Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stockholm steeds

A few weeks ago myself and herself spent a few days in Stockholm before catching a flight up to Kiruna (200km North of the Arctic circle).
It was mid February but I was expecting Stockholm to be a busy, happening city, full of cyclists flying around, artistic types with long scarves taking up all the good seats in coffee shops, gayers everywhere holding hands and the sounds of Chiquitita being played on the radio.
Everyone and everything would be effortlessly beautiful, liberal and care free, showcasing Swedish hipster cool to the enth.

But Stockholm was quite quiet really, subdued even.
Not in a bad way, just in a - quiet way.
We'd be in coffee shops full of people, she'd be slurping her latte and I'd have to give her the wide eyes to be quiet look.
There was no music belting out, no shouting, no raucous laughing.
Are people/ places in Dublin really that noisy that its absence was noticeable?

There were certainly cyclists coming and going around the city, but only a fraction of the amount you'd see in Dublin, this surprised me.
Lots of bikes were parked randomly about the city, but I was eyes agog at how many of them were in a state if ruin.
I assume they were abandoned, their frames were rusted and ill looking, wheels were missing, tyres which had been left flat for so long had started to crack around the edges.
And they have no excuses for flat tyres in Stockholm - there were air machines dotted along the city streets which cyclists could use to put air into their tyres (how great would that be in Dublin?).

The bikes which did seem in use were mostly old heavy things.
I'm used to seeing bikes around Dublin locked to metal bike stands/railings with one or two kryptonite /cable locks, but in Stockholm, they just seemed to leave them at the side of pavements with a bracket around the back wheel or a really cheap bike lock.

People bang on about how amazing it is to cycle around Scandinavian cities, but to be honest I thought it looked more confusing/ worse.
A lot of the cycle lanes seemed to stop suddenly, cut across pedestrian paths, suddenly merge with traffic and had poor surfaces - similar to some in Dublin.
A lot of people seemed to walk (unknowingly) in the cycle lane aswell.
Give me a cycle lane as part of a road anytime over a cycle lane on a footpath.

We were in Stockholm for all of 4 days, so obviously I didn't get a real feel for cycling around. It would be interesting to see what it's like in summer and to hire a bike to see what it's really like.

Maybe two of these bikes had been used recently.
Flat tyres, missing wheels, rusted chains, missing seatposts - lovely celeste coloured frame though.
6 bikes left abandoned under a bridge in Stockholm. The tyres were all flat and they were covered in dirt from the traffic.

Bikes left at the side of the pavements. Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

Early on a Sunday morning, place was deserted apart from this bike! Stockholm.

One of the air machines for cyclists to pump their tyres

2nd cyclist I saw to use one
Cycling paths crossing over the pedestrian path.

Seemed the norm to just loop a cheap lock around the back wheel and leave your bike anywhere you wanted. Sodermalm, Stockholm.

Up North in Kiruna (North Sweden), bikes understandably weren't as common as in Stockholm. The sled was the favoured way of carrying home the messages.

Mode of transport No 2. Reindeer.

Mode of transport No 3. Huskies

Mode of transport No 4. Snowmobiles

Temp of -16 ÂșC, Kiruna, North Sweden.
All the car and bike tyres were fitted with ice tyres.
Lots of snow = ice hockey at playtime.

I always thought they sang you'll be dancing once again like a baby lamb (2.02), apparently not.
By the way if you ever go to Stockholm - go to the Abba museum.
And take a ferry trip.
And go to the photography place.
And take the train out to Saltsjobaden.