July 17, 2009

Things I learned in Sweden

So, as I was saying, I had a fabulous and delightful time in Sweden. While we did lots of sightseeing, our pace was more relaxed than frenzied. That's how I like to travel: plan in advance and then take it slow. Why? Well, when I'm relaxed, I'm better able to take in my surroundings and to get a sense of what the people around me are like and are doing. While I was in Sweden for only a week, and Stockholm for much of that time, I did make some observations.

1. Swedes really like ice cream.
It's all over the place! People roamed the streets of Stockholm eating ice cream like New Yorkers eat street meat, which suited me just fine, as I am very, very pro-ice cream.
2. They also have quite an affinity for candy, gummy and otherwise.

Case in point: the candy aisle at Maxi, a combo Wal-Mart/Target type store just outside of Karlstad. I arrived in Karlstad the day before the wedding, and it poured HARD all day long. Since sightseeing and swimming in Lake Ahlstern were out of the question, we ran errands, one of which took us to Maxi, where my friend the Bride wanted to pick up candy for the reception. And ice cream, for us. This was an amazing pick-a-mix setup by KaramellKungen, a la Brach's from the 70's, only on 'roids.

3. Lodging in Sweden is quite reasonable.
4. Food, however, is not.

5. When talking to a Swedish man, it is easy to get the impression that he is hitting on you. He may be, but this sense may come the fact that Swedish men look at you, like at your face, when they're talking to you. Not over your shoulder, or at their feet, but right at you. It's hot.

6. If you have big feet, Sweden is a great place to shop for cute shoes.

I wear a European 41 or 42, and that didn't seem to give pause to any of the shop owners! And so many of the shoes I saw were sensibly cute: low pumps with cone heels and open toes, funky ankle boots (lots with open toes), Frye-type pull-on boots (boots in summer, yes, because the climate is rather temperate). And, of course, clogs. Given my suitcase and budgetary constraints, I feel lucky to have returned with two lovely new pair of clogs, but had I more space and kroner, I really would have gone to town!

7. There are an insane number of hair salons in Stockholm. This seemed weird to me, as the typical Stockholmer does not have fussy hair.
8. Swedish men are, on the whole, better coiffed than American men.
9. Leggings are alive and kicking in Sweden, and I don't think it's a recent trend.

The weather in Sweden is, on the whole, rather mild. We were there in July, and the highs were in the mid- to low 70s, with the lows reaching into the low 50s. This combined with the not infrequent rain makes for a climate which is perfectly suited to the wearing of leggings (the male equivalent being the manpri, but that's another story). Leggings were ubiquitous, on everyone from elderly women to wee little girls. The perfect way to wear your skirt and ward off that Baltic chill.
10. Sweden is a more diverse country that one might think. Although I most certainly do not look stereotypically Swedish, people spoke to me in Swedish wherever I went (starting with the man in the immigration line at the airport, which I thought was weird considering I was in the line for non-EU passport holders, but I didn't mind as he was kind of foxy and it gave me a chance to practice my Swedish).

11. If you are invited to a wedding in Sweden, sell a kidney if you have to, but go! The country is as beautiful and you have heard and the people warm and lovely and they know how to put on a celebration.

12. Snaps and herring are a delicious combination. Mark my words.


Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, that is my favorite ice cream cone as a child. I use to get it from the ice cream trucks. I love seeing all the photos. It looks like you had a great time.

Rima said... Best Blogger Tips

You went to Sweden! How fun is that!