Tag Archives: Europe

Second class riff-raff

I went to Malmö, in southern Sweden, by train last weekend. My husband had a work trip, so I decided to tag along. However, his work paid for a first class train ticket and I bought a second-class train ticket. I’m just looking out the window anyway, so why spend extra money?

It turns out that there was a problem with the train that showed up, so my train car was a first-class car instead of second, so it turns out I got to ride in a first class car anyway. The only difference was that there was more room and you could get free oranges. Again, not really worth an extra 500 SEK in my opinion. In the “real” first class, my husband also got breakfast included, but it was about the same as you would get on an airplane – yogurt and weird bread.

I took a few photos out the window on my way. We finally had snow after not having any for the past few months, so the scenery was nice.

A friend asked me if there were any more differences between my second class car and the first class. I told her the first class car got to look at tropical beaches through their windows.

Swedish landscape through train windowSwedish landscape through train window

New Year, New Arrival

New year, new arrival! You wanted to hear from someone who just got to Sweden and here it is! Episode 8 of the podcast features Lauren, who just moved to Sweden about 6 weeks ago and is amazed by the queue system, independent children and that people here don’t steal babies!

Available on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Just type “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow.” 
Also available directly from the page:





Pay toilets

Someone today brought up how strange it is that many European countries have pay public toilets. This is something that’s always bothered me here in Sweden. I’ve been here 18 years and still think it should be a basic human right to use a toilet when you need it.

I get the reasons behind it… messy people, drug people, crazy people, etc., but when you gotta go, you gotta go!

Water is clean and free here, but not so public toilets.

When I was pregnant, I managed to make a list of all hidden and free bathrooms around Stockholm. Don’t ask me for it though. It’s of high and secret value and I can’t have all you people messing up my free bathrooms.

Svart fredag?

For several years now, here in Sweden, I’ve been seeing stores advertise for “Black Friday.” It’s not the chaos of the U.S., but more regular type sales. As far as I know, nothing opens early.

The reason that I and other Americans find Swedish “Black Friday” sales ridiculous is that there is no point behind them. In the U.S., the entire country has the day off on Thursday, which leads many to also have Friday off as well.

In Sweden, we obviously don’t have Thanksgiving, so this is a normal Monday – Friday work week. They might put up lights in the city this weekend, since it’s so dark, and most things naturally kick off around the first of Advent, which makes sense.

On Thanksgiving Thursday in the U.S., almost every business is closed. There are basically no stores open either, so everyone is crowded in a house with no options but to visit with their family. When Friday comes, people are thrilled to have an excuse to leave the house.

No one here in Sweden has a day off to shop this Friday. Not to mention that Swedish “sales” aren’t all that great. Currently at the grocery store, you can get two bags of shredded cheese for 30 SEK. What’s the price for one bag? 14.50 SEK.

Can we adopt other cultural traditions from the U.S. instead? Barbecues and snow-cone stands maybe? Real nachos with actual melted cheese?




Just because I SOUND like a caveman…

This past weekend, I took a shortcut past a brand new tram stop that had not yet opened. A very confused looking woman asked me in Swedish when the next tram was coming. I explained to her, also in Swedish, that the stop would not open until the next day, as it was a new stop for the new line. 

From her confused look, I deduced that I had once again messed up my Swedish grammar in some way. However, I’m fairly certain I got all the key words correct. “New station” “Opens tomorrow” I’m not THAT terrible at Swedish. 

It seems the problem may have been that this woman was not familiar with Stockholm and it’s transportation system. She kept insisting that she arrived at this stop a few hours ago and was trying to go back. Figuring she most likely was not a time traveler from the future, I tried to tell her that there was a different train (not tram) stop about 400 meters up the road just behind a large building. Perhaps that was where she arrived?

But because of what I can only assume must have been bad grammar ( “Different train, you go other side of building, different station.”), she did not trust my local knowledge. In a move I’ve experienced a few times before, she stared at me for a beat, then proceeded to approach another person to ask the exact same question. 

It’s so frustrating to take time to help people when they totally ignore everything you say, even if it is in a caveman-like accent. Just because I’m missing a few adjectives doesn’t mean I can’t answer your question! 

I need to find out the Swedish equivalent of “But that’s what I said!” and “I told you so!”  Otherwise, I might just practice a standard phrase in perfect Swedish and use that for any question from now on. Example: “You only need to wait here 5 minutes. Have a lovely day.”

This will be my response for all future questions, whether they are “How long until the next train?” or “Where can I find something to eat?”. People will trust my confident, perfectly-spoken answer and wait for something that will never come unless they dare to trust information from someone with an accent. 

Cavemen have feelings too!

Extinct giant cows return to Europe

They’re heiffing mad and they’re not going to take your bull any longer.


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My son encounters an Italian public toilet

Plus, it’s the woman’s toilet.



Well it’s that time of year again. Tonight is Eurovision – the song contest between 40 European countries (where Abba got its start). Last year’s winner was a bearded drag queen from Austria, so the contest will be in Vienna (it’s moved to the winner’s country each year).

CNN has a pretty funny article describing it.  http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/22/europe/eurovision-60-winning/index.html

The kids want to watch tonight so we will get popcorn and my husband and I will be sitting in back of them on the couch trying desperately to hold in our laughter. (they take it seriously)

I challenge you to do something better with your Saturday night. 🙂

image28 InCulto-from-Lithuania-re-007 lordi

Tag lines

While pre-publishing a post for next week (I’ll be on vacation) about politics and Europe, I was suggested certain tags for my post in order to publicize it. I’m still trying to figure out why the tagging suggestions were America, beer and cheese.

Not that I’m complaining, I’m just not sure what that has to do with politics and Europe. Unless of course the underlying message is, “Hey man, just come to America, eat cheese, drink beer and forget about your problems.”

I suppose that’s good political policy as well.

beercheese impeace

Act your age, not your shoe size

I just realized that the phrase “Act your age, not your shoe size” doesn’t work in Europe.

I’m a size 37.


Giving thanks for not having to cook today

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the U.S.
Happy Thursday to Europe!

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S.  This is the time when everyone meets family, eats too much, watches football and schedules wisdom teeth appointments so they don’t have to miss work or school (did this once the day before Thanksgiving – popular time at the oral surgeon’s office).  Note to others – consider how much you want to eat the Thanksgiving food before scheduling teeth surgery.

Back to the topic.

Obviously, it’s not Thanksgiving in Sweden, though they should thank us a bit because we are responsible for cranberries finally being sold in stores this time of year.

Like most Americans over here, we will be celebrating on Saturday when everyone is off work.  We order sliced turkey (I don’t have time to cook that nonsense) and make green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with praline topping, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and pecan pie.  The great thing about being the only American in the family is that Thanksgiving is all the food I like and nothing that I don’t like.  I just don’t need to tell anyone about the dishes I’m not interested in (stuffing).

The funny part is that my Swedish husband actually cooks everything.  He’s much better than I am at all these American dishes.  Sadly I can’t return this favor on Christmas Swedish meatballs.

So Happy Thanksgiving and if you aren’t American, go support the day by eating some cranberries, turkey or pumpkin.  Or basically eat anything you like, but be sure to stuff yourself until you fall asleep.



May 1

May 1 is a day of protest and change each year in Europe.  Everyone goes out with signs and gathers around town to march or protest something they believe in.

My kids asked me what this holiday is about.  I said, “People go out with signs to try to make a change.”

They asked me what change we were going to make today.

I said, “Well, we don’t have ice cream so let’s change it so we do.”

They liked that.

Time Traveling on a Friday morning

I called a number this morning while I was on the bus and left this message for a friend:

“Hello, I’m calling from Friday morning.  I hope you are having a good Thursday night. I’ll try to call again this weekend.”

In reality, I’m calling from Europe, where it is 7 am in the morning on Friday, to my friend in California – where it is 10pm Thursday night.  But to my eavesdropping fellow passengers…. I’m a time traveler from the future!  I randomly call people in the past to warn them about events that will occur 9 hours later!

I like to call my friend on New Years day each year so that I am calling to the past year.  I’ve often wondered about flying on New Year’s Eve/day at midnight.  “I stepped on the plane in Texas in the year 2012 and when I exited the plane in England, it was already 2013.”


One good thing about living in Sweden – a surprisingly small amount of bugs in the house.  No roaches!  Only fruit flies for 2 weeks of the year and maybe a small spider or two.  It’s really spoiling me for vacations in warmer countries.  In Texas this summer, it was an ant invasion.  In Italy, it was furry centipedes and a scorpion.   I think the only reason these bugs exist in warmer countries is to keep people in the north.  Otherwise it would be deserted up here.

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