I’m in Copenhagen this morning, yesterday I was in Malmo, and the day before in Gothenburg.
It’s all a bit of a whirl, I admit, and hard to find the time to write much. I still haven’t had a chance to reply to all the kind club members who have emailed suggestions and feedback – but I will!
Quickly, below is another native-speaker conversation for you.
The audio is a bit fuzzy on this one, as it was a different daughter pressing the buttons.
But I’m sure you’ll work it out – lean on the transcript more if need be.
And remember, life can be a bit fuzzy, too, so it’s good practice!
Today’s topic is Amici e famiglia.
Click here to go straight to it.
Previous materials from this series can be found on our ‘New’ page.
And, if you want to try asking and answering the questions for yourself, perhaps with a fellow student or with your teacher, the ‘conversation prompts’ on which the interview is based are here.
(There’s a full list of of conversation lesson topics here.)
Bene, so it rained in Stockholm on Monday, the unusual spell of hot summer weather having finally broken.
On Tuesday we set off, on our return leg, direction Gothenburg.
But with a waystop in Örebro, about a third of the way there, to visit one of the cousins who hadn’t made it to the family get-together on the Sunday, due to having a toddler and being pregant with her next child.
Unfortunately she was working in the morning (EVERYONE must work in Sweden), which meant killing several hours in ‘Sweden’s seventh biggest city’ before doing the rest of the drive south-east to the coast.
Örebro is pretty, though, and has a rather Germanic-looking castle in its center. Visualise rounded turrets with pointy roofs on. The museum was closed and guided tours could only be taken on Saturdays. Make a mental note.
The city does have pleasant shopping streets to stroll, and there’s an attractive park with a river-front walk, mature trees and formal gardens. If the sun’s shining, there are worst places to be.
The park contains an ‘old Örebro’, this being made up of wooden dwellings rescued from elsewhere in the city which would otherwise have been pulled down to make way for modernisation.
Think ‘the old smithy’, ‘a nobleman’s house’, ‘the bootmaker’s’, and a dozen or so other buildings, of various ages and functions, mostly painted Swedish-style red.
One was a banqueting house and contained a plastic ‘feast’, all set out and ready to be eaten. There were throngs of small Swedish children running around, including one monkey who, having heard me speaking English, kept coming back to say ‘Hello’ and then running away again.
Nevertheless, it was a fascinating glimpse of how a rich man would have entertained his friends or business parters hundreds of years ago (we ourselves dined at Burger King…)
At the other end of the social scale was a larger, more modern wooden building, though still not much more than a small house by today’s standards.
A plaque outside told how a census had shown around SIXTY people living in it. Besides the main family, and various relatives, there were widows, orphans, unemployed adults, and an ex-soldier, none of whom had two cents to rub together.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Leaving Örebro gratefully behind, we drove to the cousin’s place, a spacious newly-built detatched house, coloured white both inside and out, about ten minutes down the road heading west.
Our hostess served us coffee and bullar while I entertained her shy two-year-old son by pretending to swallow a strawberry, then magically pulling it out from my ear! Were everyone so easy to impress.
We got back on the road as soon as we politely could, knowing that the drive to Gothenburg was going to take a good three hours.
Much of the road west was just one lane, with low speed limits.
I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before (probably) but the Swedish for ‘speed’ is ‘fart’ so we had to slow down often for ‘fartkameror’.
Our Volvo beeped to warn us whenever one was coming, but in any case they’re quite easy to spot – Swedish speed cameras are a little like Sci-Fi aliens staring at you from the side of the road – see a picture here.
Britain, by comparison, has ugly metal boxes painted bright-yellow…
Gothenburg, when we finally got there, was big, with a blustery sea-front and port area and a pleasant center.
There didn’t seem to be much remaining of the original fortifications, city wall, and so on, most of it having been demolished to make room for the expansion of the city.
We didn’t really ‘get’ the city, in part because it rained most of the time we were there so we were rushing from doorway to doorway trying to keep dry (no portici…)
But the university was very evident and the city itself seemed lively, prosperous and full of activity.
On Tuesday and Wednesday nights we stayed at a youth hostel, which offered a sumptious breakfast.
And both evenings we ate well at a pub/restaurant called Karlson’s Garage which proudly displayed over 60 types of beer on its menu and, according to Stefi, served mashed potatoes to die for!
Sitting in a pub watching Spain play Iran in the World Cup wouldn’t normally have been my first choice of activity in a new city but, given the weather, it was the right choice. And after Stockholm, we needed a little down-time…Stefi picked Spain, of course, so I cheered for Iran, who played well but lost.
Thursday morning we left Gothenburg to head directly down Sweden’s west coast, via Helsingborg, to complete our circular tour of the county and arrive back in Malmo, from where we had started a week before.
We spent last night in an eighth-floor Airbnb flat which had picture windows allowing spectacular views of the sunset, the famous bridge and the ‘turning tower’.
The flat came with an equally-spectacular flat-screen TV, thanks to which we passed a relaxing evening watching ‘Dunkirk’ (a load of rubbish) on the host’s Netflix account.
And so to today.
We awoke early, returned our hired car to the Hertz behind the station, and caught the train over the bridge to Denmark and Copenhagen.
Which I shall attempt to describe on Monday, by which time we’ll be safely back in Italy!
Buon fine settimana, allora.