Tag Archives: Malmö

The art of queuing

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When I arrived here in Sweden, I was warned about a number of things. To be punctual, for example (which, for me, is a total nightmare). To take off my shoes whenever I was visiting someone at their home. To be “lagom”, i.e. not to try to be better than anybody else. Last February, The Local, a Swedish news site in English, published a list of 20 things any foreigner should know before moving to Sweden, and I found myself smiling and nodding over more than one thing.

There was one phenomenon, however, I hadn’t really experienced: the Swedish art of queuing.

I was told the Swedes are patient, and usually await their turn calmly, in a queue. To get on the bus, for example, they form a queue along the bus, waiting to get on. Anywhere else, however, there were only very little queues to be spotted. The reason is very simple: there are numbers everywhere.

You go to the bank? You take a number. You want to buy a train ticket? You take a number. You go to the butcher’s? You take a number. You call a help line? You get a number!

But last Saturday, I was finally able to witness the queuing in its glorious perfection.

Picknick tables on the street at Malmöfestivalen.

Currently, in Malmö, there is the Malmöfestivalen, a free open-air music festival. Apart from the big stages on almost every square, lining the streets are of course stalls with jewelry, clothes, and naturally – food. Now it happens, especially around dinner time, there’s a lot of people wanting to take something out at the same time. We have a similar (although obviously bigger and better) festival in my home town each summer, and it is always a challenge to get the attention of whoever is running the food stall and actually get your food.

Not in Sweden.

In Sweden, people queue.

There’s a gazillion people on the street, pushing to get through, but when it comes to getting the food, they all queue.

And they don’t just queue. Oh no. They queue parallel. Like such:

(Forgive my drawing skills – they have not yet reached the costume making-level…)

I tried to take a pretty picture of it, but it didn’t work out on camera at all, so you’ll have to do with the drawing. Believe me when I say it looked amazingly funny.

I later mentioned this to some Swedes at work, and they nodded seriously in response: “It is sometimes hard, though, when there are only 3 or 4 people, do you already start a queue, or not? And which direction? But there seems to be a common intelligence, and fortunately, it always works out.”

Most fortunately, indeed. Because what on earth would they do if no queue were formed, right?

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How (not) to go to the sauna – revisited

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Remember this?

This is Malmö’s kallbadhuset, a sauna-and-bath complex located at the end of a 200m-long pier. Last December, a friend and I thought it would be a neat idea to go to the sauna – it was the middle of winter in Sweden of all places, so it was only fit. The “fun” trip turned out to be a nightmare involving getting lost in a construction site, spraining an ankle, incredible disappointment when we found ourselves before closed doors because of misinformation on the sauna’s websiteand ultimately pleasant surprise when receiving two vouchers for a free sauna visit after complaining about said misinformation. So when a friend of mine came over last weekend, we thought we’d finally cash those vouchers and enjoy an afternoon of bathing.

Turns out…

… the vouchers are for a different place.

See, when we initially looked up the opening hours for the bath house, we actually were looking at the website of ANOTHER bath house, which coincidentally has the same name. But not the same opening hours. So when we found ourselves before closed doors it was not because there were two websites, one of which was not updated, it was BECAUSE THERE ARE 2 BATH HOUSES!

So basically I complained to the second bath house that the first bath house was not open during their hours.

Derp.

Standing in front of the cashier with my totally worthless vouchers, I felt immensely stupid.

We still enjoyed our (paid) visit though. I am used to sauna complexes with literally 10+ types of sauna scattered over a domain, while here there were only 2 sauna’s, and just plenty of room to sunbathe, but the atmosphere of the place is so unique – located almost literally in the middle of the sea, the whole complex gives you a stunning view over the water wherever you are, and it’s such a charming, quiet, peaceful place. In addition, men and women’s sections were separated, which at first I found a bit stupid (and odd… it’s bloody Sweden! they don’t even have separate restrooms!), but which, in strange way, did make the whole experience a whole lot more relaxing. The “best” thing though? Cooling off after the sauna in the sea. There’s nothing quite like a 10ºC (50F) salty bath to arrest your blood flow ;).

I still got 2 free vouchers for a bath house I don’t even know the location of though… .

How (not) to go to the sauna

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This looks great, doesn’t it?

It is Malmö’s kallbadhuset, a sauna-and-bath complex which is located at the end of a 200m-long pier. I’ve been a die-hard sauna fan ever since I discovered 3 years ago that what they call “sauna” in a 3-star family skiing resort (read: cramp 8 people wearing bathing suits in a 6-person sauna cabin) doesn’t even remotely resemble a true sauna experience : a whole day of naked bathing, sleeping, sauna’ing, relaxing, more sleeping, more sauna, and more relaxing. Yes, my dear blogging-friends, when I go to the sauna, I go to the sauna. And while Kallbadhuset is probably too small to be spending a whole day in, I still felt I needed to try it out. I had suggested it to T when she was here, but she inexplicably didn’t feel like it, but fortunately NR did when she was here last week. Opening hours were 12-22 according to the website, which left us some time for Christmas shopping.

And then we ran into RS. Well, we didn’t so much run into him as arranged to meet him, but anyway. Hey, if a cute Spanish guy texts to ask if you wanna go for lunch, what’s a girl supposed to do? (and yes, I realize I’m in a committed relationship. but I can enjoy what I see, right? but NR isn’t.) So we took him Christmas shopping, and we went for lunch, and for a drink, and by the time he left us where we were it was almost 5 o’clock. Not exactly what we’d anticipated – sure, the sauna was still open, but we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the great view of the sea which was really one of the main reasons why we wanted to go to this particular sauna. But it was bloody cold and since we’d been looking forward to it all day (and the day before), we decided to go anyway. Entrance was 60 SEK (around $8) so it would still be worth it.

Now, I didn’t take a map with me – or rather, I did, but as it turned out, the sauna wasn’t on it. Thank God for my photographic memory so I still remembered what Google Maps had said the night before. So let’s take a look at what trip we were supposed to do from the station:

Now let’s take a look at the tour we actually did:

It was -3ºC (26F) and we were walking on a small peninsula. I swear, if I had had balls, they would’ve been blown off even before they could freeze.

These are the times I’m happy I’m a woman. You don’t have to be embarrassed to ask for directions.

The friendly bartender at the only café we were able to locate suggested he’d call us a cab, but armed with his beautifully drawn map we were pretty sure we could make it. And sure enough, half an hour and a sprained ankle later (did I mention that whole peninsula was a huge, unlit construction site?), we found it. Extending from the snowy coast, over the floe-covered sea (I mean ice. on the sea. Google Translate says it’s floe. Google Images says it’s floe. I always thought /floe/ was an infectious disease, but who am I to argue with Google?), was the pier leading to eternal heat and happiness. Or at least some hours of it.

It was closed.

No joke.

You don’t wanna hear the sauna is closed if you’ve just walked over an hour in the windy cold craving for warmth. But some things are what they are, and the sauna was closed. The fact that I wrote an e-mail of complaint right after we got home illustrates how very pissed I was – I will usually rather eat a cold, dry steak than even think of complaining about it.

And look what I got:

Hello

We apologize for the mistake with poorly update website.

We would like you visit Bjerred Saltsjöbad again but without paying for a sauna and bath.

I would need a postal adress to you and how many people were thought to bath so I can send gift card for bath and sauna.

Thanks for your email.

Free sauna!

Somehow, this made it all worth it.

(turns out… there are 2 websites… we looked at the wrong one…)