Monday, July 19, 2010


The Swedish word "semester" means holiday. As an outsider it currently feels as if the Swedes are the chosen people and that rapture happened. When I cycle to work the roads are quiet and I cross the usually busy intersections without seeing a living soul. When I arrive at work I find that all the doors are locked and need to dig deep in my bag to find my unused key. All the lights are turned off and the building feels spooky. During the day two Chinese colleagues appear and later one Polish guy. At lunch the four of us discover our British colleague and we discuss the absence of all the Swedes.

Apparently holiday in Sweden is very serious. During the summer most of the cities are emptied as the populous goes to their summer retreats in the Swedish wilderness. Many have summer cottages, often in remote areas only accessible by dirt roads through heavy forest (including a few kilometres of hiking). Also popular is owning one of the millions of small islands, which are often only a few hundred meters across. Usually there is a cottage on your island but everything else, including drinking water, need to be ferried in the small boat with you, to your small kingdom. Some Swedes are also reported to travel to other European countries just for fun or to see relatives.

It is very strange to see how a whole nation disappears within a few weeks. Now we can only wait, with the other slightly frightened immigrants. We shall see if the Swedes will return or remain feral. With their return we are promised that all the shops will reopen and longer business hours for the few that haven't abandoned us, doubling the number of busses which have been reduced to meet the current demand, and even more exiting programs on TV.

But until then, we have some work to finish.



The conference I attended in Lyon was very busy. I met a number of interesting people and we spoke mainly about work. The conference centre (Cité Internationale) is located in beautiful surroundings and is encircled by the Rhône river on the one side and a huge park (Parc de la Tête d'Or) on the other side . The city architecture is a mixture of old and modern buildings and the public transport is excellent with subway connections, electrical trolley busses and trams to everywhere you want to go. The conference package did include a 5 day transport ticket that you could use on all the public transport, which was very useful. Conference activities continued to 20hoo which left only a few hours to explore. However, since the sun set quite late this time of the year I could squeeze a few things in. The one evening we went for a glass of wine on a restaurant ship anchored in the Rhône. The Rhône river has a funny turquoise colour but looks very beautiful in the evening with the lights of the city and the bridges reflecting from it. The conference dinner was at a famous brasserie (Brasserie Georges), which was established in 1836.

Below are a few picks of the river, conference centre and the park:

Rhône River

Cité Internationale Conference centre:

Parc de la Tête d'Or:

Park with conference centre in background: