Friday, 11 July 2008

Signs in Stockholm

Numbers again: now back from 50th trip abroad, and 22nd trip to Scandinavia. This one was a week in mainly Stockholm, with a few trips out to the archipelago, Uppsala and Nykoping.

Oddly, the predominant theme of this work/holiday combination was "signs". On one of the outdoor walkways by the Stockholm waterfront was an exhibition of wacky signs from around the world. There were a lot of them, and I've put pictures of my favourites on Flickr. Here's a sampler of four:





A wander through the heatwave a few days later brought me to a square where many people were doodling away with coloured pens. Turned out to be Google, holding an outdoor event where people could create and submit a logo. Around the square, in Google-logo emblazened deckchairs, tourists and locals sat around, trying to shield from the relentless sun while working on their idea for a future graphic for the search engine website.



Wandering and using the transport systems, it was interesting to notice the wonkiness of many commercial and public-oriented signs, in terms of their translation. On the (superb) Stockholm underground, several of the English languages signs would have had proofreaders gritting their teeth. Above the ground, things aren't much better; here's one sign on the waterfront:


Also, "300 meters to the right" puts the ticket-purchaser in the middle of the water, but never mind. Though in fairness, their level of English is a hell of a lot better than my level of Swedish. 

But the best sign of all was in the hotel I stayed in. On the outside and inside of the lift was this:


Think about it. Either:

  1. There'd been an unusual and bizarre accident in a lift, involving a wheelie-bin, or

  2. Someone in Swedish Health and Safety has a vivid imagination.

Either way, this is just the kind of thing which you find in Korean/Japanese horror films. I await the first celluloid wheelie-bin-in-lift death.


  1. Scotland does seem to have its own fair share of real stupid signs, my fav is here:

  2. My favourite thing to do when I go abroad is take photos of bizarre signs. Here are some I took in Budapest:

  3. I am just in awe that you found so many for such a short trip. Unreal.

  4. You're so lucky. Stockholm is a lovely city.Here's one of my favourite signs from Malmö.

  5. What a great collection of signs you found.

  6. ...and in fairness, their level of Swedish isn't that much better than their level of English. We've been neglecting our schools for decades.Yep, Stockholm is a nice place.