August 20, 2009

Summer in the City - Svenska

Kalmar Slott (Castle)

In my effort to catch up on all my adventures, and eventually arrive at a point where my writing is not 6 weeks behind actual events, I bring you to Sweden. I've mentioned previously my Swedish friends, a Yatzee-loving bunch who I shared my Normandy adventures with: our trip to Mont Saint-Michel, to Honfleur, and the "amazing" Bayeux Tapestry.

On Friday July 10, I left Edinburgh, bound for the city of Kalmar, where my friends study at University. The flight landed 4 hours away but such is the kindness of the Swedes that they still picked me up from the airport. Flying in over the forests and lakes, then driving late into the night while the sun remained low in the sky was an incredible experience (which I soon got over when the sun rose again at 3.30am).

The street at sunrise, 3.30am

Amanda, Thomas and Sofia had an itinerary planned for my stay, a recurring feature of which was our night-time festivities. A trip to Systembolaget was first on the list - it is the only store in Sweden where you can buy alcohol, a complete monopoly on the market (besides a few low-strength beers in the service stations). We also took in the local design culture at Ikea, where I ordered my hot dog and soft-serve ice cream in Swedish. And so began my education in the local language...

One day in Caen, I'd surprised the others by learning a phrase on the internet: Var kan jag hitta någon som talar engelska? (Where can I find someone who speaks English?) This was of course hilarious, as you would expect (?!). In Kalmar, 'speaks English' soon became 'poops', 'has a little penis', 'has navel lint', etc etc. Thomas and the other boys delighted in teaching me ridiculous words that I would innocently repeat at the expense of my pride. Unattractive people were inget att hänga i julgranen (nothing to hang on the Christmas tree) and håll käften was thrown about repeatedly.

We had a jazz brunch one morning, followed by an express tour around the town. We stopped in at the Kalmar Slott (castle) and relaxed with a glass of wine at Byttan. Sunday night was spent at the Strand bar on Öland, and we returned to the island for a road trip a couple of days later.

Road Trip on Öland


We cooked dinner together each night and even more Swedish friends joined us - Johan and Martin were our partners in crime for much of my stay and just confirmed my Swedish racial stereotypes - good-looking, friendly and a lot of fun! I even swam in the freezing Baltic Sea, if you can call a 1 minutes dip a swim. But all good things must end eventually, and luckily for me, where Kalmar ended, Gotland began.

Sweden's Ibiza, Gotland is an island popular during the Summer, and even more popular the week I was there. Of course, an Australian is always cause for a party but this was out of control. It was Stockholm Week - typified by the young rich (or the rich's young) who take Daddy's boat and sail to Gotland, where they cover themselves in champagne and dance in bikinis under mirrorballs on the deck of their boats. But I wasn't there for their company. Rebecca was my attraction, the one missing from Kalmar, who was working on Gotland.

I was met with a sign at the Visby ferry terminal, and we tore around the village in Becca's car (ok, drove slowly and sensibly). After 5 nights of parties in Kalmar, Visby was a welcome relief. We had quieter nights, played Thai dominoes and had another road trip to a different strand to lay on the beach (the water was no warmer here). We ate a traditional Swedish dinner with Becca's parents when they arrived by boat, and sat back to watch the brats disrupt the usually quiet marina. It was great to see Becca again, and meet her friends I had heard so much about in Caen.

The gorgeous Mrs and Miss Becca

Delicious Swedish shrimp salad

I left Gotland via ferry for Stockholm, where I spent one night before flying out to London. It had been just over a month since I'd seen my Swedes, but I was glad to see them again and sad to leave. With a little luck I will be back in the fall, but without a doubt I will be crashing their Christmas celebrations and hanging them on the julgranen in time for some decent snowfall.
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