I flew out of Moscow on Saturday afternoon and touched down in Stockholm two hours later in what turned out to be an anti-climactic departure. With all my business with Language Link tied up including receiving my final pay-out and flight reimbursement (which all went rather smoothly), I said my goodbyes to dear friends and colleagues and boarded a Scandinavian Airlines Airbus at Sheremyetova International.
Stockholm was not as exciting as I was expecting. This centre of Scandinavian culture and history, as well as the capital of one of Europe's most prosperous and advanced countries, was surprisingly small. I never was able to get an exact population figure but it couldn't have been larger than 200,000 people. I'm too lazy to look it up.
I only had 18 hours in Sweden before my connecting to flight to London so I took the fast airport express train from Arlanda International to the city centre and walked around. By following a couple of the canals that snake through the city I was able to see a few interesting sights, such as the pictures below, but unfortunately I couldn't find my way to the Royal Palace where the King of Sweden lives.
From Stockholm I continued on my journey to London, England where I landed around 10 pm local time and my cousin and her husband, The Roberts', were waiting for me.
There was an interesting moment at the British Immigration desk at Heathrow when I was nearly denied entry to the United Kingdom. All non-EU passport holders have to fill out an immigration card and one of the questions on this card is "The address, including postal code and telephone number, of where you will be staying during your visit." I had no address and no telephone number for The Roberts', so I simply jotted down "Daventry". The woman at passport control didn't like this.
"Why don't you know where you're staying?" She asked me in a very accusing tone.
"Let me see proof of a flight out of England." She demanded.
I handed over my e-ticket voucher for my flight to Canada.
"I need an actual ticket!" She barked.
"This is all I have." I replied and, for some reason "Look, I have a Union Jack and a crown on my passport, and it is issued in the Queen's name!"
She looked at me for a long time in uncomfortable silence while I stood there with an idiotic smile, and then she sighed and stamped my passport.
"Ok. Don't do it again." She advised me as I walked through the turnstile. I was in England!
I've been relaxing for a few days at my cousin's house in the rural English town of Daventry and spent yesterday picking blackberries in the rain, driving on the left side of the road (driving standard with the gear shift on my left was a strange experience but I quickly mastered it; the most difficult part I found was negotiating the ridiculously narrow British roads) and drinking true Imperial pints of bitter ale at true British pubs.
I'm here for a few days and then I'm off to tour around London on my own and then flying home to Canada.
And then in October I'm returning to Moscow for more adventures.
Russian cold borscht
2 months ago