Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saturday, May 19th, 2007:
Restaurant (tag) in Helsingborg

What I think:

Uh-Oh. I got tagged by Tug.

This particular Meme is kind of interesting though.

On the one hand, it's cool because it's one that will spread quite widely, if everyone plays how they're supposed to. It's actually gone around the world already.

On the other hand, it's a bit of a nightmare for me; you'll soon discover why.

Here's what you're supposed to do:

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the city/state and country you’re in.

Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, United States)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Lulu (Chicago, Illinois, United States)
Chris (Boyne City, Michigan, United States)
AB (Cave Creek, Arizona, United States)
Johnny Yen (Chicago, Illinois, United States)
Bubs (Mt Prospect, Illinois, United States)
Mob (Midland, Texas United States)
Yas (Ahwatukee, Arizona USA)
Alicia(Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA)
Tug (Hell, Colorado, USA)
Mark Base (Helsingborg, Sweden)

2. List out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.

3. Tag 5 other people (preferably from other countries/states) and let them know they’ve been tagged.

Here we go:

Actually, what makes this particularly tough for me is that Helsingborg is not exactly the culinary capitol of Scandinavia. So I don't really go out to eat much.

Actually, all pubs here are also "restaurants", in the sense that they're obliged - by law - to have a menu of hot meals available to order, at least until a certain time of the evening. Bet you didn't know that, did you!?

Picking five of my favourite places to eat is no easy task; not because I'm spoiled for choice, but because there's not much here that's really worth mentioning. But if I have to pick five, I'd go for the following:

1. Olssons Skafferi - I'm not sure what a "skafferi" is, but it sounds funky, don't you think? This is right in front of a nice church called Mariakyrkan (Maria Church), in the centre of town. It's a small Italian restaurant, very cozy, and with good food at reasonable prices. This is one of the very few places I'd recommend. Another would be:

2. Zoo Bar - This is also in the centre, close to a few decent pubs. Yes, it's a bar, but they do some really good stir-fries in woks here. Very good prices, and you get a decent amount for your money.

3. Gyllene Prag - This is a Czech restaurant/bar. The prices are OK for what you get, plus they've got good Czech beer, of course.

4. Thai Corner - I've only ever been here at lunch, but it seemed pretty good. It seems like the Swedes have a thing for all things Thai (Thailand is one of the top holiday destinations), so there's no shortage of Thai cuisine, if that's your thing.

5. Charles Dickens Pub - I'm mentioning this because it's probably the place where I've eaten at most (I was going to say "eaten out" at, but this would be open to a rude interpretation, and I'm trying to keep this blog as family-friendly as possible; avoiding situations in which someone would guffaw, and some kid would ask one of his parents, "Why is that weird man laughing at 'eating out'?". And we don't want that, now do we? Oops.). Food at "Dickens" is actually quite good, and fairly inexpensive.

All "restaurants" I mentioned have a vegetarian option: lettuce.

There is not nearly enough variety in restaurants here in Helsingborg, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Here are the people I choose to tag:

1. Emilie from "Chroniques d'un blog annoncé". She's from Montreal - this might be in French.
2. Jay from Kill The Goat. She's from Toronto and drinks far too many Martinis, so she might not remember: a) to do this, or b) the names of any restaurants she may or may not frequent. I know that we already have a Torontonian on the list above, but Jay's - erm - special.
3. Clarissa from "I Love The Smoke" - reporting from London. Yeah, I know there's another person from London on the list, but London's big, and it's worth hearing from someone else. And Clarissa's - erm - unique. Ish.
4. High Prietess Kang from "The World According to Kang", from one of those Carolina things they have in the States.
5. SinisterDan from "The Reasonable Ego". Another Canadian, this one from New Brunswick. I believe that he's too funny. He must die.

I hope these good people will honour us with some tastly little titbits (stop sniggering) about restaurants where they are...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday, May 13th, 2007:
Magpies in Helsingborg -
One for sorrow, two for joy...

What I think:

One for sorrow
Two for joy...

But what does it mean? What does it mean to see one magpie? Or two?

Is it all a personal thing, based upon superstitions we've heard since we were very young, like 27 years old (or younger, if you're going on 26, for example)?

But I covered this rhyme, along with its implications for me personally, on March 5th last year. Read about it here ->

In a nutshell, I wrote about how here in Helsingborg I always ever see just a single magpie.

As the superstition goes, to protect yourself from imminent sorrow, you're supposed to say something like "Say hello to your brother", implying that the particular magpie you see is not an only child (or not an "only chick"?), and that he/she usually hangs out with his/her brother (he/she never has a sister), but the brother in question has a touch of the old bird flu. Or something.

Well, strangely, I've noticed something a bit different over the past recent months. I still only ever see a single magpie when I'm out and about by myself, but when I'm out with my girlfriend (of 29 weeks and one day - but who's counting?), I always see two.

Isn't that just so romantically nice that it makes you want to puke everywhere? Personally, it just freaks me out.

In any case, the other day, while I was on my way - by myself - to do my second report on pub toilets (US/CAN: bathrooms, wahsrooms, restrooms, etc.) in Helsingborg, I was terrified to see this:
Yes, it was a single magpie.

And it was on the lawn of Helsingborg's city cemetary.

I mean, there I was, just walking along happily, going out for a beer or two and having the joy of taking magnificent photos of glorious public conveniences at the same time - it felt like the world was such a happy and joyous place; nothing could get me down.

But when I saw that, my world suddenly totally, absolutely crumbled, and I just froze with terror.

Me freezing with terror looks something like this:
OK, perhaps it doesn't look lke I'm freezing with terror, but this was the least pornographic image I could find of myself on such short notice, and besides, different people deal with terror in different ways, alright? I just happen to deal with it in this way. That's all.

I think it's just ignorant of so many people to expect everyone's reactions to terror to look the same, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thursday, May 10th, 2007:
Top Toilet Tips: Pubs in Helsingborg -
Part Two: Hamnkrogen

What I think:

Since it was a nice day last Saturday, I decided to continue my tour of this fine city's pubs' public convenience facilities with a very outdoorsy place, Hamnkrogen.

Hamnkrogen, meaning "Harbour Bar", previously known as Hamnpaviljonen (or "Harbour Pavillion"), is known by a few of us expats as "Circle Bar". Here's why:

It's pretty small during the wintertime, as you can only sit inside, but for the 17 days of summer we get here, they have a fair-sized terrace outside, where you can while away your afternoon drinking beer, enjoying the nice views, and watching the world go by.I'm just kidding, by the way; the summer usually lasts for more than 17 days, their terrace is slightly-better-than-fair-sized, you don't want to while away a whole afternoon drinking beer there - at 47 Kronor each (US$6.88 / £3.47 / €5.10), you sip.

And while the views are indeed quite nice, you're not quite watching the world go by, just those people in the world who happen to be passing by that particular spot in Helsingborg at the time that you're sipping your over-priced crappy beer. But hey, semantics, eh?

This establishment only has one indoor toilet, and it's unisex, meaning that you must have only one gender in order to use it. This is pretty much OK for nearly everyone I know. Inside, there's nothing really special about it; in fact, it's quite a small standard toilet. The coolest thing about it is what the Yank calls "The Magic Handle".

When the toilet's vacant, it's green, but when someone's in there enjoying its underwhelming splendour, it's red. It's every gadget-loving pisser's dream. You can't see it very well in this photo, but you can just about make out that the toilet is free in this shot (it was a sunny day in a small round glass-surrounded pavillion thing).

Is that cool, or what?

The outside toilet area's quite interesting. There's like a mini-pavillion thing behind the main bar-building where you'll find the other toilets. Many first-time visitors are either reluctant to use these, or don't even realise they're there. There's nothing really wrong with them, except that there can be enormous queues on the weekends during the 23 days of summer we get here.

In the photo below, the door near the centre is one of the two unisex toilets. The other one is just to the right of this, and there's a "pissoar" (urinal) at the far-right, near the rear terrace bit (the Yank says that the door on the left is a toilet as well, but this door was locked when I was there, so I can't confirm this right now. Unlike the others, it's unmarked, so perhaps it's usually a staff toilet that's left unlocked during peak times):

Below is a photo of the door to the pissoar. If you're sitting in this area when it's not too busy, and you're a bloke (US/CAN: guy), you can simply hop over the little fence thing for instant satisfaction (no, go away, this is NOT a Swedish porn site): The urinal can comfortably accommodate three guys (UK: blokes).

Here are a couple of the views that you can enjoy while sipping your crappy over-priced beer(s):
I've gotta go now - in a hurry with this post; band practice, you know...

But I have to say that beer costs too much here, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.