epic search for a bed…

So once you have a place to live, you need a place to sleep. Disclaimer: in Chicago I lived alone in a large one bedroom apartment. I had a queen sized bed basically to myself for the last 5 years. After living in the dorms and then a 4 bedroom apartment in college and having plenty of roommate drama, I was ready to live alone. I loved my Chicago apartment, it was fun to have all of my things well displayed, and being able to cook how I liked, wear what I liked, and not worry about always having to communicate with someone else. However, when planning to move to Sweden it didn’t make sense to move all of my stuff here or buy everything for an apartment for just being here a few years. So as I have posted before I began a search for a roommate and an apartment. My plan was to find an apartment that was mostly furnished so that at most I would need a bed/bedroom furniture.

Now, buying a bed. In the US I am weird because I like European slat beds. I don’t like box-spring beds and have often struggled to find a bed that I like. IKEA has actually been a great resource for these kinds of beds so I thought buying a bed in Sweden should be easier than in the US. On the day I was moving into my apartment we packed up my uncle’s car with my suitcases, laundry bag, and computer and dropped it all off at my apartment before heading out to buy a bed and maybe a vanity/desk.

I had gone to my new apartment and measured the room a few days before, drawing a map of it showing the widow, door, and wardrobe. Then I had done some research on beds online and learned that standard sizes were 90, 120, 140, 160, and 180 cm (x 200 cm, Wikipedia plus a few other sites even said that these were becoming common through Europe because of IKEA).

I planned to get a 120 or 140 cm bed, so it would fit into my room and not be too small, wooden frame with slats, and a thick US style mattress that I might even sew a fitted sheet for since Swedish bottom bed sheets are flat sheets. Or so I planned…

It is only half true that  120 and 140 cm are standard bed sizes…90, 160, and 180 are very common, in fact all the beds at IKEA come this way. However, to have a wooden frame with slats I would have to go from a queen sized (137 x 191 cm) bed in the US to a 90 cm bed, which seemed impossible or to a 160 cm bed, which would make it impossible for me to open the doors to my wardrobe in my room. I did find some bed frames for 140cm beds, but IKEA only had thin mattresses that were supposed to go on “swedish” beds this size…

What is a Swedish bed? Well it is basically a wooden framed box-springs box that you can attach feet to. Then on top of these box-springs you place a thin mattress (which you wrap in a flat sheet) and then a duvet blanket on top for covers. Now there are thick mattresses to go on top of these spring boxes but they only seemed to come in 90 and then 160…no 120 or 140. So IKEA had a 140cm frame for a slat bed but no mattress thicker than about 4in to go inside this frame…????

After my being blindsided with the bed types and that the choice wasn’t easy, my aunt suggested we try two other stores that are close to IKEA…

So store number 2, no non-Swedish beds…

So store number 3, had a bed frame that was nice and you could get a mattress like I wanted but it was over 9,000 SEK (> $1,300) and finding a 140cm bed was basically impossible…ok so maybe not so much…

So try a specialty bed store…(#4), had no mattresses like I wanted but had a very nice Swedish bed that at least by sitting on it felt more like the kind of bed I wanted. My main problem with box-springs is they are too bouncy…or way to stiff…I feel like Goldilocks not being able to find the right bed. This bed was also over 8,000 SEK and then you had to wait 6 weeks for it to come in…

After driving all over, and with patience running thin, and everyone tired and hungry we headed back to IKEA to eat something and so I could have time to think about what I wanted. Now my last bed cost < $500 including the good mattress that was more expensive that I was planning to spend. Buying a bed that cost so much more for just two years seemed ridiculous. Plus paying so much for a bed that wasn’t even what I really wanted seemed counter productive.

Finally, I settled on getting a Swedish bed…What bed would fit in my room? What bed was large enough for me to not fall out of? What bed could I afford? What bed could I find sheets for? a Swedish bed. So I got a Swedish wooden slat bottom box-springs with a “thick” mattress topper (3 in thick) and 4 oak legs and sheets etc. to go with.

"swedish" bed

“swedish” bed

In the end I think my bed is nice and I have not been too uncomfortable in it but seriously there should be a website on how to buy a bed in a foreign country….that would be useful.


Tivioli! and the rain…

Every year while living in Chicago, I would go to the the Christkindlmarket with my best friends. We would show up early in the morning as soon as the market opened (11am) and browse the stalls. After getting cold enough we would have a glass of Glühwein and keep shopping. Around 1pm or so as the market got busy we would have finished and would get a bratwurst with sauerkraut to go.

When I got to Sweden just a few weeks ago, I was discussing the holiday schedule with my aunt and uncle. I told them about an article I had read in one of those “plane magazines” on the 5 best Christmas markets in Europe. Number 1 was in Prague (where I totally want to visit) but 3 or 4 was Tivoli in Denmark! So close…my aunt couldn’t remember how long it had been since she had been to Tivoli but years was the answer. We started to looking at calendars (3 adults at the kitchen table with their smart phones ;). Finally we found one of the only days we could go….

I had 3 goals: (1) have fun, (2) find some fun holiday decorations or Christmas presents, (3) get a picture for my holiday card!

So the day was finally here and it was rainy and cold (traditional Skånes winter I am told). We decided to go for it and took the train over the bridge to Denmark to avoid driving and parking in the city.

entering a "winter wonderland"

entering a “winter wonderland”

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Shopping in Syden

One of the things I always did when we came to Sweden for family vacation was go shopping. The small town, Löddeköpinge, my aunt and uncle live in had one of the first large mall like shopping centres in the area, Center Syd. So with my cousin, then later with my cousin and my cousin’s girlfriend I have been shopping at Syden many many times. Attached to a supper sized grocery store they have quite a few stores in the main centre like in a mall, small stores with specialized things like makeup, games, candy, etc. Then there are large “mega” stores around the outside like the big electronics store, hardware store, etc. When shopping on vacation with money your grandparents give you for the trip the goal is to buy something fun and use up the money. I often bought craft things (I have an enormous number of those velvet outline pictures that you paint or color in), Legos (the original “vacation” activities that were pink for girls), clothes, or shoes. When I lived in Sweden in college I didn’t need to go shopping for anything so the things I bought were again for fun and not necessity.

If you remember during my huge packing puzzle one of the questions I was asking my self was whether I could re-buy certain bath or medical products once in Sweden. I removed bottles of shampoo and in the end 4 bottles of nail polish to reduce the weight of cases. I kept things like advil (not easy to get over the counter drugs in Sweden) and cortizone creams, but took out things like feminine products and band-aides   I knew that some of these things would probably be more expensive in Sweden but at least I could replace them, whereas, I could not replace my heals. So this weekend when shopping with my cousin at Syden I was on a mission: what should I make people from the US bring when they come visit? By looking at the prices of general things that you could buy or have someone buy for you if you gave them the specs: underwear, bathroom supplies, nail polish….

Now remember those 4 bottles of nail polish I took out of my suit case? The reason I could do that is I have a problem. That’s right a nail polish problem. Since the 7th grade when one of my mother’s sisters painted my nails for me and my dad told me how much he didn’t like it, I have painted my nails basically every week. In the beginning it was with cheap nail polish and lots of different brands. Then I feel in love with OPI after one professional manicure. OPI lasts well, doesn’t chip a lot, and has fun colors that are bright with funny puny names. Now other people keep getting me to try new kinds but I plan to stick with my good old OPI, I have already invested a lot into my $8.50/bottle at full price collection. Nail polish isn’t supposed to be good for you…trust me I am a chemist 🙂 Anyway my extensive collection is such that I could take out some bottles and leave them for a friend to remove colors that were too close to others and that I don’t use often. Currently my collection of nail polish is in a huge ziplock waiting for me to find an apartment so I can buy IKEA shoe drawers to display it (pictures to come when I set it up). During the weekend my nail polish was taken out many times to do multiple people’s nails. My cousin is trained to do nails professionally so it was fun to see so many of the women who we hung out with during the weekend get a manicure with a fun color they would never use for themselves. As we were shopping at Syden on Sunday my cousin was thinking about buying an OPI nail polish for herself but they were 150 SEK (Swedish Krona) WHICH IS $22!!!! wow ok so that trip I am making back to the US for a wedding…need to find an Ulta or Sephora for nail polish…all visitors to Sweden will be required to pay the toll of one OPI nail polish (fun colors get bonus points :).

“moving to Sweden nails”