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Two Roads Diverged Over A Hostel Breakfast

SWEDEN | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [209] | Scholarship Entry

A stranger below rattles out the bottom bunk and I jolt upright. Getting back to sleep is off the cards, Copenhagen awaits and the thought of a new city brings a grin to my face as I stuff my belongings into my rucksack.
Over breakfast a guy roughly my age sits down opposite. ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young sound tracks the silence as I drum my index finger along in time. ‘You going Way Out West too?’ He asks.
I have no idea what he is talking about but he produces a ticket from his wallet. ‘I have a spare. I was going to sell it to a tout but better a Young fan had it!’ In an hour my train would depart for Copenhagen. I had a decision: Neil Young or Copenhagen?
An hour later I exit the air-conditioned Göteborg Natural History Museum having spent the last ten minutes sat inside the belly of a blue whale. Something I probably couldn’t have done in Denmark’s capital.
Signs for Way Out West point toward the sunlit grass of Slottsskogen (the cities largest park). The grass of Gothenburg cushions my sneakers but doubt sets in; is the ticket legit? Should I have stuck to my travel itinerary? More importantly, will I ever learn to say no to a stranger?
I join a bustling line of festivalgoers eager to exchange tickets for the temporary tattoo of a wristband. I shuffle forward in the queue and catch snatches of animated Swedish accents.
I pass under the wide purple arch bearing ‘Welcome to WOW’ and the festival arena unfolds. Hundreds of leaf-laden trees line two large stages and I discover all food is vegan. (No dodgy burgers!) I opt for a burrito and apple cider and seek out shade to enjoy them in. I round a corner behind the second stage and discover a lake next to a tent holding another stage where jazz oozes out.
I return to the main stage in anticipation for Neil Young and find a perfect spot beside the fumes of a popcorn stand. A soft Swedish voice announces over the crowd. I ask the girl beside me wearing a Harvest Moon t-shirt to translate. ‘Neil Young isn’t playing anymore.’ I laugh at her joke but she looks serious. Everyone around seems so calm despite the cancelation. She gestures to her friends who smile at me ‘It’s time for Stay Out West now, free with that’ she touches my wristband.
We board the number nine tram to a church where an Icelandic folk trio will play. They tell me of city club called Pustervik where indie bands play at 2am and tomorrow there was a film premiere. This festival and Gothenburg had hold of me.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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