Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunburns in Stockholm

It’s been a glorious weekend. One that has left me sunburned. The first time I have managed to sunburn myself in Sweden in a long while. It takes me approximately 137 seconds to burn myself back in Colorado. Whenever I leave Colorado I tend to be a bit cocky. I figure that the extra 5,000 feet away from the sun makes all the difference and I don’t need sunscreen. That’s just not true.

Yesterday, I discovered a beach in my area. And of course by beach I mean a small swath of sand the size of a basketball court. But the water was cold and the sun was shining. So I snagged a good book and lay down. The problem was the book was really good. And I didn’t put any sunscreen on, leaving me looking a nice shade of Valentine’s Day pink.

The day progressed with me sitting in Kungsträdgården watching two men play chess. For 45 minutes. This was boring beyond all words. And I know a lot of words. I can’t explain why I did it. I don’t even know how to play chess. Actually, from the pace of the game, neither did these two men. Perhaps I was suffering from a bit of sunstroke. I have no excuses otherwise. Learn from my mistakes. Never do this.

Luckily, the afternoon was saved by my stumbling upon a flash mob at Sergels torg. I am fascinated by flash mobs after having seen Stockholm Central Station freeze for April Fool’s Day in 2008 (which was much better than what I saw yesterday so you should probably click on the link. Do it. Seriously.). Some people worry about being exposed to assassins in big open spaces. Like Sergels torg. I look for a flash mob. And yesterday I found what I was looking for. Luckily no assassins.

In the evening I had dinner with two of my former Scandinavian Studies professors. They kindly put up with my neurotic questions and need for some semblance of control in my decisions. This was appreciated beyond all words. Again, I know a lot of words. I am constantly amazed at the kindness and generosity of my former professors. A rousing endorsement for the University of Oregon if nothing else.

It wasn’t until I had filled my belly with delicious food that I realized just how badly I had managed to sunburn myself. The itch started setting in. I have had enough sunburns to know what the itch means. The itch means that my Valentine’s Day pink had turned to Valentine’s Day red. Valentine’s Day red is not a becoming color on pale skin. Trust me.

So being the responsible and intelligent young man that I am, I decided to go for a hike and a swim today. Without sunscreen. Because what better way to treat a sunburn than with even more UV rays?

Welcome to Sweden. And melanoma.

Subscribe to a Swedish American in Sweden


  1. Ease of getting burned: Denver is on the same latitude as Valencia in Spain, or Ankara in Turkey. Stockholm is on the same latitude as Juneau in Alaska. Chicago winters are colder than those in Stockholm even though Chicago is on the same latitude as Barcelona or Rome. The Gulf Stream warms up northern Europe, and I suppose the reason southern Europe has a milder climate than, say, inland Chicago, is that there is so much sea in its proximity. A lot colder eastwards from Stockholm. A trip to Tallinn in the winter is enough to freeze your ass off. Chilly Moscow is on the same latitude as Copenhagen.

  2. Bahahahahhaha! After spending two and half years in Montenegro and going through countless bottles of sunscreen in the average of 30 degree temps from late May to early September, I guess I figured the copious amounts of sunscreen were an immunization of sorts. So when the sun decides to make a rare appearance in the cold, wet and windy Swedish city I live in, I forget about global warming, the thinning ozone and UV rays. I venture out unprotected only to have mother nature teach me the same lesson she taught you today.

  3. I managed to do the exactly same thing here in Finland yesterday. Sunburn that is. But for the first time in my life I also managed to find a cure for the itchiness etc. Tadaa: Coconut oil! Sounds weird I guess, but it really worked.

    By the way, when are you going to announce that you won the language blogg competition?


  4. It has been glorious. You have me to thank. I brought it with me from Arizona.

    I am "secreting" the warmest, driest year ever for Stockholm this year.

  5. This simply means that you are embracing your true Swedish roots by seeking out an unhealthy obsession with sun exposure.

  6. Ditto on the coconut oil! It works very well to take away the sting and itchiness. During non-burn season, I use coconut oil rather than lotion and it works quite well for that so long as you don't use too much.

  7. Actually, that flash mob scene only confirms my lurid sniper fantasies.

  8. i don't get what a flash mob is?? and why?

  9. Nice blog, I only just found it. Being the swede that I am, I absolutely love reading about reflections about the country from your perspective.

    Oh and btw, I did the same this weekend. Hello crabfish-reddish face, I was actually going more for the brownish, but nevermind.

  10. Again, your poor mom! Perhaps she just avoids this blog to spare her peace of mind. At least make sure you get to a dermatologist on a regular basis, please!

  11. First time it's rained all week! I was beginning to disbelieve everything I'd come to hear of Stockholm weather!
    Don't fret the one sunburn, it was worth it to enjoy the sun.

  12. We have a lot of stupid sayings in Finland. One of them goes like: It gets cured by the same way it had gotten sore. In this case, by getting more sunburns. I see you're following the Finnish footsteps all the time, LOL!

  13. @anonymous – That latitude is tricky. But it’s got nothing on elevation.

    @SwedishJenn – you would think we would learn. I’m pretty sure my pale skin has kept Banana Boat in business during the summer months in Colorado.

    @anonymous – oooh… coconut oil. I usually stick with the aloe vera. It does good work for me.

    I’m asking for a recount in the blog competition. Clearly my victory was snatched away from me only by fraud. Stay tuned.

    @kmbr – all I know is that as long as you keep that 109 degree weather in Arizona, I’ll be ok.

    @openid – like when I walk outside, close my eyes, and throw my face in the direction of the sun. That’s normal in other places in the world right?

    @anonymous – another vote for coconut oil.

    @kverulantinnen – I suppose a group of, what looks to be lifeless bodies, lying in the middle of an open area would only lend credence to the idea of a sniper sitting atop Kulturhuset.

    @anonymous – flash mobs are basically groups of people that do something unusual in a public place for a short period of time and then immediately disperse. Why? I don’t really know. All I know is that I love them.

    @the little mermaid – I have a close relationship with the color crab. Unfortunately.

    @Laura – its true. My mom has had to deal with this for 25 years. Plus my two younger brothers. The fact that she got us out of the house in one piece and into college is in and of itself an amazing accomplishment. Granted she seems to have failed to teach me how to close the fridge and put on sunscreen.

    I’m kidding mamma. Duh.

    @Stu – Stockholm has its moments. And when it does, this city is hard to beat. And this past week has been amazing. A nice rain is good every now and again.

    @Smek – I think I might fit in well in Finland if that is the case.

  14. @Smek: In the US, we would call that cure "the hair of the dog that bit you," and it usually applies to drinking. As in, when you wake up with a hangover, have a little of the "hair of the dog," and you'll feel better. I'm not a big drinker, but I have had the opportunity to test the hair-of-the-dog cure and, amazingly, it works. Not so sure it applies to sunburn, though.

  15. Another great flash mob is Bounce's tribute to Michael Jackson.

    Oh. Also, the video you posted doesn't work.

  16. @Laura - I think the hair of the dog cure works in terms of alcohol because your body is going through a sort of withdrawl.

    @shima - that is a good one, although I missed seeing that one live.

    the video should work. still having trouble with it?

  17. You're from Colorado? And you like American sports? Hopefully that means the Denver Broncos. My husband and I thought we were the only ones here, although I saw someone outside McDonalds on Hamngatan yesterday with a Nuggets jersey, so perhaps our numbers are growing.

  18. I am a fan... although I'm not too sure about kyle orton at quarterback.

  19. Neither am I. Wonder if we will see the man debut tonight in the pre-season game against the 49ers? We have a slingbox set up at my parent's house in Colorado - after four years of missing football, we had to do something to see the games.

  20. well it wasn't pretty... but neither was cutler in chicago. chalk it up to the pre-season and hope it gets better.

  21. SO where is this elusive beach in Kungsträdgården? I have had to go all the way out to the end of the red line for some sand, though I normally just walk the three minutes or so to get to the rocks at Kristineberg Strand.

    Lucky for me, I haven't been sunburned since I left North Carolina.

    Is there a way to watch American Football or Hockey games here (other than finding them on the internet)? I doubt my Bills, Panthers nor Sabres will actually be good this year, but I still want to watch them.

  22. oooh... not going to find a beach at Kungsträdgården. Thats the big park close to the castle. Theres a large fountain. A couple of statues of kings. But no sand.

    In terms of watching sports. You can find both football and hockey on at O'Learys sports bar. They are everywhere it seems. The NHL gets shown on normal TV too. There is actually some American football teams here in town. Djurgården has a team. DIFAF and they have a homegame coming up in a couple of weeks actually. Ive checked it out and its a lot of fun actually.

  23. Sweet! I've been to a few hockey games at Globen, but I didn't realize that there was also American Football team I could watch live. I'm going to have to get the girls together and go. Thanks for letting me know.

    I did know about O'Leary's, though I thought it was only a Boston bar. I'm not a fan of Boston sports (I know, I know... but I seriously hate the Pats, and I was the happiest person on earth the day Brady was taken out for the rest of the season... ah wonderful memories). I'll have to see about their schedule and if any teams worth watching will be up.

    I am really bad with the neighborhoods, and get lost just about every time I step out of my apartment. I've realized that being lost is part of the fun of living here. I see something new everyday. I just could never tell you where I was.

  24. well they play up the boston thing but they show everything. Im pretty sure theres no one who works there who actually knows much about boston sports.

    you should definitely check out the football team here in town. they've actually got a game coming up next weekend.