Tuesday 9 July 2024

Swedish Meathead

Readers with long memories might recall that last year the BF went on holiday with his best mate and not with me.  I went to Amsterdam instead.  A few people have queried if this is a healthy way to run a relationship, to which I say, if you can't bear to go a week without your nearest and dearest you may have some kind of dependency issues and should perhaps consult with a trained professional.  Obviously I love going on holiday with my partner of several decades, but at the same time, it's also nice to do something that's for you and you alone.

I had a tremendous time in Amsterdam last year, visiting every Metro station.  It's genuinely one of the most fun things I have done in my life.  When I returned to the UK, to overcome the disappointment at being back on TERF Island, I secretly checked out the metro maps of other European cities.  Because you never know, right?

So when the BF came to me and said that his mate had suggested they go to Barcelona this year, and would I mind, I pretended to think about it for a while before I said "yesyesyesthat's fine".  I cast my eyes round the continent in search of a suitable underground railway I could conquer.

Paris, Berlin, Madrid - these were too large and complex for me to do in a few days.  Rotterdam was too much like Amsterdam in its style.  Copenhagen and Bilbao had great networks, but they were all built at roughly the same time so there wasn't much architectural variety; the same was true of the Eastern European networks, where Soviet engineers applied similar techniques and styles across the whole system.  Lisbon was a possibility, but it turns out Lisbon's underground is in the middle of a pretty comprehensive rebuild that will see stations change their assigned lines and entirely new service patterns introduced so obviously I'd want to wait for that.

Looking around, though, I discovered one city with a large and interesting network, one that had a long and fascinating history, and which was world renowned for its station architecture.  


The Swedish capital has a three-line network, the Blue, Red and Green, which were built over the course of sixty years.  There are extension works underway on a couple of the routes but they won't be open for a few years yet so I wouldn't feel I'd missed out on anything too major.  And - and if I'm honest, this was the clincher - the system has exactly one hundred stations.  Every station I visited would be a single percentage point off the total.  The part of my brain that loves a pattern and a tick-list was thrilled.

I packed my rucksack, I got an SAS flight from Manchester, and soon enough I was in the home of fika, Abba, and more blonde people than I was really comfortable with.  It was a five day trip, and it was exhausting.  And I loved every second of it.  

If you're not into loving descriptions of Northern European suburbia, this might not be your thing.  Because I've got a lot to write about this trip, so it's going to be all Sweden, all the time round here, like under the counter at a 1970s newsagent.  I hope you'll enjoy it.  If not, give it until mid-August or so, and I'm sure I'll be on a canal towpath in the Midlands somewhere by then.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hurrah! I’m looking forward to this very much. I have a soft spot for the children’s drawings at Hallonbergen…