We spent our last night in Stockholm on a hostel in the hold of a boat. Our beds were small and uncomfortable, the ship rocked through the night, the room was as bare and cramped as a closet. Still, it was fun. From our cabin we could see passing feet and bicycle wheels on the dock. We drank beer upstairs in the wooden bar, listening to a man and the waitress speak Russian. A full moon was in the air and Stockholm's harbor was beautiful; the movement of the water, the quiet creaking, the smell of old ship and bleach - it all lent the evening a wonderful melancholy. From the bar's portholes, we looked to the archipelago. Thousands of islands spill from the city into the sea. Some have cottages and trees. Others are bare skerries, nothing but grey rock.
People take the ferry for the day, getting off at the Åland Islands and taking the next boat back. They drink and gamble on the way, lured by cheap beer and slot machines. The sea is tax-free. Old couples sit with glasses of wine and stare out at the waves. Young men disembark with bags of alcohol. Everyone is a little bleary eyed. There's not much to see, but there's a slight feeling - once the boat has passed into open water - of the sea swelling under your legs and of the immensity of the ocean.