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From the 1 euro shop in Rome

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The sun was out today, for about the second time in a month. Here it is around noon:

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It’s been a rough week. I spent three days in bed with a nasty cold and three days after that I still have a head full of snot. Kostia’s also feeling ill, which is unusual with his iron Russian immune system. I had been mentally preparing myself to get sick on our trip to Russia, and got sick here in Sweden instead.

We leave for Russia on Tuesday. We’re taking a bus, a ferry, and a train and it will be about 40 hours door to door. We could have taken a two-hour train ride and a two-hour flight, but we decided to go the cheaper environmentally-friendly route. Anyway, I like the train and the ferry. We’ll take full advantage of all the amenities, like the wine bar and the sauna on the ferry, and make the travel part of the vacation.

We got a TV a couple months ago. At first we watched a bit of the four channels that we get. Then we went back to our old habits and only used the TV as a computer screen and to watch movies. Then the TV cable that we had got yanked out of the wall too many times because the cord was too short and the TV is on a movable cart, and didn’t work any more. Then the TV taxman visited us (again) a few weeks ago and we admitted we had a TV, so a bill for 2000 kronor (about $250) is on its way. So, I bought a new cable and we’re gonna watch the damn thing. Recently we’ve watched: news programs in sign language, Sami, and Finnish (with Swedish subtitles), four hours of the Nobel Prize banquet, a Richard Dawkins’ “The Genius of Charles Darwin”, and the Santa Lucia broadcast which we got ourselves out of bed at 7:00 this (Saturday) morning to watch.

Radiotjänst, the Swedish public television and radio service, is well aware that people aren’t fond of paying their TV fees, so they have a series of ads, exhibiting characteristic Swedish dry humor, thanking people for paying. There are several in which they visit people at work or at home and break out into song. Kostia and I like them a lot.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs were on sale at one of the local supermarkets this week, and when I went to pick some up, I discovered that in addition to the discount you also got a free copy of  “An Inconvenient Truth” with the purchase of two light bulbs. That’s pretty cool, because despite having this conversation nearly two years ago I still haven’t gotten around to watching the film. But what I didn’t quite understand was why they were giving the film away to people who were buying the environmentally-friendly light bulbs. Shouldn’t they give it to the people buying the regular light bulbs? Also, why does this film come in a typical plastic DVD box instead of a more environmentally-friendly package? Well, one is supposed to pass this film around, so I’ll assume that the more durable packaging is intended to facilitate that. I’ll be sure to pass it on.

Went to Stockholm for the day last Monday to drop off my Russian visa application. Kostia and I are going for Christmas and New Year. It only took about 30 minutes at the embassy in what had to be the most friendly and efficient office of the Russian Federation I have ever been in (must be the Swedish influence) and I had a day to enjoy Stockholm. Decided to get a haircut as they seem to be on average 200 crowns (25 bucks) cheaper than in Falun. Thus far I’ve managed not to get a haircut in a salon in Sweden (perhaps because it’s so expensive?), so I was stressing out a bit about my Swedish salon vocabulary or lack thereof. I needn’t have worried. I walked into a random salon, where the stylist said it would take 20 minutes to finish with her current customer, sat down, and heard that the stylist, the customer, and the other woman hanging around were speaking Russian. Saved! By now my Russian salon vocabulary is totally functional.

Despite it being the darkest, grimmest time of year and it being an especially gray and drizzly day, Stockholm looked fantastic, especially after dark with all the holiday decorations. I amused myself by visiting secondhand shops and had the opportunity to meet with the owners of a language school I’m doing some teaching through these days, who were lovely people. The day culminated with a visit to the Christmas market in Old Town. I didn’t bring my camera, thinking, what else can I possibly photograph in Stockholm after having been there countless times?

I have to go back to Stockholm on Tuesday to pick up my visa, and am really looking forward to it. This time I will bring my camera.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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