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Posts tagged ‘berns hotel’

waiting for godot…

We’ll finish the adventures in the land of ice and snow and then we will come back to London… my actual travel route…

The first time I saw Waiting for Godot I was bored and wondering what all the fuss was about.  The second time I saw it I was older and the cast was much better so I enjoyed it more.  But the concept is more or less alien to my nature.

I am a girl who lives in the moment, does a lot of research and, while that may sound contradictory, generally aligning the two means that I am rarely bored.   And frequently enchanted by serendipity or surprises… I do the homework to make sure the moments happen as I live them 😉

But right now I am bored 🙂  It’s rare.  It’s cold outside.  Tonight it’s also raining.  And I made the dumb mistake of thinking I could get by in Stockholm in late September without a coat.  And the Berns Hotel is supposed to be hip and happening.  And it’s not completely empty.  Just more an overpriced pan-Asian restaurant than a hip nightclub at the moment.

Stockholm is gorgeous – the landscape, the light, the architecture, the people.  As a day tourist I have no complaints.  But I was expecting more of the nightlife.  And I haven’t given up hope yet 😉

This is one of the most expensive places I have ever been.  It really encourages you to nurse a drink.  In my reading it suggests people stay at home and only show up in public venues really late.

You have to learn the local culture.  I’ve got to know the bartender in Amsterdam because I was the only fool willing to show up at the dance club at midnight.  I told him I didn’t care 🙂  And drinking Heineken – extra cold or not – is cheap and by 12:30am the place was almost full.

I don’t know the norms yet in Stockholm.  So I came fairly early to try the well-regarded Pan-Asian restaurant.  I’ve had better food in Vancouver.  Especially for the price.  But it was pretty good.  The salmon was cooked really well (almost rare) and eating salmon and watching people with umbrellas scurry around in the rain made me feel at home.

The bar is getting a tiny bit more lively as I write this.  Maybe Godot will show up in the end?  If not, I’ll have to brave the chill and find a new venue for tomorrow night 😉

Apparently 10pm is the magic hour.  It’s SO expensive to drink in Sweden you can’t blame the Swedes for staying home til they can get their kronors worth of fun.  In the end, it was an entertaining – if somewhat strange – night.

I managed to snap some photos of the Berns Salonger before I left so I will get them into this post so you can see it for yourself.  It’s a heritage building so they couldn’t change a lot of stuff, which means you feel more like you are in the early 20th century instead of a modern nightclub.  The place is huge.  There are several bars, a sushi station and a couple of different eating areas.

As noted above, the night starts kind of slow.  It’s really just a packed restaurant.  So there is a buzz.  But solo it’s pretty dull.  But as the night wears on, the music starts to rise in volume and people start to fill the bar areas.  Eventually you can barely move and it’s become a very sophisticated looking nightclub.

Once it got a bit more crowded, I went upstairs (a crazy winding staircase that you should be descending from in a ball gown, not trying to navigate both ways with an increasing drunken mob.  But no one fell!)  I just figured I could watch the crowd from above and it would supply some entertainment while I waited for Godot…

But Erik wanted to find out more about me.  So I got into a conversation with him and his friend about ice hockey, European football and what it meant to be a Viking… and if there is a “Swedish look”.  The consensus seemed to be “more or less, but not just the blond, blue-eyed stereotype.  Those Vikings got around 😉

For those of you who have not spent time in Sweden, Swedish men are almost uniformly gorgeous!  And well-groomed.  I expect they are mostly metrosexual but when a couple of the men I met seemed more concerned about their male friends than me, I wondered if they were too cute to be straight 🙂

Andreas did get me down to the basement club, which completed my Berns cultural experience.  I wasn’t really sure about the music though and – like Erik, he seemed more interested in the male friend he came with than me so I eventually just wandered off…

Part of the problem was that the friends spoke Swedish and I did not.  Swedes are wildly impressive on many fronts and almost everyone speaks some English but not everyone is super fluent so in a noisy bar setting communication can seem like a lot of work.  So I was happy the third guy to talk to me was a Kiwi!

I did enjoy talking to the locals and learning more about Sweden but by then I was getting a bit exhausted and being able to just speak normal English was a treat.  Dennis did live in Sweden and had had a Swedish wife so he knew something about the place – but we mostly talked about the similarities between New Zealand and Canada.

So… no Godot… but lots of miscellaneous others.  Some of whom had been drinking at home I think… it’s the first time I have had enough drinks spilled on me that I ended up with alcohol stinging in both eyes before the night was through.

But it was fun.  I was back again the next night.  Later this time.  And had more conversations about Swedes and Swedish history with a young Swede whose father had arrived in Sweden from the Sudan to study.  He was very articulate and it was one of my most memorable conversations in Sweden.

I think the highlight of the night though was the colorful half Swedish-half Norwegian lady who caused a stir in the bathroom knocking on doors and trying to get girls to hurry up.  I am not sure what was going on but 2 woman came out of each stall… Travel is always interesting…

The Swedish men had confirmed Swedish women were very self-confident.  It’s likely the place with the most equal rights between the sexes I’ve ever encountered.  Lots of beautiful women… but no pushovers apparently… just as it should be 😉

memories of IKEA instructions ;)

I am discovering I DO create the travel stories – but actually getting them on-line while I am travelling – a lot more complicated…  when I retire… for now… you will just have to be patient… lots of posts partly written or in my head, photos on my camera… so the stories will appear over the next week or two… tonight it is my last night in Stockholm but we are exploring the first…

I have arrived in one of my ancestral homelands.  It’s just a few days in Stockholm so not sure how much I will learn about my roots but there is a different sensibility arriving in the country from which your surname originated.

The Stockholm experience begins at the airport.  It is well organized, ultra clean and full of minimalist Scandinavian design.  It’s the airport of the Jetsons…

Until I tried to get some kronor.  The Swedes are a bit suspicious of the continent so the EU is OK but the jury is still out on the euro.  My personal life and the euro have followed an intimate and bizarre trajectory but for this post, suffice to say, I think the Swedes are right 😉

Even though it’s a hassle for tourists.  But I’ve used bank machines all over the world.  How hard can it be?

Well, this bank machine had obviously been designed by the dude who writes the IKEA instructions.  First I had to insert my card in a totally abnormal way.  When I finally figured out how to get my card in the machine, I’d missed the nanosecond when you could punch an obscure key to get the instructions in English.  I suppose I should have guessed it was asking for my pin number in Swedish but seeing a bunch of stuff in an incomprehensible foreign language throws you.  I finally secured my measly 2,000 kronors – which will buy nothing I am discovering… and I have built a LOT of IKEA furniture in my iterant life so the haunting memories exploded into my brain…

But then I looked at the perfect sky – full of Nordic light and marshmallow clouds – as my wildly expensive taxi traversed the motorways toward my hotel.

<no question Stockholm requires a fat bankroll – but is full of small treasures… I am in the Berns bar where the cute bartender knows my room number typing this… and some woman who sounds like Adele has just starting singing… so my overpriced Chenin Blanc is tasting better ;)>

And speaking of the Berns Hotel… I am a fan!  Check-in was fantastic.  It would appear Swedish women could turn anyone into a lesbian 😉  They had my name wrong on the reservation – a common mistake.  But she really appreciated the significance of a letter.  It’s a totally DIFFERENT name!  I think her name is Danielle.  She is gorgeous – but that seems to be the norm around here.  What was unique about Danielle is that she just sparkled.  Her personality.  Her smile.  Her attitude.  You could fall in love with her in under five minutes 🙂

She was an example of the person we could all be.  Why not be friendly?  Why not be great at your job?  Why not be engaging?  Why not twinkle?  I know it will improve your life because strangers will enjoy interacting with you.  And people that you actually know?  They will fall in love with you – hard 😉

But as I write this (originally, in my notebook) I have decamped to the Gold Bar at the Nobis Hotel… because I wasn’t sure if I should stay there instead of the Berns.  (Now, with all my experience, I think it depends on your purpose in Stockholm.  For aspiring party animals, the Berns is perfection ;).



Back at the Gold Bar I ordered an Orchid Royalty.  Apparently it won some accolades at a cocktail contest in London.  Aged Guatemalan rum, sweet vermouth, Pedro Ximinez and gold dust!  It was sublime.  Bartenders in Stockholm are good at their jobs and friendly enough but a bit stiff by world standards.  No one is going to blow you kisses if you leave them a tip like the charming dudes in Amsterdam 😉

Dutch guys and Sweden women… that might be quite the combo!  I’ve had fun with both.  I never managed to confirm Danielle’s name but we chatted over the past few days – and she lit up every time I said “hi”.  I won’t forget her.  I like to think I light up around other people.  Being on the receiving end of it has convinced me it’s really worth paying attention to – and working on.  It’s common knowledge I love glitter and sequins…  let’s see if I can mirror that in my personality as well…

p.s.  I have been snapping Stockholm… in the various weathers… so pictures will be forthcoming!  Stay tuned!

p.p.s. subsequent to writing this I had a chat with the cute bartender who has been my favourite during my stay at Berns.  His name is Daniel.  He confirmed Danielle is the correct name for the girl at the front desk.  I told him he was really great at his job.  Watching him in action is very impressive.  You can only chat on Sunday.  On the weekend you just have to watch in amazement as he participates in the show that is Berns 🙂


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