Perhaps, one of my favorite things about Sweden is the Fika. A Fika basically translates into ‘going for a coffee.’ But it is so much more than that. It is a cultural institution and a way to take a break in the middle of the day to meet and chat with friends and get that all important jolt of, not necessarily caffeine but, social interaction. Here it is incorporated into everyday life and it seems like with everyone ‘going for a fika’ no work is getting done. People meet at one of Stockholm’s hundreds of coffee bars and hang out to have coffee and some of Sweden’s delectable pastries. In fact, it is Sweden, not France or Italy, that is said to be one of the world’s highest coffee consuming nations.
There is something about this ritual that is so very nice – especially in winter. I mean, yes, many of us already ‘go for coffee’ in the middle of our workday, but it’s often more of a ‘grab and go’ takeaway Starbucks affair. Here in Sweden, your boss expects and wants you to go take a break, sit for awhile, and catch up with your friends and co-workers and oftentimes will be the one shooing you out the door.
During my time in Stockholm I even took a commuter train up to the charming university town of Uppsala (about 40 minutes north) just for a Fika. Uppsala University is the oldest in Sweden and one of the highest rated universities in Europe. I was invited to a Couchsurfing gathering there and I couldn’t pass up to opportunity to see the countryside of Sweden, meet some nice people, and enjoy some yummy food and coffee. My new friend met me at the train station and gave me a great walking tour of his charming old town. Then we tucked into Hugo’s Café for a four hour fika filled with games, a lunch sampler of cous cous, pasta salad, and garlic bread and some tasty warm drinks. It was a great day and proved my new catchphrase (soon to be taking the globe by storm): It’s never too far for a fika. So shutdown your computer now and go take one.