Caves and Graffiti: Rural and Urban

Words you don’t want to hear wedged between two slabs of rock in a cave: “You have to take your helmet off to squeeze through this part”.  But that’s exactly what Joakim, our fearless instructor, told me as I crammed myself through the Dragon’s Gate.

On our LLC camping trip to Tyresö last weekend, we got a guided trek through Stockholm’s largest cave. The three hours were spent squeezing through places I shouldn’t be able to fit through, and avoiding the 3-inch spiders on the rocks. And while some of it was type-2 fun, I absolutely loved it. I love pushing my limits, and fighting back fear to scrape through massive granite slabs under a mountain certainly checks that box. After reaching daylight, Joakim told us he’s done our three-hour loop in under 10 minutes. And I thought I was in good shape; clearly I need some yoga classes.

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After channeling my inner caveman out in the beautiful nature reserve (pun intended), I decided on an urban adventure Wednesday. Wednesday’s at DIS Stockholm are reserved for study tours with our courses, but with two next week I had a free day to explore the city. I had read about the Snösätra Graffiti Wall of Fame on VisitStockholm.com, a great site for future visitors. This industrial part of southern Stockholm has opened its walls and buildings to local street artists, and the ever-changing murals are very impressive. After an hour on public transit and a walk through a small park I made it:

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The grand entrance, trust me there’s more than meets the eye

 

There was a great mix of art, evidenced by Pennywise from IT next to a child with a ladybug (or was that planned…). In a city known for its clean, efficient, and modern lifestyle (sometimes characterized as reserved), the gritty construction zone overflowing with public street art was a refreshing balance. That’s a part of New York I hadn’t quite been able to replicate: The unquestioned and welcomed creative expression and flair exuding from all neighborhoods. But Snösätra had this character in spades, and I even saw some artists repainting parts of the wall. This place truly lives and breathes.

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Both these experiences had the same message: Get out and seek adventure where it may not be obvious. Who knew a collapsed mountain could be such a great growth and character-building experience? Who knew an industrial park had the unapologetic expressionism I was looking for? I’ve found that a little bit of research and a willingness to go off the beaten path are usually rewarded with moments that I’d never find otherwise. There truly is so much out there to see, do, (and eat) that I feel compelled to move and seek it out. It’s why I’m so disciplined and diligent about getting work done: There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want. (Quote from Bill Watterson, featured in my Instagram bio on @lowe_m.

-Michael

 

Next Week: Solo weekend trip to Amsterdam, and sharing my favorite ways to discover new cities, like Stockholm.

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Camp food! Chorizo and veggies topped with cheese and cooked al fuego

Food Pic: There’s nothing like a hot meal after a day of caving, and these meals delivered. We had a buffet of raw veggies and fillings to make “hobo-meals”, a delicious end to our long day. We ended the night with s’mores and a long talk, where we got to learn more about each other and bond. It sounds simple, but basic pleasures are sometimes the best ones. The outdoors reveal a lot about a person, and I’ve always enjoyed the tranquility of nature. Our LLC had the campsite to ourselves for the night, and pitched our tents right on a beautiful waterfront (yes, I did another plunge in the frigid lake). Plus look at that fire!

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