tor

S&S World tour

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Day 10: Bikes Bikes Bikes!

We have bikes. We ride them fast around town because we are own little gang! We have baskets on the front like all the cool kids! Our bikes are all black because we are mean!

The fact that I have a habit of yelling "wheeeeee" on downhills and grinning my arse off constantly should not detract from our toughness.

The guy renting the bikes out seemed pretty lackadaisical regarding things like how long we were renting them for, who we were and whether we would ever give them back. I can only suspect he has a night time operation for stock replenishment.

First night of training in almost 2 weeks. I am old and slow. All these young whipper-snappers with their reflexes and fitness jumping around made me a little dizzy.

After training a late night laundry party was held. I was excited as to what a swedish late night laundry party entailed. So many thoughts. As it turns out it is a bunch of smelly guys sitting around waiting for a washing machine cycle to complete. Not quite as sexy as it sounded. Fortunately a few scotches made the lack of sexiness acceptable.

On the food front I have noticed that yellow chanterelles are everywhere here. And, I think, very cheap (although I am awful at math involving dividing by 7 when I riding past and trying to also figure out where the hell the cars are coming from).

Our bike gang numbers 4 now, we have an american, the local swede and Al and I. The swede has been really helpful for us and the american is tolerable (which is quite good going for their type). I figure that is enough of an excuse to cook up some tasty chanterelle type food. Advice welcome as I don't think I have ever used them before. Locally they appear to be mostly just sauteed in butter and served on a steak.

Yellow (natures warning colour :) ) chanterelles sound good. I haven't had any that I can recall. I have eaten a bunch of other weird fungi though and would tend to treat them as any normal shroom. Cook some with butter, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper first then go from there.

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You can clearly see the jawline in this picture.

In the interest of equality, here are a couple of pictures of her brother, His Royal Highness Prince Carl Philip. The poor lad has not been able to find a wife for himself yet.

carl-philip.jpg

tumblr_lxpa36aGPv1r52kr8o1_400.jpg

See how dark his hair colour is?

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Day 11: Bikes Bikes and Dead Vikings

Uppsala has a series of grave mounds (Gamle Uppsala) which have varying stories regarding the dead dudes in there. We had the local swede with us, she is the head of the local naginata club and is a somewhat fearsome woman. One of the excavations of one of the burial mounds revealed that there was a young guy and an older lady buried in there, the prevailing theory is that she followed a young prince or similar into death. The local swede took umbrage at the idea that only guys could be buried with helmets and swords. Poor little weedy archaeology guy back pedalled like you wouldn't believe. I confess that I was willing to support her theory with reference to Boadicea and a faint memory of a chick that had her own boat and sailed with Eric the Red or Leif Erickson. Then I got the camera ready in case this was to be another instance of giant swedish ladies destroying nearby menfolk. Once again I was disappointed by the nimble males running in terror from the grasping arms of the giantess.

Honestly how any researcher could make the assumption that the chicks back then were meek and mild in the face of the legacy those chicks left in the current chicks astounds me. The current swedish women seem quite capable of dominating the bejesus out of the swedish men so I guess the men are making up stories about how tough their ancestors were :)

As mayhem was not about to break loose and the formation of a new burial mound did not seem to be required I took some pictures of some incredibly detailed gold filigree and got myself a beer which came in an ox horn. This was almost as good as watching mayhem. I felt I let the viking image down a little as I didn't have any viking regalia or have the ability to curse like a viking. I did say "Skitligr" a few times but that was just because the Vikings in Jose Farmer's Riverworld series used that as a curse word a lot. I think it means "dirt lying person" - like a cowardly cur. I am not sure this is true but it did make me feel good.

For dinner I had an entrecote with butter and chips. Wikipedia seems to insist that entrecote is just scotch fillet. I dispute this theory. The meat does seem to be a different cut although from the same region of the animal. This could of course just be that the meat here is a different texture etc to australian beef in the same way that japanese beef, despite the different cuts, was a completely different style of beef.

Tomorrows Goals:

Go look at the castle with the guns pointed at the church.

Taunt the church a little.

Make sure Al is standing on higher ground than me just in case god gets a bit lightning bolty.

Edited by tor

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In the interest of equality, here are a couple of pictures of her brother, His Royal Highness Prince Carl Philip. The poor lad has not been able to find a wife for himself yet.

carl-philip.jpg

tumblr_lxpa36aGPv1r52kr8o1_400.jpg

See how dark his hair colour is?

He does look like a decent sort of chap. That's exactly the sort of chap that might one day turn me. :) He's obviously some kind of hero to boot with all those medals...

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The poor lad has not been able to find a wife for himself yet.

tumblr_lxpa36aGPv1r52kr8o1_400.jpg

See how dark his hair colour is?

The plight of the poor boy just tears at my heartstrings. If he is really having problems finding himself a wife, I'd be willing to consider polyandry.

I tell you what, I'm even prepared to overlook the non-blondness.

Seriously, I think this could work. The current husband would be prepared to put forward a decent kind of a reference as to my sterling wifely qualities. I think. Probably. :laugh:

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The plight of the poor boy just tears at my heartstrings. If he is really having problems finding himself a wife, I'd be willing to consider polyandry.

I tell you what, I'm even prepared to overlook the non-blondness.

Seriously, I think this could work. The current husband would be prepared to put forward a decent kind of a reference as to my sterling wifely qualities. I think. Probably. :laugh:

Hands off! Anders showed him to me first.

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Day 11: Bikes Bikes and Dead Vikings

Uppsala has a series of grave mounds (Gamle Uppsala) which have varying stories regarding the dead dudes in there. We had the local swede with us, she is the head of the local naginata club and is a somewhat fearsome woman. One of the excavations of one of the burial mounds revealed that there was a young guy and an older lady buried in there, the prevailing theory is that she followed a young prince or similar into death. The local swede took umbrage at the idea that only guys could be buried with helmets and swords. Poor little weedy archaeology guy back pedalled like you wouldn't believe. I confess that I was willing to support her theory with reference to Boadicea and a faint memory of a chick that had her own boat and sailed with Eric the Red or Leif Erickson. Then I got the camera ready in case this was to be another instance of giant swedish ladies destroying nearby menfolk. Once again I was disappointed by the nimble males running in terror from the grasping arms of the giantess.

Honestly how any researcher could make the assumption that the chicks back then were meek and mild in the face of the legacy those chicks left in the current chicks astounds me. The current swedish women seem quite capable of dominating the bejesus out of the swedish men so I guess the men are making up stories about how tough their ancestors were :)

As mayhem was not about to break loose and the formation of a new burial mound did not seem to be required I took some pictures of some incredibly detailed gold filigree and got myself a beer which came in an ox horn. This was almost as good as watching mayhem. I felt I let the viking image down a little as I didn't have any viking regalia or have the ability to curse like a viking. I did say "Skitligr" a few times but that was just because the Vikings in Jose Farmer's Riverworld series used that as a curse word a lot. I think it means "dirt lying person" - like a cowardly cur. I am not sure this is true but it did make me feel good.

For dinner I had an entrecote with butter and chips. Wikipedia seems to insist that entrecote is just scotch fillet. I dispute this theory. The meat does seem to be a different cut although from the same region of the animal. This could of course just be that the meat here is a different texture etc to australian beef in the same way that japanese beef, despite the different cuts, was a completely different style of beef.

Tomorrows Goals:

Go look at the castle with the guns pointed at the church.

Taunt the church a little.

Make sure Al is standing on higher ground than me just in case god gets a bit lightning bolty.

Kidnap me a valkyrie, bring her back and I'll sponsor your next long ship raid. Just like the old days.

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Oh? Of all the tales about Sweden it seems Prince Carl Philip draws the greatest response?

OK, here are a few more photos of the young man then. This one is with his sister Princess Madeleine:

carl-philip-madeleine-1.jpg

The prince is into car racing:

20110618-002.jpg

And here is a photo in a more informal setting, where he seems to be yearning for the woman that will one day become his princess:

prins-carl-philip_76411951_136787500.jpg

Perhaps he should dress up in uniform more often.

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Did you get the impression that I love Denmark? Growing up in Skåne gives you an affinity to Denmark, since we have the history of having been a Danish county. I asked my father-in-law what people in Skåne would do if there were ever to be a war between Sweden and Denmark. We would fight with the Danes against the Swedes, of course! He looked at me like I had just asked the most stupid question in the history of humanity.

Anyway, how can you not love a country where all the earthed power points smile at you?

OPUS-stik-stor.jpg

The Danes are mad cyclists. There are probably more bicycles than cars in Copenhagen. The people look very fit as they whizz past on their bikes. My wife and I picked up a couple of free 'bycykler' (village cycles) for the day and headed off to Christiania.

Christiania is a large commune on 80+ acres that some dope smoking hippie squatters started around 1970. After a few years of constantly fighting the local police, there was a truce established after the hippies agreed to pay for electricity and water. I used to hear horror stories about the place as a kid and all parents warned you from going there. So it was definitely time to pay a visit.

Christiania even got to have their own laws with a kind of self rule. Their ideology was to have freedom in a greenies paradise where there was no restrictions to smoking dope, but they seemed to frown on hard drugs. Today the place is perhaps a bit more tame, but there is still a very rough edge to it. They hate people taking photographs and strictly enforce it by beating them up. Just recently a Danish TV reporter got assaulted and stripped naked before being thrown out of the place. So much for love, peace and freedom, man! It is an interesting place.

3750125208_f92b357d66_o.jpg

christiania-mural-635x476.jpg

Christiania-Copenhagen.jpg

Tomorrow we head off to Paris for a few days. I may not have regular internet access then, so the trip reporting may end here.

På gensyn!

Edited by AndersB

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Go look at the castle with the guns pointed at the church.

Taunt the church a little.

Well if you enjoyed that, you may also consider going to the nearby library museum to look at the cartoons of Copernicus, the magnificent map (includes sea monsters in the english channel) and learn about the beliefs of the Goths (with their very own bishop Wulfila (no relation to our own Wulfie I hope)). Don't let the silver bible intimidate you. Alternatively you could enjoy the labels of Carl Linnaeus while wandering in his garden. If that isn't enough science geekery for you. Wander down to the Gustavianum and adore the cupboard of worldly fascination on the top floor or take in the sights and smells of the dissection room.

Edited by Ugg

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From their complicity as US glove puppets over Assange, f*ck Sweden, slashed from my visit list.

Don't bame all Swedes for their government. Don't blame all Australians for their government etc. I reckon you would find many who support Assange. I would guess even more per capita than Australians.

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Don't bame all Swedes for their government. Don't blame all Australians for their government etc. I reckon you would find many who support Assange. I would guess even more per capita than Australians.

Home of piratebay, Pirate Party and many a great metal band... \m/... so not all bad. :)

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Day 12: Churches and Feeling Uncouth

I have long been a proponent of the theory that a lot of people find it hard to learn a language because when you speak it (outside of just "where is the train") you can't express yourself clearly and feel like a shallow and stupid person. I was pronouncing this theory and two people at the table agreed with me. One German was saying that she only finds things funny in English which are simple and base humour such as Family Guy whereas in German she prefers a completely different type of humour which requires very strong language. The local Swede agreed and said she had the same kind of problem.

Which left the American feeling a bit confused as he had just been saying how much he loves family guy and it was slowly dawning on him that he had just been insulted in a subtle way.

And left me feeling like a real tool. The two of them speak about 7 or 8 languages each and I was complaining that I couldn't express myself in Norwegian, let alone Swedish (back when I had at least a passing command of Norwegian, I have almost none now). The local Swede did her PhD on "Language construction in Estonian" and the German works as a business translator.

Apparently the cultural differences between Denmark, Sweden and Finland are enough that there are jobs for people that can speak Danish and Swedish and understand / translate the cultural differences differences as well.

No one learns Norwegian because it is just a bastard language in the middle :)

Went to the church & university. Did a tour of treasury in the church. Asked some decent questions and felt better about myself after the linguistic embarrassment. Made an older German fellow laugh, I think there are many points for that. I think I will stick to being the funny guy around these people, trying to be smart around here is a one sided competition.

Gastronomic Observations:

The thoughts on the entrocote earlier where I suspected it could be the style of beer rather than the cut making the difference may be true. Grabbed some chuck steak to make some dinner and it was marbled like crazy. This was from a supermarket that apparently does not have good meat. It looked much more like the japanese style of marbling.

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Day 12: Churches and Feeling Uncouth

I have long been a proponent of the theory that a lot of people find it hard to learn a language because when you speak it (outside of just "where is the train") you can't express yourself clearly and feel like a shallow and stupid person. I was pronouncing this theory and two people at the table agreed with me. One German was saying that she only finds things funny in English which are simple and base humour such as Family Guy whereas in German she prefers a completely different type of humour which requires very strong language. The local Swede agreed and said she had the same kind of problem.

Which left the American feeling a bit confused as he had just been saying how much he loves family guy and it was slowly dawning on him that he had just been insulted in a subtle way.

And left me feeling like a real tool. The two of them speak about 7 or 8 languages each and I was complaining that I couldn't express myself in Norwegian, let alone Swedish (back when I had at least a passing command of Norwegian, I have almost none now). The local Swede did her PhD on "Language construction in Estonian" and the German works as a business translator.

Apparently the cultural differences between Denmark, Sweden and Finland are enough that there are jobs for people that can speak Danish and Swedish and understand / translate the cultural differences differences as well.

No one learns Norwegian because it is just a bastard language in the middle :)

Went to the church & university. Did a tour of treasury in the church. Asked some decent questions and felt better about myself after the linguistic embarrassment. Made an older German fellow laugh, I think there are many points for that. I think I will stick to being the funny guy around these people, trying to be smart around here is a one sided competition.

Gastronomic Observations:

The thoughts on the entrocote earlier where I suspected it could be the style of beer rather than the cut making the difference may be true. Grabbed some chuck steak to make some dinner and it was marbled like crazy. This was from a supermarket that apparently does not have good meat. It looked much more like the japanese style of marbling.

When germans speak English they sound like Einstein. When Australians speak English they sound like Sir Les Patterson. We are at a distinct disadvantage with our nasal whine. We are not all fools mind you but in the UK I did notice people started speaking more slowly when they found out I was Australian. :sadwalk:

I don't believe the average supermarket beef is great quality here. You can get quality beef here if you pay for it of course but in the UK I didn't even eat beef for a year as it was too damned expensive. I bought a 70 squid beef roast in Oban in 2006 and the butcher acted like all his Christmases had come at once.

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Day 13: On The limitations of Bicycles

The local Swede went to a Tolkien LARPing thing. She had a pretty fancy and complex outfit. As far as I can tell these people spend all winter making stuff for their parties over the 6 weeks of summer. And they have long winters. Whenever we see stuff that is kind of cool and must have required hours of preparation and work we draw attention to it by saying "F*cking Long Winters". We do use this phrase a fair bit.

Last night we did 4 hrs training and this morning another 3. Coupled with the time on the bike we were all feeling pretty proud of ourselves for general fitness type activities. We celebrated. The german was feeling homesick so, to make her feel at home, we bought some German beers and drank them in a park. We figured that for a German being surrounded by drunk Australians would feel just like home. The American got drunk and after depositing him at home we went to a Swedish nightclub. Bad Dancing heats were performed in a country versus country round robin format. Similar to Eurovision it was hard to tell if it was bad or ironically bad. Sweden won through weight of numbers and home ground advantage but I believe Australia put in a good show.

We saw the German home because we are Knights on trusty steeds. It was a good thing we did. There was one particular piece of road which was tricky to negotiate due to the deceptive "flatness" (technical term). With unflinching courage and the panache of Sir Walter Raleigh casting his cloak down for the queen I drew attention to the hazard by throwing myself upon it thereby alerting my fellow travellers before they could succumb to the trap.

Sweden is capable of some spectacularly rainstorms. Riding through fields in the countryside with the twilight of the morning sun and the rain hammering down is a beautiful experience. Most people don't get to experience this aspect of Swedish rural living because:

  • The fields are kilometres out of town
  • The rain is cold and heavy
  • It is 5 in the morning, oh wait now it is 6, man we are _so_ totally lost

Goals for Tomorrow:

Find the Americans bike

Find Al's bike lock

Find my dignity

As with all goals some of these may take time.

Edited by tor

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Day 14: Weekly Round Up

Distance travelled (estimated): 100Km

Single day on the Tour de France: ~150km

Almost there!

Training performed: ~14 hrs

Usual Week in Sydney: ~2 hrs

w00t!

Actual Crashes: 2 (me)

Expected Crashes: Way more

Not bad although the bar was low. Al claims no crashes but he is often riding at the back so no one would notice if he did.

Guys trying to pick me up at nightclubs: Higher than expected (>0)

Girls trying to pick me up at nightclubs: Expected (0)

Given a positive total number I think the Scottish tan and Swedish cycling has made me irresistible!

Late night hotdogs: 1

Late night kebabs: 0

The hotdogs in scandinavia tend to come with sauce, mustard and crispy dried onion on them. This is a good thing and something I had been wanting to eat on my return.

Swedes dressed as armoured dwarves met at 0500: 1 group

Estimated number of winters to make armour: 3 (but f*cking long ones)

Successful directions home from dwarves: 0

Apparently stumbling across a group of people wearing armour carrying battle axes and swords does not instantly lead to an armed offenders squad being called here.

Economic Observations:

So far we have yet to buy anything which costs the same as in Sydney. Houses appear to be approximately free here. Alcohol at the State Monopoly is "very heavily taxed" and so is about 60% of the Sydney prices. Food appears to be very cheap as well. Median household incomes here seem to be slightly lower than Sydney but not that much. The disparity between industries is apparently _very_ low; almost everyone earns the same amount.

Since arrival in Glasgow I have been looking at prices of things and we are currently in the most expensive country so far and it is still way cheaper than Sydney.

Add to this the fact that cyclists are not treated as moving targets and it really does seem quite easy to not have a car (which would be a significant saving).

Explaining Sydney house prices has been an exercise in patience and hyperbole "No if you lived in the worst house in Sydney and there were constant shooting on the front door step it would still cost way more than 100K".

Explaining why we still live in Sydney has been depressing when we actually thought the answer through. The IT friend in Frankfurt pointed out that the standard answer is "The Lifestyle". He said this and we all laughed a few seconds later. Our current hypothesis is simply inertia. We are in Sydney because we have jobs.

Kind of sad really.

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Economic Observations:

So far we have yet to buy anything which costs the same as in Sydney. Houses appear to be approximately free here. Alcohol at the State Monopoly is "very heavily taxed" and so is about 60% of the Sydney prices. Food appears to be very cheap as well. Median household incomes here seem to be slightly lower than Sydney but not that much. The disparity between industries is apparently _very_ low; almost everyone earns the same amount.

Since arrival in Glasgow I have been looking at prices of things and we are currently in the most expensive country so far and it is still way cheaper than Sydney.

All this kind of shows what bullsh*t the standard excuses for Australia being so phuc*ing expensive are.

Small population ... Sweden is less than half of Australia's.

Distance ... it's much further by sea from where the stuff is made in China and Japan to Sweden than it is to Australia.

Labour is expensive ... it's nearly as expensive there.

It leaves little more than the population density argument and a small, mangy straw. Even the population density argument is BS. Most of the population lives in a few large cities on the sea/harbours where there is very little transport required after the ship arrives.

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All this kind of shows what bullsh*t the standard excuses for Australia being so phuc*ing expensive are.

Yep I have been kind of wondering if there is a strong correlation between my observations and the basic pricing structures. I suspect there is in that basically prices are set at a point where "enough" people can afford the stuff.

Hell in Glasgow you could honestly do a significant amount of your grocery shopping at "PoundLand - Everything costs a pound".

I think that was the cheapest we have seen stuff for. And it was brand name stuff, not bizarre eastern european brands you've never heard of.

From talking to people Norway is more expensive than here (sweden) but the prices sound less than Sydney there as well. Norway of course has had decades of resource cash flooding its shores, Australia has only really had a few years.

Kind of scary.

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I recently went to Southern Europe which you would expect to be cheap (and it was) and the UK (mostly London).

I had been to London 15 years prior to that and remembered it as having scary prices. This time round things were cheap compared to Brisbane / Gold Coast prices.

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Day 15: Games Are Played (F*cking Long Winters)

A quiet ish day planned. Do some work in the morning maybe sit in a park with a beer and watch people wander by in the summer sun.

You would think even Al & I could get that level of planning together.

Al, the American and I rode into the city, parked our bikes and hit up the State Monopoly Bottle Shop for a 6 pack. During this time a passive aggressive Swedish fellow put notes on our bikes advising us we couldn't leave our bikes where we put them. It had handy guides to where we could put our bikes. It was long and had big words but I think that was the gist. We grabbed our bikes and scurried away before someone could wave their finger at us.

The American had previously met some uni students and we met up with them to drink beer and watch people in the park.

This, apparently, is not a good enough celebration of the summer. Summer is so short it must be celebrated with all your energy.

The festivities began. We played Brent Ball (a version of softball), gingerbread man tag (lots of running in circles) and kick the ball (which involves counting in Swedish).

Still the gods of summer were not appeased (I was knackered and covered in dirt head to toe - Acceptable blame can be laid at the choice of shoes).

A round of Angry Swedish Hugging was played. The previous games had very poorly understood rules and largely consisted of "the more you run the happier the gods are, if you fall over the gods giggle", only one of the Swedes knew the rules well enough to keep score, his team won.

Angry Swedish Hugging is such an obscure game that I don't know if I got the name of the game right. The rules, if there actually were any, involved many long words.

The game play as far as I could tell:

  • A group of people lie on the ground and cuddle each other.
  • Another person tries their hardest to pull one of the hugging people out of the pile.
  • Then that person has to help pull another person out of the pile.

Al and I had a six pack between us which was nowhere near enough alcohol for that much hugging.

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Day 15: Games Are Played (F*cking Long Winters)

A quiet ish day planned. Do some work in the morning maybe sit in a park with a beer and watch people wander by in the summer sun.

You would think even Al & I could get that level of planning together.

Al, the American and I rode into the city, parked our bikes and hit up the State Monopoly Bottle Shop for a 6 pack. During this time a passive aggressive Swedish fellow put notes on our bikes advising us we couldn't leave our bikes where we put them. It had handy guides to where we could put our bikes. It was long and had big words but I think that was the gist. We grabbed our bikes and scurried away before someone could wave their finger at us.

The American had previously met some uni students and we met up with them to drink beer and watch people in the park.

This, apparently, is not a good enough celebration of the summer. Summer is so short it must be celebrated with all your energy.

The festivities began. We played Brent Ball (a version of softball), gingerbread man tag (lots of running in circles) and kick the ball (which involves counting in Swedish).

Still the gods of summer were not appeased (I was knackered and covered in dirt head to toe - Acceptable blame can be laid at the choice of shoes).

A round of Angry Swedish Hugging was played. The previous games had very poorly understood rules and largely consisted of "the more you run the happier the gods are, if you fall over the gods giggle", only one of the Swedes knew the rules well enough to keep score, his team won.

Angry Swedish Hugging is such an obscure game that I don't know if I got the name of the game right. The rules, if there actually were any, involved many long words.

The game play as far as I could tell:

  • A group of people lie on the ground and cuddle each other.
  • Another person tries their hardest to pull one of the hugging people out of the pile.
  • Then that person has to help pull another person out of the pile.

Al and I had a six pack between us which was nowhere near enough alcohol for that much hugging.

hmmm.... sweden is starting to sound pretty creepy...

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