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This one goes ouẗ to Jeremy

Sweden

I finally managed to get myself to Scandinavia when Aaron and I went to visit Fredo in Gothenburg (Göteborg) on the west coast of Sweden last weekend. It was a great place to visit, and I'm absolutely in love with the town. A huge thanks to Fredrik for putting the two of us up in his place. The trip was essentially to test a theory that I had about the Swedes - that is that there aren't any ugly people in Sweden. When I'm talking about ugly, I'm not talking about average looking people, but people who have actively beaten about the head with the ugly stick. My conclusions? There are some ugly people in Sweden, but the sheer volume of beautiful people there makes up for it. I'm not kidding. You've got to go there to see for yourself.

As usual, our departure from Germany was from Frankfurt Hahn (Was it only a year ago that I had to sleep there overnight?), flying to Gothenburg City airport. I'm not usually very pedantic about what people call things, but I don't really believe the Gothenburg City Airport is in any way appropriately named. While I agree that the Gothenburg moniker is right, it's neither in the city, or actually an airport. We landed and walked off to the arrivals lounge to pick up our luggage from the belts. When I say lounge, I really mean shed, and when I say belt, I mean tractor that the luggage arrives on. I've been to regional airports in India which have been more technologically advanced than this airport. Apparently it's all because of some construction work they're doing, but I don't really see them completing it this year (which is what their highly optimistic informational posters were telling me).

Our trip for the next day was to go down to an island near Gothenburg to check out the local landscape, and generally get some fresh air. Most of the pictures that you'll see at Flickr are from that trip. We jumped on the ferry, and after some initial consternation that we were trespassing into a military restricted area, we got to the island. That's where things went wrong. After walking off the ferry, I started to hear this very strange sound following me around. I'd stop to see what it was, and the sound would stop. It didn't take me long to realise the sound was coming from my shoe, where the sole had just decided to call off its long term relationship with the rest of the shoe. Needless to say, this breakup made things very uncomfortable for those people in the immediate vicinity (vis. Me). You can see a video of this in action if you're having trouble understanding the situation. We walked (and clopped) around the island for the rest of the day, marvelling at the mountaineering skills of sheep. When we decided to head back, the weather took a turn for the wetter, and the hole in my shoe went from amusing to annoying. Luckily Fredo has the same sized feet as me, so I could borrow a pair of shoes from him for our night out on the town in Gothenburg.

That evening, we ventured out to a jazz club in Gothenburg called Nefertiti. For those of you who've been to the Basement in Sydney, or Blue Note in New York, it's a bit like those jazz clubs, and nothing like the Cave here in Heidelberg. One of the striking things about the club was the lack of smoke inside. Being in Germany, you can't spend a night out anywhere without coming back smelling like smoke. In one of the only good applications of a EU wide harmonising I know of, smoking should be banned in pubs/clubs Europe-wide by 2010. I can only hope Germany decides to speed things up. The gig there wasn't too bad, standard jazz as far as I could hear, with a bit of soulful singing thrown in. Okay, yeah that's a terrible gig review, but I just can't write about Jazz. It either sounds good, or sounds bad. I wouldn't have a clue if they're doing it well or not. The only exception to this is the acid/abstract jazz I listen to. The weirder it is, the better. Regardless, the gig was not a bad deal for 50 SEK (€5).

After the gig, the club turns into a proper club. I can easily talk about the DJ here - he didn't have too shabby a taste in music. The selections ranged from dancehall, to funk, groove, hip-hop and jazzy house. Great stuff to both listen to, and to have a bit of a leg wiggle to. I'm thinking like the Music Box when Scruff is in residence (not that I've been there). You just don't find DJs with taste like that in a town like Heidelberg - the market is too small, so DJs have to play tunes which everyone knows, and in the end it's all dodgy pop and Tiesto. I think in larger towns (Gothenburg is about twice the size of Heidelberg), you get more of a chance to get these people who enjoy this type of music (who aren't that uncommon), and so you're more likely to find clubs like this. From the people I talked to, the club was also an exception in Gothenburg, but I'm happy to know at least one exists.

The other hallmark for the evening was the number of strange people we were talking to. The Swedes are pretty crazy people, I'm coming to realise. I don't know if it's common to all of them, but I've got a feeling their sense of humour is a bit warped, which is only a good thing. Unfortunately though, the strangest person I met that evening wasn't from Sweden. He was Jeremy, from Wales. I should describe Jeremy - a lanky guy with long hair, 43 years old, and walking around the club dressed like a pimp. Fur coat, brown suit, massive sunglasses, and a pimp hat. Totally pimp, apart from the fact that he's white. I was standing around in line, waiting to order another glass of wine (that's me being healthy), when Jeremy decided to start talking to me. I guess he heard me speaking English elsewhere.

From the moment Jeremy opened his mouth, there was a steady stream of effluent coming out, and it didn't stop until I managed to lose him later in the evening (by dumping him on Fredo and Aaron). For those of you who have seen Nathan Barley, this guy reminded me so much of the title character, it hurt. I reluctantly learnt that this guy is a former investment banker - retired at 30 after burning out - and is now lead "singer" in his band G-Suss. Conveniently, he just happened to have his cd in his pocket. You just never know when you're going to need to flog your band. Described as a cross between The Streets, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, some other crap, and IDM, I was pretty much certain that he was full of it. Not being quite intelligent enough to know when to keep my mouth shut, a fatal mistake was made when I asked exactly what the titles of each of the tracks meant. Jeremy used this as an excuse to start quoting lyrics to me, and I learnt that Ian is a slang word for Charlie (which is itself slang for cocaine). A lot of the songs actually had something to do with Ian. Thinking back on it now, I'm pretty sure that the guy was himself loaded up on Ian.

Somehow, towards the end of the evening, we ingratiated ourselves with a group of Swedes, where we chatted until we got kicked out of the club when it was closing. I was very impressed with my commando run back into the club to steal back our jackets. I came back outside to see the group talking to the Black Mamba (that's another story). Eventually, we strolled off from outside the club in search of some food. Earlier in the evening, I had been talking to a guy who had a broken nose from a fight he had been in over mashed potato. You can't make this stuff up. I was sort of hoping we'd have mashed potato that evening, but instead we ended up in McDonalds, which is sort of excusable, especially if you're blind drunk. After we'd been in there for a bit, something new happened to me. I got kicked out of McDonalds because they were closing. Not only did we get kicked out, but they pulled out all the stops to get us out by switching on the alarms. I think that's the one and only time I've been kicked out of a place at 5:00 with klaxons. I wonder if they have a big red button which they press in case of loitering people. In the end, we decided to head back home at around 6:00, when the sun was just coming up. All up, a fantastic and memorable evening out.

One theme during the evening (and really for a lot of evenings out in Europe) was that people love Australians. People ask where you're from and they're instantly intrigued. The Swedes are especially intrigued, and quite possibly obsessed. In the airport bar, two of the beers you can get are Fosters (i.e. Crown Lager) and VB. VB! In an airport lounge in Sweden. Two of the four wines you could get there were Australian too. The best thing I saw would have to be at an Australian pub I visited there called the Dancing Dingo. They sold Coopers there. They had a bunch of very drunk Swedish guys in suits, holding stubbies of VB in their hands, dancing badly to some 80s music. It was like I was in some kind of bizarro world.

Speaking of bizarro - I watched Snakes on a plane. It was brilliant. It was sublime. It was ludicrous. I laughed pretty hard in places. For those of you who haven't seen it - make sure you look out for the people who die due to reasons other than snake related bites. The guy whose head gets stepped on is a personal favourite.

Next post: Ben in Heidelberg and anything else I've got time to write about.

1 comment

Aaron *

Not talking to that "now-that-I-think-about-it" hot girl who was in Nefertiti (love that name btw) that was seen making out with random dude 5 mins later.... BAD MOVE!

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