5:00AM. The alarm rings. A very bleary-eyed John stirs to life… half-life. He stumbles around, barely believing what time it is. He needs to know just one thing. Coffee. Where is it? Want. Need. Gimme!
So began the day – a very early (for me) wake up in Cardiff, as we’d been suitably spooked by horror stories of traffic, and after the drive from London to Brighton, I fully believed it. Even though our flight didn’t take off till 1:20PM, we were out of the house 6:00, just to make absolutely sure we would get that flight, with plenty of time so as to not get ourselves into a tizz at all if the traffic it.
Happily, all the sensible people in Cardiff were still in bed or at least, not on the road we we left town bang on 6AM. There was very little traffic in town at all, so it wasn’t a drama getting out and on to the motorway. Even the motorway was quiet, at the start. Watching to sun rise over the Welsh countryside was nice – except of course when it was shining right in my face and I couldn’t see a damn thing… at one stretch all the traffic slowed to about 30mph – but it didn’t last long. The traffic never turned too bad – we only came to a complete stop maybe twice, near Reading, where tons of people were all trying to join. At about 8:30, we were at Heathrow – the motorway goes practically all the way to the from door, it was, for once, a very sensible road setup. Dropping off the car was the easiest rental drop-off I’ve ever done, too, they really had their act together.
There was a free bus from EuRopcar to the Terminal – I wish we could have gone to the car park, as they had these very cool ‘Pods’, fully automated electric cars that drive you from the car park to the Terminal, then drive themselves back again. Very nifty.
We needn’t have worried about being late – we were in the airport and through security with about four hours to go before the flight. We whiled away the hours in the British Airways lounge, enjoying second breakfast, coffee, all sorts of good stuff.
As for the flight, it was another one of those rare opportunities to ‘turn left’ upon boarding. Once we did, though, it was a bit of a disappointment. On this plane, business class had exactly the same seats as economy, so it was a bit cramped. At least we had real glad and metal cutlery .. but despite being in row 3 (which was only the 2nd row), they’d already run out of chicken meals so I got to enjoy three prawns on a skewer. So not the best flight ever, but only two and a half hours so I shouldn’t be grumbling as much as I have already. It was uneventful, and we arrived safely, which is the all-important thing you want from any flight.
Getting through the airport was a breeze – i waited all of 5 seconds at passport control, and the bags turned up in about 10 minutes, not bad. Our driver was right there as we hit the arrivals hall, and whisked us along to our apartment.
First impressions – green, green, and more green. And lots of Volvos on the road! After about 40 minutes we arrived at the building where we are staying. A tall imposing front door creaked upon once we entered the magic code, and in we went. It’s an interesting building – housing a number of offices, including the Angolan embassy.
The two of us and our luggage barely squeezed into the ancient-looking lift, as it creaked and shuddered its way up to the 5th floor. We’re on the 6th floor, but the lift isn’t. We had to search a bit for the door – it’s disguised to look like a piece of wall – and this was just the start of the fun. (But fun in a good way, not a sarcastic way). Opening the door revealed a little spiral staircase, which lead us up to the room. And what a room! Cleverly squished into an attic space, it’s a little room, built around the original bits of the building, it’s fun, very quirky, multi-leveled, and (of course) mostly decorated with IKEA bits and pieces. I fell in love with it straight away – it’s just too cool! It has one downside in so far as Perry bumps his head on everything since there are big beams, low ceilings, sloping ceilings… but hey it’s all part of the fun. And the oval window up on the, I dunno, coffee terrace (?) has an amazing view out across the water, across the bridges, just beautiful. Moments after opening the window, there was distinct “toot toot!” of an old steam ship whistle, which somehow made the picture complete.
By now it was time for dinner, so we went off for a wander. Being very close to the Royal Palace, we’re more in the ‘big old monumental buildings’ district than the restaurant district, but we soon found a long street full of little shops, tourist shops, and restaurants. We settled on a place called Sally’s – it had food that wasn’t crazy-expensive. We had been warned that Stockholm isn’t exactly cheap, and that’s very true. Of the restaurants we walked pst, the average price of a steak was around 200 Kroner, or about $40 Australian. Happily, Sally’s had a menu probably just for the tourists, but the prices were good so we gave it a go. This being my first day in Sweden, of course I had to have meatballs with lingonberry. After this, I can probably never eat at Ikea again, it just won’t be the same. This must be the way it is meant to be done, absolutely delicious! One trend about this entire holiday, was every time we’d arrive somewhere, we’d end up having the most mazing dinner on the first night. Since this is (sadly) the last place, we have a 100% score for good places to eat on day 1. Even Brighton counts, when we ate at home 🙂
As a bonus – straight across the road was a Ben & Jerry’s, so that was dessert sorted straight away. That was enough adventuring for one evening, after such an early start today it was time to get back to the apartment, enjoy another lift ride – manually opening the closing both sets of lift doors (yep it’s old school), and calling it a night. It’s great to be here!