Languages fascinate me. I minored in French in college and took a few linguistics courses for fun, but if I could go back and do it all over again I would focus my studies on foreign languages. My one super power would be the ability to speak every language, a walking Google translator in human form. Language woman.
Sitting on the metro on the way into central Stockholm, the chatter that surrounds me is practically gibberish. Swedes bundled up in their scarves, coats, and hats nestle into the pairs of blue padded seats beneath bright yellow poles that stretch to the ceiling, subconsciously paying homage to Sweden´s national colors. Conversations border on whispers, not that I would be able to understand anyway. It is curious to see people so conscientious about their neighbors...or perhaps Swedes are just soft spoken.
Gamla Stan (Stockholm´s Old Town) is a labyrinth of cozy corridors splashed with color. Cobblestones lead the way through touristy shops selling blue and yellow flags, moose hats, and furs of every hide. I sneak off the central streets and wander through the desolate walkways that camouflage themselves as proper roads.
The appropriately named Cosy Café presents itself as an idyllic respite for a cup of Swedish coffee and hilarious wall art. The transition from the crisp outdoor air to the warm interior of the café felt like a set of bed sheets fresh from the dryer, a strong contrast from the sharp autumn breeze that flirted with notes of winter.
The barista cracks the door and the frigid air flows in to mix with the hum of acoustic covers of pop songs. Two small wrens sneak their way into the café and hop around the floor, seeking crumbs from either my plate or that of the one other patron in the whole shop. No such luck, birdy, as we both only have coffees.
Drip coffee in Sweden is spoonfuls stronger than the northern nation´s espresso. Ordering a latte is an unnecessary additional expense when basic ground coffee with a splash of milk is enough to power through an afternoon in the biting breeze of Scandinavian autumn.
A deep inhale coated my lungs with a cool layer of serenity. Autumn may not have arrived in Barcelona just yet, but a brief breeze enveloped the iota of exposed skin between my sleeve and my glove, reminding me to enjoy the last few minutes of the rare Swedish sunlight.