Friday, May 30, 2008

The Clash of Civilizations

I went to Sweden for a few days. While there I wrote a lot instead of toying with the idea of a cultural exchange which never really happened (you know what I mean).

I would like to annoy you with my reflections on the meaning of existence jotted down at the Skogskyrkogården Cemetery in Stockholm, but this weblog is dedicated to the Lowlands. So I decided for a compromise. Here it is. Don't fall asleep.

A spannende match in one single set.

> Culture
While in Amsterdam, don't miss the Sex Museum, the Torture Museum and the Beer Museum, but remember that the most visited cultural attraction is Madame Tussaud's on Dam Square with its wax stars. Stockholm offers an Historical Museum of Wines and Spirits, a Tobacco Museum and a Custom Museum (!) where you can pretend to be a drug trafficker assaulted by smuggling detector dogs. Isn't that amazing?
One point for each one.

> Drinks
Dutches are proud of their beers. Heineken and Amstel conquered the international markets, while Grolsch and Bavaria reign on the national one. When asked, Swedes are not able to mention a decent local beer.
Point for Holland.

> Fashion
Swedes girls and women in late May use to wear skirts on pantyhose and summer dresses on jeans. At first it seems ridiculous, but then you have to admit there is a logic behind that. Pippi Langstrump rules (ok, ok let's avoid stereotypes). Dutch ladies don't care that much about covering their legs in stockings and as for skirts they have a strange taste in choosing colours. But they can cycle wearing stiletto heels and that's impressive.
One point for each one.

> Food
They both go crazy for herrings. But Dutches eat those fishes in a more glamorous way.
Point for Holland.

> Freedom I
On a regular two hours train trip Dutches control your ticket twice. Swedes investigate over you four times inquiring your ID to be sure you are under 26 to deserve your ungdom discount.
Point for Holland.

> Freedom II
In Stockholm you can drink in the streets by night. In Amsterdam it's not allowed.
Point for Sweden.

> Habits & Social Behaviors I
In Sweden is pretty common seeing or listening people spitting in the streets. In Holland, as far as I know, it's not. See part II below for a plausible explanation.
Point for Holland.

> Habits & Social Behaviors II
Things are going to change pretty soon, but still in Holland you can find friendly coffee shops around selling shisha (as they call it) and other interesting herbs. And yet Dutches don't smoke that much and they're generally polite while doing it. Swedes don't smoke so much as well, but they suck snus "a moist powder tobacco product that is consumed by placing it under the upper lip for extended periods of time" (Wikipedia). Disgusting black teeth and black tongues as well as an insane wish to spit on the sidewalks are a logical consequence. Luckily enough the feminine population of Stockholm keeps away from snus.
Point for Holland.

> Health Care
They both go to the toilet (thanks God). But the Swedes remember to close the door.
Point for Sweden.

> Language
The pronunciation of letter "g" resembles letter "y" in Swedish. For example Blackeberg sounds like "blakkebery" while Göteborg is "yohteboor". Dutches pronounce "g" like having a stomach spasm followed by the impulse to strangle themselves. Try with Groningen at home.
Point for Sweden.

> Public Transportation
With a two zones tram ticket in Göteborg you can go to the southern archipelago and take all the ferries you want within a hour and a half. Utrecht doesn't have any archipelago and just one tram line. The far you can get with a two strippen ticket is from the central station to the university.
Point for Sweden.

> Final Result
7-6 for Holland which wins at the tie-break.

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