Monday, August 10, 2009


I realize this is really out of order, especially since this story requires that I talk about people whom I have not yet mentioned, so I'll try to fill you in on the backstory first.

Two Thursdays ago, the first full day that I was in Sweden, was when we had to register for the Intensive Basic Swedish course. While waiting in the extremely long line, we met Noemie (from France) and Mark (from California). We all hit it off pretty well, and we all live in Flogsta, so we've been going to class, eating, and running errands together nearly every day.

As I mentioned in my last post, there is an ICA very close--perhaps five minutes if you walk--to Flogsta. It has nearly everything in the way of groceries that you could possibly need, but as is always the case with convenience, it's more expensive. There are tons of grocery stores around town (most of them also ICAs), but we never really saw a price difference significant enough to warrant going anywhere aside from our local ICA.

That is, until we discovered Willy:s.

If you go to the north end of town, past the town square and the train station, you will eventually come across a large street that consists almost completely of car dealerships, office complexes still under construction, Uppsala's own IKEA (I've yet to go), and Willy:s. Don't ask me why there's a colon in the name; it looks like it's mostly a trend for informal proper nouns (like store names) and abbreviating things (like on bus marquees). Anyway, think of Willy:s as something along the lines of Wal-Mart, where everything's in bulk and the store brand is dirt cheap. (I've been too afraid to ask about their moral practices with regard to where and how they procure their products.) Willy:s is quite a long walk from Flogsta, especially if you're carrying groceries back to your dorm and it's raining (it was a bit of a rough first impression), but because we all own bicycles now, we figured that the trek would be fairly painless.

Getting there was easy. We left Flogsta around 3:30 PM and got to Willy:s approximately fifteen minutes later. We spent at least half an hour shopping, stocking up on all sorts of fun stuff and gawking at the amazingly low prices: I managed to get three apples, a loaf of bread, some OJ, some bath soap, laundry detergent, a 30-pack of hot dogs (we split it), a bottle of ketchup, some cheese, and a big thing of cookies for 187 SEK (that's roughly $25).

And then there was the part where we had to ride back home. Google Earth tells me that our route was about five and a half kilometers (a little over 3.4 miles) long, which shouldn't be too painful, but when you have groceries hanging on your wrists, adding inertia, and cutting off circulation to your hands, the ride was a lot harder. I can't honestly recall how many times we stopped because one of us had stalled out on a hill (getting started again was a real pain), or how many locals stared and tried not to laugh as we rode past with our bags and bags of goodies, but it felt like the whole thing took forever. By the time we got back to our dorm, Mark and I were the only ones still riding; Hanis and Noemie had both resorted to walking their bikes because the extra weight and the impaired balance just weren't worth the trip. I, on the other hand, had quite the endorphin rush from our rigorous workout, so the rest of the day was just awesome for its own sake.

This is Hanis. You can't really tell, but there are three bags of groceries behind her, not counting the one you can see and her purse.

Mark didn't have nearly as much stuff with him, but he still refused to stop his bike for fear that he wouldn't actually get started again.

Noemie probably had it the worst, as she bought by far the most stuff, but as you can see she was still in high spirits.

So there you have it. I'd say that was pretty quick, considering that this corner of the Internet has been near-lifeless for the majority of its existence. I'm not promising daily/weekly/annual updates (until winter comes and I get really bored), because a) I'm not bored yet, b) I should be sleeping, and c) rapid, frequent posts are what Twitter is for. Anyway, now it's time to finish my homework, go to sleep, and wake up in six hours to start the daily routine all over again. :D


  1. I hate supermarket shopping because of the commute. Perhaps that has something to do with my loathing of bycycles.


  2. Tell us the story of procuring bikes. I've got to get a map of Uppsala.

  3. I want to hear how you procured the bikes, too. Did you all have large backpacks (or "rucksacks", as my European friends say) for your groceries?

  4. I think they need big wicker baskets for groceries.