American MeatHeads In Europe - Day 2 - 6/18/09
Bar-Crawling Our Way Through Stockholm

Our second day in Sweden basically degenerated into a giant pub crawl, with Mark and I determined to find the most alcoholic beer in all of Stockholm. European brewers, it seems, are not limited by silly things like FDA restrictions, and sometimes ratchet the alcohol content of their beers up as high as 10-12%, versus the 3-6% of most American beers. The beer we found at a garden in Old Town Stockholm was 13% alcohol, which about a third of the way to hard alcohol. The beer was called Bush, not to be confused with Busch Lite. Not at all. Here are me and Mark after our first sip.


Unfortunately, making a beer 13% alcohol can have an adverse affect on the taste, and Bush tasted something like Bud Heavy with a shot of Whiskey dropped into it. Here are me and Mark after our sixth sip.


We checked into our new hostel, where our room was about the size of a handicap accessible bathroom stall, and headed out to continue the crawl. Although our guidebook had been wrong about either the location or the openness of almost every bar we had tried to hit to this point, we decided to give it once more chance. "The Ugglan bar," the book promised, "holds walls of Swedish beers, and enough Boules (aka Bocce Ball) courts to have a tournament." We went to the address and found this:


Lonelyplanet, if you're out there, I'm coming for you.

Yet appearances can be deceiving. After braving an entrance that looked like it belonged to a meth house and a set of metal grate stairs that looked like it belonged in a Terminator factory, we found the Ugglan bar. And its walls of Swedish beer. And it's Boules courts.

Situated in three gigantic, gloomy rooms in the bowels of a building that looked like it had been bombed, the Ugglan bar looked like a torture basement, which I think is what it was before they renovated is (slightly) and put in a bar. All the floors were made of gravel, and two of them were used solely for Boules courts, 6 of which fit in each huge room. The other dank room contained the bar and, surprisingly, several families who were there eating. One of the rooms had this giant roller, I guess used to smooth out the floor, and Mark got a few more beers in him and started pushing it around, much to the chagrin of our waitress.


Mark and I had been hiking around in our travel clothes all day, me wearing my dress shoes, as my other shoes were giving me blisters, and during our fourth game a Swedish couple came up to us and asked if we were professional boules players from France, because we were so badly dressed.


After Ugglan, we made our first attempt at a European club, where the bouncers were primarily concerned with asking each entering person how many drinks they've had. The correct answer to this, I learned back in college, was never "zero", lest they think you're lying. The correct answer is a small but believable number, for instance my first response of "two, about an hour ago." Though the correct answer was closer to "nine", they let me in. This strategy proved effective even later, when I fell into some bushes trying to get out of somebody's way.

"How many drink have you had?" asked the bouncer, pulling me out of the hedges.

"Three, I believe," I responded in my most sober fake tone. The answer was closer to "all of them".

Our drunken saunter through Scandanavia is off too a good start. You get the idea - there were many shots, and I think some peeing off Swedish bridges. I don't even remember taking this picture of Mark, back at the hostel, hugging milk.


--

Oh, and by the way, this morning, I returned to the Russian embassy made one final attempt to get my Russians Visa. The Visa office had more people in it than a Russian breadline, and by the time I made my way up to the front, the office was almost closed, and the woman told me it was too late to get another Visa. There were no exceptions to their turnaround time, especially not for stupid American tourists who didn't file their paperwork early enough. Here's a picture of me being denied a Russian visa.


In Mother Russia, Visa rejects you.


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