Public Drinking at Popular Parks in Stockholm

I always notice that whatever park I am in in Stockholm, people are drinking. Beer, wine in a box, cider kool-aid are the beverages of choice.

When I first looked online at Stockholm’s official site, their information was totally outdated, by years. That was not helpful.

This year however, they got it together and have posted where it is legal and not to drink.

Either way, the chance of a police office actually finding you and fining you for illegal drinking is almost nothing. Just don’t ever drink near a school (that is always illegal), be underage, or completely drunk.

The one time the police stopped us, they said we shouldn’t drink in this particular park but being midsommar, it was okay. Aren’t the police generous?!

Some parks are not governed by the city and some parks don’t have alcohol times but residents in the area may self impose restrictions. Be sure to check the park for alcohol rules.

Here’s the list of every park I could find:
Innerstan, Östermalm, Norrmalm:
Lejonparken – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 22.00-07.00 perioden 30 april till och med 15 juni.
Lappkärrsbadet – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 22.00-07.00.
Brunnsvikens strandbad – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 22.00-07.00.

Rålambshovsparken – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 00:00-07:00. Om Parkteaterns föreställningar varar längre än till kl. 00.00 är det tillåtet att dricka alkohol.
Smedsuddsbadet – Alkoholförbud mellan kl 00:00-07:00.
S:t Göransparken – Alkoholförbud under alla tider
Kristinebergsparken – Alkoholförbud mellan kl 00:00-07:00.
Kronobergsparken – Alkoholförbud mellan kl 00:00-07:00.
Serafimerstranden – Alkoholförbud under alla tider
Kungsholmstorg – Alkoholförbud under alla tider

Fatbursparken, near Medborgaplatsen – Alkoholförbud under alla tider
Skinnarviksparken – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 00:00-07:00 på hela Skinnarviksberget.
Tengdalsparken – Alkoholförbud under alla tider
Vitabergsparken – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 00:00-07:00 i hela Vitabergsparken.
Fåfängan – Alkoholförbud mellan kl. 00:00-07:00.
Tantolunden & Drakensbergsparken – There’s no information about either park from Polisen or the city website. I have a feeling that Tanto is still privately owned and the parks recreation does not fall under the city jurisdiction. It was privately owned but was given to the city many years ago. You can drink there without restrictions but the colony residents and park goers are known to have scuffles.

Liljeholmstorget & Trekanten – Alkoholförbud under alla tider

Am I missing any other parks? Let me know and I’ll try to get information for it. You can also download this map that Stockholm created.

Swedish Drinking Oxymoron: 18 to Drink, 20 to Buy

If you are not already confused and irritated enough with the country’s most absurd company, Systembolaget, then you haven’t seen anything yet.

The bittersweet twisted relationship with Systembolaget just got weirder and with a museum to boot.

In order to carry those lovely purple doggie bags from the store to a party in order to get shitfaced, you have to be 20 years old or older to buy the ebullient, adult beverages.

Fair enough. 20 to buy.
But say as an 18-year-old you go to a restaurant. You would not expect you could buy a beer.

Or would you?

Actually, you can buy alcohol at a restaurant/pub and get shit-faced.

Now this is getting weird.

But you must be able to consume alcohol at 18 then? High school seniors roll around in trucks drinking beer and spraying alcohol everywhere so that must be legal.

Yes, if the alcohol is below 3.5%, otherwise, no.
Now I’m very confused…
Surely if a restaurant will allow me to drink at 18 and up, then I can drink with my parents when I am 18.

If you are as confused as I am, don’t worry, Systembolaget clarifies everything:
En viktig del i alkoholpolitiken är att skjuta upp alkoholdebuten för ungdomar så långt det går. Lagstiftaren (riksdagen) anser att 20 år på Systembolaget är en rimlig ålder för att köpa alkohol och konsumera exempelvis i hemmet. På restaurang anser man att det finns en större kontroll/översyn av konsumtionen (man sitter i en restauranglokal där det finns personal och andra gäster) och då är myndighetsåldern 18 år som anses vara rimlig. Lagstiftaren är också medveten om att det alltid finns risk för langning till kompisar som är yngre – och att då exempelvis ha 18-årsgräns på Systembolaget skulle motverka alkoholpolitikens syfte.

To sum up what Systembolaget wrote on their website: It is 20 to buy, 18 to drink at the neighborhood watering hole, but 20 to drink chez vous. Because according to the Swedish government, a restaurant is more capable of taking care of your child’s drinking habits than you are as a parent.

In Sweden’s defense, they are not the only country with idiotic drinking laws. In the Indian state of Maharashtra, each individual requires a drinking permit (foreigners excluded) to buy on a daily or yearly basis. It’s a bitch to obtain and no other state in India requires it.

In the US, the drinking age is 21 though most people begin drinking by 18. There’s a saying that if you vote at 18, fight at 18, you should be able to drink at 18. Oh, and for US citizen teenagers traveling abroad, drinking at a bar in France at 19 maybe legal there but not for the American.

Still, I love how high school graduates flaunt public drinking during graduation period in front of the police. No finer way to exhibit civil disobedience and drunkenness at the same time.

But on final note, I hate section 6, clause 9:
9 § På serveringsställe där serveringstillstånd gäller får inte någon dricka eller tillåtas dricka andra alkoholdrycker än sådana som har serverats i enlighet med tillståndet. Detta gäller dock inte på hotellrum.

You can’t bring your own alcohol to a restaurant. Nooooo!!! So now, I will buy an overpriced bottle of shitty wine at the restaurant.

Dangerous Body Butters at a Store Near You

I love LOVE that newspaper. Basically they take Swedish news, translate it (through google translator), add opinions (because real news deserves opinions), check if the translated article and opinions make sense, and post. Voilà! You have a news worthy piece for the English audience in Sweden.

And then, The Local writes intense, heavy news articles about chocolate, STDs, speeding tickets, gay parties, and drunk people. But this latest article is the icing on the cake.

The Örebro municipality’s crime prevention unit visited The Body Shop to inform the lotion company that its posters gratuitously displaying the leaf of the Cannabis sativa plant (industrial hemp), was not acceptable.

Body butters + photo of a industrial hemp leaf = Drug promotion for teenagers

What on earth??

I know. Sweden has a lot of problems. Children see Pripps Blå commercials and immediately become beer drinking alcoholics on boats. Oh wait, they do that!

For a country that has one of the largest drug crime prevention units per capita, Swedes must be terrified of The Body Shop’s lotions. And for some idiots, industrial hemp, indica, must be the same as the marijuana plant leaf. That’s why it is legal to cultivate thousands of hectors of industrial hemp in more than 30 countries.

Karin Wickberg Taylar, press spokesperson for The Body Shop Sweden, said, “They (the Örebro municipal) argued that the use of the hemp leaf in the posters was offensive and provocative and that it undermined their work to tackle youth drug abuse.”

But yes, I understand. In a country dealing with political upheaval across the spectrum and racially inclined shootings in Malmö, the most important thing for a crime department to concentrate on is: photos of a plant leaf promoting moisturized skin.

Maybe that IS the enemy. Moisturized skin. Soft, supple, beautiful skin. The Swedish government doesn’t want us to know about body butters and other illicit lotions, lest the Swedes become even more sexy.

Some of the comments from the article were off the charts hilarious. I had to post them.

“Swedish customs agents are nabbing more body butter smugglers than in past years, and people traveling across the Öresund Bridge with small amounts of body butter figure prominently in the statistics.

Remember kids body butter kills! Just say NO!” — Soft Boiled

“”sweedy82: Because don’t you know, all drugs are bad. If you want to relax the only drug anyone should take is the one that’s Swede-accepted and Government approved; by buying overpriced and overtaxed booze from the monopolized stores that carry little selection – so big daddy gets his chunk of your cash.

Anything else is evil and unsafe.” — ISayWhatPeopleThink

“Yet alcohol is shown on Swedish TV programs all the time. Alcohol kills way more people in one day than have died of marijuana use since the days of Adam.

This is not conservatism or liberalism — it is just an insignificant municipality without any sense of perspective.” — Rebel

Next time you put lotion on, just think, are you taking a gateway drug?

Sweden Most Effective at Governing & Law – I Think Not

It is that time of the year of the again when international bodies release data about the #1 country for gender equality or cleanest place to live or best place for dogs.

Now, the World Justice Project’s 2010 Rule of Law Index ranks Sweden as number 1 in five of the nine categories. These are: government accountability, absence of corruption, clear and stable laws, open government, and regulatory enforcement.

I am well aware that Sweden is one of the best countries to live. It is the land of Volvo, Ikea and Swedish waffles. But while I have been happiest here, I today, find certain aspects of Swedish life hard to digest.

  • Sweden is safe. No, violent crimes, rape, and petty theft are rising fastest in Sweden.
  • Regulatory enforcement – ie. the Swedish government works. Oh the Swedish government works so well that the average murder sentence is 7 years. If you are lucky can train to be a doctor while in prison (no Swedish papers covered this), get only 1 year for murdering a friend, or never be arrested for beating an innocent person with a gun. That’s right folks, rule of law works!
  • Government accountability – Sweden is friendly to immigrants and it’s easy to assimilate. Well, Sveriges Demokraterna has unearthed the skeletons from the Swedish cupboards.
  • Absence of CorruptionRenting an apartment is corrupt free. Because the government turns its eye away from the rental market system it keeps its hands clean. That’s right, text message bidding and vying for black market secondhand rental contracts is corrupt free.
    Oh, did I mention a real estate agent represents BOTH the seller and the buyer?? And the Swedish government was responsible for billions in renovation and building projects during the 1960-1980s? We all know that the real estate market and construction are the “cleanest” industries.
  • Clear and stable laws – Swedes have tough driver’s license exam therefore “they are better drivers.” The Swedish country aside, Stockholm has some of the worst drivers I have ever seen in a developed economy. Running red lights, making illegal turns, refusing to yield to pedestrians, overtaking police cars are some reasons why Stockholm drivers are rarely pulled over by traffic cops. Wait?! Where the hell are the traffic cops??
  • Open government – Systembolaget protects you from alcohol. The government does not want you drinking. The taxman also wants to make more money. Solution: sell evil alcohol with 200% tax rate and everyone wins! Create a governing board structure that is so complex that no one knows who runs this entity. As a good samaritan, when drinking is most prevalent (weekends, Midsommer, Christmas), pass out flyers and advertise on TV that drinking too much is bad.

I still brag that Sweden is a wonderful place to live; with caveats. My glass shattered back in Jan when my husband was beaten. That warm, fuzzy feeling of Swedish life disappeared. Justice and law failed us when we most desperately needed closure.

Sweden is not perfect, and my hope is that we strive for society becomes safer, more open, and easier to live in; not the other way around.

Best Bars and Pubs to Visit in Stockholm

Now that spring is arriving, Stockholmers will hit the streets in droves from their 6 months of hibernation in the catacombs.

Whether you want the hole in the pub in Stockholm or an upscale diva’licious bar, Stockholm has the selection of places to drink. Upon first glace, you may only see the super posh and somewhat pretentious bars in Stureplan, Riche and Spy Bar bear in mind, but after delving into each of small sections of the city, you will find the right watering hole for you and friends and the beautiful swedish girls.

I split the list into two groups: one group is more of casual bars and pubs that serve food but are about the beers, rather than charging for the ambiance. The second group consists of posh bars and cocktail lounges that specialize in both beers and mixed drinks.

The Standard Lot and Casual Bars:
Prices range anywhere from 32kr for a stor stark (the strong big beer) to 65kr. Be prepared when visiting the bars in Stockholm, finding cheap bars is hard. You may have to add a bit extra weight to your wallet.

Cafe Tranen – Odenplan, Vasastaden – A popular place in Vasastan for the 20 and 30somethings to meet.  It’s located downstairs and the bar restaurant serves both beer and food.  If you are in that part of town, definitely swing by.

Monks – Sveavägen, innstaden – The other of beer conaisseur bars in Stockholm, Monks has a large selection of beers on tab.

Spitfire– Östermalm – Joined together with Oxid bar, Spitfire is a great hole-in-the wall English style bar with good beer on tap.  Prices are reasonable and there is a happy hour until 6PM. It’s a cozy little pub perfect for the Friday’s afterwork beers.  I have been to both Spitfire and Oxid many times and the ambiance is great and the whole world doesn’t descend upon the places either.

Tudor Arms Pub & Restaurang – Östermalm – Another great English pub where they actually closes at 11PM. Yes, 11PM, because in Britain that’s what time pubs must close. I love this place because of the food, the crazy owner (a large, loud, flirtatious bloke), and the unassuming ambiance. Prices are reasonable for being in the expensive Östermalm district.

Debaser – Slussen & Humlegården – One of my favorite places for ut servering (outside service), Debaser Slussen is located between Gamla Stan and Södermalm islands.  At night, local bands play inside (there is an entry fee) but you can sit outside freely.  There is also Debaser Humlegården in Östermalm.  Food is on the pricey side for being a bar but beers are reasonably priced.
Debaser Slussen

Akkurat – Slussen, Södermalm – One of the two beer connoisseur bars in Stockholm, the other beings Monks, Akkurat has more beer than your eyeballs or belly can imagine. Prices start at reasonable and sky rocket to beyond belief if you decide to go for the classy, hand brewed beers. In the summer, mussels are served at the bar and are a popular choice with the patrons.

Kellys – Medborgaplatsen, Södermalm – One of the few exceptions to the rule, you can find cheap beer in Stockholm.  Pretty grungy and loud rock music, it’s the place for cheap beers.

Carmen – Medborgaplatsen, Södermalm – A true hole in the wall with grumpy staff, get yourself before the rest of the crowd shows up and takes the 12 seats in the bar. Cheap beer and no music means bring the office coworkers with you.

Southside Pub – Zinkensdamn, Södermalm – The best hamburgers in town (at around 132kr), this Irish pub also has English quiz nights on Thursdays.  A great local spot and a foreign hangout on the quiz nights.

Snaps – Medborgaplatsen, Södermalm – A great meet up place for friends. The location is perfect; lying smack in Medborgaplatsen, it’s the perfect outdoor serving bar. Prices are typical of Stockholm.

Posh Places to Get Delicious Drinks:

Bauer – Slussen – Södermalm –  Smiley face lamps and cartoons adorn the walls but don’t assume it is a place for the kids. They make great cosmopolitans and other hard drinks.

Kungsholmen – Kungsholmen – The restaurant and bar that bears the same name as the island it lays upon, Kungsholmen is part of the Grupp F12.  A more trendy and light hearted place for both the aspiring twenty somethings and those with families, Kungsholmen offers great food (from Asian to more South American) and drinks to complement.

Gondolen – Slussen, Södermalm – Excellent mojitos and other hard liquor drinks.  Your wallet will be lighter when you leave.

Vampire Lounge – Södermalm – Located in a celler, the Vampire Lounge is a low key classy place for cocktails.  As they specialize in mixed drinks, you should be able to find anything you want.  And anything you don’t want (I once had a nasty green drink…should have asked the waiter about it before).

Ute Companiet
(part of Sture Companiet) – Stureplan, Östermalm –  One of the many super posh bars and restaurants in the Stureplan, Ute Companiet is fun because the whole place is outside next to Svampen (that giant mushroom).  It’s a great spot to people watch and see the wanna be richies mingle with the richies and the richies try to be ultra cool.  If you want to see stekare men, this is definitely the place.  You can also visit Sturehof, Riche, and Birger Jarl which have similar clientele but fun to visit if you’re looking for super class and well dressed Swedish men and women. There’s also the infamous Spy Bar which in honestly, is the crappiest and most expensive bar I ever visited to get the full Stureplan experience.
Ute Companiet & Svampen

A Non Love Letter to System Bolaget (The Swedish Alcohol Monopoly)

thanks to for this image.

Dear System Bolaget,

Your whole ‘system’ is a joke.  The guise of being a responsible seller without profit motive is just an attempt to gain moral authority and powertrip.  After more than 100 years of being abolished and the far majority of the OECD countries eliminating an alcohol monopoly (except for Canada, Norway, Finland and Iceland), you still see the need to control people to help make “better decisions.”  The excuse for not having an alcohol monopoly?  These far fetched facts conducted by left wing researches from unknown institutes in the United States and elsewhere. If the alcohol monopoly was eliminated, supposedly this would happen…

In approximate numbers it would entail:

  • And an increase of 16 millions days of sick leave.
  • An increase of 1,600 deaths per year.
  • An increase of 14,000 in reported cases of physical abuse.

After working in Sweden for sometime now, I know that there are plenty of Fridays where people stay at home and “work.” Because instead of taking the sick day, it can be easier to take a work from home day. I wonder if you, System Bolaget, recognize all those “work from home” days as time wasted as well.

And what about the restrictions? So by telling me, an adult, what I can buy, where I can buy, when I can buy, that makes a more responsible drinker? I don’t feel more responsible, in fact, I feel the opposite: that the Swedish government has taken control of what I can and cannot do when it comes to alcohol. Although I guess it’s okay that grown adults are treated like little children while given the right to a “healthy drinking culture.” Wow! I feel special, I can participate in a healthy drinking culture because the government controls it.

But what about free market? And monopolies? And asymmetric information? Everyone who studied economics knows that monopolies, no matter what industry, is bad for free market. Of course, since System Bolaget is here to protect us, having a monopoly is okay. Controlling information is okay. What information you ask? Pricing, profits, research studies: it’s ALL done by bolaget, there’s no third party to get the information from.

Why yes, who wouldn’t trust an authoritative, controlling body that decides what alcohol to buy, how to sell the alcohol, where to sell the alcohol, what hours to sell the alcohol, what information to be released regarding the research studies it undertakes, what financial information to disclose to the public, and most importantly, WHY it is the authority. Sounds like a church to me, specifically the churches that claim all rights and authority over its citizens because it’s doing it for their safety and security. And being not so religious, I am weary of church propaganda.

I am lucky to have not lived in Sweden all my life and be tied to a controlling store where I can:

…enjoy Systembolaget’s drinks without harming either ourselves or other people. (source)

Really, if I drink the magic potions from Systembolaget, I won’t harm other people? Wow, an even better miracle!

Thanks you Swedish alcohol monopoly, you managed to seduce me and strip my rights away while on your power trip. I am so proud to live in a free country.

PS- I’m tired of seeing those stupid blue or purple bolaget bags. You couldn’t get any more conspicuous than that.

Don’t forget your bolaget bag

When walking around the city on a Friday or Saturday night, I noticed everyone has a little purple or blue bag. It is almost fashionable to have one of those small bags filled with hidden liquor. At the same time, it’s entertaining. In a country where beer can run you $100 in one night at a bar, people are very protective of their alcohol. And there’s some etiquette involved.

If you are invited to a party at someone’s house, you are expected to bring your own beer. (I’ve learned this the hard way) This isn’t the BYOB days at college house parties where the hosts were too poor to afford kegs for hundreds of people. These are nice birthday parties, house parties or even a poker night. Hosts expect you to BYOB, and literally it means beer or wine or cidre. No real liquor please. You could but then you would be seen as a true alcoholic who has money to spend. [reflecting that a 700ml bottle of Absolut costs $44]

So you get invited to a Swedish house party. Plan on bringing enough beer to last two or three hours. After that, the group will head out to a bar. You want to be buzzed enough before heading out to not drop $10 per beer at a club.

But, there are couple exceptions. If you are going to a formal dinner party, your hosts will probably have organized the wine and beer for the evening. Yippe! And most corporate engagements I have attended also cover the alcohol. Be sure to check.

Finally, Friday night: battled the cold, stood in long lines to get in the bolaget and out, and beaten the other crazy Swedes to get the last bottle of Stella. What happens next is weird. I get to the party, expecting lots of rambunctious swedes and instead get… people sitting, drinking beer, and minding their own business. Little purple and blue are placed securely between the owner’s legs for fear of grand theft beer by other guests. No one really talks to me and people just mumble a bit with each other. I compare it to a wake; without someone to mourn. It is really bizarre and yet reflective of the dependence (or perceived dependence) to get these funny people to socialize.

Eventually, people make it to their third beer. and OMG! life! The Swedes wake up from their comas and start chatting, walking around, mingling with others. Finally someone will say, “tjena! i heard you are from the US. how do like my country??” And there’s a chance you can speak to a male without him running away. Pretty awesome. But if you wait too long to talk to folks, you may end up having some very drunk conversations. And Swedes, as we all know, have some issues when it comes to human interactions.

And if you forget the bolaget bag…? Well, hope to god that some Swede misplaces his bag and you can steal that lovely Swedish beer and begin conversing with people. Like how you’re supposed to do it. With beer.

The Swedish Male Look

I met a little swede a few months ago while I was still living in the US and for the one time in my life, I made a move on him. He was already living in the states for the past eight months but, that really doesn’t change swedish ways; especially male swedish mating ways.

So the backstory: I went to the Scandinavian happy hour; it was of course full of $3 spatens, 80 beers on tap, and many many Swedish men (a couple token Norwegians and women were around too). When I first met my little swede*, Þórbjörn, I was introduced by another mutual friend who happened to be an insane Norwegian lacking a filter on his mouth (that’s another story). I was jokingly introduced as the mistress girlfriend and of course the Swedes in this group of five, giggled. Yes, the men giggle. And then everyone introduces themselves in a typical fashion but then Þórbjörn here, says hi and gives the swedish male look. It is THE look for a swedish man interested in a woman. They refuse to accept the existence of such a look, but it does indeed exist.

THE Swedish Male Look
What is it? Ladies, you know the look you give a man in the bar/restaurant/party etc that you’re interested in him? You look at him, make eye contact, smile shyly, look away, look back at him, and turn away. That, is basically the look a Swedish man gives.

He is an expert at staring at the floor even when none is in line of sight. He will look at you very shyly, smile a little, bat his eyes and look down at the floor at the same time, then look back up at you. I call the ‘devil in a sheep’s outfit’ look. It’s very innocent and endearing but you know and he knows, there are very naughty intentions behind it.

This look is the definite sign of trouble. Ladies in Sweden, if you get this look, you either move in for the kill or move on. He’s played his move with his shy, quiet Nordic self; he’s waiting for you now. It’s subtle. He already drank a few beers and mustered up the courage to give you the look. So, you better your know it.

And if you can recognize the swedish male look, you’ll know how to hunt down any Swede you want. And if you are timid with men, like myself, well you are partly screwed. This is Sweden after all, and the women pick up the men.

Välkommen till Sverige.

*Since the little swede doesn’t have a very Swedish name in real life, I’m going to give him one: Þórbjörn. Okay, that’s Icelandic but whatever. Or maybe Pehr.