The report on Volgograd diggers' being in Stockholm and their dream realization
In this report I won't write too much because, in the first place, our photos speak for themselves, and, in the second place, I know that I must translate it all into English… :)
On the whole, we were prepared for this trip to Stockholm better than for the summer Ural Mountains expedition. I was not lazy and read everything useful that I could find in the Internet, looked through all maps, chose routes. I even learned by heart the half of Russian-Swedish phrase-book, but we didn't need this knowledge because all Swedes speak English easily.
So, as usually, on the 31 st December, the New Year eve, we were not at home and without “Olivier” (Russian traditional salad). In this concrete case we were perplexedly wandering inside a huge building of Arlanda airport trying to understand where everyone disappeared. It came out that we were nearly the last who leaved the plane. So all our fellow travelers, evidently, could depart. Our most important goal was to know HOW did they do that… To say the truth, I was a bit confused because I imagined the International Stockholm airport different; a festive illumination, a vast number of smiling employees, crowds of tourists, noise of voices in many languages and so on should have been there. However in reality we could hear only the echo of our own steps. I were afraid if the nuclear war started during our flight – so much manless and silent was the airport around us. J
Unexpectedly we stumbled upon a lift over which a bright tablet stood out: “Arlanda Express”. It was found in the nick of time. Being in Volgograd I read that Arlanda Express is the best way to go out from the airport as it has a good schedule and can bring passengers to the Central railway station only in 20 minutes. We were happy and, without thinking for long, called the elevator and pressed the necessary button. A train station proved to be of rather deep foundation… Shortly after lowering our surprise grew up much more: we saw two yellow expresses (as on a picture!), extraordinary beautiful tunnels carved out into rock, and absolutely clear and empty platform where one couldn't see even a simple mounter's box and particularly any service apartments. I think, it's also obviously that no one, excepting us, wanted to depart there. We were patiently going from one ticket vending machine to another trying to understand their menu. Time was flashing by… Suddenly the absolute silence was broken by the sound of working escalator – a young woman in a red coat with a big suitcase descended on the platform. We recognized our compatriot instantly. Thus, we had three lost people. We took decision to divide: not to miss something interesting the woman and I stayed near the trains, and Scamp went upward with the strict problem to find anyone alive and to ask about the Express schedule. He returned in 10 minutes and announced that our train would go soon and tickets could be bought directly inside. We continued to wait. Nevertheless the feeling was growing up that no one would go anywhere… I sent Scamp upstairs again and took out my camera to capture the trains and tunnels. Having passed along the platform I looked around and saw a red LED inscription in the machinist cabin: “Out of service”… At the same time Scamp returned and said some new information: Arlanda Express hasn't worked today from 5 p.m. I had fun with absurdity of this situation but I tried to keep serious. When we already decided to go up, two foreigners appeared on the platform. After my extensive explanation they could only say “How interesting!” We could stay serious no more and started to hee-haw.
All three together we went for search of any informational table or bureau and very soon our pursuit was crowned with success. Extremely polite young man sold us tickets for a seven o'clock bus. However life was not sweet for our compatriot: she had only euros, and all the exchangers were closed (needless to say). The young man directed her somewhere, and we saw her no more.
Staying at an open windy bus stop I was attempting to deal with a city-map grabbed in the airport. The number of tourists from other flights around us was slowly multiplying. Many people were puzzled; we could hear some fragments of phrases about the Arlanda Express and so on. Our bus still was absent. I proposed to go on foot (what could it mean for trained tourists – only 40 km !), however Scamp noticed reasonably that this way we might have had a great chance to celebrate this New Year anywhere in industrial district under a fence.
A beautiful bus came to the bus stop in front of us; its wheel was practically out of air. Scamp, as a person intolerant for different technical malfunctions, ran to the bus driver thinking about possible translation of his future explication. I was watching from my side: the driver opened a window, smiled broadly while listening, put his head out, looked at the wheel and said something, then with the same smile he closed the window. Scamp returned a bit perplexed. I asked him: “What did he answer???” – He said: “Is it? Oh, it's OK!” After that we were watching how this strange bus was packed with tourists and went to the city… That is what the GOOD ROADS mean! Or does it mean anything else, maybe?.. Not important. Above all, we finally understood that although Sweden is greatly different from Russia , it has also enough madness: so, we felt at home.
We had time to get to the hotel before 12 p.m., but, to tell frankly, we were so tired that we preferred to have a giant salad in the bar and go to bed before the New Year came.
1st January Stockholm met us with the same silence, cleanness and emptiness as Arlanda the day before. We were rambling through lonely streets, looking at closed shops, surprising with the incalculable number of bikes staying, laying and suspended everywhere, examining beautiful square manholes with the emblems of local service companies and windows decorated with Christmas stars and candles. It was hard to understand for us why music is not thundering, drunk people are not loafing around, petards are not bursting, and no one is crying or fighting… Is it possible?..
Of course, this trip was mostly an official visit with the aim of watching museums, curiosities and famous Stockholm Tunnelbana. We knew that some digger's sorties would be possible to complete only 4th January, when we first met a Swedish digger nicknamed Mirage. But this story will be a bit later. Now I'll describe in a few words what is the most remarkable, surprising in this unusual city and what every Russian tourist going to Stockholm should know.
The most useful thing in a highly-developed state is that you don't need to worry about cash because credit cards are served in any tiny box of a pedestrian subway. So, to buy Swedish kronor in “Saving-bank” of Russia , as we did, is not necessary at all.
There are more than 80 museums in Stockholm , therefore if you are travelling by yourself, without a tour-group, and if you don't want to get mad at the first day, prepare the program of their visiting previously. For example, we chose the Museum of transport (by the way, all the explanations there were in Swedish, without the English variant), the Museum of the Middle Ages, the Museum of photograph, the Museum of the Modern Art, the open-air Museum Scansen (where You can have a great day admiring the local flora and fauna as well as different architect constructions collected all over the country), the Vasa Museum. The last museum I'd like to describe separately. It's very unusual. The Vasa Museum is a real memorial of Swedish perseverance, diligence and national self-consciousness. They managed to take out from the sea floor a huge ship which stayed there during 333 years! It sank in 1628 and was raised to the surface in 1961. It's needless to say about the technical equipment of divers in the early sixties. However the operation was successfully completed, and nowadays the Museum of one exhibit attracts millions of people every year.
Transport in Stockholm is rather expensive. By this reason it is more rationally to buy universal SL-cards that we did at the first day. However you should know that this card system was entered not long ago, so sometimes they glitch. And if you suddenly find yourself in such a situation (for example, your week card doesn't want to work already at the third day of your being in Stockholm ), you will need to go easily to Kungstradgarden station (the terminal of the Blue line) and to find a Hindu-mounter who would sympathetically tell you: “Are You from Russia ? I am form India ! How are You here?..” Then he would reprogram your cards. J But indeed, if you put these cards on the sensor, not carry above it as many citizens do, they will glitch less.
Some words on subway. The system is not simple. You can think: there are only three lines! But they are divided. We could not understand at once that standing on the necessary platform of the necessary line you should know not only the direction, but also the name of the last station in the sub-line you need. Informational tableaux are established for help. The main purpose is to learn the names by heart, as an ideal – to learn to understand them aurally.
Some more words on subway. A contact rail in Tunnelbana is placed in a way not habitual for us: in front of the platform. So. If you find yourself laying on the rails by the reason of hard drinking or simple imprudence, don't be afraid and roll under the platform! You'll stay alive.
This information is only for diggers. We were puzzled at first why there were not any policemen at the stations. The right answer is that they are, but in civvies. Therefore a spontaneous idea to jump down and run towards the tunnel with happy cries is not very good. :)
You won't see any homeless cats or dogs in Stockholm . (Special shelters exist for them). By the way, there are a lot of ducks-beggars in the channels. So, if you want to walk along the quay, you should take a little roll with You.
Stockholm possesses the biggest spherical construction in the world – it is Globen Arena. You must see it without fail. To sweep over its external wall in a small glass cabin during a sunny day is even better. The view from Kaknastornet TV-tower ( 155 m ) may be more exciting, but the process of driving inside the capsule itself deserves that you come there.
I also want to stand on the theme of the Nobel Prizes giving. Nearly everybody knows that they are given in Stockholm , but not many people can say where it happens. Before our departure my mother asked me to find this place ant to take a photo. We understood that it was a very responsible assignment. It took us a lot of time and efforts because we didn't trouble with searching for address in good time. Now I can tell you the truth: there are two such places…For such as we I explain: the first building is the Stockholm City Hall where the private ceremony takes place with a banquet and the Royal family assistance; the second building is the Concert Hall at the Hotorget square where laureates are directly granted. That's it!
And of course we should not forget to tell about the Old City . It is the vary place which attracts the biggest part of all tourists coming to Stockholm . Here you can see cozy narrow streets, pavements, age-old buildings and squares… Even someone not interested in architecture and design would be pleased to walk there. Therefore we recommend it to you! Maybe you will be as lucky as we and will be able to see a heart-rending composition in the backyard of the King's Palace: “White bear chewing a red fish near rubbish bins.” (But I suppose it must be removed soon).
Ending this theme, I say that despite all the obstacles we managed to use the Arlanda Express. Its maximum speed represented on the tableau was 196 km/h! It took us only 20 minutes to get to the Airport. So, the program of this trip was successfully accomplished. And now let's surf to the most interesting information.
Just Tunnelbana, in particular its photographs placed on someone's page in LiveJournal, became the main reason of our voyage. We'd had a strong desire, a fixation, to see this subway.
“Tunnelbana is the only subway in Sweden . It is called “the longest art gallery in the world” .
The decision to dig a subway appeared in 1941. The first underground lines had standards close to international ones but initially they were used for high-speed trams.
The owner of Tunnelbana is SL Company. All the underground system includes 100 stations and three branched lines which have the total length of 105.7 km . 47 stations are underground and 53 – ground-based or overground. Lines have the left-side driving because for the moment of construction Sweden had also had the left-hand driving.
Undoubtedly, the most interesting and intriguing thing of the Stockholm T-bana is the design. Every line (Green, Red or Blue) had been decorated in its own style. There are fairy grottos, ancient Greek sculptures, examples of the classic architecture, wall reliefs, mosaics, some kind of pop-art (giant galoshes on the ceiling of one of the stations), fountains and streams. Different exhibitions are often organized in T-bana. Some hundreds of artists have given their works to Stockholm subway. Earlier the Government had annually invested about 1.5 million dollars in this underground gallery.
The Green line is the oldest, but the Blue line is the most pictorial”. (tunnelbana.ru)
We devoted a whole day to the T-bana examination and observed all the stations of the Blue line. It was amazing! After we had seen these unprocessed rocks, the water running on the walls, muted illumination of platforms, sculptural compositions, mosaics and pictures we could not long come to our senses. Even in my dreams I was seeing the stations and the tunnels which are, apropos, not restricted by the dimension or form thanks to the dynamite using (in contrast to our tubings). Some stages exist there where two lines cross or go one above other or parallel for sometime. If I don't mistake, it was near the Gamla Stan where we were watching through the window how our train was competing with another one. We felt like in a fantastic movie…
“The Blue line ( Bla Linjen), as it was said, is the youngest and the most beautiful line of Tunnelbana. Its first section opened in 1975. Excepting Kista region, this line is completely underground. All the stations have been made in a rock and have had 20- 30 m depth. They are broadly known because of the magnificent “cliff” pictures created by different artists. In addition, the section, where the line to Akalla goes overground, has a local ghost-station which has never been opened up. It, probably, will never open in the future because today this station is situated in a reserved area created by the Government.
The Blue line includes 20 stations in general. 19 of them were built in rock and one is ground-based. The station Vastra Skogen possesses the longest escalators and Kungstradgarden is the lowest station in Stockholm relative to the sea level ( -29.3 m ). The longest stage goes between Kista and Hallonbergen».
The word “Kungstradgarden” is translated as a “King's garden” and represents the name of a park in the city center. We liked this T-bana station most of all. “Its construction was linked with many scandals. One of the entrances should have been built directly in the park. It could have brought about the cutting down of a big number of old trees. In July 1970 citizens revolted against the annihilation of the ancient elms in the park. People protested by chaining themselves to the trees' trunks.
30 October 1977 only the station was finally opened. Now it is the terminal station of both branches of the Blue line. It is situated in the Norrmalm district and has about 34 m depth.
Kungstradgarden got its decoration thanks to Ulrik Samuelson, a Swedish artist. He drew the inspiration from the architecture of the near famous palaces. (But it's not very clear where in these palaces the artist could have found the signs of radioactivity which now decorate the arch near the escalators… And what did he mean? – author's remark). The statue of a redskin man may be considered as a boss of the station. It personifies the God of War. You can also see there a lot of architectural elements of antique style.”
Looking through the Internet reviews I understood that many tourists consider Tunnelbana a bit somber. As for me, it's not true. I think that by the help of this specific lighting the architects could get a sensation of people integrating with the station as well as better underline the beautiful relief of arches and walls. People whose hobbies are speleology or “digging” could even have an illusion of stay in a real cave sometimes.
The Red and the Green lines are half ground-based. We saw only some of their central stations. These lines remind of a standard European subway much more.
On the whole, we noticed that T-bana represents a model Metro if we mean cleanness, quality of rolling-stock and density of passenger traffic. This little traffic, strictly speaking, let us take some interesting photos which you can see here now.
And another unusual thing in T-bana! It is a rule for drivers to quit their cabins every time the train is standing at the station and to supervise the boarding. We supposed it might be a special Swedish program of health protection: sit down and stand up every two minutes not to have problems with the tubules and the backbone. It is very laudable! Bent stations are also provided with additional monitors to help the drivers see the entire platform.
Undoubtedly, we could not even dream about any underground sallies when we were planning our trip to Stockholm . By the way it became real thanks to the digger nicknamed Mirage.
Of course, I won't point out the residence of the “places” we have seen.
As in our native Volgograd all the sallies took place late at night. First of all, we visited a deserted tunnel which had been formerly used to carry over different shipment from the city to the port. It is remarkable that there is not much rubbish inside, not counting an innumerable number of graffiti, and somewhere we could have seen intact metallic objects, for example, rails and holders. We passed into the rock about 0.5 km and then the tunnel came to the surface. Some time we had been going in the dark on the icy ties before we turned on the next gate behind which the tunnel continued. After a while we found a huge door protecting some considerable underground lodgment. Mirage supposed it might be a bomb shelter of the hospital placed above.
By walking through tunnels we were speaking a lot. So, we knew that the diggers of Stockholm also use bolt cutters and call them “universal keys.” :)
Suddenly the tunnel led us to the deepened suburban train station functioning nowadays (J-line). Mirage offered us to exit there. We agreed. Our “emersion” could have been complicated because of the mounters swarming on the platform but, fortunately, they either didn't observe us or didn't have time to react.
The next evening there was a survey of two civil defense shelters, and the first of them was the biggest shelter of Sweden ! You can see its scheme in the photo. Mirage told us that during the Cold War Sweden was afraid of the USSR very much and built numerous shelters. I found this information very interesting because in Russian textbooks on modern history the mentions of Sweden are extremely rare. In other words, the Soviet Union had neither time nor forces to spend them to Sweden... However I've digressed and beg a pardon. Thus, the three-story shelter was built in 1957 to admit, in a case of danger, 20 000 people. Besides there are special reservoirs for storing fuel. This bunker also connects up with T-bana but the door is surely locked. At the moment the shelter successfully functions as an underground parking (this variant was foreseen by the constructors). It is an excellent example of political prescience: such a huge lodgment shouldn't stay useless anyway – if a nuclear war doesn't start or (God forbid!) if it does.
The second bunker was located not far from the first. It is remarkable for its split-level system of entrance-exit which lets divide people flows running from different sides and prevent a jam. Today the EMERCOM of Sweden headquarters there.
The last unofficial place we visited in Sweden was the subway-bridge. It was charming! I noticed that during all our passage above the channel we saw no one rotten, rusty or dangerous place. Everything was built to last and looked as if the overhaul finished the day before. So, we could look down without any fear and go without holding on to the railing (of course, it is impossible in Russia when you are at the high altitude). We found one place on the bridge from where it might be possible to get to the T-bana tunnel. The narrow hole into the wall could let squeeze through it and fall out directly to the rails. However the level difference is about 2 m there. So, the way back would have been very problematical. J This time we decided not to risk by imaging if there was The Voice of Mind with us (our friend-digger who often prevents our crazy experiments).
P.S. We loved Stockholm very much! Now I can remember nothing that we didn't like. Everything was great!
And we want to thank all the diggers and explorers from 28dagarsenare.se for the given information. Mirage, especially thank You! Viva the First International “Union Ground Connection” 2012! And welcome to Russia! :)