Monday, May 1, 2017

An Allsvenskan Game and a Traditional Walpurgis Night

Sunday, 30 April, 2017:

Just another beautiful day in that paradise on earth known as Uplands-Väsby, Sweden!

I began a day filled with much needed physical exercise with a stroll to our local Lidl Supermarket.

 A farm only 50 meters from
Aiki and Janne's home
where I'm staying

 The farm has livestock of course

School yard shelter

 Besides groceries,
Lidl sells GREAT shoes!

Unfortunately, none of these were in my size.

Grocery shopping done, it was time to was time to walk to the train station and board a local to the city of Solna to see an Allsvenska fotboll, aka, soccer match between two of the Swedish top league's 16 clubs.

 1 win - 2 ties - 2 losses =
5 team points good for
13th place in the Allsvenskan
League Standings


 2 wins - 1 tie - 2 losses =
7 team points good for
10th place in the Allsvenskan
League Standings

Both clubs are current Allsvenskan League bottom feeders at
this point in the young season but a game is a game.

Janne, who would be working Security in the A.I.K. Ultras Fans End Zone during the game, predicted that it would be a small crowd with easy to get tickets.

He is a wise man indeed.

By the way, A.I.K. stands for the official name of the team Allmänna Idrottsklubben, which translates as "The Public Athletics Club." The club was founded in 1891.

The visiting club G.I.F. is from Sundsvall about 220 miles north of Stockholm on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Their initials stand for Gymnastik och Idrottsföreningen, literally "Gymnastics and Sports Association." This club was founded in 1903.

 I was set for a fun afternoon

An upscale Mall to be sure

In a great marketing move, when you get off of the train in Solna, the shortest route to the A.I.K. home turf, Friends Arena, is to walk through this gigantic mall.

 The mall has a Legos Theme

 The mall is pleasing to the eye

Parents and kids building
any and everything with Legos
in one of many play centers
in the Mall of Scandinavia

Great idea. This is by far the largest play area in the mall but the kids were getting the desired message to buy some more Legos for home enjoyment.

I finally exited the mall to find
Friends Arena

It was about 12:30 p.m., where was everybody for the 1:00 p.m. start of the game?

 I was told to go down these stairs
to buy my ticket in the
A.I.K.Team Store

 Getting close

 This is it

The cheapest seat possible,

The young lady helping me said that my desired cheap seat was in the the A.I.K. Ultras Fans End Zone.

I said I'd take it but asked if I would get assaulted for not knowing any of the A.I.K. team songs/chants.

She said "Probably not."

That's when I remembered, most of the Ultras section's seats that I had seen from a distance at my previous games throughout Europe were not seats at all, they were Standing Room Only set ups.

She confirmed that this was also the case in Friends Arena.

Thus I changed my mind and bought a seat in the deck just above the Ultras for only $15.

 Ticket in hand,
but where are the fans?

 Friends Hotel right next to
Friends arena

I finally asked an official looking person what time the game started.

The reply was at 3:00 p.m., not at 1:00 p.m. as I had originally thought.

What to do? Well there is that gigantic Mall of Scandinavia only about 30 meters from Friends Arena and they have . . .

 . . . FOOD!

I paid the $24 for their all-you-can-eat buffet.

Meat, meat and then, even more meat! I was in Atkins Diet Heaven!

Until I found the dessert bar.

More than fully sated and after a few laps around the interior of the mall's three levels, it was indeed game time!

Now the fans were here

 In large numbers it seemed

I needed to find Entrance Gate Fx

There was absolutely no patting down, wanding or bag checking at this entrance, just a solitary, slightly built female Security Guard who just watched me scan my ticket to open the turnstile to let me pass.

I could have sneaked in a Vespa I'm sure.

Pre-game warm-ups

Sunny Day

A.I.K. ready to play!

 Sparse crowd just
as Janne predicted

Friends Arena is built to hold 50,000 fans, today's crowd was announced at 11,927.

 The view from Section 219
Row 4, Seat 110

First flare of the day from
the Ultras Fans

There would be many, many more during the somewhat dull contest.

Ivan Turina
A.I.K. Goalkeeper
October 3, 1980 - May 2, 2013

He died tragically in his sleep at the age of 32 while still playing for A.I.K. and was much beloved by the club's fanbase.

He wore jersey number 27 and since his death, at every A.I.K. home game, the entire crowd stands throughout the 27th minute of the game slowly chanting his name followed with a loud clap over their heads. The probably got about ten of these name-claps in during the 60 seconds.

Quite the moving tribute I thought.

 One more souvenir team scarf
for my collection

Not much action in this one as the match ended in a 0-0 tie adding one more team point to each club's season record.

Once back in Upplands-Väsby, I opted to walk home along the creek that runs parallel to and about 50 meters from the train tracks.

It was a new way home for me.

Good thing I didn't
try to swim home

PCB pollution in Sweden, who knew?

 The Creek . . .

. . . has some artwork too

It also runs by the Marabou
Chocolate Factory

This is where they make Daim candy, my favorite Swedish treat.

More creekside art

In the evening, Aiki and I headed back towards the train station to view another Germanic/Nordic tradition, the Walpurgis Night Bonfire.

It is done on April 30th every year
to welcome in Spring

Besides Sweden, these bonfires were also happening tonight in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia and Slovenia.

 It stems from old pagan beliefs but
was adapted by the early Christians

This is the eve of the feast day of St. Walpurga who of course was against pagan witchcraft for some unknown, goofy reason. 

 In the old days they may have
burned a witch or two on this night

Who knows?

No one was roasted at our bonfire tonight as far as I know.

When Aiki and I arrived back home,
Janne was in full Grilling Mode

It made for yet another sumptuous meal.

It was a meal that was filled with many interesting dinner topics of discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed Aiki's talks about growing up in then Communist controlled Estonia and her participation as a ten year old in the famous, peaceful Baltic Chain of Freedom protest in August of 1989.

Aiki was one of approximately 2,000,000 people who joined hands forming a human chain that stretched from Estonia through Latvia and on into Lithuania protesting the Soviet governments treatment of these three Baltic states.

In the long run it worked as these three countries achieved independence in 1991.

It was another GREAT
day in Sweden
with LOTS of walking

But no witches burning at the stake.


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