Miscellaneous interesting things and people in Sweden, May of 2006

This post contains pictures of random details of Swedish everyday life that were, if not unusual, then at least different than what you see in the US.. Some of them have to do with mobility assistance, such as wheelchair / stroller / luggage lifts in various public places. Every country approaches mobility problems in its own way, so it’s often interesting to compare different solutions in different countries.

In Swedish trains, some cars have a lift in the middle of the car, which is a kind of a round platform that descends down to the exit level or rises up to the floor level. The exit is several steps below the floor level. I suppose it is for wheelchair and stroller use, as well as for people carrying heavy luggage. However, I noticed that passengers with strollers did not use the lift, they simply carried their strollers up and down the steps. Meanwhile, a bunch of teenagers on the train were playing with the lift, pushing the buttons and making it rotate and go up and down.

A round lift in a train car in Sweden
CIMG3060 A round lift in a train car in Sweden

This mini-elevator is installed in the middle of a dungeon in the Royal castle in Stockholm, for those who need assistance to go up the short flight of stairs, visible on the right. It’s not so much a full-blown elevator than a platform with low sides.

A whelechair lift in the Royal Castle in Stockholm
DSCF3799 A whelechair lift in the Royal Castle in Stockholm

This is a semaphore in a bus stop in Mariefred. My friend and I saw it on our way to visiting the Gripsholm Castle. When it is tilted (as shown in the picture), it lets bus drivers know there are people waiting at the bus stop. Otherwise the driver won’t stop. I guess the last person to board the bus is supposed to return the semaphore into vertical position?

It’s a good idea, but… this particular semaphore (I don’t know about others elsewhere) would fall back into the tilted position and would not stay upright. So it was quite useless, really.

Below is a combination of two images showing the semaphore from the front and from the back.

A semaphore at a bus stop in Sweden, intended to signal to the bus drivers that there are people waiting at the bus stop
DSCF3887 A semaphore at a bus stop in Mariefred, Sweden

The Bla Katten cafe in Mariefred struck me as a place with the tiniest outdoor seating area that I’ve ever seen. You can’t call it a sidewalk cafe, because this is not even a sidewalk, but a narrow strip of decorative stones between the house and the parking lot. Even 14 years later I’m yet to see an outdoors cafe with a smaller footprint. Regardless, this narrow strip of land manages to host a bench with several tiny tables, which, for lack of space, are “sprouting” from the bench. I suppose one can pull that off in Sweden, but Americans expect any eating establishment to provide much more personal space.

Tiny outdoors tables at a cafe in Sweden
DSCF3880 Tiny outdoors tables at a cafe in Sweden