Sunday, July 21, 2013

11 Things You Must Know before Traveling to Sweden

summer in stockholm
Stockholm in Summer
  1. Summer "is the most beautiful week of the year." It is 75° and blue as Odin's eyeballs. The Swedes celebrate good weather. There is frolicking and mushroom picking. There are weekends in small cabins in the forest with no plumbing because as Camilla has been saying for twenty years "it is a very Swedish thing to pee in nature."
  2. Be prepared for a swim at any time. While at a wedding, it is usually good form to wait until after the service and to put back a few toasts before dashing across the lawn for a quick dip in a lake. If you are civilized, bring along someone who is willing to stand ashore and hold your jewelry while you are in the water.
  3. If you clink on your wineglass during the wedding reception, the bride and groom are supposed to kiss, just like in the US. But if the bride or the groom has left the room and someone clinks on a wine glass, then everybody can kiss the remaining party until the absent party returns.

    Nothing is more heartwarming then watching the groom sprint to the bathroom casting wary backward glances at the distance between his libertine wedding guests and his new wife.

  4. Unless you are a heathen, do not order coffee until after dessert. At that time, you will drink your coffee and eat 7 cookies. If you cannot eat all 7 cookies, the proper thing to do is wrap the leftovers in a napkin and stuff them in your handbag.
  5. If you do not return to the car with a suitably large bag of candy after stopping at a gas station with an attached convenience store, any Swede traveling with you will ooze with disappointment. It is important to fill the bag at least half full, and only with the good kinds of candy. Nobody gets the green gummy frogs. They are the worst.
  6. If there is a sign out front of a gatukök roadside kitchen that reads: 

  7. Lunch special 
    Legume Salad
    - 65kr-

    it does not mean that there are three lunch specials to choose from. It means that there is one lunch special consisting of Sausage, Legume Salad and Meatballs. If you say that you want the "Legume Salad Lunch Special," the lady behind the counter will become deeply annoyed with you.
    She will declare that if you want legume salad you have to get it with sausage and meatballs. At that point, if you ask her if you can instead get the chicken platter but swap out the french fries for the legume salad, she will look at you like you just told her Google has been collecting unencrypted personal data from open wifi networks since 2006. It is a look that will crush you.
  8. Do not use an American creditcard at the gatukök. In Sweden, all credit cards have a PIN. There is no old school printing-and-signing-of-receipts. You hand over your credit card, type in your PIN and it is done. Exit scene left.
    If you give the lady behind the gatukök counter a US credit card and your receipt starts popping out of her credit card machine, she will appear ready to call in an exorcist. If your Swedish friend Henrik tells her at this point that no one has hacked her credit card machine, it is just an international credit card, she will not look entirely convinced.
  9. The Kiss Army is alive and well in Sweden.
  10. The midnight sun means you can hike through the forest to take a dip in a fjord at 11 pm.
  11. Your husband will mention the amazing Swedish ice cream to everyone he meets for a week and counting.
  12. If you are in the village of Åmål and Claes tells you that "the old church burned down" but "the new church was built over there," and you take a look at the "new church" but it looks pretty old, it might have been built in 1710.

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