A weekend in Sweden
Oct 15, 2005
Georg and I are going on a business trip with no business. We're delivering 200 t-shirts to a customer, but that could have been done cheaper and easier through a shipping company. What the fuck?
We meet our customer. He's a Lebanese/Swedish businessman, as un-hip-hop as possible, but the owner of a hip-hop fashion store. First thing in the morning he takes us out to a car show that he's helping to promote. The car show is in a small town well outside of Stockholm. So, I'm ironically spending my first day in Sweden, looking at this prime example of Americana: the car show - tricked out Japanese cars, tricked out American cars, and of course the car show girls. Again, what the fuck?
We leave the car show a bit early to see a bit of the country that is a bit more Swedish. Our customer had given us a ride to the show, so we had no way back to our hotel. Up for a minor-adventure, we try hitchhiking. A Swedish woman picks us up and as we get onto the freeway she starts explaining how unfriendly the Swedes are - but she's different because she's spent time outside of the country.
Our ride drops us off 8-miles from our hotel which in the center of Stockholm. We decide to walk just to see the town. What better way is there to see a city, than walking all of the way across it?
We ask directions to make sure that we're heading the right way, and most people seem shocked and disturbed that we would talk to them and ask directions. Maybe our early driver was right, and the Swedes are unfriendly people.
With time to kill, we decide to run an experiment, asking all of the very few people we see walking down the road for directions. Two people tell us that it's "Impossible" to walk there. When asked why it's impossible, they explain that it's like a 2-hour walk. Apparently, they and I have different definitions of "impossible". Two people try to dissuade, us, but do give directions. And one guy cheerily tells us that it's "no problem". Of the five Swedes we asked for directions, one of them would actually be described as friendly. So, in this immensely unscientific poll 80% of Swedes are unfriendly.
We meet with out customer back in the hotel and he treats us to dinner, and then after dinner takes us out to a club called "Chaplin's Bar". It's not at all my scene - very young, somewhat trendy, and rather unfriendly. Our customer is buying us drinks including bottles of champagne. Drinks in clubs are expensive. Drinks in Scandinavia are expensive. I suspect that bottles of champagne in the club are hundreds of dollars. This club sucks, but we don't want to offend our host who is being so nice to us, so we're stuck. Completely drunk we eventually stagger home.
On the second day, Georg and I head around Stockholm to do some sightseeing. The town is nice, but Copenhagen seems more beautiful.
I struggle with the winter days here. In Uganda, I couldn't find the sun because it was directly over my head. In Stockholm, approaching the winter, the sun starts setting at 1pm. Or to describe it more correctly, it never really came up.
Overall, it's cold. No one is smiling. The people are generally unfriendly. Why would anyone (without having a free trip) come up to Sweden as a tourist instead of, say, Asia?
Perhaps it's much nicer in the summer.
Leave a comment! I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading.
yea, what a bizarre weekend, I fully agree.
On top of what you explained: i had left my Jacket in Copenhagen and towards the evening I was pretty happy that it did not get too cold.
Do you remember the water taxi? A small ferry boat. You were amazed it was free of charge to use it, and we started a discussion about welfare and government policy.
edward - Feb 05, 2008
I agree. I have lived in Sweden for 4 years. When I walk down the street and say hello to people most just walk right by, without making eye contact. Even if I do not say hello, they walk right by and dont even acknowledge you.
Sweden is a very lonely place