Tag Archives: Stockholm

Champagne Hike

Saw this event being advertised for tomorrow. Yeah, I think the photo is pretty accurate.

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Günters

I finally got to visit a Stockholm institution last week – Günters hot dog stand. I’ve heard rumors over the years about the amazing hot dogs and the owner who is very strict with how you order.  Though I was frightened of making a mistake (very similar to the Seinfeld ‘Soup Nazi’ episode), everything went fine and I have to admit, it was an amazing hot dog.

There’s always a long line, so you can’t be in a hurry, but it’s worth it! Remember, it’s only one guy running the stand and he makes them fresh. He’s not all that into chit-chat or customer service, but he will make you an amazing hot dog with toasted baguette bun (you don’t get a choice on that). Know what you want to order when you get up there and then step aside!

I looked up reviews from a few other people about the place. Here are a few excerpts:

I cry a little every time I eat any hotdog that isn’t from Günters

If left stranded on a desert island and I had to choose between 100 big macs or just one Gunters krauker wurst + sauerkraut korv I would pick the sausage.

It felt just like your were standing in line at the Soup-nazi-stand in Seinfeld:-)
Me and my wife stood in line and the guy in the stand just screamed – NEXT!
He handled like four five orders at the time and didn’t care if there were two or twenty people in line. He just had his own pace.

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Meet Magneto! Or… not.

I saw this ad today for an event coming up in Stockholm. I thought “oh! I can meet Ian McKellen!”

But no. I read it wrong.

I feel like this company is going to have a bunch of disappointed X-Men fans showing up at their business event.

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NOT ACCEPTABLE!

Some friends and I went to a restaurant here in Stockholm the other night and ordered a margarita. These are the margaritas we received. Fork and eyeglasses for scale.

tiny Swedish margaritas

tiny Swedish margaritas

Let me show you the average margarita in the U.S. Now THIS is how a margarita should be!

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Big ‘ol Texas margarita

And by the way, what’s up with the burnt, blackened limes they put in the Swedish margaritas? This is the second time this has happened at 2 different places. Did they just shrivel up because it’s winter?

Fast Food Coma

I waved my kids off at the airport this morning and went immediately to both KFC and Pizza Hut, as they were in the area. Of course, I had to grocery shop first because these crazy Swedes don’t eat fried chicken at 9am in the morning. (Just wait until they discover fried chicken and waffles.)

I just ate a small snack at KFC to try it out (first one in Stockholm) and I put the pizza box on the passenger seat and turned the seat warmer to HIGH! It worked great!

As I rarely eat fast food these days, I of course fell into a fast food coma for the afternoon. But I’m awake again and ready to tackle the leftover slices in the fridge tomorrow!

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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:

https://iceandsnow.se/podcast/8-new-year-new-arrival

Spotify

 

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Gingerbread contest

Every year at the Architecture Museum in Stockhom, they hold a gingerbread house making contest during the month of December. There are different categories for professionals, teams, and amateurs. Each year has a theme (this year’s was “luxury”), and everyone votes on the best in each category.

I took the kids to see the entries. Here are a few:

This inspired us to go home and make our own “luxury” gingerbread house. Here is the result of our efforts:

Gingerbread house and hot tub

Bob comes home from his job at the bank to find his wife Barbara in the hot tub. Notice that the hot tub is almost the same size as the house. Also, their house is made of gingerbread. Luxury!

 

 

Booze Cruise

We took a short trip to Tallinn, Estonia this week on what some people call a “Booze cruise.” In Stockholm, there are several short trips you can take by ship to Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga. It’s 2 nights on the ship and one day in the city. The best part is that it’s insanely cheap! How is it so cheap?

They make all their money off the Duty Free shop!

While my family and I take advantage of these great deals to visit another city, there are many people in Sweden who simply go on these cruises to stock up on cheap alcohol.

For those who don’t know, the only place to buy alcohol in Sweden is at the government run Systembolaget stores. I think this is a great system, but that’s for another post. The reason why this is significant for this post is because the prices are a bit expensive. So people go on these cruises and stock up on alcohol once they get far enough out to sea, bringing it back in little trolley carts.

I snapped a few photos when we were disembarking this morning in Stockholm:

Our family, on the other hand, does everything we can to avoid buying anything on the ship. We brought our own food to eat in the cabin both ways, because the other way this ship makes money is from the overpriced restaurants. And when you are a family of 4, that can get very expensive.  We were quite happy with our meats and cheeses (with a glass of wine in a plastic bathroom cup for the adults).

It was a successful and cheap vacation. The only things that cost for us were lunch in Tallinn and the furry Russian hat my son wanted to buy.  Not bad!

The little plane that could

As I mentioned before, my husband and I took a 4-day long anniversary trip to Italy this past weekend. With only 4 days, we wanted every minute to count, which turned out to be a problem when the Italians decided to strike at the Rome airport. Our plane was delayed 3 hours until they could confirm landing clearance, so we were given vouchers for food (that worked in every restaurant except the specific one we went to, of course), and boarded our plane later in the afternoon.

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Once the plane finished boarding and the doors were closed, it needed to be de-iced. The de-icing truck began to do its job and then ran out of de-icing liquid. We had to wait 20 minutes for another de-icing truck.

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Finally, the de-icing was complete and it was time for the plane to be pushed back from the gate. We slowly moved backwards and then stopped after just a few feet. The truck pushing the plane broke down and we had to wait 20 minutes for a replacement truck.

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The flight went smoothly after all the delays and we landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport … only to wait on the tarmac an additional 20 minutes because of a plane in front of us.

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Nordic gardens

There is an event taking place in March, here in Sweden, called “Nordic Gardens.” This is what I picture:

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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.

It’s melting!

The snow is melting today and it’s just a big slush of muddy roads and giant slabs of ice falling from roofs. I think most people here who claim they hate the snow don’t really hate the snow, they hate what’s going to happen because they know that eventually it will get melty and slushy, which I agree is no fun.

I think people would like it more if slush days were declared days off.  When it ices over in Texas, most people get the day off school or work because it’s dangerous to drive with no winter tires. Well, when melting snow is making ice fall from the roofs, we should all get the day off work here and stay inside as well.

It’s actually quite dangerous with the snow falling from roofs, and many sidewalks are blocked off so that people don’t get hurt. All the more reason to order people to stay inside today.  Can we just have this one thing? I mean, we don’t have sun for 5 months a year, so maybe a few days off on the nastiest days? I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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foto: DN

 

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!

Air raid / get to know your neighbors

We’ve just arrived home after 3 weeks vacation to a city that is mostly empty, as Swedes generally take the month of July off. I was wondering how many people were left in our apartment building yesterday and happened to get my questioned answered about 10pm last night when the city’s air raid sirens suddenly went off.

Stockholm has air raid/emergency sirens that are tested every 3 months at 3pm on a Monday. My 43-year old husband has NEVER heard the air raid sirens at any other time than that during his entire life and I would think most Stockholmers have not either.

So imagine how completely freaked out the entire city was last night when the air raid sirens started to sound around 10pm. Every person at home in our building and the one across from us immediately came out from their balconies to look at the sky. Then everyone started shouting to each other from balcony to balcony and across the courtyard “What’s happening?” “Do you know what it is?” “Are they saying anything on the news?” etc.

And during this time of possible obliteration, I had 2 thoughts:

  1. Why didn’t we come back home from our trip a day later?
  2. I think this is the first time I’ve heard neighbors speak to one another in this building. It’s kind of nice!

Apparently it was some sort of technical fault, so luckily we can all continue to enjoy the summer if we made it through the panic attacks last night.

On a side note, our kids who were reading in bed never asked about or mentioned the blaring air raid siren. Glad to know it’s not just parent voices that they are able to completely tune out.

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Christmas in Sweden – St. Lucia

December 13, St. Lucia day

Today begins early in the morning when it’s still dark. A girl dresses up as a dead Italian saint with fire on her head followed by “tärnor” (like Lucia maidens – no fire on head) and “stjärngossar (star boys who wear white pointy hats, I have no idea why) singing Christmas songs.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 11.55.27.pngIt’s a celebration of light in the darkness of winter. Young children wear electric candles on their head, but above age 12, they wear real candles. Yes, the wax drips down as the ceremony usually lasts 30 minutes to an hour. They have a light covering on their hair, but most Lucias have long hair and it still falls into the bottom parts.

The outfit Lucia wears is for an Italian saint who brought food in secret tunnels to persecuted Christians. She wore candles on her head to see in the tunnel. The red sash represents blood, as she was sentenced to death and they tried to stab her (apparently didn’t work). They also tried to set her on fire, which is why everyone carries candles (also didn’t work). These days the candles mostly represent the light she brings.

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One of my sons had three Lucia performances over the weekend and has two more today. My husband had the job of being class parent for one of the concerts, which means he had to stand to the side during the performance with a bucket of water in case anyone caught fire.

So much more exciting than just being a chaperone at a school dance, I think.

 

In the latest Hipster Cat vs. Badger news…

This article was in The Local.

My question (besides why I never get to see these badgers and beavers that apparently walk all over town ) is, how did they know the cat was a hipster?

Does it have very long fur and not bathe? Does it wear a 1940s hat? Is it a vegan?

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Fruitopia

We seem to be having an early season for apples and other fruits here in the Stockholm area, and I’m lucky enough to live in a place that used to be a fruit orchard at some far point back in time. Or maybe it was a dump where lazy people threw out rotten apple cores and plum seeds. Whichever it is, it’s paying off now! Earlier this season the cherry trees were full of fruit, and now we’ve moved on to apples and plums. I’m also lucky to have young, eager climbers to get up and reach the good apples. The freezer is full of pies, breads and muffins.

And if I’m not in the mood to search around, people in my neighborhood who have an abundance of apples and plums from their trees often put out baskets for anyone to take extra. Just walking for ten minutes, I passed seven baskets of fruit (and came home with two bags full, while still leaving plenty for other people).

I was thinking how this wouldn’t work in the area of Texas where I grew up. People would probably just steal the basket.

However, people do have the neighborly, sharing spirit there, just in other ways. Instead of fruit, people put their old couches and televisions out on the curb. It’s understood that anything on the curb is free to take. Once or twice when one of my parents would put something like that out on our curb, I would hide near the window to see how long it would take until someone took it. I never had to wait more than five minutes.

Meanwhile in Sweden, I have this bike I bought for about five dollars that I hate and I can’t get anyone to steal it! There’s no lock on it and it’s out in front of the building. I know I need to take it to the dump, but that requires loading it into the car, which requires muscles and time. I have a limited amount of both.

Maybe if I put the bike in a giant basket and hang some apples from it, someone will get the idea. It’s worth a try.

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Badgers!

This sign was just put up next to our building. Badgers! Yes! I’m keeping a lookout but I haven’t seen any yet. Thought I saw one from my balcony the other day but I didn’t have my glasses on and it turns out it was a small kid with an animal hat.

They keep claiming there are beavers all over too, but I haven’t seen those either. People get attacked by them apparently and I can’t even get a glimpse! Maybe I’ll have better luck with these badgers.

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Boot blades

If they can invent shoes where you can pop out wheels to roller skate, why can’t they invent winter boots where you can pop out blades to ice skate? It would be so much more useful in my neighborhood.

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Winter scores

I had a spectacular fall on the ice yesterday. I’m talking a full-out comedy banana peel-type fall landing horizontally on the ice. The only thing missing was the Benny Hill theme as background music.

It’s mid-January and so far the score is Winter – 2, Heather -0, unless a defeat against winter would be a day I haven’t had to go outside but worn pajamas all day indoors drinking hot chocolate. Then the score is Winter – 2, Heather – 1.

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