in the rain... I got to spend a lot of time with good friends. I'm going back to Sweden for the wedding in just 2 weeks. I can't wait!

*For anyone who has just started following my blog, I lived in Stockholm for 5 years until a year ago when my company moved me to London (a move I didn't want to make).

**As you may have noticed, I never use names or put pictures of people in my blog but as he's a minor Swedish celebrity, I have decided it's ok.

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