Last weekend I decided to take my bike on an epic journey: from our little municipality south of Stockholm, to a friend's municipality north of Stockholm (her daughter was turning 2 and we had some goodies for her that I wanted to drop off) - perhaps not 'epic', but with my one-gear bicycle, I figured the 16 km journey would take me approximately an hour there, and an hour back. So, once the girls laid down for their mid-day nap, I packed up my stuff, said farewell to Mayu and headed out.
For the first 45 minutes, it was a lovely ride. The sun was shining and there is no better place ot be than Stockholm in the summer; patios are full, frosted glasses are teeming with ice cold lager, bottles of rose are happily being downed and the hipsters - which, let's face it, is every Stockholmer - are out looking cooler than their dads.
With only a few more kilometers to go, I lost control of my bike, veered off to the side of the road, only to look down and see my busted old tire, FLAT! Since bikes aren't allowed to be taken on the subway here, and we don't drive, compiled with the fact that I don't have a mobile to contact anyone to help me, my options were few: walk my busted old bike the 13km back home or lay down and die. So I started back. Since the walk back was slow going, I compiled a checklist of sorts, if one is ever to move to Stockholm: The Stockholm Summer Survival Guide:
1. Straight hair. If your hair is curly, you might not even bother visiting Stockholm. The locals will view you as wild, unconforming, unwilling and, honestly, unsocialist. You will also be unable to sport one of this season's dos: long, short or male.
2. Ray-Bans. Other sunglasses will not protect you from the Nordic sun, there is no other way, Ray-Bans or blindness, this is what I've been told.
3. Children, preferably babies, a lot of them. Safety in numbers.
4. Chinos - beige or black (although I was recently informed that if you live in Ostermalm, you must own red ones), rolled messily, and exactly 2.5 times to hit the lower shin. I'm guessing this has something to do with survival from lime disease - or mushroom picking, but I can't be sure.
5. Tattoos. Preferably a sleeve, but something small and visible will do as well. This is an important tribal marking to distinguish yourself as a Stockholmer, without a tattoo, in the case of a city riot, you never know what the wolves will do.
6. Toms, white Converse (although in recent times black and navy are being seen as acceptable) or Hasbeens. Without at least one pair of one of these, you will never out run a Swede and in a knife fight, is this what you want? I should mention that, in winter, it is perfectly acceptable to wear Sorels or Hunter wellies.
7. A bike. Any one-gear retro bike will do, as long as it is equipped with a basket and gigantic saddle, but of course, the Stockholmers' favourites include Kronan, Monark and Cresent. These last three are better equipped to fight off the Germans, if every under attack (this is only what I've been told).8. And lastly, rose wine. To thaw the ice-cold Stockholm persona which one might encounter during the winter months - get a few glasses of rose into a Stockholmer and you have a friend for life, or at least until the next winter.
If you follow this survival guide closely, you will not only be better off during any German attacks, or Swedish riots, but you might even be mistaken as a Stockholmer and if your Swedish won't pass, just purse your lips, breath in quickly, sort of through your teeth, making a loud sucking noise, and they'll think, at very least, you are from the South.
I finally made it home on Saturday, after 2.5 hours of walking my busted rusty Kronan home. My kids were, outside, playing, Mayu was hanging our chinos out on the line, and I poured myself a glass of rose and put my feet up. I love summer in Stockholm.
Until next time,
Grumpy Old Sarah.
As the weather gets hotter, don't forget to take advantage and put a clothes line outside for fresh smelling, environmentally kind laundry!