Sunday, 12 January 2014

Back home from Stockholm

Coming home is a comfort, as I'm on period, exhausted, sick again, slightly feverish, with horrible-looking lips.
The trip to Stockholm was rather short, from 8/1 to 11/1, not for pleasure, and not perfectly pleasant. I cannot call Stockholm a favourite, the way I call Paris, Roma, Amsterdam and Praha, and don't recommend travelling to Stockholm, nor any Nordic city, especially in winter. Everything's too expensive. People in VN find the US expensive, then Americans find Europe expensive, but Scandinavia is more expensive than the rest of Europe, including the UK (and among Scandinavian countries, Norway has higher costs of living than its neighbours Sweden and Denmark, and is absurdly proud of it). And unless you're fond of snow, skiing, aurora borealis and all such nonsense, don't ever come to this part of Europe in winter, because the day ends at about 3 or 4pm and it gets very dark, and it can be mortally cold. The temperature was surprisingly high for a while in all of Scandinavia, above 0, but on 10/1 suddenly dropped below 0, accompanied by snow and winds. That is, I don't know how it is in Stockholm at Christmas and New Year, because Scandinavians have the tradition of staying home with families, not going out, in Norway there's hardly anything happening or any store open around those days, and Norwegians hardly bother to decorate the streets. They took out those same white bells used last year, for Karl Johans gata.
However, Stockholm has its merits. Look back at my 1st sentences- is it indeed a comfort to get back to Oslo? Oslo? Going out for dinner after the flight, I couldn't help noticing all the differences, and all the things that made me dislike this country. Stockholm, albeit not a favourite of mine, deserves to be the capital of Scandinavia (self-proclaimed), or at least, is superior to Oslo in many aspects. 1st, it's prettier with nicer architecture. Architecture is not Norwegians' strength. 2nd, Stockholm has a larger city centre, with areas for shopping, areas for entertainment, areas for culture, and other kinds of fun; Oslo's city centre is a joke, from Oslo S to National theatre, and going further away one feels like being in a town, and further, like being on the countryside. Stockholm also seems to be more exciting. 3rd, Stockholm has greater diversity, more options to choose from, whereas Oslo has only a couple of brands and store chains, wherever one goes, whichever shopping mall one enters, one sees those same names, unless one goes to a place like Paleet or Steen og Strøm, but in such places the prices are impossible. It should also be noted that Norway and Sweden sometimes look very similar because they have the same stores, but if they're not American, they're very likely to be Swedish- Norwegians may just call Swedes idiots, but use lots of Swedish products, such as Monki, Gina Tricot, Björn Borg, H&M, Clas Ohlson, IKEA, Designtorget, Max Hamburgers... 4th, Stockholm has a more complex and impressive metro system, divided into blue lines, green lines and red lines, running on different levels (as in Paris), if I'm not mistaken; whereas Oslo's system is so simple that all 6 lines converge, go through 6 same stops, on the same level- Tøyen, Grønland, Jernbanetoget (Oslo S), Stortinget, Nationaltheatret and Majorstuen, and then diverge. Stockholm metros, I think, are narrower but faster. 5th, Swedes, aware of how depressing winter can be, bother to decorate the streets and the metro stations (google: Stockholm metro art) and other things, and use colours to brighten the mood; whereas the dominant colours in Norway, everywhere, are grey, black and red brown, and decorations in Norway are so dull, ugly and monotonous that one feels as though they decorate stores and streets not to beautify them, but as a duty, a must.
(As a matter of fact, the aforementioned bells on Karl Johans gata are like this:
I've just noticed as well that the article which had this photo was published in 11/2008: Which means that in 2013-2014 Norwegians used those same bells not only from last year, but from a few years ago, perhaps even earlier than 2008-2009. Don't make me start on their horrendous Christmas trees! Most of them are like this The building in the background is the new opera house).
6th, not very important, but noticeable anyway- Stockholm's airport and central station are remarkably bigger and better. 
Oslo brings me delight only when I think of Kristiansand, or Grimstad, or Lillehammer, or Tromsø..., perhaps Helsinki and Reykjavík. But out of Norway... Even Sweden's much, much better and more fun. 
Oh well... 

1 comment:

  1. The band ABBA (famous since the 1980s) is from Sweden. Norway has The Fox song :D