Sunday, November 19, 2006

European Café Culture~Linköping style

Though much more so in recent times due to a growing coffee culture connected with a certain worldwide coffee chain (give it up for Seattle!), we in America generally don't do the café nearly as well or as often as our counterparts in Europe. Taking time during our busy days to sit back with coffee, tea, sandwiches and pastries as well as friends, acquaintances and strangers is a time-honored tradition throughout Europe, probably most notably in France or Italy or other Mediterranean-based locales. I just don't think of Germany or England when picturing the quintessential café experience. And while it's not quite as treasured or celebrated (yes, even with fika) in Sweden, Swedes can lounge and chat and sip and eat and waste a day at a café with the best of 'em. I know. I've seen it. I've done it. I love it.

Since this blog is dedicated to sharing about my experiences here in Linköping, I would be remiss to exclude my beloved café time. If my calculations are correct, I spend on average 8 - 10 hours per week at cafés in Linköping usually reading a paper (International Herald Tribune if I'm looking to be informed, Dagens Nyheter if I'm working on my Swedish while being informed), studying svenska, reading a book, people watching and still relishing this unexpected experience in Sweden. For those of you in Linköping, you can almost always find me on LiU's campus at Cesam or at either Wayne's Coffee or Cafe Cioccolata downtown, places I feel comfortable setting up shop for a couple hours or more (break through the iPod and say "Hejsan" if you happen to see me).

Special greetings to Wayne's Coffee workers (Simon, Josep, Armand) for the reliable welcome, chat and svenska practice.

The picture above is of Vic Knight and friends during this afternoon's Thanksgiving celebration at his house in Tranås, which is about a 45-minute drive south of Linköping. The American holiday of Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday, so Vic invited me down to take part in a feast with some other Americans or Swedes very familiar with American traditions (but the picture is, of course, of our post-meal fika). Thanks for the warm welcome and hearty meal, Vic.

Next week's Linköpinglivin edition will be from Prague in the Czech Republic where I will be visiting my Dad who is teaching English in "Praha." We're going to have a memorable and unexpected Thanksgiving together a long, long way from home.

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the U.S. and for those Sweden-based readers, I look forward to the onset of my first Swedish "Jul" coming soon.

Trevlig vecka!


Caroline said...

The wait for jul won't feel long with advent and lucia to look forward to in the mean time. In a way, I think the pre-christmas celebrations are almost better than the real thing. ;)

Kristin said...

Hi Sean! I think it's great that you seem to like Linköping and Sweden so much. I had a blog in Seattle and I recognise the list making. I did the same thing when I first came to the US. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to say Hi, and also recommend my favourite café in Linköping. It is café Berget, you probably already heard about it. (Maybe even been there already.)It's in the city center and it feels just like you are visiting in someones house, not like you are in a regular café.

I can also recommend the view from Café Belvederen, it's the yellow tower pretty close to the hospital. You can see it from Trädgårdsföreningen.

Hope you have a nice Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...


I'm a little worried about you spending 8-10 hours in Coffee shops wasting your time. Don't you have a job of some sorts? Should I come be your RA again and find things for you to do as I did last year? haha. Also, I have a TA that lived in Sweden for some time and he says that you have a legal right to having a TV in your room. Is this true?? I kinda think he's full of crap. :) Have fun drinking obscene amounts of coffee!!


skhor said...

happy thanksgiving, sean!

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Sean, and much love to you. So thankful for you and for the experiences you are having.
Have a wonderful time in Prague for this Thanksgiving Day.

Missing you---
Love, Mom

Todd said...

Sean - Knowing that I am an avid LinkopingLivin reader, your employer contacted me and asked me to do an time audit of your weekly activities. Here's what i reported to them:

120 hours in a 5 day work week
40 hours sleeping
10 hours at cafes according to this weeks blog
5 hours of Swedish class
5 hours of studying Swedish (guess)
4 hours researching and writing your blog
10 hours reading comments since your feature in the local paper
10 hours of Fika
10 hours on Skype/IM/Emailing family and friends
10 hours eating
3 hours planning travel for next weekend
4 hours running
2 hours trying to figure out the true meaning of Lagom and Jante Law

Which leaves a 7 hour work week. After they read this report...I'm not sure how much longer you'll be in Sweden.

So to those living in Linkoping, make sure you say hi to Sean at the cafe SOON...

Pia said...

Hi there! I really enjoy reading your blog about my little hometown :) Even though I spend alot of time having fika I don't think I've seen you. But I mostly hang at Coffehouse by George or Steve's so that might explain it! I hope your Thanksgiving turns out good! Med vänliga hälsningar Pia

Coornet said...

Hello.. I just heard something really funny online, thought maybe you would like to hear it. Its kind of a swedish lesson..

Crystal said...

Hey Sean!
Good to hear that you're enjoying the coffee scene! I't must be cold there by now- Prague I'm assuming isn't much warmer right now... you should come a bit futher south... still no snow or rain!!!
Happy T-day, a bit late

Elin said...

As Pia said, why not Coffehouse by George? It's my favourite! Great food and everyhing :)
Enjoy my hometown!

Anonymous said...

O my god! The link Coornet send you was hilarious! It must be even worse for a native English-speaker! //Linda