All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.
What I remember most vividly about the convenience of Swedish public transportation was the ease with which I traveled from Farmor's apartment in Göteborg, to a little day-use only island in the archipelago just off the coast.
It was one system of payment, by this time reloadable, magnetic strip cards that you ran through a reader while boarding, whether you were getting on the bus outside the apartment complex,
then a streetcar to the central bus station,
then on another bus to the harbor,
and finally, onto the boat to the island.
Here I am, haven't been to Sweden since the 80s, it's now 1996, and I'm no longer traveling with Farmor as my guide. No problem. My friend had told me where to end up, and at what time. Got myself a map the day before, figured out the best route, and off I went.
The bus ride to the harbor and the boat to the island was one fare, so as I got off the bus, I was handed a transfer slip, which I showed when I got on the boat, and there she was, saving me a seat.
Another example of the convenience of it all was the evening I went out on the town at night. There I was, married, 31, and had never been out at night in Sweden. Caught a bus to the same friend's house, we had dinner, then we all headed downtown to a bar with outdoor, sidewalk seating, and had one of the most pleasant evenings of my life.
Ironically, the entire conversation consisted of, wait for it, the cultural differences between the US and Sweden! My friend's boyfriend, and their other friends, a couple, who joined us, were very interested in hearing about US culture, and since I hadn't been to Sweden as an adult, I found it wonderful to be able to talk to peers about my perceptions.
The last bus for Farmor's apartment complex left at 12:45 am, and the stop was across the street from the bar. I actually saw the sun go down that night, as the pleasant breeze caressed our conversation, the beer flowed freely, and then my designated-driver bus took me safely home.
I would not have been able to accomplish either of those journeys here in America without spending a LOT more money, and going home a LOT earlier from the bar. Our bus lines are hard to coordinate, there's a lot of wait if you need to transfer, and though the buses run on schedule, they sure don't run as often as the Swedish buses. Then there's the part that I couldn't have gotten myself to a gorgeous island since Colorado is rather short on those.
If you're an American, do you use our public transportation? If you're from another country, what's the public transportation like there?
~Tina, remembering 11:00 pm sunsets, island breezes, and a great visit to my homeland.
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Photo credit: Bus
Photo credit: Street car
Photo credit: boat