Swedish Direction Debacle
Never trust a European for directions. In my experience, they tend to leave out important steps in instructions and have a poor sense of conveying direction. For example, when asking how to get to town from my hotel by foot, I was told “Take a right, right, then left at the big road and it will take you there along the footpath.” She didn’t know the names of the roads. And she neglected to mention that I would have to change footpaths and cross the big road. And she failed to mention that the big road was not the big road along which my footpath went. And she didn’t mention that the footpath on each side of the big road I was following stops. On one side it becomes impenetrable forest (meaning you have to backtrack 1/2km and go under) and on the other it becomes plowed fields with dirt that gets inside your sandals before giving way to a muddy tractor path.
The next person I asked for directions pointed me back the way I’d come and said that road would take me right there. When I explained that I’d been down that way with no luck and no signs telling me how to get to town, she pointed out the correct direction on the map – about 90 degrees away from the way she’d pointed. Unfortunately for me, she was covering up the fork in the road that I was to have taken. A kilometer or so later down the road with no sidewalk and a 30 degree tilt to the shoulder, I found a roadsign with a map on it, revealing the true path I was to have taken. At which point I was able to hop the railing, cut over to a road, and follow my best directional guess on how to get to town. It worked, too! Just as I realized I was on the right path with only a kilometer more to go, the rain began.
So when I got to town to meet my friends, I was dripping wet and three hours late. I went to an ATM and got some money to take the bus back to my hotel, but didn’t have any change for the driver. In my experience, the best place to get change is in a bar. After one beer I’d dried out a bit but it was still raining. After my second drink the rain had stopped so I went out to catch my bus. I checked the schedule and the map in the small area where I was waiting. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what stop I’d need to go to, only that I needed the end of the line. But which end? The next bus to come would be the last for the night. I decided I’d ask the driver so I turned around to wait…and watched the bus speed by. My fault for not jumping into the street I suppose. Taxi time. Fortunatley, I’d heard that taxis from the city to the hotel were cheap. 143 SEK ($24 US) later and I had been taken the 1.5 km in relative comfort.