Cleanliness is Actually Next to Godliness

Well, across the street from it, anyway. I went to the only Laundromat in Stockholm, directly across from the Gustav Vasa church. There, for 200 Kroner (that’s $25, approximately), I did two loads of laundry, including soap and full drying time. Believe it or not, that price is about 1/5th what it would cost to have the hotel wash my clothes. I even washed my shoes, they were so dusty! I didn’t have any other shoes to wear though, so I bought some new canvas shoes while I was out for $50! Ouch, this country is EXPENSIVE. It’s so costly that I ran out of money on day one but would exceed my daily $600 ATM withdrawal limit if I went back for more. I had to call the bank for an exception. And they tell me that Norway costs even more.

While the wash was going, I ate lunch down the street and met a bartender who plays hockey professionally during the winter. He’d been to several places in the US so we talked about home for a while. When the chef arrived for work, we began to talk about what he might fix for lunch. He didn’t speak much English and asked halfheartedly if I spoke French, and since I did, we covered possible lunch options that way. I got a grilled salmon salad with a fish that tasted perfect. No wonder they keep this cook when he’s 45 minutes late. When I found out he was Tunisian, I used the opportunity to press him for travel tips. He was quite happy to advise me – lucky me! The Swedish hockey player was shocked and asked me how it was possible that an American spoke French. I told him there were only three of us, one of whom was my French teacher, and they don’t let us out of the country very often.

I went back to put the stuff into the dryer, and in talking to the very nice man who owned the Laundromat, I found out about a nearby camera shop who could probably help me. This saved me a big cab fare to a more remote part of Stockholm. I walked the three blocks up to the shop and got my sensor cleaned, and, get this, bought some rolls of 120 (medium format) film. Yeah, that’s right: specialty film. Since the Hasselblad is made here, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After I picked up the wash, I went to the cobbler’s via metro. My shoes were ready and looking decent again for a mere 15 dollars. Finally, something I can afford in Sweden. But it was not to last – there was a Swedish hand-goods shop, so I stopped to buy some souvenirs. It’s Midsummer’s Eve tomorrow which means most shops will be closed for about 2.5 days. By the time I got back to my hotel, I was exhausted. I had carried a 25-pound backpack full of camera equipment all over town, plus another 15 pounds or so of laundry, then the shoes and finally the souvenirs. Even using the metro, I know I walked a few miles like that. Time for some supper!

Dinners here are expensive, but they give you a lot of food. I am ordering appetizers and side dishes of vegetables now because it’s the only way to keep the dinner bill under $20, but it’s so much food I don’t feel deprived. There are fruit stands around – I found cherries. The strangest part about being in Sweden is that it doesn’t get dark here until after midnight and only stays dark for about two hours this time of year. That’s kind of making it hard to get to sleep. I brought a sleeping mask so we’ll see if I can manage to stay on target. I’m not so far – it’s 1:20 AM and I am just now thinking I should go to bed because it was dark 45 minutes ago.

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2 Responses to Cleanliness is Actually Next to Godliness

  1. Meggi Raeder says:

    Well, welcome to the Western world – it must be a shock, and from the prices you describe it is.
    I have been ocntacting Tropical Trails for my next trip to Africa – since you seemed to be happy with them. Did you contact other tour operators in your decision process when planning? I looked for pricing on their website but did not find any. Did they tellyou the pric only after you contacted them? I had an email back from Nancy but she di dnot give me pricing for their advertised safaris on the web either? Curious.
    Any input woudl be wonderful.
    Travel safe! And have more fun,

    • Replied via Facebook message with exact figures, but forgot to mention that they did not price anything until I contacted them and asked about it. You should be specific about what you want, camping-wise, photography-wise, etc, if you can. Also, if you are alone, whether you are willing to travel with another group as an extra person (this will save you a lot of money, potentially), and would you do it even if they have little kids along or like to drink. Think about that sort of thing. All of that will affect your pricing. The guide and the cook get paid about the same whether you are one person or four persons, you know? Just the tip might be better. Definitely ask for Frank – he is really, really good.

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