Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blogging while still jet lagged is hard work…

…but here is another day in Sweden.

My plan was to get up at 8AM or so to go with Magnus to their kids’ daycare. I did wake up, but my head was swimming with fatigue, so I fell back asleep for another SIX hours. I was stunned to awake at 1:30PM.

Magnus was kind enough to drive me into downtown Gothenburg, and while he was in a meeting, I wandered through the city’s Kungsgatan shopping district.

Thoughts for the day:

1. Swedes speak English, but Sweden is not an English-speaking country. At all. I can’t wait to begin learning the language. Everyone can understand me when I speak English, but I can’t understand Swedish at all. Lina and Magnus’s little son, Adam, loves asking me questions (who painted your toes? When are you coming back?) but I can’t understand unless someone translates. A bookstore called “Akademibokhandlen” is straight forward enough, but who would have known that a cucumber is called a “gurka?”

2. Swedes are very fashionable. (See Mom? I told you so.)

3. Flip-flops are not fashionable. (Woe is me!!) Flats and trainers are. Magnus informs me that flip-flops are common in Sweden, but I guess it was not the right weather or location to be the dominant shoe of choice.

4. H&M is not terribly fashionable in this part of the world. I think it’s the equivalent to “Old Navy” or something similar. Magnus says it’s on the “cheap” side of things. I tell him it’s all the rage in America. I remember H&M being an extremely coveted brand in high school, especially before they opened stores in the U.S., and before its introduction on the west coast as well. Here in Sweden it’s just ho-hum. Probably because H&M is one of many fashion stores for young people (see pictures).

That said, I saw five H&M stores within eight blocks of each other, along with six McDonald’s, a chain which seems to be more popular than H&M, especially among young people.

5. Unlike spring in California, a 75+ degree day is no excuse to bring out your cutest skirt (and flip flops). It was a warm, muggy day, and most people walking around still had long sleeves or jackets on.

6. I packed way too many clothes. Why didn’t I listen to my mom?? There are a billion places to shop, and my clothes are all very “California.” Before I left, someone at church told me, “Why pack? Just buy everything there!!” I like that idea. Mom – can I somehow send home my 44-lb. bag for a redo?

After exploring for a bit and after dinner, Magnus and I headed to the grocery store. We drove through Gothenburg, which is a beautiful city, and Magnus pointed out lots of neat places, including a big pharmaceutical company (one of the big industries in Sweden), a theme park, and the fishing docks.

The day before Midsummer’s Eve is a big food shopping day. It’s kind of like rushing out to the store on the day before Thanksgiving to buy a can of cranberry sauce. We went to the larger ICA store, which is the size of a small K-Mart and wasn’t quite as busy, to get some food.

ICA has a BRILLIANT system for shopping. With an ICA card, you can self-scan and bag your groceries as you shop. After swiping your ICA card, you are automatically issued a scanner (see picture of Magnus), which you use to scan each product as you put it into your cart. It also automatically subtotals your groceries as you go. You also weigh all of your produce on scales and print out price tags to stick on your food and scan as well. When you’re done, you head up to the counter, hand the clerk your scanner, pay, and you’re on your way.

They also have wheels attached to their small grocery baskets, which I found amusing (and dually brilliant). Here I am pulling the basket on wheels:

Tomorrow are the big Midsummer celebrations (get the lowdown here). After shopping we picked up FIVE (!) kinds of pickled herring from Magnus’s friend who sells fish. I will give you the reviews tomorrow. ;-)

Glad Midsommar!


Sally said...

Nope, sorry, no take-backs on the 44 pounds. :-) That's a lesson we've all learned, and now you've learned it too. I will spring for an outfit or two however. (nice mom that I am.)

You're already learning Swedish! If you were here you wouldn't ever think to learn the word for cucumber.

In one of the shop windows is another word you should/will learn! "rea" means "sale" (as in on sale, på rea[lisation])

Nothing like learning by immersion. Jump right in, the water's fine.

Love the stories.
Glad midsommar back at you.

Linnea said...

Actually, I take it back. I don't regret bringing what I brought (so far), I just wish I had room for new stuff to buy!!

The rain jacket has worked VERY well so far, by the way.

Shoshana said...

Ahhh! I am so jealous of you, for two reasons:

1) you are abroad! You are experiencing all that fun and confusion and insanity!

2) You are a fabulous travel writer and I feel very insignificant next to your talent.

Your envious friend Shoshi