Bicycles, Cake, and Currency

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.

Kalmar17

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.

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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.

Kalmar19

The normal rectangular Ironman flags flying from the Kalmar Water Tower in the background.

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?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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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.

Kalmar18

The stairs we navigated several times a day to our 2nd floor hotel room. Yes, there was an elevator, but why use an elevator when you can race up and down these cool stairs instead.

Thanks for joining us on this leg of our Scandinavian visit.  I’ve enjoyed taking you along.

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in 52 New Things, Adventure, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Bicycles, Cake, and Currency

  1. treerabold says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip!!

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  2. Hehe, leaning on the horn? 😀
    We have the same pennant-style flags here (the rules are probably the same too): you can use them all the time, but on official flag days and special occasions you use the normal flag.
    Almost a cash less society here as well, so I guess you’ll find that Sweden/Norway is basically much the same, also when it comes to the postal services.
    We have to lock our bikes though, but you’ll have to do that in Stockholm (the capitol of Sweden) too. In smaller cities around here, you don’t necessarily have to lock.

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  3. Everybody’s going awesome places except me (pouting like a petulant child). I wanna go to Sweden. Hell, I wanna go to Camden. Sigh… Jealous. Beautiful pics, though. I can live vicariously through them.

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  4. badfish says:

    I’ve been out of the loop so long…well, off line and on vacation…that I didn’t know you were in Sweden. I do now believe I remember you saying something about it long ago? I forget more than I remember these days.
    Sounds like you’re having a great time. I like the idea of not locking your bike…like the good old days when I was young–no locks on anything, including the front door of your house. No chargers! Dials on your phone. A 25 inch TV screen was huge.
    Yeah, a bit disappointing…the pennants. You’d like it to be something a little more…rogue-ish.

    Like

  5. LB says:

    Gosh, hear I am visiting you in Sweden and you are moving on! I didn’t even know you were traveling. Ai yi yi, I’m missing too much fun while campaigning. So many images to absorb here … I love the thought of everyone cycling in their bathrobes; the Skumboll (oh my!); you laying on the horn :-): and the staircase image. Wonderful!!

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad you could join us on this trip. I know you are having a busy summer of campaigning and I hope it harvests fruitful results. ok – I acknowledge that sentence was a little lame, but I’m on vacation 🙂

      Like

  6. Heyjude says:

    Have to admit to a bit of a titter over this one Jo. Although having read Maggie’s snort over tooted, maybe that’s not the best choice of words. Love, love, love the fountain – I wonder who it is of? Some Swedish hero no doubt, but it doesn’t look at all like Benny? And I am not a fan of the spiral staircases after I pulled my Achilles tendon on one. I always have to step on the widest bit. Must say I DO like your shot of it though. VERY arty!

    Enjoy København – apparently it is cheaper to buy beer from the supermarket and drink it in the park. 😉

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  7. NotAPunkRocker says:

    The Vikings openly rebelled against the flag rules and developed the pennant instead.

    Right?

    😀 Looks like an awesome trip, I would probably have to be dragged out there by force.

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  8. NancyTex says:

    Snickers Kaka and Skum Balls? OMG, I don’t know that I could keep a straight face. Actually, I know 100% I would not. Yes, I still, for the most part, share the same humour as a 12 year old boy.

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  9. So next time you know….when you go to Sweden you must take a small step ladder to use the public potties, yes? Loved the image of you leaning on the car horn and Gilles calmly pointing out that it was you. Did not love the shot of those steps….dear heaven…I could not even do those steps ever! But funniest thing has to be your acknowledgement of what’s truly important to learn about a culture…….how to say cake. Yep, typical Joanne right there. Loved this post. Love your pix!

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    • joannesisco says:

      I’ve seen learned that the port-a-potties are made in Germany. Those Germans!! 🙂

      … and I’m still a little mortified by the thought of what those pedestrians must have been thinking of me!

      Glad you enjoyed my adventures so far. We’ve safely arrived in Copenhagen and getting ready for part 2 of our trip 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Enjoyed your list Were you ever able to pronounce place names – like the one above the unlocked bike? My husband enjoys the IKEA ‘scumtops’, which must be a version of scumboll!
    Best part of travel is enjoying the differences.

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  11. I wouldn’t like to use a portapottie that’s so high! Great post. Would be lovely not to have to lock everything up.

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  12. bikerchick57 says:

    After I got over the image of you, Edith Ann, sitting on the porta-pottie seat, making kaka or some such thing…I mulled over the sight of the postal carrier, who looks like she’s driving a zamboni. That is too weird.

    Like

  13. Nancy says:

    Such a fun post! I love all the interesting little tidbits. It is funny the different things people notice when they travel. I bet someone else traveling there would have a whole different set of tidbits!

    Like

  14. I love the thought of living where one doesn’t feel a need to lock up bikes. If it didn’t get cold there, I’d consider moving. Unfortunately, we have scumballs (not skumbolls) here who would liberate an unlocked bike pretty quickly.

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    • joannesisco says:

      We have the same problem … even when bike is locked up. The insurance on our racing bikes requires us to keep them in the house. Our insurance won’t cover us even if they are left in a locked garage. That’s pretty sad.

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  15. Sounds like we Americans can learn a lot of lessons from the Swedes….but let’s stick to calling cake cake. I’m glad you are having some wonderful adventures.

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  16. I’m lying in bed, reading this on my phone while The Husband still sleeps and now my stomach aches from trying not to laugh out loud. Those cakes made me giggle like a nine-year-old. And I loved how you calmly pointed out the flags in that photo while my eyes were fixated on the bloke trying to kill the other bloke. Tough neighborhood.

    Oh, and I’d just recovered my breath when I read Maggie’s comment and nearly choked. Such funny, funny women you are. 😀

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    • joannesisco says:

      Thanks for mentioning Maggie’s comment. It didn’t show up in my notifications and I had to go looking for it! Between your comment and hers, I had a good laugh too.

      I’m glad someone noticed the fountain.
      Is it just me, or are fountains and statues normally peaceful, triumphant celebrations … not suggestions of massacre! I thought it suggested there’s a little Viking in these peaceful Swedes after all 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Sue Slaght says:

    Jo it sounds like a fabulous place. No locked bicycles, riders on bathrobes and you honking the horn willy nilly. Loved that! I was just having that post box discussion over on Jude’s site. I will miss seeing our mail man each day.
    Any news on the race?

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      I wish I had managed to catch a picture of these old guys in white bathrobes going down the street on their bikes … it would have been a keeper. Unfortunately I couldn’t predict exactly when they would show up and they always caught me unprepared.
      Yesterday my jaw dropped when I was out on the bike course watching the racers go through a nearby aid station … 2 old guys in bathrobes went calmly by on their way to the beach. Where was my camera? … in my backpack!!!

      … and yes, Gilles finished. He had a decent race considering how rough the winds were yesterday.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. [snigger] You tooted![giggle][snort]

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  19. Sammy D. says:

    Oh what a fun, fun post, Joanne. Loved your horn snafu 😀 I’d have to stretch on that port-a-potty, too! What does that mailwoman do in the midst of winter?? I bet she’s not out freezing her buns pedaling that contraption! More likely warmly snugged in the cafe eating Kaka!

    Like

    • joannesisco says:

      I was wondering the same thing about the mail-person, but we asked some people and apparently our winters are much worse than their’s. It hovers around freezing and they get snow, but not the -20 and -30 temperatures we get.
      I like the idea of sitting around a fire eating kaka on a cold winter’s day 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sammy D. says:

        Isn’t that odd (or ignorant of me)? I think of Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway as cold, cold, icy, snowy winters and darkness!! I REALLY want to go to Norway (but in the summer)! Now I’m laughing at myself because I just finished Monday’s post about being a homebody!! So much for making it to Norway!

        Like

        • joannesisco says:

          We were completely surprised too when we started asking about their winters. I’m sure it gets much colder further north though.

          I would love to go to the Far North to experience the long Arctice winter night … but mostly for the Northern Lights. I haven’t seen them since I was a teenager and I would love dearly to see them again!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sammy D. says:

            I’m surprised you don’t see the lights from Canada! We used to see the N Lights in Michigan occasionally but not here in Colorado. That is one phenomenon that doesn’t translate well into photos (IMHO). The colors come out well in photos, but it’s the in-person experience of nighttoime viewing and the way the lights tremble, shimmer and dance that gives them their mystique.

            Like

  20. Toss me a skumboll, will ya?

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  21. Lynn says:

    Great observations Joanne! Sounds like you have had some opportunities to explore a wee bit while you are there.

    Like

  22. Joe says:

    Great post and images Joanne 🙂 Count me in for the bicycles and cake and being you only use your credit card over there you can pick up the tab 🙂

    Like

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