Tuesday 1 September 2020

Party Night on the Stockholm to Riga Ferry (2013)

Party Night on the Stockholm to Riga Ferry

Observations of a curmudgeon.



It was a bright sunny afternoon at the Stockholm Ferry Terminal.  We realised immediately that we, a group of English tourists mostly in our sixties, would be a minority.  Almost all the other passengers were young Swedes setting out on an overnight party to Riga.  The trip had been advertised as a party cruise. Our expectations of a quiet overnight trip evaporated.

We stood in the terminal in a huddle surrounded by young people, most of them more tattooed than clothed.  They were in an exuberant mood.  To them we were as insignificant as streetlights at noon.  We had big wheelie suitcases; they had no luggage at all except cases of beer and boom boxes.  A Swedish policeman built like a brick out-house and armed with an automatic pistol rescued us from the throbbing beat.  He switched off the machine. The six youths around the instrument recognised the greater power and it stayed switched off.

On board, we dumped our bags in our cabins and went up to the sundeck — a big mistake.  The disco had started and the stack of speakers was nine feet high.  The bar was open and happy hour was advertised.  This was no place for anyone over 25.  We retired to an open space on a lower deck to watch quietly as we passed through the beautiful Stockholm archipelago. 

We did not have even this space entirely to ourselves.  Some of the young joined us.  They were at this stage mostly divided between male and female tribes.  The girls, who were mostly dressed in not very much, were nevertheless, dressed to attract.  Their skirts and shorts were tiny, they were in heels and carefully made up and coiffured.  They were enjoying being young and beautiful and not obviously playing hard to get.  The young men by contrast seemed to be doing their best to repel.  Loud voices and grunts, baseball caps on backwards, white, hairy tattooed legs and beer bellies were all on display.  What do the girls see in them?

We oldies ate dinner; the young did not trouble the restaurant.  We retired early, leaving the ship to youth, beauty and Bacchus.  We had an unexpectedly peaceful night.

We re-colonised the sun deck in the morning. The crew had done a great job cleaning up and all signs of the disco had gone.  The place was quiet.

As we steamed up the Daugava River towards Riga in the morning sun, groups of young people came up the deck, blinking and swaying.  Mostly they clutched water or cans of Coke.  A brave few were still forcing themselves to drink lager.  One must assume that some intermingling had gone on the night before but now they were for the most part divided once more into male or female groups.  The women had acquired clothes and were now more modestly and elegantly dressed.  One exception was a bubbly, outgoing girl clad in just a bikini.  She wandered the sun deck gently hugging and lightly kissing one boy after another.  It looked like a role reversal of Prince Charming with a glass slipper looking for the dream, who had been lost at midnight.

Amid this subdued yet sunny scene were two young women we had not noticed the night before.  They were tall, blonde twins — classic Nordic beauties. They were dressed identically in elegant summer frocks.  They sat back in chairs with skirts raised to tan their yard long thighs.  Even an old man's heart beat a little faster.  Mostly they were left alone but one young man dressed only in shorts and dark glasses holding a can of beer blearily approached, unintimidated by such class and beauty.  They tolerated his attempts at conversation for a while but, sensing no encouragement and perhaps uncertain of what he would do if he succeeded, he slunk away to find someone less demanding.

We docked in Riga, disembarked and did not look back.

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