Every year after midsommar (June 21), it starts. The neighborhood streets and stores begin to shut down for a summer holiday. My local cafe has already closed, while the sushi man and the hardware store close next week. Gradually, my fellow Stockholmers have begun leaving town for their 5-6 weeks of holiday. Now my street has less than half the usual amount of cars parked on it. By next week, it will be practically empty. Last week, the park on my street was packed on every sunny day. Now it’s down to just a handful of hangers-on. The same is true of offices. This week, companies are still operating at almost half staff. By next week, there will be maybe 10 people in an office that usually has about 80.
This massive summer exodus always amazes me. The American in me wonders how an entire country can vacation at the same time. How does any international business get done? On the other hand, I have to admire a country where people can and do take off for five and six weeks straight. In the US, I had to be contactable by my office to even take two weeks at a time. It just was not heard of to take such a long holiday. Here, if you don’t take the time you are looked at with pity and a bit of suspicion. This is vacation time, after all. But don’t think that it is transferable. Taking five weeks in February, for instance, is just not done. It’s all very interesting.
As for my neighborhood, I actually like when it gets quiet. The vibe is different and provides such a great contrast to the center of town where the tourists have invaded.