a. It’s my first time to travel alone and stay in a hostel. Inside some old non-descript neo-classical building at Skeppsborn (the old city in an island) in Stockholm, Best Hostel was reached after a series of winding stairs reminiscent of some old French film. I was deposited inside a large room filled with IKEA double beds along with 11 my co-hostel occupants, both of the male and female of species. I never imagined I would be able to get a good sleep, especially before the marathon but I did – no irritating phone/electronic gadgets in the middle of the night, none of the sudden blinding light inside the room and hardly any human sounds like snoring or farting. It was a polite, civilized and safe 3 days for me, which perhaps helped me in my run. I never imagined of travelling Europe on a bargain but it can be with a little imagination, fewer expectations and some creative research.
b. Europe on the Cheap. Food, travel and shopping in the Swedish capital can really burn a hole in one’s pockets so I found some nifty ways to maintain my Stockholm budget on check. Subway and Falafel are sandwiches of western & eastern origins, respectively but they were my go-to meals for they were both filling, yummy, healthy and inexpensive. I did one boat tour on the city’s many islands and islets and was able to visit the Vasa Museum (an old ship ressurected to its titanic glory), the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art, Djurgarden and the various design/furniture stores– all impressive and worthy sites.
But for most of my time roaming the city, I relied on my two feet to take me from one destination to another. The old city (Gamla Stan) with its winding streets was just a few meters away from my hotel and the city center was only a 15-minute walk. But what I enjoyed the most was getting lost in Stockholm and finding quaint surprises at every turn – the seaside street going up the hill with its panoramic view of the city and the quiet streets near downtown with its small shops of lighting and furniture merchandise, come to mind.
c. Running 42.5KM at 12 noon.
Pluses: Ample sleep in normal cycle (10 pm to 7 am) – now try that in Milo/Condura Marathon
Normal Schedule in the bathroom and the dining table
Cool, cloudy weather, at least at the first 10 kms.
Awesome sights and exuberant cheering Swedes in every street corner
Well stocked hydration/food stations with well-manned medical teams
Cold, rainy weather from KM20 onwards, thus, the gloomy atmosphere
More details of this on the September issue of Frontrunner.
4:14:25 – it’s unexpected, surprising and bewildering since I battled cramping and did a lot of walking during the race.
tack så mycket, Sweden!
Do watch this video for a close view of my struggles in the streets of Stockholm. Music is ‘Alive’ by Empire of the Sun (yup from the movie title by Steven Spielberg featuring a young Christian Slater, pre-American Psycho).