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Weekend in Southern Sweden


I spent the first weekend in July in southern Sweden, one of my fave places on the planet. I was working in London for a couple weeks, so I took the weekend in between to come see my friend Philip in Lund. As per usual, summer in Sweden was incredible.

My first attempt at speaking Swedish again in the wild was total fail, at helping a dude at the Lund train station buy a ticket from Helsingborg to Halmstad which didn’t even work (but to my delight I at least figured out what he was asking me, and responded in semi-Swedish).

I boarded the wrong bus because Lund is so familiar to me that I don’t even pay attention trying to navigate it. I waited at Botulfsplatsen for the opposite bus near these buildings which didn’t exist last time I was here.

My first night in Sweden was so typisk it almost felt like I’d never left at all. We pre-fested with Philip’s friend, Björn, #obviously. They tried to feed me red wine champagne without telling me what it was, but it’s a bit hard to slip that one past. Then we went to a party of a guy named Henrik, who I didn’t know, but a different Henrik I did know was there as well #EveryoneIsNamedHenrik.

Afterwards, we went to Björn’s apartment where he fed us his homemade ~*~bacon dip~*~ (Americans, take note here).

The next morning I awoke to this:

Yay Swedish interiors:

Daytime means time to go find yourself some local strawberries and sit outside:

In my familiar, lovely spot in the Botaniska:

Others avoided the shade and worked on their tans:


Toilets, because why not:

Obviously, grilling for dinner:

#Haloumi & ananas:

A few weeks ago, I rescued some friends of friends of friends, three Swedes misfortunate enough to be traveling in San Francisco the week of Pride without booking a hostel in advance. My San Francisco apartment, woefully underused, became their crashpad for 3 days and in return, they told me I could hang out in their Malmö apartment when I was in Sweden. Malmö is just ten minutes by train from Lund but I’d never had the opportunity to hang there much, so this was clearly destiny. Major props to Polly for helping this destiny fall into place.

We arrived at their Malmö apartment Saturday night, hung out in the neighborhood (called Möllan, a great neighborhood) — went to the pub literally downstairs, then wandered through Folkets Park to hit up Debaser. The whole park is lined with bars and clubs and partying outdoors. Perfect summer vibe.

The club kicked people out around 3 AM, so I went back to watch the sunrise on the apartment’s balcony, various people walking home on the street below, and neighbors across the street awake watching TV at 4 AM, (who woke up bright & early just to blast Robin Thicke to the entire neighborhood).


In the daylight Melanie & Calle’s apartment became wonderfully photogenic.

I am ever impressed by their ability to keep a jungle of plants alive (also, a stuffed bird, though not alive!)



That day we wandered around Malmö which seemed oddly empty and there was nothing to eat (all the restaurants opened at 2 PM, it was earlier than that and we were hungry). We did stumble into this, though #swedishgenderroles:

Turns out, everyone was at the beach, which was packed like Dolo on a warm San Francisco day. We sat on the pier out in the water, with great views of the Öresund bridge, the Ribersborgs Bath House (which is really awesome, btw), and the Turning Torso.


It was warm enough to swim, but I wasn’t about to jump in the water and be all soggy for my flight back to London. Oh well.


And with that, my yearly pilgrimage to Sweden was complete. The biggest discovery of this trip was that as a non-student now, Malmö makes a lot more sense / appeals to me more than ever before (and more than Lund now, in fact). Also, plastic eating utensils on male mannequins.


Springtime in Sweden


Never have I been so happy (or surprised!) for spring.

Sweden in the spring is magical. (Allegedly, summer is even better, but I won’t be able to report on that.)

In the last two to three weeks, the sun has come out, the trees have blossomed, the weather has warmed up to a balmy 20 degrees…and most importantly, everyone has gone into permanent spring picnic mode.

Every piece of grass or bench or seat outside in Stortorget is covered with PEOPLE. If it’s the weekend, they’re sitting in the park, drinking (see: Valborg, this Saturday), otherwise they’re just sitting outside. On big rocks, overlooking Stockholm, until 9 PM when it finally starts to think about getting dark.

It has become our full-time job to enjoy the weather.

Actually, I totally forgot spring was coming.

It’s not that the winter in Skåne was even that bad. Since January, it was consistently 0 degrees and grey — not that cold, by my standards. I never even used my heaviest jacket once. But when I arrived, everything was covered in grey ice, the sky was grey, the sun set at 4 PM, and it never even got totally light out.

I got so used to the consistently dreary weather (2.5 months straight of exactly the same weather?) that spring seemed like something that only happens in other countries, like SUVs, carpeting, and hip-hop.

But then it happened, almost overnight. All term, I’ve had Swedish class from 5-7:30 PM — it used to be dark long before I even walked to class. Suddenly, now it’s light for hours after I come home.

The whole country is in SUCH A GOOD MOOD.

And oh man, the grilling. It’s been going on for WEEKS. Grilling is big here. Like, constant 4th of July-mode level big.

(Actually, I think we jumped the gun on the grilling a little bit — it was an odd experience to stand around in the light at 8 PM, grilling a pineapple, in my winter coat.)

(Yes, you can grill pineapples.)

It’s no accident that Easter break is happening now, followed a week later by Valborg. After 9 months of winter, we have earned the right to enjoy the weather.

As my friend Polly says, “I now understand why ancient cultures worshipped the sun.”

The sun is here and it’s time to celebrate.

I think spring celebration is something I was missing out on in the US. I mean, we occasionally would sit on the quad, and I remember quite a few pleasant warm evenings eating pizza on apartment balconies, feet up. But Japan has hanami, Sweden has Valborg… I am missing the American equivalent here.

Then again, maybe it’s because Illinois has exactly 1.5 days of good weather before we go into hot&humid or tornado mode, or maybe it’s because spending more than an hour outside means my allergies will cause my immune system to self-destruct.

Point is, byebye seasonal affective disorder, hello a month straight of chilling outside. The music festival Popadelica wrote in a recent Facebook status, “Förresten, sa vi att vi bokat solen till Popadelica 2011 också? Det har vi.” (“Btw, did we mention we’ve booked the sun for Popadelica 2011? Well we did.”) NICE.

Only bummed that I’m leaving too soon for midsommar and the midnight sun…



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Regular Ordinary Swedish Haircut Time


Last Thursday, in order to celebrate a quarter-year spent in Sweden, the coming of spring, and my general aversion to having a lot of hair, I decided to go on a haircutting adventure.

I bought a couple hair magazines, looking for short, Swedish-looking styles, and the one that kept recurring was some variety of this Robyn look. Or this one. Sounds good, I thought.

No one I knew had any salon recommendations in Lund, so I sort of randomly chose Klipphuset downtown.

My hairdresser was a middle-aged woman who really didn’t speak English (everyone in Lund speaks perfect English…except for my hairdresser!) So, the number of ways I could describe what I wanted was rather limited. I could basically say:

– I want it very different
– I want it like these pictures
– I am sick of having lots of hair

She was very skeptical of my haircut desires. She kept being like “your hair is so thick, it will end up SO short and SO manly…”

She then tried to get me to pick a different hairstyle and I kind of sat there awkwardly for a while, not choosing one. She was like “Do you want to think about it and come back?” At which point I said something to the effect of “No. I want a haircut now, short is ok and manly is ok.” And then she sighed and said “Okay, well, we’ll try.”

Then, halfway through the haircut, she started getting really into it, and was all, “what if we do this side really short and leave this side long, it’ll be asymmetrical!” Oh, NOW you get into it?! Well, whatever, I think she succeeded.

And +1 language accomplishment — definitely one of the first times I felt like “Phew, good thing I’ve been vaguely learning Swedish for the past three months.”


(apologies for inconsistency of mirror vs. non-mirror pics)


With straightening

Action shot with Jennifer!

And, when necessary: