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To recap on the previous weeks,
So after leaving Grimsby, I caught up with Judy for a couple of days in London, staying with her South African friends there. Also I had a few bevvies with Jo Mundy on Wednesday. I decided to hang around London for a few hours on Thursday Morning before flying off to Stockholm to continue my journey back to Taiwan.
Thursday 26th July,
We met around 11 at Victoria Station and the first thing I had to do was go to the 'Easy Everything' Cafe at Victoria to check my flight details (all booked over the internet, y'see!) Kinda went mad when I discovered I'd mixed up my flight times. 5:00pm wasn't my departure time - it was my arrival time!
I felt a large lump in my throat!
I'd have to rush like a madman but maybe I could make it. Said a hurried goodbye to Jo and careered across London from Victoria to Stansted to get there (even buying travellers cheques) before 1:30pm.
Made it to find myself waiting. Not just me but an entourage of holiday makers, travellers, businessmen et al... being told to change gates, sit around and wait etc...
Met three British guys (two Richards, 1 other - sorry!) set to go travelling through Scandinavia and joined them for a beer. It was one of the guys' theory that if we get a beer while we wait and then the queue gets going - we win, we have time for a beer. However, if the queue gets going before we have time to order, then we win also, because we don't have to wait around any more. You guessed it. We ordered the beers and the gate opened and the queue started moving. We didn't rush it too fast! What a win-win situation.
Arrived in Vasteras at 5-ish with a pager for me over the tannoy system. Siggy (Pronounced Sigger in Swedish) just wanted to make sure I was going to get on the right bus to Stockholm.
Spent the bus trip to Stockholm trying not to talk politics with an American guy working in the European Parliament in politics and economics in Brussels. Not my bag, baby! However we did speak of his family history - seems his family is Swedish and still have a branch of the family in the 'old country'. Cool.
Was picked up from the central Station (pron: stahoon) by Sigvald. What a great feeling, although a little strange. We'd only ever met one day in in Switzerland back in 1991, and now here we were 10 years later meeting again. We've kept in touch over the years via post and later with e-mail. But really we had so much to catch up with. This is one reason I love travelling, you never know where it will lead you or who you're going to meet.
Siggy gave me a brisk tour of Stockholm as he drove me back to his place and then announced he was taking me swimming. We walked out to a lake near his place and swam a while as the sun started to set. He'd even brought along some potato salad - but forgotten to bring the spoons. Earlier this day, although I knew I'd be in Sweden, I'd never guesse I'd be watching the sun set by a lake eating potato salad with my fingers. Life's like that, sometimes.
Friday 27th July
My first port of call was to go to arrange my visas for Belarus and Ukraine. Susanne, my Swedish friend in Taipei with whom I was set to meet in Kiev, had advised me to go through the Barry Martin Group. They were very friendly and very helpful.
Siggy drove me around the city again pointing out some of the buildings of interest, and on the way back we stopped at the 15th century Doenderydskyrka (kyrka = church) and a couple of runstenar (runestones). Siggy had to get back early as he had some work to do for the evening as a driver and assistant for a friend Balloonist.
I went along, initially with just the intention of helping out with the balloon - it turned out that some of the passengers hadn't turned up and Siggy asked if i could take a trip on the balloon. It wasn't free but I did get a big discount. This was an unexpected surprise. The view was breathtaking as we floated above the historic buildings and parks of Stockholm and looked out to the sea, watching the sun set over the archipelago. Who would ever guess that I'd be seeing Stokholm like this. Big thanks to Siggy for encouraging me to do it - I was initially unsure of wether to do it as I wasn't budgeting for anything like this.
The trip lasted for over an hour and ended with a surprisignly smooth landing in some irate farmer's field. The lady wasn't at all happy for us to be there and I guess I couldn't really blame her, but she blocked the entrance to the farm so Siggy couldn't get in and then we had to wait for the police to get there to sort everything out. Another local balloonist, Hans, who lived nearby, had seen us land and came over to invite us to have our post-flight picnic in his garden. Apparently this is part of the tradition to have a picnic after the flight.
We went around to his house and sat in his back garden, eating sandwiches and had our 'certificates of flight' awarded to us (baptised with Champagne- althought the Japanese girls weren't willing) and we all had a toast. After eating the kind chap let us use the pool and even invited us to try a 'Robin Hood V Little John' style king of the gangplank contest across the middle of the pool. Of course I was up for it and so was Siggy. We hadn't even thought of bringing swimming cossies, so we were out in our undies. Way-hey!! Neither Siggy nor I could believe our luck when Emily, the co-pilot joined us all in the pool. What a great way to end the day!
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Last updated 25/11/2001- Created using Tripod Freeform by Rob
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