Posts Tagged ‘Gothenburg’

 Today I had the accidental experience of attending Göteborgsvarvet, which is apparently “the world’s largest half marathon.” As a (former) half-marathoner, I am surprised I didn’t know this was the home of the world’s largest half! I should have had an inkling something was up when I saw a Swedish acquaintance’s Facebook post saying she was off to “toe the line.” It also suddenly makes the choice of our last book club selection make sense.

It was called “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.” I thought someone in the group must be a runner, or maybe all of them since I hadn’t actually met them in person yet. Otherwise, it seemed an odd choice for anyone who isn’t really into running. Even as a runner, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it but it was meant to be my first meeting with the group so I downloaded the Nook version. Turns out, I didn’t make it to book club, and I still haven’t finished the book. A bit anticlimactic after hearing of the main character’s actual death in the hills of New Mexico on a training run as I was just 10 days into reading it. Always a buzz kill when you know the end of the story.

My second clue came when the tram driver made an announcement. The stops are announced by automated voice so when the driver speaks, you know something’s up whether you can understand them or not. Turns out he was announcing that the tram would turn around at Centralstationen instead of continuing as normal. No biggie though, it was only one stop before my intended one so just a bit of a walk. After walking a couple minutes I saw the blocked roads, crowd and… runners! My heart did a skip. As much as I hated running, I also loved it. And I miss it.

But I digress…

So, the above was actually the second happy accident of the day. The first was at the local  Saturday outdoor market. It’s the typical sort of place where you find clothes, electronics, produce, etc. I was struggling a bit at the butcher though because the young assistant didn’t speak English at all, I didn’t speak his native language (Farsi, I presume), and obviously I’m still working on my Swedish. I’m not even sure how much of that he knew.

Anyway, after a few minutes, a lovely woman with Caribbean-accented English began to help me understand the cuts of meat they had, helped me pick one out for my stew, and even made sure I had a proper recipe in mind. She asked where I was from, then told me she was from Jamaica. She was sweet, and fairly representative of people you meet. Particularly those who are from somewhere else themselves. I guess they remember when they were new too. I didn’t want to let her go. I wanted to ask where she lived and what was her phone number, but at the risk of sounding like a crazy American, I let her slip away quietly into the crowd.

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When living in a Swedish apartment, laundry day is an interesting activity. Not exactly time-consuming as you only have a 3-hour window in which to get it all done, but that in itself seems to add unexpected pressure. I actually do like the idea because at home in my own house, it could take several days to finish laundry simply because I would start, then go out or get lost in time doing other things.

The laundry schedule board

The Plinko-style laundry schedule board

That said, doing laundry now requires a certain amount of planning. First, you have to preselect a day and 3-hour time block in which you plan to wash. At home, I just did it on the fly when the laundry basket piled too high. Miss your window and good luck finding an empty block to reschedule. There definitely won’t be one the same day (unless you want to go at midnight), and most likely you’re looking at another two weeks out.

This being my first laundry day, we chose a reasonable time on Sunday morning (10:00 – 13:00). Can you find my lock on today’s date? Anyway, once inside, you have two, which I discovered was actually three, washing machines and one dryer. What?? I know right, only ONE dryer for three loads of wet clothes? Ah, but the Swedish apartment building has a secret inside… We’ll get to that in a moment. So, on first intro to the laundry room, E tells me there are two washers and two dryers. Ok, sounds like enough since we have the room to ourselves for three hours.

He attempts to help me understand the Swedish diagrams and text to select water temperature and wash programs. He puts the soap powder in one of the top slots; neither one of us really sure if it’s the correct slot or not. Mind you, he’s just moved to this building as well and as such, is also unfamiliar with these particular machines. That’s the only slack I’m going to allow him because I figure he should still be ahead of me on figuring this stuff out. The poster on the wall only explains how to use the dryer. So, he’s off to run an errand, leaving me to face these formidable front-loading foes alone.

Not to be deterred, I stand there watching the machines spin, wondering when the heck the windows will get soapy and certain he put the powder in the wrong slot. Our clothes will go through the final rinse cycle with soap, I fear. After standing there for five or so minutes, I decide it’s safe to leave. When I return some 40 minutes later to move the clothes to the dryer, I discover that “dryer 2” is actually “washer 3.” I was watching the water flow into the side trough as the washers finished their spin cycles and realized there were three sets of pipes, not 2, coming from the wall. BING, light bulb moment: this is a washer too! I hope the guy from the time block before me didn’t notice me taking the clothes from a finished washer and putting them into the “dryer” as he came to retrieve his final batch of drying clothes. I had also used the wait time to look up the operating instructions online. Fortunately, the maker of the machines is in the UK and the instructions were in English. We did use (sort of) the correct soap dispenser in two of the three machines.

OK, so washer/dryer sorted out. Now, how the heck do I dry all of these clothes in one little dryer? Enter The Drying Room! I have no idea what it’s actually called, but that name seems to make the most sense to me. When the previous time block guy came in, he opened this door, from which I’d been hearing a loud blowing noise. Now, I discovered, this is where you hang your clothes and set the timer on the wall for 1-4 hours. It’s basically a dry sauna for your clothes..or a wet one for you if you stay in there long enough. There are two of these rooms, and unlike everything else where you have a personal key; on these you take the key with you while you’re using it, then leave it in the door when you’re done. Fascinating concept indeed. Almost made doing laundry fun. It certainly made it interesting. But, our three hours up, we had to leave with a few damp items.

Lessons Learned

  1. Schedule laundry day no more than two weeks apart so as not to have so much to do at once.
  2. Separate differently. This is not just about colors and whites anymore, will have to also pre-plan what items go in the dryer and what items hang in the room. I’m thinking heavier items like denim, towels, sheets go to the dryer.
  3. Don’t miss your day!
Grocery Store Finds

Swedish Grocery Store Finds (Photo credit: BohemianDolls)

 

I bought groceries today, my second day in the city. I am glad to see many familiar items, mainly in the produce section, although I do want to learn the Swedish words for them. The rest of the store is a bit of a mystery as I really have to take time to figure out what the packages are saying, and goodness knows when I will be able to read the directions on the labels.

 

Anyway, I quickly learned why everyone without a car travels with either a wheeled suitcase, or shoppingsväska. I opted for the latter because I think it’s too much trouble to lay down, zip/unzip/dig into a suitcase all the time, plus, I wanted to feel less like a traveler and more like part of the culture.

The shoppingsväska (shopping suitcase) is a wheeled cart with a large bag attached. Mine is made of canvas and  the bag slides over the handle so you can use just the cart if need be, or toss the bag in the wash, I suppose. Others might have a bag made of plastic-coated nylon. I can just drop my purchases inside and go.

If I think I might buy anything, I won’t go out the door without it. E teases me that I’ve created a new culture because traditionally only old women used the carts. It doesn’t seem that way from my observation, but even if so, he sure hasn’t minded using it himself!