End of Philly trip, and the road home

Belgian fries in PhiladelphiaDan the man

So the story continues with me approaching the end of the week whilst on holidays and the uneventfulness continued, with lots of rest as I couldn’t manage to wake up a lot. I ended up meeting a friend who lived outside of Philadelphia, and decided that it was easier for them to come in to the city than me to go out. We sat, along with another acquaintance, at a Belgian café and had some food (which was unbelievable and totally authentic; foh shizzles!). It was another friend that I met via an online community of which I’m apart, and we got along great. It was the first time in a long time that I met someone from the internet world that was something like what I was used to, but we had known each other for many years so it wasn’t too awkward. We didn’t stay out for too long as they had to get home to entertain family, but we took some photos for proof of our meeting and so that I could rub it in the other forum people’s faces. Oh yes they were jealous! I’m so stealthy.

Unfortunately it rained, and I got soaking wet (go figure), which seems to be a bit of an olde story. It was a welcome refreshing moment, because it had been so hot an humid and I always was walking around feeling disgusting. It rained forever and ever and I declined going out with my host to dance (despite love dancing) because I was so exhausted from the weather.


I stayed in and watched some films and researched some random topics on the internet such as 9/11 and all the legal battles that have been going on. I felt myself become more interested in world affairs because I actually had time to. Later that evening I decided to meet up with the zoo-keeper per our original organized time, which was nice. We just sort of walked around and got some ice cream and avoided getting mugged and/or attacked (cause we are obviously paranoid about that!). Some of the neighbours outside my host’s house were having a birthday party so it was quite large, and when I got home after an uneventful evening I found the host’s roommate who was packing because he sister had a baby and she needed to leave for Boston. It was sad for me because we got along great, and then I realized that I would have to spend alone time with the host and the boyfriend, which was highly awkward. I lucked out and fell asleep before anyone got home, and then ended up waking up later than the host left for work. I decided that I had to start packing and things for my flight the following day, and then went out to the park to lay around and soak up the sun whilst reading some novels and grammar manuals (I’m such a geeek! I love it!). I went out for dinner again to a more enthusiastic restaurant, and returned home to discover it was Saturday night and that staying in wasn’t a bad idea since I had to wake up early. My host agreed that he’d drive me to the airport the next day, so I didn’t have to take a train or anything, so all was good.

I went to bed and woke up the next morning early. Packed everything up and woke up my host at 10:45 as he said I should. He was still sleeping through his alarm that had been going on for about 2 hours, and luckily the boyfriend was either gone or never came home with him (I was so thankful to avoid the awkwardness of walking in on them). He woke up, and so I was circa 2.5 hours away from my flight, and he sat down on the sofa and was like “So I don’t think I can drive you to the airport. I realized that my insurance ran out a few days ago and I can’t risk further by driving an uninsured car, which is reposessed, and since I’m avoiding the authorities in a different state it’s better if I don’t drive at all.”

I was livid, and kept my shit together and asked “So then how can I get to the airport?” He said that a cab was only $20 and could catch it around the corner. It was a Sunday morning, and of course no cabs were outside, and he didn’t have any number of one to call. I think I was visibly agitated when luckily one stopped by. I thanked him, and wished him all the luck with his ‘problems’ and such. Off to the airport I was, after realizing it was actually a $40 charge. I was upset, but the cabbie was nice and we chatted. It was better than being late and missing my flight and being trapped in the dump.

Newark, NJNewark, NJ

I got to the airport, did all the airport stuff, arrived in Newark NJ after a tiny 5 person plane with major turbulance took it’s 20 minute flight. Newark is a horrible airport as I couldn’t find food and/or somewhere to sit. The flight to Toronto was 45 mins away so I walked over to international destinations and talked Swedish with some Swedish people visiting (I’m Swedish btw!) so they were happy to find people around that could speak with them. They had very good English but were so self-conscious about their speaking. I ran off to my gate after they called for general boarding, and off I was to Toronto. I landed and went through customs quickly, but since I had to fill out the damn card and there were no pens around it was highly awkward and rushed. No searching, as I’m not a visible threat or minority (I guess) and I grabbed my bag to be picked up.

My mom had agreed to pick me up from the airport so I didn’t have to worry about more travel woes, but of course she doesn’t have a mobile phone, and she went to the wrong terminal. Two hours later she found a pay phone and called my mobile to discover how “duh” she was. We arrived home in the nice cool evening breeze and I went right to bed knowing that I’d have to be up at 5am for work on Monday morning. I was exhausted and unmotivated even enough not to watch the episode on my PVR from Desperate housewives! I was really out of it, clearly. The next day I woke up and bam I was at work again with a huge pile of stuff on my desk of things that other people couldn’t do and figured that they could dump on me. Even to this day, two full weeks later, I’m still behind by about 3 days…

Christmas Vacation N°1

Hello world. Yes it’s me, and yes I’m alive and kicking. What a wonderful last few days it’s been! Traveling the world, and spending some awesome times with some friends! Who could have possibly thought that it was so cool? Well besides me, but that’s a minor detail!


Check out this awesome map which shows where I’ve been so far. I will make a list for you and then explain it all.
Strasbourg -> Paris -> Nyköping -> Stockholm -> Arlanda -> Luleå -> Kalix -> Haparanda

Day 1
So I left for Paris at 03.30 and got to the train station without being raped, attacked, or followed. I thought that I lost something on the way, but after paranoidly searching everywhere on the ground I gave up later to find it in my pocket. Blame lack of sleep and nervousity. I got there and it was completely empty, but after walking to the wrong enterance I found my train and was set ready to go to Paris. I sat there, and I was the only person in the train, I’m not joking! I tried to fall asleep but I couldn’t since well things were very uncomfortable. When we got to Nancy, this crazy cenile woman tried to steal my seat and then realized that she was mistaken after waking me up and making me move. The only word that I can think of is ‘wench’ but it turned out she was really nice after wishing me a Merry Christmas and safe travels, despite not taking another word to each other.


I got to the central station in Paris and walked around trying to find the Metro, it was intensly large and lots of foreign people who didn’t speak French. I got to the Metro stop, and since I already had a ticket I just used it and then went on my way hopping on the right train *I hoped* Turned out I did everything right, and it’s true about the metro being so quiet with nobody talking. Everyone in Paris looks tired, which was good for me cause it made me better looking than I do.

I got to my stop and did the transfers and the metro is actually nicer than I expected. People mind their own business, but I was tempted to say “do you want a picture or something?” they just stare like crazy, it’s creepy! I got to my stop and looked around for about an hour for the damned bus stop. After walking around the quartier about 4 times, I almost got hit by a few cars, and such I followed the trail of Swedish girls that were chatting away near a band of cars.


So I got on the bus and went to Beauvais which is like an hour away, and then did my baggage stuff and went and got checked. They didn’t check my passport a single time, which I thought was hillarious! I loved it though, no complaints for me! The plane was horrible, the seats were comfortable, but I was sitting with 4 babies around me with families so I couldn’t sleep a single moment and it was so annoying. It makes me not want to have kids despite loving them. The above picture is the sight upon arriving in Nyköping from my flight, notice the smallness of the airport and the amount of Swedish people who surprisingly speak French!


This photo is from Central-Statation in Stockholm after taking the bus to the bus terminal. I got bored for waiting hours and hours and hours and hours and hours, still going, until I explored down a street that looked cool. All the Christmas decroation were nice but I didn’t want to get lost and such so I stayed along the main roads. I made a call to a friend and he said he was coming to Stockholm to go out with some friends so he came on a train from Uppsala. It turned out to be fun since we hung out in the train station for a little while and then his friends came to pick him up. They invited me out and such, which was very nice to do, but unfortunately I was very tired, I didn’t have much Swedish money, and I had my luggage with me. Despite being quite safe in the bus/train terminal, it closes very early in the evening so I had to decide what to do. Several drunks were thrown out, which was funny, and I grabbed a cinnimon bun which was amazing!


So for the next few hours I walked around the downtown core of Stockholm. Only up and down one or two streets a few times so that I wouldn’t get lost. It’s difficult at night since it’s dark and the streets are sorta empty! I walked down the main shop street and saw a church so the above picture best describes that. There were even some people around that were speaking English, which I thought was really weird! The Swedish in Stockholm is much different than I realized, as I haven’t heard the accent before. They talk fast and use lots of expressions that I didn’t understand, but since I didn’t really talk to anyone, and I blended in, it was totally fine.


So since I didn’t want to be a homeless person in Stockholm, a foreign city, I decided to take the express train (seen above) to the national airport in Arlanda. It travels at 300km/hr and took about 20 minutes to get to the airport. This annoyed me since I was trying to kill time, not gain it. I was the only one on the train (surprise surprise) but it was very nice, and comfy. Notice the classic Swedish colours, and cleanliness which best describes the country!


I non-chalontly walked around the dead terminal for some hours, since it’s not very large, and parked myself down at the internet café which was very nice and cheap! Then I decided that I needed sleep, bad! So I found a spot where lots of people were sleeping, and parked myself down to try to find a comfy seat or something. This was not possible as airports are not built for sleeping, but I managed to get a few minutes of sleep I think. Between the Finnish and foreign travelers in the terminal, and the constant vaccuum cleaner working, I was able to get a nice seat on a bench below a huge Christmas wreath as seen above. This was a wonderful view since I couldn’t sleep and had nothing else to do, no jokes! So I killed about 10 hours at this same spot, and the guy next to me kept staring at me when I woke up. I don’t think he slept, but still it reminded me of creepy France and all their people staring.


I later realized that my choice of location was very poor. I parked myself down right infront of the train enterance (seen above). This means at 5am tons of people would be coming in and out, and I realized this when some woman accidentally dropped her paper on me. As if she couldn’t see me! Usch! Anyways, went and killed some more hours looking in the shops and such, until I finally could go check in. Oddly in Arlanda, for the domestic flights there are no check in counters, this confused me. It’s all done electronically, so I had to ask a woman for help and she laughed at me since I had never heard of the electronic things. I had no baggage to check, and just had to wait. All went fine and I got my boarding pass. I lined up to security check and they went through my stuff, not oppening my passport, getting my pass, or even opening my bags, how funny. In the name of national security, oh dear, but everyone loves Sweden so it’s okay! I sat down at some random flight going to Skullefteå so that I could hear some funny accents, and then I took a short nap. Suddendly when we began boarding I heard an announcement, and when it was said in Swedish I got nervous. I got the general gist of it: we overbooked, if you want to get a rebate and such come talk to desk blah blah blah. As a paniced, nearly illegial traveller, I ran to the front of the line and made sure that I got a seat on the plane! Good choice! They still never checked my passport, and just scanned my ticket, how funny. I was very clearly the only foreigner on the plane!

I got to sit next to two nice teenagers who were reading and joking the whole way. SAS Airlines is the absolute best way to travel, hands down. It’s expensive, but they treated me like royalty. Breakfast, papers, tabloids, pillows everything for only a 1hour flight! Talk about service, I was impressed! So we arrived in Luleå an hour later and I waited for Robert to come get me. He had sent me a SMS to tell me that he would be late since he couldn’t find the airport. It turns out that he went to some airport base for the military, and then eventually found his way. We had to do some errands for his mom in the outskirts so we did so and then went home. I slept, for obvious reasons, and the vacation began.


The very next day we decided to do some shopping in Haparanda, which is on the Finnish border. It’s a tiny town with an IKEA, so we would indulge ourselves there and hope that we didn’t die of too much Finnish. In the photo above you can see as we crossed the highway with the sign going to Sundsväll, which is 5-7 hours by car to the south, and in a more ‘habitable’ environment. Notice also the snow, as I got my Christmas wish of being in a white cold place! The IKEA can be seen in the distance too. So we shopped, and found some cool stuff and had a bundle of laughs, and then went for food and saw the litle shops and such were I bought him his present.


Above is the photo the shows Finland. The white building is in Finland and all the other buildings around were made for passport controls or such before the Schengen agreement was put into place. Wonderful how the borders of Europe have somehow dissapeared in the last 15 years. Will it be good, one will see, but for me it’s freaking awesome. The best part about the Haparanda trip was the fact our bus tickets were bought as children. We both clearly said Tur & Retur till Haparanda, and they charged us children fair so it was only 69:- (dirt cheap as you can probably guess). Go team awesome, also known as 20-something-year-olds who look like 15!!

Osky vs. Frankfurt


And so my arrival in France has been very elongaged due to various happenings in the world, I must make special note of my travels. After being dropped off at Toronto airport 3.5 hours before my departure for Frankfurt, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that I went through security and all my travel stuff in less than 10 minutes. How is this possible? Even with not that many people there at that time of the day, 10 minutes through everything is ridiculus! Things went so fast, and then I was left to sit around for 3.5 hours and do nothing but read a book that I really wasn’t into at all.

So people start arriving and a nice Arabic woman sits down next to me asking if this is the waiting area for people departing for Frankfurt. I told her yes, and she had a seat and told me about he family in Germany and how she was so exicited; it was a nice change from the boringness. Then few hours later a German family with two kids arrived, and the parents were trying to teach the kids spelling of German words but they were clearly not interested, and they were really cute and were hopping about with all the excitement of planes and departures and such. Anyways, we board the plane and we get up into the air, and then we stop in Halifax where we are picking up some people more before we go to Frankfurt.

All I can say is that I hated the flight. The movies sucked, the food was decent, but the people around me were horrid. The German woman behind me was so old and so obese that she woudln’t allow me to tilt my chair back even a little bit before smacking me with her purse, and her yelling at me to move as she doesn’t have enough room to breathe. GEESHE. And on top of that I have a Croatian-Russian-French-English father and son talking to each other in hybrid-Croatian-French-English which is really irritating. If they chose one language it would have been okay, but noooo! Anyways, the only cool things about the flight was that they have this cool GPS thing that they use to tell us exactly where we are, so that was nice to see as we apprached land again. But also that we arrived 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

Whipping through customs was a breeze and the customs officer commented on me being so well dressed (weird: yes, disturbing: yes, flattering: yes, appropriate: no). Anyways, I grabbed my bags and then ran off to get the tram to take me to the main airport. Now, Frankfurt airport is the 2nd largest in Europe and it’s beautiful, but nobody in the God-forsaken building knows where anything is. I asked them about ticket counters, bus waiting area, and help desks and they all either didn’t know how to speak English or French, or sent me in the wrong direction. After running with my luggage from level 1-4 at least 3 times each, I went to the “Special Services” area for Lufthansa to get some help, and I felt like an idiot cause I was a ‘normal’ person. The nice woman walked me to the counter, and I bought my ticket that I reserved for 13.30, however I was trying to rush so that I could get the 11.00 bus, however I realized that I barely missed it, and would have to wait a few more hours. So technically I had been running around the airport for 2 hours (bugger).

I sit outside in the bus area with my luggage next to a flight attendant for LTU who was there for about the same time as me, and I read, and read, and read, and looked at German people walk by. All of them were polite and nice, but none spoke English to anyone when they needed help, and they were chit-chatting on their mobiles all the time. I saw the same guy walk by like 9 times in the course of 3 hours, so I was a bit weirded out at one point. Then this woman came up to me and tried to see if I spoke German, which I don’t, so she whips out a card explaining that she was a widdow from Kosovo, and her children were killed in a bombing accident 5 days ago. I was reluctant to help, because the situation was sketchy and she was begging, so she walked awat in her dress and stelettos. Few minutes later, more woman from Kosovo came over, but knowing this I pretended to not speak German or English and kept telling them words in Swedish, and saying sorry. I felt guilty, but I figure it’s an eye for an eye because they were trying to guilt trip me!

So my bus arrived hours later, and after reading 200 pages of my book I ran onto it and staked out my seat thinking there would be tons of people after putting my luggage underneith. All but 4 others got on, 2 of which were a family from Croatia, and a woman who was a flight attendant, and then some German guy that kept staring at me for some reason. I sat down and we departed, and quite honestly there isn’t anything along the highway to see, as it’s all fields and vinyards and random stuff like that! Anyways, I fall asleep because I’m knackered and I wake up about an hour later feeling like I’m being watched. Luckily since I was wearing sunglasses nobody else (of the 4 people) could see that I see them, so I slowly open my eyes without moving and I find that this younger German guy is staring at me. So I start to stretch and wake up and remove my sun glasses, and he quickly turned away. I was throuoghly creeped out as he was clearly staring at me. Anyways, I take out my book to read and I turned some pages and then I see the guy moving to a seat closer to myself, and I look up and he’s just smiling at me. And I look at him and smile and go back to reading not knowing what to do or anything. He keeps getting closer and then he says something in German that I didn’t understand and I look at him blankly, and then he started to speak some poor English, asking if I speak English or French and I said yes both, and he started chatting to me in English since he said it was better than his French.

He was a nice guy, but I couldn’t help but notice his constant moves to try to get closer to me, when I had my legs up, and clearly looking uncomfortable. And then a few minutes after he just blurts out that he thinks that my eyes are the most amazing things he’s ever seen in his whole life. Hold up a minute; what’s the deal with that, and what the heck do I say to that? I politely said thanks, and then he just like leaned over and places his head on my neck, and I jumped and he said “Sorry, did I do something wrong?”…


What’s up with that? I told him “Why are you doing this?” and he just laughed and said that I should already know, so I moved alittle bit and he took it off, and then I started to ask him to teach me some basic German, so I learned a few word and how to greet people and say my name and such, and he was a nice guy. He wore glasses and had light brown hair, was tall and skinny, and was really nice; however very creepy. Thank goodness we arrived a few moments later, as I was about to scream rape, the bus driver stopped at our stop in downtown Strasbourg, and I said “Opps I gotta go, nice to meet you” and then went to get my luggage. He followed slowly (catching up) and then I followed the Croatian family to the end of the street so I could find the main train station, Gare Centrale. He followed too but it didn’t look to inconspicuous, and then I walked through the Gare, found the taxis, and he was about 100m behind and he yelled “Maybe I will see you around!?” and I waved and said goodbye diving into a taxi and begging him to drive me to my residence and not the areoport. He didn’t understand French, as he was Chinese, but he got me to where I needed to be and I paid him the 4€ for the trip and then in the sweltering French heat I walked around the corner to my residence.

The woman was nice, and she helped me as other students walked by, and I signed some papers and she took my drivers liscence becasue the bank was closed and I had to pay a 150€ security deposit. Then complained to me that she was sorry that I am in the 4th floor, as it’s so far but that she had no choice, not knowing that I would have a shit room I walked up the stairs with all my luggage in hand. French apartments are fucked, the main lobby and first floor aren’t considered floors, they are the lobby and the ‘entresol’ so technically I was on the 6th floor, and the bloody place doesn’t have an elevator. So I walk and walk, and then I couldn’t find my room, so I walk around some more and the apartment is shaped like a U, so I looked at the map of it, and followed some doors, but they were locked, so I walked by another few, and then I finally (after 45 mins) found the way to it as nobody would help me and all the French students could manage to say was “Bonjour.”

I walk into my room which is in the middle of nowhere and surrounded only by open windows, and I open it and it’s an oven in my room. I struggle to figure out how to open the windows, and they only open a sliver (as I could see) so I layed down and was like “ouf” and changed out of my clothes into cooler things. I unpacked my stuff and grabbed some water, and found the bathrooms so I could was up and then go for a walk. I walked around in circles around my house to familiarize myself and the area, which is busteling with people and tramways and students who are screaming at each other. So basically my first impression of France is that people are really rude; and they like to yell. So I go inside again and fall alseep, waking at 00.00 or so and couldn’t fall asleep until 04.00, so I woke up the next day later, and then waited around as I didn’t know if anyone else arrived. I was the first, so I was screwed! Then a knock on my door in the afternoon it turned out to be Ginette, who lived on the other side of the residence (5 min walk away) and she was like “omg someone!” and I was greatful as I don’t seem to have neighbours as nobody talks, or I don’t hear anything from the hallway. It’s depressing and my room is falling apart, but it’s at least big.

I had no pillow, no sheets, noting but wool blankets which itch my skin, so I didn’t sleep well for the next 2 nights (if at all) and was struggling with the heat. Die heat die.

So all in all, the arrival was bleh, and so far things were horrid since I hadn’t eaten anything as of yet, however the score at this point was Frankfurt – 1, Osky – 0. So sad~!