Observations Saturday Morning.
Yesterday (Friday) I went ashore in Stockholm but I didn’t blog anything because I didn’t have anything nice to say. The dock is outside of the centre of Stockholm and a courtesy bus is provided to transport us to/from the ship to the centre.
I missed the bus so got the tube. On the tube there was a couple of Eastern European women begging, I tried blanking them but they just talked at me, so I shook my head (which I thought was a universal movement that means no) this is not the case with beggars in Stockholm, when a beggar sees a head shake they think it is a signal to shake a cup at you lots and lots of times, so I suppose I will have to learn/translate some appropriate Swedish head shakes.
I alighted at a stop that had “centre” in it’s name and I was there. The first thing I noticed/experienced when leaving the train was the extraordinary number of beggars, they are extremely colourful looking wearing vibrantly bright long skirts, beads and scarves however that is the only positive thing I can say about them. When talking to one another they laugh, shout and display a host of different emotions, however when they approach a target, each and every one of them have the same look of despair and anguish (a face like a slapped arse). Within minutes I had decided I disliked them. Static ones sit on the floor at every street corner (some in the middle of the pavement) mobile ones follow their targets shaking their cups at them. I think I may have said in a previous blog that I have a bit of a “counting” compulsion, be it good things or bad things I like to have a number placed against it. I decided to see how many beggars I could spot from a department store second floor window. The 16 static ones were easy to count, however the mobile ones kept sodding moving about, changing directions and crossing in front of one another, I think there were 11 mobile beggars but I am not sure, what I am sure about that my inability to count them made me dislike them even more.
I wandered around for a couple of hours but eventually found the annoyance that was being caused by cups being continuously shaken in my face was turning to anger so decided to go back to the ship. Not sure if I will venture into Stockholm again.
The boat docks very close to the centre of town, I had already walked around a bit with my Italian friends however today I was to explore alone. On leaving the dock there is a small market, vegetable stalls selling strange coloured fungus’s (I wonder if that is the correct way of saying more than one fungus) stalls with bright fish (both cold/wet and cooked), souvenirs and lots of other interesting things. At the end of the market most people were crossing the road and going towards a big church, so I went straight ahead following the waterside. I walked for a couple of hours through beautiful waterside parkland, nice residential areas, some touristy bits and back to waterside parkland. Sometimes there was not a soul to be seen, sometimes there were lots of people jogging, sometimes there were tourists doing touristy things and sometimes there were Helsinki people just doing Helsinki type things. I had looked at a map before I left the ship and thought that if I carried on walking along the coast eventually I would get to a railway track and if I then followed the track to the left I would get back to the town centre. It happened just as planned and I was very pleased with myself. I really, really like Helsinki.
As a treat I stopped at a waterside cafe an bought myself a beer!
Back to the boat ( I have got to decide if it’s a boat or a ship).
Saturday Night gig
Beka the bar manager finished his 10 day board on stint so has gone, the new bar manager is Oz he is a tall Nordic looking guy and has a shaved head. He is friendly but seems far more serious than Beka. In my last blog I mentioned the fact that it seemed obligatory for a nutter to attend every one of my gigs, well all rules are made to be broken and the bar was nutter free last night. Lots of very drunk passengers with the most varied taste in music imaginable. One lady asked could I play Paranoid (Black Sabbath), I oblieged and a note went in the tip jar, 10 minutes late she was back asking for anything by Bonnie M
(so I gave her a Brown Girl in the ring and got another note in the jar). Another woman asked for AC/DC and then later requested Country Roads (John Denver) She only gave me coins. By my last set my entertainer friends had arrived, and I closed the set feeling good. Off to the other bar for a late one!