There were escalators at Paddington Station, and so Michael didn’t have to lug both our bags up or down any more flights of stairs. In usual form, Michael did his usual thing and rushed to the platform and through the entry gates without carefully checking which platform our train was to leave from.
The twenty minute journey to Heathrow seemed to go very quickly, especially as we had wifi access and were engrossed in our iPads for the whole journey. Once through all the checkpoints in the airport, we found our way to the lounge where we occupied ourselves for about an hour. Twenty five minutes before our flight was to depart, I suggested that we should get going, but Michael delayed, saying that the last time he’d looked at the information board our plane hadn’t even started boarding, and so there was no reason to hurry. Feeling concerned, as Michael has been wrong before, I started to pack up and head off. Embarrassingly, when we arrived at the gate, there were only flight staff left.
We watched our downloaded Netflix movies on our iPads for the two-hour flight to Stockholm, arriving at about 4:30pm local time. Once we had cleared immigration and collected our bags, I had a quick toilet stop. As I was buckling up my backpack when Michael headed out the exit. Caught behind some slow people pushing trolleys, I ended up a considerable distance behind, and when I emerged through the doors Michael was nowhere to be seen! I waited for a minute or so, then looked outside the main doors to see if he might have headed towards a bus stop. Not a sign of him! Back inside, I noticed a sign pointing towards ‘information’. I figured that that would be his destination, and sure enough he was there, wondering where I was. He told me that as he had exited through the doors, he had said he was going to information.
We purchased our tickets for the express train into the city and only had to wait a few minutes before the next train pulled up. In twenty minutes time, we were in Central Station, Stockholm. A quick consult of Google Maps and we were on our way, on foot, the apparently short ‘2km-walk’ to our hotel. It was quite warm, and the walk was quite strenous — some uphill sections, as well as the long cobbled road through the centre of the old town. Michael ended up having to pull my bag as well as his own. It was just too hard for me. (I am sure I was still suffering a bit from another outbreak of my heat rash, which is probably a form of vasculitis. I hadn’t taken an antihistamine the day before, as it had been less than 24 hours since the last one — its effectiveness certainly doesn’t last for 24 hours.)
Fifty minutes later, we arrived at our hotel. Our room is small (there’s not much space to put our cases), but the bed is large and comfortable. We dumped our gear and then went for a walk to explore the local area. Michael was keen to have yiros for dinner — luckily we found a food van selling fast Greek food. A quick check of prices at the supermarket confirmed that the cost of living here is comparable to Norway — quite expensive.
Back in our hotel room, we pulled the quilt out of its cover and used the latter as a sheet. We drifted off to sleep with the sound of clashing bottles in the background as people deposited their rubbish into the recycling bins just outside our window. With no air conditioning in our room, it was a pity we had to sleep with the window closed.