In previous travels, I've had the tendency to plan everything out ahead of time—staying in X hostel for Y days, then taking Z train to this that and the other, etc etc. If something new and exciting shows up—say, a group of long-legged musicians who tell you about a tiny little rustic hostel on the shores of Ireland's only fjord—then it's appropriate to change plans around it, but I've always had a solid fallback set up well ahead of schedule.
This time, I'm intentionally trying to go with the flow as much as I can stomach. I have vague Plan B's in the form of hostels and Airbnb rooms, which seem relatively easy to find on short notice, but consciously not booking them ahead of time and leaning more heavily on friends-of-friends and word of mouth is strange and a little terrifying and, so far at least, absolutely incredibly serendipitously worth it.
It wasn't until I was settled in the relative comfort of the bus from the airport to Stockholm proper that I solidified where I'd be staying that night: with friends of an old regular at the coffeeshop where I used to work, on their intentional community/permaculture farm. I'm still reeling at the beautiful and unexpected opportunities that pop up when I actually use all the connections I've made—if you know anything about me, you'll know that anything further up my alley than an intentional permaculture community farm would be back on the other side of the block. It was just the tiniest of challenges to sort out the commuter train system to get to the farm, as everyone I've spoken to so far has excellent English, and I only walked down the wrong road two or three times before my gracious host came and picked me up. And then it turned out that I was even luckier than I thought, because first we'd be going to ONE permaculture farm so he could finish building a treehouse while I took a nap in a tipi before dinner, and then we'd be going to the OTHER intentional living/gardening community, where I'd actually be staying the next couple of nights.
Järna, you guys. It's like they made it just for me. I could not have planned a better introduction to this country if I'd tried.
I lazed around the first farm while my host and the other farmers buzzed around being useful—but I'm going to stick with my excuse, which was that I'd woken up at 1:30pm Swedish time the day before and hadn't grabbed more than a few small snatches of sleep since. Bone-tiredness is the best nightcap, though, just as hunger is the best sauce, and I slept to the point of dreams curled up on my scarf on the dewy grass in the tipi, and woke to find a feast of potatoes and eggs and pickled herring and butter and my goodness I can't remember the last time a mouthful was so delicious.
I dozed on the couch as everyone worked around me (I still feel a little guilty about that, but I was about out cold), until the sky was almost kind of dark at approximately 11:00 pm, when my host and I strapped on helmets (yes I'm being safe, Amam) and scootered off down quiet twilight roads to the cozy room waiting for me in his house. And of course I didn't have my camera handy because I was being safe, but I'll never forget the moose who suddenly galumphed across the road not 20 feet in front of us, and then stood just looking for a long minute. I still think it looks like a cow drawn by a three-year-old, but in person there's also a quiet and velvety majesty that would be hard for any artist to capture.
And then I curled up on the little mattress in the spare room and fell asleep with the sky still glowing at midnight, and woke up to this:
One full day here, in the glorious sunshine and with plenty of conversation and coffee and baby giggles to sustain me, and then onward and upward—well, north, at any rate. Next stop: Gothenburg! Unless I find something else fantastic on the way...