How many think the Herman story is over as it relates to Arizona? What exactly did she get out of that besides a new specialty? To realize she is alive and to make the most of it? But those were Herman’s words not hers.

Seems mighty vague for a supposed “beautiful journey” between these two women. Felt like to me that Herman took over the journey from Arizona because we heard very clearly what Herman learned and how she changed from her friendship with Arizona. But Arizona? I guess she was too private to share with us.

I just wondered if I am a little thick here and missed the point of it all. Can anyone help me out?


Wildcamping in Stockholm

En route to Stockholm we spent the night in Färnebofjärdens national park, another intensely dark and wildlife packed area - I could hear animals shuffling around outside the van.

Arriving in Stockholm amidst heavy traffic (the most we’d seen in months) we found a parking spot overlooking houseboats on the Riddarfjärden. Free parking on evenings and weekends, we’d arrived on Friday afternoon so we were set for a super cheap stay in the centre of Stockholm.
Theo had picked up a bike tool to replace his deflated inner tyre, within a matter of minutes we were whizzing along the cycle lanes headed towards the centre - another European city with superb cycling amenities. Central station caught our eye so we looked inside, wifi and showers were our reward. We planned to shower there in a few days and used the evening to research free things to do in Stockholm.

A number of the boats moored up along the river were restaurants, hotels/hostels, or nightclubs, all pumping out music and colouring the pavement with fairy lights sprinkled along the railings. The bikes were locked up to a lamppost opposite the van for the night, gathering plenty of stares (a useful stealth tactic - bikes as a distraction from our van!).

Saturday and Stockholm was in full swing - a Winter Festival had sprouted up in some of the main squares; food stalls, snow mobiles, music, and games.
We parked ourselves up amongst spectators facing a real snow slope set up on the stairs with obstacles - people were signing up to ski down. I thought these people knew how to ski, but I couldn’t be more wrong. A young lad stood at the top, brimming with confidence, before entering the descent with wobbly legs, swiftly collapsing to his arse before skidding down in what can only be described as the ‘birthing position’ and slithering off sideways into the ditch underneath the barrier. Try as you might it was impossible to keep a straight face - the entire crowd cried with laughter. Anyone who skied down with confidence was met with silence, the crowd didn’t want to see professionals. They were met with a limp round of applause, whilst any failures were whooped and hollared, powerful clapping to boot.

We’d chosen to tag along to the free tour of Gamla Stan - the old town of the city. Starting at 6pm by the steps of Sergels torg we were occupied with the real snowboarding competition taking place on more snow caked steps - triple the length, sporting rails and boxes to perform tricks. Hip hop blared out the speakers surrounding us whilst a group of competitors performed for the winnings. It had drawn a massive crowd, thousands of people were watching from any vantage point they could find. We collectively gasped as one of them landed on his chest over a rail, it looked excruciating. As the end of the session loomed the participants took greater risks, accidentally landing on each other and trying daring moves. With the tour looming we stayed long enough to watch hundreds of freebies thrown into the crowd; tees, bags, skate decks, books, stickers, hats, so much stuff. One woman was hit squarely in the centre of her forehead by a sharp object, a bloody swelling marked her face.
Hanging around the steps we were passed a couple of free energy drinks, Stockholm was doing well to keep our purses closed.
Effectively caffeined up, our Northern English tour guide arrived, as did quite a few other people - we clearly weren’t the only ones to have heard of this tour.
Having never been on a tour it was a pleasant experience to follow along as someone pointed out interesting parts of the city with facts we never would have known. It ended on the outskirts of Gamla Stan, allowing us to duck into a tiny hot chocolate shop for (obviously) a hot chocolate and (not so obviously) a chai latte. Drizzle was descending from the dark sky when we emerged but the narrow cobbled streets were prime for some photos, we hung around for some photography whilst no one was around.

The following days included trying to find Hermans vegetarian restaurant, finding it and leaving upon realising it’s much cheaper in the week, showering (Central station provides excellent showers for 40kr), cycling through Stockholm, and finally making it to Herman’s for a Monday lunch.
For 115kr on a weekday you have unlimited visits to the vegetarian buffet, water included. It was mighty delicious, especially as items such as roast potatoes and lasagna were up for the taking - two foods nigh on impossible to make on the one hob cooker. Heavy rain kept us there for a couple of hours, relishing the excellent view over the city below from the sun room we ate in.
Nevertheless we were drenched through our waterproofs on the ride back, a tricky situation getting into the van soaking wet.

The cost of 100kr or so a day to park where we were on the weekday signalled the end of our Stockholm visit. Theo wheeled the bikes over to load up and we realised someone had knicked our new silicon wrap around bike lights - the perils of eye catching bikes with fun gadgetry attached. We let our anger be known.

This quote is by Herman Hesse from his novel Demian. Ishida quoted it in chapter 8 when Kaneki unleashes his kagune for the first time against Nishiki. I was super excited because Demian was one of the few required readings from high school that I had really enjoyed! There are actually a lot of parallels between the journeys of the protags of these two stories which was really fun to see.