Day Nine: The Hop On, but Refused to Hop Off Bus [July 12th, 2018]

Trigger Warning for anxiety, panic attacks, and stress!

 

Today was our first day in Stockholm, Sweden [though for some reason I keep wanting to call Stockholm Copenhagen, even though I know mentally it is not Copenhagen, Copenhagen is in Denmark, but I keep wanting to call it Copenhagen]. Since, we didn’t really do any sort of excursion or anything at Stockholm, I’ll keep the fun city facts for tomorrow.

We didn’t have any excursions planned for today, so we slept late. By late, I mean I got up at like nine thirty, which seems late, when we’ve been waking up between six am and seven-thirty am for early morning excursions such as the one we have tomorrow. We went up to the buffet for breakfast, and very shortly after we had breakfast, we lost power in the ship, all the lights just went off. I did get excited though, they had cheese danish at breakfast, usually they don’t have cheese danish, they have lemon danish, which looks a lot like cheese danish, and is still good, but I have a weakness for cheese danish, so I had one and stashed three in our room fridge for future breakfasts.

During the power outage, we bumped into Mike, from our table at dinner, and he sat down with us and had some coffee, and we talked for a little while. Eventually the power came back on, the elevators were working again, and we went back to our room though the TV and internet was screwy for awhile.  There were a bunch of people in suits with ID badges, who were touring our ship today, maybe they were travel agents? But I even saw the captain of the ship [who’s like seven feet tall] walking around our floor with the head of housekeeping with one of the suits.

After breakfast, I read a little while, I finished the book I had been reading the day before, and played some Fire Emblem Awakening for a little while before my battery died [I don’t know if my 3ds is just getting old, or I just play it too much, but it seems the batteries die quicker than they used to]. Eventually, I decided to do the hop on hop off bus, but mom didn’t want to do anything but relax because she didn’t feel well, so I was off to my first European adventure by myself.

The Hop On Hop Off Bus is basically at every single port stop, no matter where you go, it seems. It’s a big red [though I saw a green one too] bus that’s a double-Decker bus, and it drives you around a city, usually to major tourist destinations, you can get off whenever you want, and get back at whenever you want, and your ticket is valid for twenty-four hours [www.redbuses.com  if you’re interested to learn more] after your purchase it. I saw them in Helsinki, I’ve seen them in New York City, though I don’t recall if I saw them in Russia, and since I saw nothing but hospitals in Copenhagen, not sure if they were there, but I’m pretty sure they were. I know there’s one coming up in Amsterdam too.  It can be a little complicated with those buses though. Like I think certain buses work for certain ports, so we had a specific Red Bus, the Sapphire Princess that was docked near us but not next to us had a different bus, and buses leave from different parts in the country, so your ticket isn’t valid for every single red bus that stops at a bus station. The people next to us at dinner today had taken a red bus to go to a museum in the city, and when they were trying to catch a bus back, they had like three buses tell them their ticket wasn’t valid for that specific bus because each hop on and hop off bus works for a different tour company, so just be aware of that, if you do ever decide to take a bus like that at a port or whatever.

My purpose in getting on the bus was to try to find a Stockholm Starbucks so I could add to my mug collection, and I did find one, at the third stop of the bus, but I was too chicken to get off, and started having panic attacks about not being able to get back on the bus or get back to the ship even though we’re docked here for twenty-four hours, so I chickened out. Anxiety is a bitch, but it’s seriously no joke. My rational brain knows that we’re docked in Stockholm for twenty-four hours, and I had my passport, I had my cell phone, and I had some Euros, but the irrational anxiety part of my brain always overrules the sane part of my brain, and it’s nothing I can control. So it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting a Stockholm mug. I’m actually more okay with that, I would’ve been devastated if I didn’t get a Helsinki mug [and my dad got me a Bergen one from Norway when they were cruising], but I think I can live without a Stockholm one, and there’s always eBay and amazon, if I can ever find one for under 150 US dollars… Yes 150 US dollars for a mug that costs less than twenty dollars! I think if I was with my dad, Justin, or BFFL Hillary, who I’m planning a future European vacation with, I would’ve been more okay with exploring the city and getting off the bus and finding my Starbucks mug, but my anxiety overruled my ability to do it today. My anxiety will also play a part later in this entry.

Anyhow, the Hop On Hop Off Bus stopped at 21 different stops throughout the city. To me, it was a pretty decent way to tour the city. It passed by a lot of really popular sights throughout the city… The bus I was one stopped at Hotorget, which was a concert hall, and a really awesome looking concert hall. Why do other countries have prettier venues then we do? It stopped at City Terminal, which is where I spotted the Starbucks and chose not to get off the bus because paranoia can destroy ya [props if you know where those lyrics come form]. We stopped at Central Station, which we stayed at for a good twenty minutes. A girl in red came on and asked to check everyone’s tickets, I didn’t have a ticket because the driver told me just to get on, so I paid for my ticket there, and it was less Euros than I was told it was. That’s something to note… My mother had asked passenger services how much a ticket on the Hop On Hop Off Bus was, and they quoted her 48 Euros, when I paid for the ticket on the bus, it was only 35 Euros, however the official currency for Sweden is actually a Swedish Krona, though they did except my Euros, but a ticket was 320 SEK, and 1 Swedish Krona equals 0,097 Euros [at the moment, I googled it], so if you ever ride the big red [or green bus], make sure you have local currency, or that you at least know if they except Euros or Dollars or whatever currency you have.

 

We drove through Old Town, it has cobblestone streets, and a lot of coffee shops [that aren’t Starbucks, and probably taste better than Starbucks], bars, and restaurants. We drove past the royal palace. We drove past Medborgarplatsen, which is a central square. We drove past Radhuset, which is the Stockholm courthouse, as well as Stadshuet, the city hall. Gustav Adolfs Torg- The Royal Swedish Opera was a gorgeous building. There’s an Abba Museum [my brother went through an Abba stage in high school, he probably would’ve liked it]. There was an amusement park, which is apparently called Tivoli Grona Lund. There are a lot more stops, but those are the ones I could recognize either by reading street signs, or other signs.

Here’s some massive Stockholm Spam:

Also the Hop on and Hop off bus also had headphones, and you could plug it into a jack on the seat back of the seat in front of you, and you can even listen to a tour as you drive by these places [and it’s available 14 different languages]. I did not do that and instead decided to relax and rock out to my own playlist of Scandanavian influenced artists. I was able to take a lot of pictures during the tour too. The tour took about 2.5 hours, it probably averages about 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours [at least in Stockholm] depending on the time of day you go [I assume if you go earlier, less people have gotten on the tour before you, so it probably doesn’t take as long to go from each stop], and the traffic in the city [probably worse in the middle of the afternoon like I was riding it in because of all the city-wide tours and things from cruise ships and what not]. And you don’t need to get off the bus [my anxiety prevented me from ever leaving the bus] but you can if you want to explore an area more, so it’s definitely something worth considering if you really have nothing planned and want to explore an area.

This brings me to my second panic attack. It was a little after four on my cell phone, and I was told the tour takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.  I had gotten on the bus just before 2. It was probably when we were near the Royal Palace. I had seen a sign as I was disembarking off the ship about all passengers and crew had to be back on the boat by 4:30 pm. Now, we’re docked in Stockholm overnight. So it’s not like the boat was going anywhere. But the irrational part of my brain told me that the gangway was going to disappear, if I didn’t get back to the dock by 4:30 pm, and I started having a panic attack. What if the gangway vanished? What if I got back to the boat and there was no gangway and I had no way of getting on the boat? What would I do? What if the bus only stopped by the Sapphire Princess, and then I had to somehow walk to the Pacific Princess, and I couldn’t figure out how to get there? What would I do? Again, I had my cell phone, I could’ve called my mom, my dad, or my family’s travel agent. We were docked overnight, the ship wasn’t sailing away, I wouldn’t be stranded in Sweden… But what if I couldn’t get back on the ship and all I had was 40 Euros, and I had no place to stay for the night? The panic attack lasted for the rest of the bus ride. It didn’t go away until we got to the Sapphire Princess, and the driver told me I had to transfer to the bus in front of me to get to the Pacific Princess, so I did that, and then I asked that driver if he was going to the Pacific Princess and he told me yes, but my panic attack didn’t truly end until I asked the lady sitting next to me if she was on the Pacific Princess, and she told me yes, and I realized if I couldn’t get back on the ship, at least I wouldn’t be alone, I’d be with other passengers. This, my readers, is what anxiety is. It’s not something I can control. The rational parts of my brain and thinking process just get completely overwhelmed by the irrational parts of my anxiety, and it makes me panic and I cannot control it. Anxiety isn’t a joke.

Needless to say, I did get back to the cruise ship, and regardless of my two anxiety attacks, I did enjoy riding in the Hop On Hop Off Bus, and seeing the city. Stockholm is an absolutely gorgeous city, from what I saw. I’m looking forward to our canal cruise tomorrow, and getting a better look at the places I just briefly got a glance at today. I’ve also heard that leaving the port of Stockholm is gorgeous because there are all these islands as you leave, probably similar to how it was at Helsinki yesterday, and that was also a gorgeous send-off with all the islands that we sailed past. So as we leave, I’ll probably sit on the balcony [we’re leaving like super early, around 1:30, to go to Latvia] and take pictures as we leave. Stockholm is definitely a place that I think I want to come back to in the future, along with Helsinki.

After I got back on the cruises ship, I went to the medical center for my bandage changes.

TRIGGER: BRIEF BOOB TALK, WARNING FOR INFECTION, BOOBS, BLOOD, ETC.

The doctor were very happy with how my boobs are looking. They say they look much better [I refuse to look], and that there is much less drainage, and most of the green drainage is gone. They’re starting to close, and they were very happy with the improvements they saw. They’re not healed yet, and it will be awhile before they’re completely healed. Bee, the nurse, who usually changes my bandages, cleaned the wounds [which hurts a lot, though it’s been hurting less than it originally did, except for the most impacted area], and re-wrapped me. I’ll be back in two days.

END BOOB TALK

I went back to the room, played some more Fire Emblem Awakening [breeding galeforce into the second generation, especially before you get Lucina with a female avatar takes SO much time… yes I know not many people know what I am talking about, but if a gamer ever reads these entries, they may] until mom wanted to go to dinner. As I was sitting and playing my 3ds, a ferry showed up at the port next to ours, and I watched the ferry load. It was amazing how many cars, trucks, and buses they loaded into that thing. I am so insanely jealous of how easy it is to travel around Europe. For example, you can take a 16 hour ferry ride from Stockholm to Helsinki from about $60 to $85 American dollars, and the ferries are about as nice as cruise ships are. I’ve also seen ferries to Tallinn, Russia, and other places throughout this area. They also have bullet trains in other areas. In the US, you either have to drive from one state to another, take a really long bus ride, or fly. I realize a ferry system wouldn’t really work with the way the United States is and the fact that so many states aren’t surrounded by Oceans or Seas. But maybe the US can work to make it’s train system better?

Dinner was open-seating today. I don’t really like open-seating. My introverted side really doesn’t like sitting with strangers. We also didn’t have our usual waiters since we didn’t sit at our usual table. We sat with two older couples. I didn’t really talk to them much. I didn’t really have much to say. I didn’t feel very good at dinner. I’m always really sore and in pain after bandage changes, and I had those two panic attacks today, so I wasn’t really in a social mood, or even that hungry. I had tempura vegetables as an appetizer, though the serving that I was given was seriously large enough to be a dinner. I also forgot to take a picture of it before I demolished it [because #foodporn is a thing], so you get a picture of my empty plate. For dinner, I ordered the chicken tikka masala. It was good, but it was really spicy. I didn’t really eat much of it, I was still full from my tempura appetizer. For desert, I had some sort of sugar-free strawberry mousse thing. It was sort of like creamy jell-o with chunks of strawberry in it? It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favorite desert. I almost ordered the black forest cake, but I had a vague memory of ordering that on another cruise, and not liking it, so I just didn’t order it. I think at the time, I had found it too sour to really be enjoyable.

I got my usual cranberry juice from my usual bartender outside the dining room after dinner. He tells me I’m too quiet, and need to ring a bell so he knows that I’m there. He was busy cleaning or making something when I got to the bar, and it wasn’t like I was in a hurry, so I didn’t feel a need to interrupt him or anything. Then we went up to the room, and I started typing this blog entry.

Tomorrow morning we have our canal waterway tour through Stockholm. Our ship leaves the port at 1:30 pm, and then we sail off to Latvia. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m excited about seeing Latvia and learning more about Latvia because my dad’s family was from Latvia before they immigrated to the United States, so it’s like a peice of my personal history.

There’s not much left of the cruise left. Tomorrow is Stockholm till 1:30, the day after that is Latvia, we have a day at sea after Latvia, then we sail through the Kiel Canal, which I think is sort of like a mini-version of the Panama Canal, but sounds really interesting because we pass under all sorts of bridges and things, then we’re at Amsterdam the day after, followed by Dover, the day after that… So there are only 5 days left of the cruise. I am not looking forward to another 10 hour flight [especially when I am unable to sleep on flights], but I’ll be happy to see Justin and the kitties again… and after I get home, it starts the countdown to the first day of school, which is sad, but it’s been a wonderful trip, so far, and I have no complaints.

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