Saturday, July 5, 2014

Demokrati och drakar

Okay, first, let's get this out of the way - LISBETH LISBETH LISBETH.

Moving on.

I'm still in love with Stockholm. In fact, it's tearing me up to even think of leaving. I'm sure I'll enjoy Oslo tomorrow. This is my city. I've spent so much time wandering around Gamla Stan and Sodermalm, as well as some detours to other regions, and each time I just want to explore more. Clearly, I have to come back.

My hostel continues to be amazing. The weird part is, I continue to have NO ROOMMATES. Out of six beds, five have been empty the entire time. So basically, I got a hotel room for the cost of a hostel. Sweet.

Yesterday, I went exploring and stumbled upon the Riksdag, which is on an island just north of Gamla Stan. Would you believe that something in Stockholm is free? They offer English-language tours every hour. Since I had nothing better to do, I joined a group.This included a rather strange assortment of people - a few Swedes who didn't want to wait for the Swedish tour in half an hour, a father and daughter from Quebec (the father had been to Moscow and kept asking me about bars I'd never heard of), a Swedish-American family who were dragging some bored kids on an impromptu political lesson, and a very exasperated guide. We were given a crash course on Swedish politics, which was oddly familiar to someone from a parliamentary system like Canada, though they don't have a Senate (but ours is pretty superfluous anyway).

From there, I moved on through a street festival to Birger Jarlsgatan, which is in the fancy part of Stockholm, Ostermalm. Once again, it was confirmed that I can't afford anything in this country, but well, I had fun looking.

That evening, I was a bit bored and decided to go back to Sodermalm, where I wandered down Gotgatan until I found a bar. It turned out to be a queer women's night, so I stuck around and met a nice group of Swedish lesbians who immediately inducted me into their drinking game. They were thrilled to hear that I loved Stockholm so much and swore that if I moved to Sweden they would make sure I had an awesome life, even if I had to move there without papers (there had been a lot of Heineken at this point). It was a ton of fun and I made a whole bunch of new friends without even trying. At least I know that Stockholm has a thriving social scene.

And then we get to the entire point of this Scandinavian adventure - the Millennium tour. It's hard to tell you how much I love these books. They're not great literature by any means, but they're utterly compelling, and the root cause of the entire Swedish obsession. I planned my whole trip around it, and really, it's been on my mind for years. So it was a Big Deal - and it was everything I expected.

I showed up at Bellmansgatan 1 early. Everyone thought I was the tour guide because I was the only one who knew it was Blomkvist's apartment. Like, it's in the tour description, guys! In fact, the tour guide was even asking me questions about the books, especially the English translations, because she had only read them in Swedish. (Like, she had no idea that Blomkvist's nickname translated to "Kalle Fucking Blomkvist" in English.) I'm such a nerd. In fact, I was fangirling all over the place, turning to look everywhere just in case I missed something Millennium, happily chatting with the tour guide about all kinds of inside jokes no one but a fan could get. It was great.

We saw some incredible places, including:

  • Lisbeth's apartments - old and new

  • Blomkvist's apartment, where they also filmed some of the movie

  • Various film locations, both Swedish and American

  • Stieg Larsson's actual office

  • The supposed location of Millennium's offices, plus those of Milton Security

  • Lisbeth's 7/11

  • A lot of coffee places

  • Bublanski's synagogue

  • More stuff I'm too excited to remember
After that, it was off to the Stockholm City Museum, which is pretty cool I guess, but not really appealing to my interests. I did enjoy their exhibit on crime in Stockholm, though, because I'm a weirdo. Best of all is their "Millennium Room", which is small but full of awesome tidbits and artifacts from the rooms. It took all my restraint to keep from stealing something - so I spent too much money on the graphic novel version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo instead! I think I have a problem. 

In the evening, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was hard to deal with my last night  in Stockholm. In fact, I was getting a bit emotional packing up. I couldn’t even eat. Finally, I went into the old town, got some ice cream, and then crossed the bridge to Sodermalm. I’m not sure what drove me back to Fiskargatan 9. I stood there for several minutes, staring at the place that Stieg Larsson had chosen over a decade ago for Lisbeth Salander’s dream apartment. Then I wandered to Bellmansgatan 1, Mikael Blomkvist’s home and the site for the very last, heartrending, scene in the American film. Since I had my iPod with me, I took it out, located the soundtrack segment from that scene – a particularly powerful piece that I sometimes can’t even stand to listen to – and stood where Rooney Mara had, where Lisbeth looked up as two people were about to crush her heart. The music played.  I expected to  cry, but instead felt overwhelmed – it was too much to feel. What was it Stieg said?

What she had realised was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”
-          The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, epilogue

Goodbye, Stockholm. 

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