Peeing on the flowers at Stockholm airport

I found Swedish summer at the Stockholm Airport last week.

Here’s what happened: I had to go urinate and when I got to the bathroom I found that the wall behind the urinals was covered with flowers and tall grass so that it felt like I was peeing into a lovely field on a Swedish summer day.

Swedes, and Stockholmers in particular, have been called conformists and reserved — and in some ways they are. But every once in a while, Sweden surprises me.

Why should bathrooms be serious? They shouldn’t and I give kudos to Stockholm Arlanda airport for having fun with one of man’s most mundane activities — peeing at a urinal.

It’s the little things in life that matter and the illusion that I was peeing in a Swedish field made a big difference for me that day.

Make Swedish meatballs and speak Swedish

“They’re just called meatballs in Swedish,” my wife told me, after I asked her how to say Swedish meatballs in Swedish.

That was just one of the thousands of dumb American moments I’ve had since living abroad. I think my wife still loves me though, otherwise she would never continue to make this classic Swedish comfort food for me. I also think she thinks it’s cute when I speak Swedish (My accent is brutal).

At the risk of getting on the bad side of my mother, I have to admit that she also made Swedish meatballs when we were growing up. She, however, covered the meatballs with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Don’t get me wrong, they were good, but they weren’t Swedish meatballs.

The video and recipe that follows is the real deal, plus you’ll get to learn Swedish.

Is Swedish ice skating for you?

People practice the normal sports in Sweden — soccer, basketball, running, swimming — but there are a few Swedish sports you may have never heard of. I’m guessing that tour skating is one of them.

Tour skating was once one of the most popular sports in Sweden, and I hear it’s now making somewhat of a comeback. It’s done on natural ice with long ice skates attached to boots. Many people also use poles. Imagine a blend of cross-country skiing and ice skating.

This winter in Sweden the temperature has practically been below freezing since December. The tour skating afficionados say the ice conditions are superb.

Every year I promise myself that I’ll try tour skating, and every year I bail out. This year is no different, but I thought if I made the promise to do it here that it would give me extra motivation. I recently went out with my family to Lake Mälaren just outside of Stockholm to check out the scene. (As of publishing, I still haven’t tried it myself.)

Lake Mälaren is a beast of a lake. It’s Sweden’s third largest lake that stretches from the middle of the country out east into the Baltic Sea.

For beginners, there are a number of good tour guides that will take you out and teach you this fun and challenging winter sport:

Ice Guide

Nature Travels

The Stockholm Ice Skate Sailing and Touring Club

Becoming a Swedish citizen

It wasn’t very hard to become a Swedish citizen. I didn’t take any tests. No questions about who the first King of Sweden was or what was in the constitution.

I just had to live here for some years with a residency permit. Then I sent in an electronic form with a check and that was it!