A fine day for a stroll

Last Friday Göteborg received a visitor from Australia, who happened also to be a friend of mine and to whom I was quite eager to show off my city.

As I explained to him (repeatedly) he was extremely lucky with the weather. The day started with fog, which then turned to bright sunshine and clear skies and stayed so until evening, which was slightly chilly and still clear. The fact that the next day was mostly cloudy proves my point I think.

The fact that the following few days have been bright and sunny is something that I choose to ignore in this discussion.

We met at noon and began the tour with a stroll to Brunnsparken and then down Östra Hamngatan to Kungsportsplatsen, dodging political cabins, placard-bearers and trams, and mingling with the sun-blissed Swedes filling the pavements.
At Kungsortsplatsen I pointed out the Kopparmärra, chuckling with someone who I suspect was hoping to entice me to vote for some party or other, about the obvious inaccuracy of the ‘mare’ title. Hoping to escape more hopeful pamphlet bearers, we crossed the street and made for the first destination of our tour: Saluhallen.

We stared around at the cheese, meat, baked goods and spice stalls, pausing for a bit at the baked goods, and then found 2 seats at one of the restaurants in the centre. I had been introduced to this place by a friend, with whom I’d shared a delicious lunch of fish burgers and salad, and planned to present my visiting friend with something authentically Swedish. As the days special was no longer fish burger, we instead tucked into also very traditional beef burgers with potato and lingonberry sauce.

Exploring the archipelago

Exploring the archipelago

Well fortified for a day of wandering, we left Saluhallen and strolled along the canals, where people basked on the walls and grassy slopes. A tram ride then took us to Saltholmen, where we caught a ferry to Brännö, an island in the southern archipelago. I’ve been to Brännö before, for a walk and a drink, but I hadn’t explored as much as this time. The sun was out and the trees were overflowing with apples, unfortunately all out of reach of my hands, if not my hungry eyes. It was quiet, apart from the occasional local and chatty sheep, and we even found some lingering blackberries.

Apple trees

Apple trees

We then caught a ferry back to the mainland, and a tram back to town and continued our strolling through Haga, one of the prettiest parts of Göteborg. The cafes were still open and a brass band was playing in the main square. We didn’t climb up to Skansen Kronen, choosing instead to admire it from below, and then continued along Vasagatan. The political posters were still adorning every tree, pole, lamp post and bus stop, and we took our time considering their positions and trying to spot SD. Vasagatan then turned into Avenyn and so we went up to ogle the statue of Poseidon, and example of what art ought not to be.

One of my favourite buildings on Vasagatan

One of my favourite buildings on Vasagatan

Then to a restaurant for drinks, food and meeting my partner, with whom we wandered to another bar for more drinks and finally wandered back to the hotel to bid my friend goodbye. We both assured him, again, that the weather had been pretty miraculous and that he’d be welcome to explore out fine little city the next time he was up north. We then parted ways and headed home.

I hope that we will get more visitors who we can show around town, if only so that I have an excuse for a leisurely walk on a sunny island.

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The masks we wear

Having lived in Sweden for just over a year now, I have begun to recognise and feel the routines and patterns of life here. Every country has it’s own pattern, woven by people going about their daily lives and more and more often I’ve been finding the threads and following them, trying to fit myself into the pattern with varied success. I have found myself questioning the process though. Do immigrants need to do this? I’ve spoken to friends about the imposition they feel from Sweden to fit in, to Learn the language, get a job, make Swedish friends, be more Swedish. And what of your own identity? The ideal should be that of lagom, not too much and not too little. Finding the middle ground or a meeting point between who you were when you stepped off the plane and who you need to be to fit into a society.

An early autumn evening

An early autumn evening

An aspect of life here that has nudged me to the outskirts, though not necessarily unwillingly, is the upcoming election. Somehow I have avoided being approached by the hordes of paper-bearing placard-wearing folk that huddle around the different political party huts. And they have actual huts by the way, some of them probably big enough for a holiday cottage, which for some reason I find very endearing.

They really like their voting

They really like their voting

I have not, however, been able to avoid sight of the posters that adorn anything that stands still for longer than 5 minutes. I walked 10 metres down a main street in town last week and passed 6 advertisements, all for different parties, hanging off lampposts, bustops and trees.
In comparison to election time in Australia, however, there have been no ads on tv that I have seen and no hint of smearing. Can you imagine an election without one party calling the other a bunch of irresponsible fanatics? I couldn’t until now, and I have to say it is quite refreshing.
The only negative responses have been a comment on an add from the Nya Modereterna (New Moderates, the leader of whom is the current PM) promising more jobs, that ‘you are not only your job’, and an add for the Svensk Demokraterna (the ‘we’re not racist but…’ party) with a swastika drawn on someones head.
Part of me does wish I could vote, if only so that I could be part of this discussion that will, after all, effect me too. The most I can do is give a thumbs up to the Feminist Initiativ folk and enjoy the lack of vitriol.

Swedifying a pie

Swedifying a pie

It often feels as though the moments when I am sitting silently and not engaging with society, that I appear the most Swedish. As I sit on the bus in the morning on the way to class, I feel a strange sense of accomplishment when I imagine that someone across the aisle could look at me and assume I am Swedish. I read my Swedish novel, wear a jacket bought in a Swedish secondhand store and the cons on my feet seem almost to be a uniform here. Of course as soon as I open my mouth the act is finished, but for a while I feel as though I fit in. Sometime in the past year this has become something to aim for, if only subconsciously. Something I would have scoffed at a year ago. The balm of anonymity. Perhaps being an immigrant is about the masks you wear, and how deep they go.