About 20+ years ago I made my first visit to Stockholm. Folks immigrating here nowadays would be hard-pressed to believe what I saw then. Now, I’m not about to say it was a terrible place. Stockholm has always had its charm; even then.
There were a handful of night clubs, and the Daily News was pretty much the best of the bunch at that time (they served a great shrimp sandwich! I haven’t had one to match it sense then). If celebrities were in town, that and the old favorite Café Opera was where they would head. Seeing as Café Opera is still around, we’ll don’t have to guess who gets the management prize between them.
Seeing as my first visit occured during the tail-end of the Fall/beginning of Winter, the weather was as lovely as you think (apply full irony here folks). It was cold. As someone who had been living on Crete for about two years at the time, I was EXTRA cold. Nevertheless, I endured.
There were two, count’em, two TV channels to choose from: SVT1 and SVT2. Period. You’re probably asking yourself, “Was it as bad as I think?” No. It was worse. I literally recall a show that had classical music playing in the background which simply panned across on painting after another. I’m not making this up. If you were looking for a show in English, your best would’ve been something along the lines of Dynast, Dallas, Falcon Crest, or Twin Peaks (Yep. I’m that old. lol).
When I tired of Blake and Crystal Carrington or J.R. Ewing, Sue Ellen and the gang, my one glimmer of hope was the video store. There was no mistake in my grammar. I wrote “the video store”. In the area I was staying in (Fisksätra, for the enlightened Stockholmer), there was one video store. The videos were (and still are if you ask me) a bit pricey for my liking, but I was grateful to have some other form of entertainment besides going to coffee shops with my ex- or having the dear woman try and find as many of her English speaking friends as possible to spend time with me and keep me from becoming bored.
The video store also introduced me to particular type of new friends I would spend far too much time with: Estrella Dill Potato Chips. For those of you reading this who havn’t tried them, don’t knock them until you have. After tasting, with much hesitation, the first chip the fight was pretty much over. A large bag was needed. I went through that bag of dill chips quicker than a chainsaw through jello. (My heart and I are happy to report that I’ve since cut way back on the chips. 😉 )
Things have changed quite a bit since then, my friends. While I’m definitely no longer the night-clubbing kind, they come and go just as quick as fashionable clothing here. But, I’m glad to say there’s a benefit to this. An addition to this growth of night clubs that I’ve definitely learned to appreciate is the growing pub culture here. Hats off to the Brits and Irish who have obviously made their marks here! I may not go to night clubs any longer, but I still find the charms of a good English pub hard to resist (my favorite in particular being the Tudor Arms.
The Swedish weather is what it is, but I’ve learned to embrace a very appropriate Swedish saying: “Det finns inget dåligt väder; bara dåligt kläder”. Roughly translated, “There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad dressing/dressing poorly (as in unprepared for said weather)”. As long as I’m prepared for the weather I’m good to go. Anyone planning one making it here will learn that quick.
As far as the TV situation now, in a country with an IT brain pool like Sweden’s, a lot of whom got their educations in TV saturated countries like my lovely US of A, it was only a matter of time before the addiction was passed on (Muahahahahahaha!!!). I have more than enough TV to keep me satisfied. While it’s not, thank goodness, like the 600-channel packages I see in the States when I visit my family, it’s more than enough. Especially since my cable provider included NASN in their cable package giving me access to American College Football, the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL, and even Lacrosse if I’m desparate! 😀
As far as food, unless your head’s been buried in the sand somewhere you know that, as strange as it is, Swedish chefs have been making their mark in the world of cooking. There is WAY more than dill chips to be had here. My wife and I have more than our fair share of favorite places to eat (e.g. Caliente, Stockholms Matvarufabriken, and, of course Tudor Arms for a nice atmosphere and great pub food just to name a couple).
Another bonus to living in a country on the cutting edge of IT is the internet access. As I tend to tell my friends in other countries, this place is pretty much one big ball of copper. They find it hard to believe I have a 24Mbps ADSL connection at home that’s not so expensive I have to sell my first-born. Sweden has become the place to become net-savvy. Even the retired folks here know how to handle a mouse and hit the net. Mobile technology is no joke here either. My US counterparts have always envied my mobile phones. A sure sign of just how demanding the mobile telephone market here is is the iPhone. You can’t get it here. Oh, there are some who have it. But until it’s 3G it won’t be mass-marketed here. But when that does happen… 😉
Lastly, there’s location. Even on my first visit I noticed Stockholm didn’t lack for travel offices. That hasn’t changed. If anything there are tons more options online now. Whenever the winters get too dark (usually around the 20th of December when the sun’s coming up at 0900 and going down at 1400, and overcast the entire day), I can take advantage of living in Central Europe and find a last minute flight to a beach somewhere in Greece, Spain, France, and pretty much anywhere in Europe at a reasonable price. This is including the hotel. It’s not at all uncommon for Swedes to head to Thailand to try and get skin as golden brown as mine. In fact, I know a family who just returned (hello guys and welcome back!) 😀
Yep. Things have changed here. I’m glad to say, mostly for the better. May the “better” continue with the growth in popularity Sweden is experiencing.
Enjoy the day folks. Laterz.