Before moving to Stockholm, I decided that one of my first purchases once arriving would be a bicycle. Swedes bike everywhere. To work. To the movies. To the grocery store. They have little baskets attached, full of smaller versions of what Americans load in our cars. And lights on both the front and the back – it’s against the law not to. They’ll often squeeze 2 or even 3 people on board, a parent with their kids or friends or whoever and I always wonder how it’s possible to get around without completely wiping out in the middle of the street. Regardless, I wanted to join this privileged group of cyclists ASAP.
The Swedish equivalent of Craigslist is Blocket.se, which quickly became my new most visited the site. Although I couldn’t read any of the words, I learned how to search for sales – säljes – of women’s bikes – dam cyclar, and then used my personal translator to figure out the rest.
I searched every day, and made the journey to a random Northern suburb where I wandered on foot through a pretty little neighborhood for at least 45 minutes, asking anyone I came upon where Nälstavägen was (no one knew) before finally finding the house myself and trying to communicate with the woman selling the bike (who didn’t speak English) and then deciding I didn’t want the bike after all.
And so I came to the last day of validity on my metro pass. I refused to buy another week, and so I went to the deep south of Stockholm’s suburbs via commuter train to Handen where a kind elderly man named Stig met me at the station with his 30-year old bike. I tested it and bought it in a matter of 10 minutes. 950 kronor (divide that by about 6.5 for dollars). Wheeling my newest possession proudly back toward the trains, I was stopped and informed of the rule – NO CYCLARS ON THE TRAIN BETWEEN 1500 AND 1800. Only in Sweden does rush hour start at 3pm.
I had 2 1/2 hours to kill in a town which had, I discovered, nothing but a library and a mall. So I settled myself in a charming Konditori (bakery, of course – thank God there was one of those!) with tea and a cocoa ball.
The wait was well worth it for my new mormor cyclar. That’s what the Swedes call the style, which translates to grandmother bicycle. I call it a beach cruiser. Whether grandma or beachy, I love it.