Turns out that everybody here also goes to Ikea (properly pronounced "EE-kay-ah"). A couple weeks ago a co-worker with a small child said that they were going to Ikea for dinner. I think I looked skeptical at this, because he assured me that it was good, cheap, and best of all, the child could be dropped off. This didn't really help, because I still couldn't wrap my head around the idea of purposefully going to a big box furniture store for food and childcare. Or for the furniture either, for that matter, as the noisiness and busyness and overly-bright lighting in big box stores generally make me a little queasy.
Well, I have been converted. Ikea is just cool. I will not say that I liked absolutely every item in it, but I'd say that for everything I didn't like, there were four things that I did. I won't describe contents in detail, because you can just go look at the catalog, but I can tell you that lots of the furniture is extremely comfortable, and lots of the little things are attractive and well-made, and many things are quite cheap as well, relatively speaking.
We went around 11am, because we had it in mind that we might want to have lunch there. Again, my initial skepticism about eating in a store were overcome by the heavenly smell of meatballs, which did turn out to be quite a bargain. 59 SEK gets you a middle-sized plate of meatballs and potatoes, salad, fountain drink with free refills, and coffee. One difference between here and the US stores (I'm just guessing here) is that fountain drinks includes lättöl and lingonberry soda. And do the US stores also have salmon on the menu?
We had come specifically for a small desk light for me at work, but we had lingered over the furniture long enough that we had to hustle after lunch in order to be home in time to watch the mass-start women's 15k biathlon.* Joe grabbed a whisk on the way out (because he cannot live without one any longer) and some jelly-jar style shot glasses (15 SEK), and I ended up with a small avocado-colored clamp lamp (49 SEK) and a fluorescent light bulb for it (which cost nearly as much as the lamp, at 45 SEK). A successful shopping trip, all in all, and a nice afternoon out.
I'm looking forward to going back sometime, to properly investigate the last two-thirds of the store.
Oh, and it turns out this whole thing was a set-up. Joe came out here a while back (it's near a large grocery store he wanted to check out), and was quite taken with the furnishings. He though that getting me into the store would make me more eager to set up house and get our own things into it... and he was right, dang it, I really want one of those couches now.
*The world biathlon championships are being held right now in Sweden, up north in Östersund where they have plenty of snow, home of the volunteer regiment that set off the cannons for the January 25 University commencement. The women's 15k mass-start turned out to be a real nail-biter, too, with a sprint to the finish, and only 3 seconds separating the first and second place finishers, from Germany and Norway respectively.