Visiting Stockholm – My Home Away From Home
A trip to see friends in the city where I became an expat Englishman
This week I am on my travels to a place that I think of as my hometown.
Of course, I’m a Londoner! I was born at Guy’s Hospital, which is close to London Bridge and I lived all of my life in south London until I upped and moved to Sweden when in 2001.
So I am London born and bred. Nothing can ever change that and as the saying goes ‘you can take the man out of London but you can’t take London out of the man!’
Home away from home
When I moved to Sweden I lived in a north Stockholm suburb and that’s why I think of Stockholm as my hometown, certainly for the expat part of me.
I lived in Stockholm for 9 years before I moved to the south of Sweden, to Helsingborg in Skåne. The funny thing about Skåne is that Swedes say they speak with ‘a potato in their mouth’. Their dialect is pretty thick in the same way that Geordies have a think dialect which is difficult to comprehend.
When I studied Swedish I studied it in Stockholm so I am classed as speaking ‘Rikssvenska’ which would be called either ‘The Queen’s English’ or ‘BBC English’ in the UK. In other words, correct Swedish!
It’s much like any foreigner learning English. They would say ‘my’ instead of ‘me’ when saying ‘my car’. They would say ‘one’ instead of ‘you’ when say ‘when you go to a shop’. In other words, they haven’t learnt the bad habits that we all learn by being in a district.
So when I moved to Helsingborg I was told I sounded posh or polite because I spoke Rikssenska.
Much like in England where people from other areas of the UK dislike Londoners, people from outside of Stockholm have a mild dislike for people from Stockholm. They call ‘us’ ‘null åtta’ or 08 in the same way people from London are all labelled Cockneys in a negative way.
Null åtta or 08, is the dialling code for Stockholm and because it is the capital people from other areas of Sweden think everyone is stuck-up here when, just like London, some are and some are not.
The journey time from Helsingborg to Stockholm is just under 5 hours with the express train, including on change at Lund. With a normal InterCity train, it would be about 6 hours. The ticket cost 350 kronor, which is about £29!
The distance by road is about 680km, which is equivalent to travelling from London to Edinburgh. Sometimes when I travel home I like to go by coach overnight. I don’t know why I enjoy coach travel, maybe it is because it reminds me of the away games I used to travel to with Palace?
I always choose to travel by coach at night because it’s dark and it’s quieter because people are sleeping. As I said, I can’t really explain it but the journey takes just over 7 hours.
I’ve always been someone who enjoys travelling, I used to be a train driver after all, and occasionally I would drive to Dover and sit at the top of the cliff to watch the ferries come and go.
I’m weird but if you follow me on social media you’ll already know that!
Stockholm has a more agreeable climate for me. Sure, in the winter the temperature can be as low as -25 and in the summer it can hit +30 but it is the lower humidity that I like. In short, when it’s cold it isn’t bitterly cold and when it’s hot it isn’t sweaty and sticky hot.
Skåne has a climate similar to London. When it’s cold it is bitterly cold and it goes through to your bones. The wind strikes at your very core, which is the same as it is in New York. When it is hot you can do nothing but sweat even if you are doing nothing.
While Stockholm isn’t Spain it is similar in that when you are in Spain the heat there is a nice heat. You can do things without sweating like a madman!
More to follow
All in all, it is nice to be ‘home’ even if it is a short stay and it is nice to see friends too.
I’ll write more about my travels over the coming days. Subscribe to keep updated.