Thursday, September 3, 2009

Joining the Dots

I have been surprised as I have travelled around Europe just how true so many stereotypes have turned out to be. Guess which country everyone relies on to get the train timetables right? The Germans. In Paris you can be sure someone will be at least a bit rude to you, American tourists will be rude to everyone, and the Danes, well, the Danes make Danishes.

That said, let me start by saying it simply isn't true that the entire female population of Sweden consists of tanned, blond, statuesque beauties. A few of them are brunettes. You might think then, if you were a superficial type, that Sweden is the place to go to hook up, but be aware you will be competing with a veritable cavalcade of Dolph Lundgren's younger brothers and cousins. Seriously, the streets of Gothenburg are like an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue that some middle eastern immigrants stumbled across and stayed to set up kebab shops.

The first thing I noticed about Gothenburg when I felt like dinner at 8:30pm (thanks for that habit by the way, Jono) was that everything was closed, even McDonalds. Quick side note: McDonalds in Sweden is full of Ikea, so it looks all trendy.
It took me twenty minutes to find a place that sold food, and my hotel is right in the middle of town. Gothenburg has a population of about half a million, and it felt very strange walking around basically a ghost town when It's barely sunset.

The second thing I noticed while flicking through television channels: music videos, Nickelodeon, hardcore pornography, BBC World Service, Swedish talk show. Spot the odd one out. Needless to say, I found the porn somewhat incongruous, so being the investigator I am I checked the channel's online programme guide to find out what was going on. No, it wasn't an adult channel, just a regular movie channel, but nestled between Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr and Stephen King's The Mist was Tropical Asses on Fire, director unknown (Canal+ Hits is the channel if you're interested). Fairly liberal approach to adult content, then.

The third thing I noticed was the previously mentioned ridiculous good looking-ness of the general population. This was third because I didn't actually see anybody until the morning after I arrived.

The fourth and final observation of note was the remarkable number of women (and men, calm down) wheeling around prams or with babies in possum pouches. I can't recall seeing more than one or two prams in the last month, but I would have seen easily a hundred over the last couple of days.

Of course, when you have a good-looking population, close all the shops at sunset and put porn on TV, I suppose high birth rates aren't that surprising.

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