Our time in Sweden is quickly coming to an end and tomorrow we will be heading to Copenhagan. Before we leave, I wanted to put together a few of my random Swedish observations.
1. Bicycles are big here in Kalmar. Everyone cycles – from the young to the old, well-dressed and casual, running errands and recreationally … most with little baskets on them for carrying things.
What impresses me even more is that the vast majority of them aren’t locked when left unattended.
It would make me smile each morning when the local retirees – often dressed in bathrobes – would start to arrive at the beach on their bicycles with a towel in the basket, for a quick swim. It appeared to be as much of a social gathering as a refreshing dip to start the day.
2. There are considerably fewer cars on the road compared to the congestion I’m used to, making driving easier and more enjoyable. Not only is there less traffic, but drivers aren’t as impatient.
In fact, I was surprised that I was being tooted at – repeatedly – while stopped at a pedestrian crossing. That was definitely not typical Swedish behaviour. Surely the car behind me could see there were people in the crosswalk. That was until Gilles pointed out that *I* was the one inadvertantly leaning on my horn. Colour me embarrassed.
3. I’ve seen my fair share of port-a-potties and out-houses in my lifetime, but the ones setup in the Ironman Village came as a surprise. I don’t think I’m a particularly short person, but the seats in these potties were high. I mean REALLY high …. enough that even my toes couldn’t touch the floor. I can’t help thinking that their model was designed for those over 6 feet tall.
4. Flag flying in Sweden is unique from anywhere I’ve visited up to now. Instead of the usual rectangular flag, virtually all of the national flags I’ve seen flying have been pennants.
I was curious enough to do some (very limited) research and apparently there are a number of *rules* associated with how and when to fly a flag, so people prefer to use the pennant-style which has no rules associated with it.
I was rather disappointed with this explanation. I was expecting more of a rogue-type reason … like a throwback to the Viking banner.
Yes, I know Vikings were from Norway and Denmark, but why shouldn’t the Swedes get in on the action too?
5. Can you guess what this vehicle is used for?
This is a mail-person doing her rounds delivering mail. She was whipping around up and down the sidewalks like a Formula One Wannabe.
I would love to see something innovative in Canada’s mail delivery. Instead, Canada Post has decided to phase out home mail delivery and move to a *self-serve* model … ie pick it up yourself at a location that may or may not be convenient for you.
6. Trying to function in a foreign language is challenging, but occasionally there are bright spots of humour that leave us giggling like adolescents. Just when I’m finally starting to learn some important basics – like kaka means cake – it’s time to leave.
7. My final thought for the day has to do with money … no, I’m not talking about how expensive it is here (which it is), but that Sweden is the closest I’ve seen yet to a cashless society.
In our entire time here, I have not witnessed a single cash transaction – from the coffee shop to the grocery store and everything in-between.
In fact, I don’t even know what the Swedish currency looks like because we haven’t had the need for any.
I’m Old School and I like having cash in my wallet. It’s been rather odd walking around the past week carrying only a credit card. I expect there will eventually be a sinking feeling when that VISA bill finally arrives.
Thanks for joining us on this leg of our Scandinavian visit. I’ve enjoyed taking you along.