Hallåååå eller

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Going to Gothenburg is really special. Going to Stockholm does not feel like going abroad but Gothenburg gives me back the foreign feeling. I don’t know how the trains run, I don’t know how far it is to the airport and I have no idea where the good cafés are. Luckily, I have a very knowledgeable local host, my friend Joraine. I tell people I brought her here, to Sweden. Sweden, I gave you this gift. I am not sure if she agrees but it was after I kept going on about Stockholm that, 6 years ago, she said, “Maybe I should do my internship in Stockholm”. I still have the video on which I teach her to say, “Hej, mitt namn är Joraine och jag vill göra praktik i Sverige”. Little by little, by ended up in Gothenburg in a brand new super nice apartment, now an accomplished Chalmers graduate with a job at one of my favorite Swedish companies. And she even caught herself a lovely Swedish boyfriend. Basically, she is living the dream.

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Joraine made basil lemonade- veeeery tasty!

After two shaky, shaky approaches for landing (both in Stockholm and then in Gothenburg), I walked through these two biggest Swedish airport with my nation-branding-eyes wide open. Nation branding, communication and destination marketing are kind of my things. Sweden excels at it like maybe no other. I realized that walking through Landvetter, Gothenburg’s airport, today where there have, among other things, a wall installation with typical wooden benches and grandma’s china up on the wall. You see the people sitting there and get into the West Coast holiday feeling right away. And let me assure you, that’s not a coincidence. Everywhere you also see large walls saying “Välkommen to Volvo’s hometown” or “Welcome to where Hasselblad cameras were invented”. Talk about sucessful partnering up with the business world.

At the core of the Swedish nation brands are four words, core values. Two are exhibited here at Arlanda airport: open und innovative.

Many regions in Sweden pride themselves on their local dialect words but Gothenburg is one of the most famous ones. The happy, good Gothenburger is a cliché that stems also from the dialect which is perceived as a very cheerful singsong. Apparently, the Gothenburg Central Station wants us others to be able to integrate so they plastered their walls with a Gothenburg-language-101. Destination marketing in such a charming way!

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The ticket machine asks you to be patient

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Swedish poetry during my stopover in Arlanda

 

Now I shall enjoy the guest room that was prepared for me. What does a good friend in Sweden do when Helen comes to visit? She starts subscribing to amelia, my favorite magazine, so that I get to read it when I come. It does’t get much better than that!

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I miss Carl Gustaf and Silvia

Hamburg when stepped on the plane

Hamburg when stepped on the plane

I am back in the city where they sell peas in the candy section. Yes, that was the most striking thing tonight as I strolled through the well-known Coop store. Actually, the thing that was even more noteworthy – almost shocking – was when I rushed outside the terminal (still foolishly thinking I would make it to the 20:12 train when my plane landed 19:55) and was not as usual met by the King and Queen of Sweden. Okay, no, I am not usually personally picked up by the Swedish head of state when I come to Stockholm (but if he wants to consider that, fine by me, it would spare me some pendel-pains), but as every passenger who comes to Stockholm, I passed through the corridor where the King and Queen welcomed you in almost-full size, followed by Astrid Lindgren, Björn Borg and other Swedish celebrities saying, “Welcome to my home town”. Now there is an Ericsson advertisement. I do wonder how that is in line with the overall nation branding strategy.

In the loose candy/snack section, you can now get peas.

In the loose candy/snack section, you can now get peas. It is what the world has been waiting for!

There are few, possibly no, other places that evoke such conflicting emotions within me as Stockholms with its well-walked ways, familiar sights, predictable routines, an incredible load of distinct, significant memories – the beaten and beloved track, kind of. Now I am snug and warm in the comfort of Marita’s and Fredrik’s home, one of my second homes in Stockholm. I even got a cherry stone pillow belt (I wonder if that is something non-Germans know) from Marita who is a devoted caregiver to the disk defected friend. Tomorrow I’ll hit town (read: slowly walk) to meet near and dear ones!

P.S.: Meanwhile, if you miss me and can read German, read my recent Elbsalon posts about a café name Milk, Sunday’s exhibition about decision making and rap music for the sea rescue service.