Thursday, February 20, 2014

What happens in Örebro...

Yesterday, I took my first trip out of Karlstad with Chloe to Örebro. Our main reason for going there was to complete the process with our residence permits (it is the nearest office), but we wanted to make the trip worthwhile by allowing plenty of time to explore the city. When we got off the bus, we just started walking in no particular direction. We ended up in town square, where we saw the castle and squealed like little girls about it. We needed to find the migration office, so we went to the convenience store in the square to ask for help getting there. The lady had no idea where the street was that we were looking for (red flag) so we decided to just start walking and let google maps do the rest. 

The walk was about an hour and a half zig zag pattern passing by cemeteries, an industrial park, and even through a private drive residential area. We eventually got there after a lot of complaining about how hard this must be for people to find/how inconvenient the location was and how we should have taken a bus, but we were just happy to have a break from walking. I think we make a pretty awesome travel team, between Chloe's orienteering skills and my ability to trust and stay calm in such helpless situations.

Stepping into the office, it was like a DMV on crack. Packed with annoyed people and their unattended children. We looked at the time and saw that we were literally less than 10 minutes late for our appointment. We were devastated, thinking that we were going to get stuck there for the next few hours. By some odd chance, I thought I heard my name being faintly called and went and saw if it was true. It was. The lady told me she was running late as well and I hadn't missed my appointment after all! It was like a Christmas miracle. After my 5 minute appointment, Chloe had hers and we were once again on our way. 

We stood by the nearest bus stop and crossed our fingers that it went in the direction of the center. We asked the bus driver if we could buy tickets and he said that it was okay, meaning we didn't have to pay. To make things even more awesome/lucky we went directly to the center. We got off the bus and ran towards the castle to admire it and revel in the fact that our nightmare of a day was actually working out. It was gorgeous and so medieval looking, complete with cannons and a moat. 

As you can tell, we were pretty excited! We took lots of pictures and began walking. It turns out that they only offered castle tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Boo. We went and took pictures of the courtyard in the middle of it and called it good. 

Next on our to do list was a place called Wadköping, an open air museum with a preserved area of town available to see and go inside. 

We refueled at the adorable cafe with a nice long fika before heading out into the cold again.  

Next, we went to the Örebro museum, where we saw some cool art and historical models and artifacts. 

Next, we head to St. Nikolai Kyrka, which is when our day took a turn for the worst. After taking lots of pictures and walking around this gorgeous church, a beggar came inside and began urgently talking to us (we were alone). I told her in Swedish that we speak English, but she proceeded to ramble on nonsense and then asked us for bread. We said no and she left, but it gave us a very creepy feeling and kind of started to give Örebro a less favorable rating in our minds. 

We then decided to see what kind of shopping there was and were called to by another beggar waiting outside of H & M. Since this was only a few minutes after the first one and it was beginning to get dark, we were really starting to feel not so happy to be there anymore. We went to another small art gallery in a really beautiful building before heading to the movie theater to see what was playing. We had been walking for 8 hours straight at this point and were really feeling a break. Turns out, matinees are not as common in Sweden and everything started at 21:00 or later, which was around when our bus was about to leave. 

We decided to give up on sightseeing and go eat something, since we really hadn't had a meal all day. We found a nice looking restaurant with a menu posted outside of it with all English descriptions for the food and decided it was a winner. I got a beer and Chloe got a cider and we said cheers to getting through the day despite all the bumps in the road. We took our time eating our food (especially since it was our first time at a sit down restaurant in Sweden). The snow began to come down really hard outside, and we reluctantly headed out.

We decided to go to the grocery store (since for us it is always such a time killer) until going to the bus. Turns out, the creepy people had not all been behind us as we saw this man standing at the end of the checkout harassing people and, in my opinion, getting way too close. We bought our few items and went to sit at the closed down cafe in the grocery store until it was time to walk to the bus. I decided to head to the bathroom before we did. Chloe came with since we were both so paranoid from all of the weird happenings of the day. I go to open the door to the single bathroom, just as the creepy guy from the checkout was opening it and insistently talking to me. Without a second thought, we turned around and ignored him and booked it back to our hiding spot in the dark cafe. 

We got all bundled up and began our walk to the bus early, thankful to be on a main, well lit street on our way home. I have never been so happy to see a bus! Örebro was beautiful and most of the day was great, but we were both excited and relieved to head back to our safe little town of Karlstad. I felt immediately at ease walking to our city center, exhausted and excited to share all of the awesome pictures we took. Overall, it was a successful day trip and makes me even more excited to spend this weekend in Oslo (with a bigger group)! Let the adventure continue..