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When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Scandinavian Road Trip : Day 7

If you’ve been following our Scandinavian Road Trip, our last post left us agonizingly close to stepping into a submarine. Day 6 would not throw up too many such surprises, as we explored the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg.

Gothenburg was not as I expected it to be. After spending the first few days in the Swedish countryside, I assumed that by driving up to Gothenburg the big-country-small-towns-simple-life image I had of Sweden would disappear in a cloud of marijuana smoke and gun-fire as drug dealers, huge beer bellied thugs and rowdy teenagers rubbed shoulders with pimps, prostitutes and paedophiles. We are in Europe after all; aren’t all big cities here like that?

Well let’s just say that Gothenburg was a pleasant surprise in that respect. It was indeed a large city, but even here it was easy to spot the lack of big city hustle and bustle. While I definitely saw more people in comparison to Ljungby (which, if you recall, is not much of an achievement) I didn’t feel the organised chaos that is usually associated with a busy metropolis. Don’t be fooled though, there’s only so much ‘zen’ that I can take, so it was almost with a sense of relief that I found myself caught in a few mid-day traffic jams.

And so the days went by; day 6 was spent mainly in sight seeing and visiting an old friend, following which our evening was taken up navigating through the furniture jungle of IKEA. For every man, IKEA is the store from hell; those of you who have tried to pick up a simple stool for the office will know what it feels like to go through the seemingly never-ending maze of ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ furniture. I use quotation marks for hip and cool not because I am growing old, but because I fail to see how furniture can be considered ‘cool’. The Foo Fighters are cool; bedside tables and kitchen counters are not. After spending roughly 3 hours dreaming of different ways to burn the place down, we had a quick dinner with some old friends we hadn’t seen in years and then headed back to our spacious and luxurious hotel for the night.

For day 7, we decided to get the proper tour of Gothenburg via the canals that run through the city. It is a very beautiful city, rich in a history that might have retained in the mind longer if we weren’t completely frozen solid during the tour. The tour led us out to the harbour to witness some of the naval land marks off the coast, but the temperature dropped severely when we left the relative warmth of the concrete buildings in the city. Frozen solid, we clambered into our car and decided the only way to get our blood flowing once again was to head to the famous amusement park, ‘Liseberg’.

As my brother and I stood in line for the tickets, we both has similar expressions of wariness on our faces. He was nervous because he’s a bit afraid of heights and the sight of the towering rides and the faint yet constant screams drifting from the park were a tad unnerving to say the least. As for me, I was a bit anxious about the fact that I was 23, and not exactly a kid. Would I look ridiculous standing in line here?

Well at least one of our fears was put to rest, and thankfully it was mine! It is a testament to the appeal of the park that I saw the widest age groups in the park, taking part in all the rides. First off we took a few minutes to view all the rides so as to decide which ones were worthy candidates for us to consider losing our lives on.

As I strapped myself into the first ride (which involved being shot vertically into the sky and then free falling back to earth), I started to wonder how parks like these can remain open throughout the year. Surely once you’ve gone on these rides once, you wouldn’t come back soon. Yet here we were on a weekday and the park was packed. After being shot up to 60 feet in roughly 1.5 seconds at an acceleration of, well, you do the math; let’s just say that I had other things on my mind.

After several gut wrenching and voice box destroying rides, as well as many broken promises to my brother (“Yea man, this is the last ride, definitely, we’re leaving after this, yes, sure, last one ooh what’s that….??”) we headed to the last and crowning ride of them all, the Balder rollercoaster. Standing in line with our last few tokens, I almost felt a twang of sympathy for my brother. This was really freaking him out. Naturally I did my best to steady his nerves, repeatedly drawing his attention to the extra safety instructions for this particular ride and wondering out loud why they were so worried. It was also the tallest wooden rollercoaster in Europe; the entire structure from supports to the track is made up entirely of wood. This interesting fact just provided more fuel to the fire, as I painstakingly pointed out the sizable cracks in the supports we passed and drew his attention to the loud creaking sound the beams made whenever the rollercoaster went screaming by.

You may think I’m sadistic and evil, but seriously, what is the purpose in creating these rides if not to scare the cash out of us? No species on Earth finds entertainment in scaring each other; that trait is unique to humans. (Along with laughing and crying and some other boring stuff, but who wants to talk about that??) What is it about humans that drive us in droves to horror movies and these bizarre amusement park rides? Why are we so taken by the smell of fear that we are willing to pay a sizable amount to other people to design even more mad-hatter type rides? We stand in line for hours itching to get onto some thrilling ride, and then during those 5 minutes we’d do anything to get OFF it!

Maybe there is some deep answer to this. Maybe we don’t really feel we’re alive until we face the fear of death. Maybe it’s all part of some primeval animal instinct inside of us, to see how afraid we can get. Or maybe it’s not that confusing at all. Maybe we just don’t know what to do with our money. Maybe we’re just dumb. I mean, we did invent bungee-jumping; something must be wrong with us to dream that up!

All I know is, as we slowly reach the peak of rollercoaster, and then suddenly start to go down the sheer near-vertical slope at near-as-makes-no-difference free fall, the look on my brother’s face shows a degree of fear, loathing (towards me) and incomprehension that I’ve never seen on his face in the 16 years I’ve known him.

And that is priceless.

3 comments:

alicia said...

really like the night shot of Gothenburg (first one in your post).. :) the colours are very striking..

alicia said...

btw.. i completely empathize with poor brudder.. being mortally terrified of heights, i would never pay for something so torturous..
sadly though, i indulge in other forms of paid torture..like visiting the parlour on a pleasant saturday afternoon :)

anusia said...

eebill conniving bully of an older brother!!

but europe n theme parks sounds like a fantastic combo.

i rather like the sound of peaceful towns tho...glad u had a gud time!

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