Third time couch surfing

 

Anna and Patricia

Anna and Patricia


I have now hosted three times and becoming kind of a veteran when it comes to this. :)

A month, with virtually only three and half hours of sunshine, and what appeared to be a constant drizzle, it feels as Stockholm is not the perfect place to be right now. Especially not when you get videos from Hawaii sent to you!
This month, however, Anna and Patricia, from Hamburg decided to visit the royal capital, normally one of the most beautiful cities in the world (especially in summer).
Not so smart you might think, but perhaps not such a big difference with northern Germany this time of year.
They got to hear that a lot. From several people.
Because if there is something Swedes have talent for, it is to whine about the weather. Not perhaps a flattering trait, but at least it gives you something to talk about, right?

They got in touch the week before, asking if they could stay with me, and I thought why not, I would surely be in town and as usual had nothing scheduled so far in advance. Then I didn’t hear from them.
An increasingly common occurrence in my life is that I basically do not plan in advance, more than I need. I have taken to the habit more often to not make plans for my weekends until maybe on Thursday or Friday. Sure, it might mean that some weekends I sit all by myself because everyone else has already made other plans, but for the last six months, this has actually only happened once. Rather, things have appeared that I never would have thought of and spontaneous events usually have a tendency to be more satisfactory in the long run.

Then I got an answer on Wednesday that they wanted to stay with me from Thursday to Sunday, and there was no problem with that. I picked them up at the station in Sundbyberg on Thursday evening and accommodated them in my little apartment.
On this short visit (they had been in Stockholm since last Sunday) that had been doing a bit of everything and met other couch surfers and also managed to become addicted to True Blood. One can not blame them, “Been there, done that”. So I arranged a few more episodes for them and also ensured that they got with them the second season along with fifteen albums of Swedish suicide music (in Sweden only known as singer / songwriter music) so they can enjoy pure Swedish melancholy in the winter darkness as it should be (it also mixes well with vodka, I have heard).

Anna and Patricia are both from Hamburg and have known each other since first year at school. Anna just finished with her medical training and Patricia will be done by the end of spring. Hence a trip somewhere, and who knows, maybe they will come back to Stockholm in the summer when they can drink beer in the parks, to experience the archipelago at it’s best and listen to the Swedes cursing the summer weather (either too hot, to cold or too rainy instead of just “lagom”. And “fika” of course.
Over the weekend there was a lot of wine, music and conversations and we visited Boulehallen next to Nytorget so they could kick my ass in table soccer! I have to go there and practice a bit more I think. They are also the holding the unofficial Swedish Championships in rundpingis (ping-pong) where you can win a place for the competition in Berlin or why not your own weight in Pilsner Urquell? We also got to experience SL at it’s best as we had to wait 45 minutes for the next subway at three in the morning.

On Saturday, they went early to the archipelago, of what appeared to be an incredibly nice day, while I watched the first sun for weeks through the window after having slept until 1a.m.
I positioned myself on the couch most of the evening completely wasted, so how they could continue to “Strand” after that whole day I do not understand, but they went and I finally dragged myself down town to meet up with them to get my assed kicked again in table soccer, play ping-pong with broken racks and completely miss the band that played (although I’m not entirely sure that was such a bad thing). I at least got an Brooklyn India Pale Ale, and to see a girl who has obviously escaped from the 80s.

On Sunday we said goodbye, I signed the contract for renting out the apartment before the trip and then went off for Pizza, Julmust and the rather plain (in a good way) film Adventureland with Ulrica. For some obscure reason I chose this particular rainy day to test a new way, so I got lost and had to walk half an hour along the odd part of Hornsgatan in the rain (but with Anna’s recommended Angus & Julia Stone in the headphones) and curse over the weather. Sacrifices as this tends to make the rest better, but the pizza was not actually that good, so I’ll just have to live with that!

All in all a really nice weekend and it did become any worse by the fact that I also have Monday off!

 

OMFO and 16 Horsepower

 

Markus, my couch-surfer guest introduced me to this modern Klezmer style music. I like it.

 

 

I also found a song by a band called 16 horsepower in my playlist and didn’t realize what it was, but then remember I was recommended it by Joana, my first couch surfer. Also very nice, although completely different from the first one. It is not possible to embed on my blog, but here is the link to a youtube clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVm74OkoQmM


 

A visitor from Dresden

 

For the second time I have hosted someone from the couchsurfing.com site at my place here in Stockholm, and it has both been very enjoyable experiences. You could say it has sparked my couch surfing spirit for my upcoming travels.

 

 

Markus Kühn
Markus Kühn


What is it that makes a person make the choices they make? What actually takes place in the process of decision-making when we choose one thing over another?

After a very pleasant visit by Joana Mendes, just the weekend after, I said yes to hosting Markus Kühn, an engineering student from Dresden who are currently doing an exchange year at Chalmers University in Gothenburg.
All in all, I have received some inquiries from twenty-five couch-surfers who wanted to stay at my place, but for some reason, I chose to say yes to these two.
Sure, part of it is that it fits in well with my schedule, but I didn’t make a conscious choice to select just those two. Sure I looked at their profiles to get a feel for what they could be, but until you’ve met them, you just do not know, you have no idea how the person will be.
There’s a process going on in us to make these choices in life, and I do not think it is possible to understand it. We believe that we are making these choices, but in the end, maybe the choices are already made before we become aware of them?

Whether we will ever understand this process or not, I said yes. And, in this case too, it turned out to be a pleasant experience.

Markus showed himself to be a mature person for his twenty-three years and we had a nice evening with red wine, curry and music and conversations about travel, literature and photography.
During the evening, he introduced me to modern Eastern European Klezmer. Traditional jewish music partly inspired by modern electronica or techno, a mix that I didn’t even have a clue that I liked until now.
Like the Argentinian tango-house which I found in the band Bajofondo, I found the same of One Man From Odessa (OMFO) and Kroke. I was able to grasp it, despite me not being part of that culture. They have taken the specific sound from traditional folk music and removed the hard to grasp older way of expression, to reach a new audience and new generations. The closest I can find that I have listened to before is probably American Beirut, a strange mix of French Chanson and Eastern Europe / Balkan sounds.

Markus also showed me a bit more of the technical side of photography as I have not put too much effort in that area yet and because of him, I have now started to actually learn all aspects of how my camera works and get started with a bit more advanced post-editing. My plan is to try to experiment as much as possible and learn everything I can until I fly east, to take my photography to the next level. We’ll see how it goes.

Now it’s less than three months away, and there is much that needs to be done before I go.