Or, as our tour guide said, to preserve gender equality which is very important in Sweden, Latte Mammas as well.
Whichever you may be, these are two very important concepts in Sweden as we learned on our free walking tour of the hip neighborhood called Slussen in the center of Stockholm. Fika is the name of the mid-afternoon coffee break that the Swedish people enjoy which includes a sweet pastry and strong Swedish coffee. In fact, this coffee break us so important, that it is written into the work contract of most employees that they must take an hour and a half to two hours Fika every day! And I thought the french two-hour lunch breaks were crazy!
On a similar note Latte Papa, and Mamma, is the name given to the numerous young parents, especially dads, that you will see pushing strollers down the street, or relaxing with other parents and their toddlers, throughout the city. This is such a common sight due to the fact that each parent gets 280 days of paid maternity/paternity leave for a new baby. Correction: for each new baby. Yep, that’s right if they have twins they get twice the time off! And if one parent decides not to use all of their leave they can give it. To the other parent.
Two hour mandatory coffee breaks, generous paid time off, and some delicious looking pastries that I only wish I had enough time to try them all; Sweden, I think you definitely have your priorities in order. Before we make any lasting commitments, however, I’d like to have a word with you about your weather, and your prices on, well, just about everything.
As you would expect it was bitingly cold in Stockholm this time of year, especially given the strong wind. I’m sure it is gorgeous in the summer, and I would have loved to go then to see more of the beautiful scenery and swim in their amazingly clean lake (clean enough to drink they say!). However, summer wasn’t an option, which is why I decided to go now before it got too unbearably cold (it was already pretty darn close though!)
Despite the cold, we had a wonderful time walking around Slussen (totally recommend the free tours, they have two others we didn’t get to try also) and the old city. Also got to visit the royal palace and see the Crown Jewels (another great tour!) although unfortunately the royal apartments were closed due to a reception for the new parliament. Oh well, I suppose I can accept that reasoning… This time at least.
And, of course, we had to take our own Fikas so as to avoid turning into complete icicles. Although, they more often consisted of some delicious hot chocolate (though it was closer to wonderfully warm chocolate milk than the steaming hot chocolate I’m more used to) rather than coffee.
Unfortunately, though we did not get to see the famous Vasa museum (it closes at 5 pm we found out after our tour!) however, we did get to meet some amazingly wonderful and friendly people. All of the Swedes were wonderfully nice and helpful whenever we had a question. We even made a few friends in our hostel including a guy from Belgium who is trying to move to Stockholm and a writer from Texas who has been traveling for the past seven years or so. I wish I could afford that! We even made friends with a Moroccan shopkeeper down the street when we walked in to look at some boots he had in display and had a wonderful conversation (in a mix of French and English, though he spoke several other languages as well) about traveling and life in Sweden.
Overall it was a very successful couple of days in Stockholm, and definitely a place I would consider visiting again to see some of the things I missed this first time. Although I would definitely make it a summer trip next time! And for now I am happy to be in the much more bearable mid-50s of Copenhagen and am super excited to explore all of the great things everyone has told me about this city!
If you have been before and have any then now’s your chance! Even if you haven’t that have heard through the grapevine of something, let me know. I’ll check it out for you! 😉