Archive for March, 2008

Pub v. Café

March 25, 2008

I have a young Swedish friend who lives in London. When I was still living in London and we used to meet up we always met up for a drink, but most of the times we had two, three or four.

My friend has just been visiting Stockholm and in his first text to me he asked: do you want to meet up for fika?

So when my Swedish friend and I met up in Stockholm, it wasn’t to get drunk on colourful cocktails, it was to share a pot of tea. It was the first time we ever had fika together. A milestone in both our lives!

Fika is a very big thing in Sweden. There is no English word for fika. Fika is the verb that describes when you go to a café, sit down for a couple of hours with your friends, drink coffee/tea/soft drink, eat cake/cookie and have a lovely relaxed time.

There is a group in the Swedish society called “lattemammor*”. This is when mums with their babies meet up for a fika.

You will also have fika once or twice, sometimes schedule, at work to break up your day. If you are lucky, your office might have a dedicated corner with a few armchairs and table for you to have your fika. Swedes calls this fika corners.

Swedish streets are full of cafes which are open late but pubs with carpets are a rarity.

In England everyone knows where their local (pub) is. If you asked me now I wouldn’t be able to tell you where the nearest pub is. To be honest it would be very far away and include a tube ride and a bit of a walk. Swedes don’t really do pubs. If it is Friday we might go to a trendy bar after work for a drink. On Saturdays we meet up at home to drink wine we brought with us.

Alcohol is very expensive in Sweden so the trick is to have a pre-party at home and get drunk before you go out, so you don’t need to buy drinks at the bar. This might be the reason why we don’t socialise in pubs, we simply can’t afford it. Would you pay £5 for a pint of beer?

I’ve been doing a lot of fika since I got back to Sweden but I haven’t once been to a pub or a bar.

*mums that drink café au latte in groups

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Payday

March 25, 2008

Today (25th) is the day when EVERYONE in Sweden gets paid. Yes, everyone.

Word of advice: don’t, I repeat: do not, go to IKEA, shopping or clubbing this weekend. It’s a very bad idea.

Take Away – the Swedish way

March 10, 2008

When I’m hungry and tired I really miss Delhi Deli. I miss them calling me Miss Lisa, they didn’t even try to pronounce my surname, and knowing what food I wanted to order. The food always arrived quickly at my door. Since Delhi Deli doesn’t deliver to Sweden me and my mum did it our way:

We went to the restaurant ordered the food and asked them to call us a cab to drive us home.

Flat hunting

March 10, 2008

If you are an estate agent in England you should be ashamed of yourself. If you are an estate agent in Sweden you are probably an economic or business school graduate, and your mum will tell all her friends that you  are an estate agent and she will be very proud of you indeed.

In London estate agents drive you around in a Mini, showing you flats you a) don’t want to live in b) can’t afford or c) too scared of walk in to. But since I’m back in Sweden I met up with my friend Camilla who walked around the city with me looking for my new home.

In Sweden someone will always come with you on your flat hunt, this is very important and how its done. There is no surprise to me that everyone wants to come flat hunting with me, its something people enjoy doing in Stockholm. Its like a social event, its almost like pheasant hunting.

Sundays are THE day for flat hunting. Every property on the market will have an open house and a herd of people will walk in and out through the doors. On a Sunday you will see a lot of little signs on pavements where there are properties for sale. You will see a lot of people on the streets with prospects in there hands walking from one viewing to another. No Mini will drive you around showing you properties. You decided what YOU want to see and not what the estate agent want to show you.

When we arrived at the first flat there was about 25 pair of shoes (and a dog) outside the flat in the hallway. It’s so sweet! Swedish people don’t wear shoes indoors and will of course remove them before walking in to the property. Tip: make sure you where your best socks on your flat hunt!

So 25 people walk around in their best socks in a tiny flat looking around. It doesn’t take long as you don’t have to look for damp/broken boilers/windows/mould/lack of heating etc. You just look, you know everything is in order because you are in Sweden and everything is always in order.

If you like what you see you will give your name and number to the good looking Estate Agent (they are always good looking, but then again all Swedes are good looking) and he/she will call you. Note: the estate agent will call you once not everyday for the rest of your life. They will call you to ask if you want to make an offer or follow the bidding. Its like an auction, there is a starting price and from there it goes up.

In the land of IT the price update is happening via SMS. If you want to make an offer you can do this via SMS too. When the deal is done the estate agent will do everything for you, and the vendor. No solicitor, survey, cheques or time is needed. The estate agent is your friend not your enemy. In no time you will be moving all your stuff in to your new home and live happily ever after. I’m looking forward to this.

On Sunday its time again for another day of nice socks and flat hunting.

SLUT

March 4, 2008

I’m (a) slut. Yes I am!

In Swedish slut means exhausted/over/finished/the end/closed. Me and everything else is slut, big time. Gosh I am slut.

Being back in Paradise I already miss:

Being called darling in Sainsbury’s
No one will ever call me “love” when I’m paying for loo rolls in Konsum.

Being 1 of 7500000
I’m now 1 of 100000. Everyone knows each other in Stockholm. It’s a bit strange.
I forgot that Stockholm is so small. It takes 10min on the tube from the city to my friend who lives in the suburbs.

Being the most good looking person in a country
It was very good for my self-confidence to live in England for so long. Here in Sweden, the country of babes, everyone looks just like me.

Boots
They have a pill or a cream for everything. You can go in and say: Hi I have a tummy ache and my pinky toe is hurting on my left foot, and they will have a pill for it. Amazing!

Bus 137

Clapham Common (my hood)

English TV programmes
We don’t have chavs in Sweden so “Ladette to a Lady” would never work here. And all properties are already done up to the best living standard available so no “Property ladder” either.

Home delivery of Take Aways
Doesn’t exist in Sweden. England 1 – Sweden 0.

My flat/home
It hurts so much…

My lovely, lovely neighbours
They arranged tea parties, popped a lot of champagne corks on more then one occasion and we cried together when I left. I don’t think I’ll ever have neighbours like the ones I had in No 47.

Nightclubs
Clubs in London are by far much better then the ones you will find in Sweden. Don’t be too surprised if you see me dancing on the tables in a club in South Kensington very soon, probably eating lobster too (not at the same time). It’s what I do these days of unemployment. Very naughty!

Pheasant hunting (of course)

Posh People
There are no people that can be as posh as the Brits. You are so sweet with your accents, titles, foxhunting and red trousers. I’ll never become a Lady now.

Shopping

Speaking English
It feels very weird that everyone around me is talking Swedish. I’m still talking English especially when I drink too much.

This is some of the words I’ve used in Swinglish much to the amusement of my Swedish friends:
*Skinncancer – skin cancer
*Nätgardin – net curtain (no one has net curtains in Sweden so it doesn’t really matter)
*Ockuperad – occupied; possessed, obsessed (du har ju varit ockuperad på senaste tiden)
*Ta ett annat glas [vin] – Have another glass
*Fräsch – fresh (limpan är fräsch)
*Du är välkommen – you are welcome (varsågod)
*Sätta upp – set up (Sätta upp ett företag)
*Stanna – stay (vi stannade alltid på det hotellet)

Work
On my last day at work my boss announced that the corner of the office where I used to sit will be forever Sweden.

I left England on the 29th of February. Just before I left I saw myself in the mirror standing there with a Hermès scarf around my neck, the new Louis Vuitton belt and my favourite pair of Tod’s on my feet. I thought: I am a snob, I am Swedish.