#SwedeInMadrid: Our plastic X-mas tree

When we lived in Sweden we would go to our own forest on "Första advent" to pick a X-mas tree. Best case there would be some snow so we could pull the tree on a sleigh all the way to our house.
We would decorate it and enjoy the smell and look of  a real tree in our house.
Twenty days after X-mas, on "Tjugondag knut" we would give it back to nature. Taking it out of the house was always a bit sad, but a natural part of saying good bye to X-mas.

Now that we live in Madrid, far away from our own forest, we have a small plastic tree. We picked it up in a shop rather than in a forest and when X-mas is over we will put it in a box so we can re-use it another year.

Different ways of celebrating. God Jul vs Feliz Navidad. I like both ways.

The feeling of X-mas comes from inside anyway. It is up to you if you see it as stressful or peaceful as I wrote in Julstress och Midsommarfrid. Don't let anyone fool you inte thinking it is normal to stress about it as I wrote in Känner du julfrid ännu?

I wish you all a great feeling of X-mas, no matter how you choose to celebrate it!

Feliz Navidad, Merry X-mas and God Jul!


#SwedeInMadrid: Cold butt in Madrid

The contrast is huge.
In the summer it gets up to 35-40 degrees celcius in Madrid. Driving motorcycle then feels like driving through hot air from hundreds of blow dryers.

When I drive to work now the feeling is quite different. With around 0 degrees and frost on the saddle, even the double gloves and extra sweater under the normal motor cycle clothes do not manage to keep me warm.

The cold is not a problem. It may not be comfortable, but I am warm enough. But coming from the west coast in Sweden and having lived in the Hague in the Netherlands I know that temperatures around or below zero can make the roads slippery and thus dangerous for bikers.

I have a colleague who drives motor cycle 60 km to work everyday. When I asked if he drives also when it freezes he said:
"Yes, of course. I always go by motorcycle."
First I thought this simply meant that he is more of a risk taker than I am, but after a while I remembered.
The difference between Madrid and Göteborg is not only the temperature. It is also the humidity. To go by motorcycle when it is freezing in Göteborg means there is a risk of ice on the road. Since Madrid is very dry, that risk is a lot smaller here.
So here in Madrid I go to work by motorcycle also in winter time. Even if it gives me a cold butt.


#SwedeInMadrid - what makes people feel safe in different countries

As a Swede it is easy to get surprised about the many high fences and bars in front of the windows in Madrid.

 A Norwegian asked us, after having lived here for just one week, if it was very unsafe.
"There are these gated communities with high fences, guards and security cameras. Is Madrid that unsafe?" 
The thing is, we do not perceive it as unsafe. When I ask Spanish people about it, they say it is a safe city, but that the fences and bars are necessary. This confuses me.

In Sweden we do not have gated communities, we do not have bars in front of windows and the fences are usually not that high. But, there are alarms. I have a lot of friends and colleagues who have installed alarms in their houses to keep burglars away.

I have always wondered if that really makes a difference. Reading the magazine Villaägarna makes it easy to think so. At first glance.

One article stated that the risk for break-ins in a house is reduced if you have an alarm.
However, when looking at the figures in the same article you see that the reduction of the risk is really, really small.

  • Amount of houses with alarms installed that get broken into: 0,59 %.
    • That means about 6 out of 1000 houses.  
  • For houses without an alarm the figure is 0,72%.
    •  That means about 7 out of 1000 houses.
A ridiculously small difference in my opinion.

High fences in Madrid, alarms in Sweden. Do they really make us safer?

I think not. But they seem to make many feel safer. And maybe that is what counts.