The Art Of Fika 101
Pay attention young Grasshopper, it's really quite simple:
When the clock strikes 3:00, take the hand of your favorite coffee-companion and head out to your favorite café.
Quietly enter, stake your claim to a table then while standing in line, tease your soul by perusing the display case of tasty delights. When the young woman behind the counter asks what you two have selected, tell her in a calm voice and watch as she gently removes your treats from the shelf and places them on your tray, but don't touch them yet. Even though they sing the Siren's song to you, without a coffee (or Chai Tea) they're simply not ready to be devoured. Now, pay the young woman, lift your tray and take it to the table where your famished Fika-friend awaits your arrival.
Sit down and gently place each item in their appropriate spot, look into the eyes of your patient partner and begin your Fika!
"Fika" is simply the term for coffee-break but here in Göteborg it takes on a whole new, almost religious, meaning. It's an experience everyone should have and Brogyllens on Södra Hamngatan is a wonderful place to have it.
- Food and Dining
Drink coffee, and lots of it! Sweden has the dubious distinction of being known as the country with the highest coffee consumption per capita in the world, and Göteborg is no exception. Coffee flows like wine here, and the Swedish brand Zoegas is a popular choice. My favorites were the Dark Roast (green package) and the 100% Columbian (black package). Strange, but even though I drank enough to help Zoegas stock rise 2.5 points, I still found that by 11:00pm I was exhausted. It's no wonder they drink so much coffee here; without it, the 'sea-sleepyness' wouldn't let them get anything done.
- Food and Dining
In Göteborg it is possible to enjoy small town atmosphere, green woods and salty waters without having to travel far. The lively old working class quarters Haga a five minute walk from the city centre, takes the visitor right back to the old times, with its picturesque surroundings. The service is personal in the small antique shops and cafés.
There are many small, good restaurants with everything from good old home cooking to exotic food. Göteborg is also famous for its small cosy cafes.
Swedish semantics antics...
I know it's difficult to find a good course on the net, but do try to learn at least a little Swedish before your trip. It not only shows respect for their culture, but will make things a little easier for you should you run into someone who perhaps doesn't speak your language. I was in one of the many curious little shops on Haga Nygata, and in line was an American asking the saleswoman 'How much is that in real money?' Well, being that I don't have a complete command of the Swedish language, I'm afraid I missed most of the answer, but the term 'hynda' was used, which of course caused my friend to laugh out loud hysterically.
The most complete free course on Swedish that I've been able to locate on the net is Björn Engdahl's , so I've included his website here for you take a peek at.
Swedish 101 primer:
Hi - Hej! (hey)
How are you? - Hur mår du? (hewr mawr dew)
Can you help me? - Kan du hjälpa mig? (can dew yelpa may)
Where is the toilet? - Var är toaletten? (vahr ay too-aletten)
Excellent! - Utmärkt! (ewtmerkt)
Thank you! - Tack! (tack)
What more could you need? ;o)
Accepting one's fate...
One thing to remember is that, except for in certain Opera's, the Vikings never wore helmets such as these. They actually wore more of a skull cap with some sort of partial face shield. I mean really,...would you run screaming for your life in the opposite direction if a hoard of these 'horny' beauties were coming at you full speed? I'd probably just strip down and welcome them with open arms. So remember; unless you want to spend every night here alone, leave that fuzzy blue and yellow fleece Viking hat you bought at the Duty Free in your backpack. The only people who think that it looks cool are the clowns who manufactured it, and they're 5000 miles away in Asia.
Oh, one more thing. Thanx to fellow VT member Maline's passport quote, I'm reminded that the phrase: "Don't mess with me" is VERY IMPORTANT to heed when/if spoken. Although a funloving people, you can only push a Swede so far, so when/if you ever hear these words, realize that they are now annoyed and you'd better back off mister. Trust me on this. ;o)
It's better at Landvetter...
After landing at Landvetter I found that the "self restraint" I had been practicing just couldn't be done anylonger, so after that "välkommen puss" that we all love to receive once landed, I quickly sought out the nearest public toilet. Upon entering I noticed a woman changing her child beside the sink, and a young girl emerging from a stall. I quickly turned around to leave in embarrassement, (I am Canadian after all) then immediately noticed urinal's on the wall. So, with a shrug of my shoulders I entered one of the stalls, and did my thing. When I left, I asked my friend about this, only to be stared at with a blank look and a "ja,ja,...so?": alright, my 1st lesson in Swedish culture; public toilets are exactly that: public.
Now, my 2nd lesson in Swedish culture: A couple of days later, she took me to Göta's; a great little pub/restaurant on Mariagaten, and after a few Spendrups', I finally had to make a similar trip. So,...my cultural tip for you? (and I quote)
"Read the damn signs on the doors!"
Not all public toilets in Göteborg are completely public.
All right,...'nuff said.
A little bit of Volvo in every car
Here's something interesting we learned at the Volvo safety center: Volvo was the first automobile manufacturer to use the three-point safety belt. They also did not patent their invention. Why? So other car makers would use the design, and therefore drivers and passengers would be safer no matter which car you were driving.
If you need the loo anywhere, it can be found easily, but it costs 5kn per entry. Just prepare 5Kn coins just in case you need the loo, cos they are coin operated self service ones.
Even toilets in MacDonalds is coin-operated at 5Kn per entry.
- Family Travel
When you go to a restaurant for a meal, there will be a counter manned by one person to deposit your jackets. It costs 15Kn per piece. It is kinda "compulsory" to deposit the jacket. Perhaps, it's just another money earning opportunity...
Remove everything from the pockets of your jacket. I saw a small sign stating that they do not take responsibility for anything been lost.
- Family Travel
Famous For Their "Long" Legs?
I guess this could be considered more of an "observation" than a "custom", but I noticed that almost everything in a Swede's flat is built upon tiny legs. I noticed this most in the bathroom with the bathtub. Now, I'm not talking about the old-fashioned "clawfoot" tubs here; a Swede's tub looks like ours but don't seem to ever be "built in" as they are here in North America. Instead, they sit in the corner standing atop tiny little adjustable legs, and some people even cover these legs with little foam-rubber shoes. Who says Swedes don't have a sense of humour?
Another thing I noticed is that it seems in the corner of everyone's bathroom stands a long-handled rubber squeegee and in the center of the tiled floor there is a little drain. I've never seen this except for in Sweden (and public washrooms) and since you're not allowed to wear shoes in the flat, I was terribly worried that I'd catch my toe in there while squeegee'ing the water I had spilled during my shower.
I have small toes.
Blame my mother.
I'm sure many of you know by now that Göteborg is famous for being the birthplace of so many Internationaly popular exports, such as Hasselblad cameras, Volvo passenger cars, SKF ballbearings and those ice-cream vendors turned pop stars; Ace of Base, but Does Your Mother Know, Fernando, that one of Sweden's most famous sons, Björn Ulvaeus of yes you guessed it; ABBA fame, was born here in 1945?
Well,...it's true, Waterloo.
I can see it now when he heads for that giant Disco dance-floor in the sky; right in the center of Gustav Adolfs Torg, beside the majestic, classical bronze of the city's founder, will stand a 10 meter high, pink and cream spandex covered likeness of Björn depicting what he did best.
I think I should visit again before that happens, you know what I mean Dancing Queen? I do, I do, I do, I do, I do!
Fork in the left,...always.
Always remember that in Göteborg, as in the rest of Scandinavia and Europe, when sitting down for dinner with your fork in your left and knife in your right, do not put down the knife, switch hands mid swing, and place the fork in your right to take a bite of the sweet morsel of Sill. The entire table will stop and stare as if you've suddenly taken off your socks and started eating with your feet. So,...if you keep it in the left my friend there'll be a lot less questions like: "Where you born in a Barn?" or "Where you raised by Monkeys?" to answer.
- Food and Dining
Dispelling Swedish Social Myths
Okedoke, we all know the rumour that Swedes are cold and unapproachable but I'm here to tell you that this is merely gossip, probably started by their jealous, less attractive neighbors to the South.
Believe it or not, Swedes are an extremely social people so scattered literally everywhere in Göteborg are picnic tables with either benches or chairs for everyone to use, and this is where I met quite a few people simply by sitting down with a coffee. Yes, it's true; most people in Göteborg walk around expressionless, but the minute you say "Hej" their faces light up with a giant smile and they become most pleasant to talk with.
My suggestion for making friends while in Göteborg? Make the first move. You'll be very glad you did. ;o)
Sniff & snuff
Ok, this makes you a real swedish !!! What you can see in the pic is just a nice box ... it could contain candies ... but actually it does not ... at all !!!
This is tobacco ... and not to smoke, to "eat" ... ok, better, to keep into the mouth and taste; no problem, when you're bored you can put it out ....
So I bought this andI was extremely sure I can try ... but believe me, after one week I didn't dare to do it :-)
Where to get wine & friends
Wine and alcoholic drinks are not available for purchasing in supermarket ... the only way to get them is to enter these shops: Systembolaget !!!
It could be crowded ... and therefore you can try to get some new friends while queueing at the cash.
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