Running is the key to exploring a new city according to Biko Jackson who explores Stockholm while thinking about whisky among many, many other things.
I’m in Stockholm; my hotel window overlooks a stone bridge. By a long channel with boats and yachts and cruise ships couples walk hand in hand. It’s lovely here in the summer: everybody is smiling and wearing bright clothes and eating on sidewalk cafes in the cobblestoned alleyways.
People think that since this is a whisky column and I constantly bang on about whisky, that all I do is drink whisky. Actually I don’t. I can go a whole week without a drink, especially when I travel. I haven’t had a whisky in close to ten days now and I don’t miss it. The other day I was signing my dinner check at the bar and when I looked up my eyes locked with a 15 year old Dalwhinnie. I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t feel any connection. I didn’t feel like we had met somewhere before and we had had a good time and said we should do it again. I felt nothing. She was a stranger to me. I looked away, handed the waiter his pen and strutted out of the room. That’s the kind of man I am. I can walk away from anything, literally anything, at the drop of a pen. I walked away from that fine whisky, in that luscious bottle, in that low light. That’s who I have become. I’m like Robert DeNiro in Heist. We kick ass, we collect t-shirts and we eat burgers. OK, enough of that before I ask for a drink.
I love running. Everytime I travel to a new city I will get into my running gear, lace up and run. The beauty of running in a city you don’t know is that you will get lost. When you get lost you run longer and see more things. I have been running almost daily since I came to Sweden. I wake up at dawn and run, but their dawn doesn’t look like dawn during the summer because the sun rises at 3am, which means their dawn technically starts at 3am. I step out of the hotel at my dawn which is 5:45am and I either go left or right and I keep going and going until I either run into water or I run into a big Swedish guy called Alexej, then I turn around.
Running is the only time you get to be truly alone with yourself and your thoughts. Time to think and reflect and to write short lovely sentences in your head and dream and think about your kids and their future and your deadlines and people who owe you money and people you owe money and your mechanic and his dodgy ways and that girl you saw in the lift on the fifth floor eating an apple and reading a green book and the projects you want to do and the ones you have procrastinated and that toddler you saw on the back of a bike and is that the rain about to fall? Before you know it, you are running between two old buildings and right ahead is a familiar cathedral thrusting into the sky and you know you are not lost anymore. You look north and you see a big McDonald’s sign and you know your hotel isn’t far from there.
I’m writing this after a 10 km run. I feel fresh and energised and know the hormones flowing through my shoes will help me meet the deadline for this story. One hour to go. Then I can pack, catch my flight home and get back to my 15 year old whisky.