Note to self: In Sweden, they are just called ‘meatballs’. Asking for ‘Swedish meatballs’ in Sweden is grossly overstating the obvious.

Today, being a Sunday, we did what many other Swedish people do on this day of rest and went to worship at the Altar of the Flatpack and pay homage to the great god of consumerism at the biggest Ikea in the world. And it really is HUGE! 3 storeys full of stuff. The entire display area is arranged in concentric circles which spiral downwards from the 3rd floor, accessible via ramps, steps and escalators. There is a large dining area on the top floor, plus 2 smaller cafes, a food hall and a fast food bar. There are a couple of ‘I live in 25 sq metres or less’ displays. I thought there would be more, but then realised that while those displays are fascinating for us Aussies who live in much larger spaces, to the Swedes it’s real life and they don’t need Ikea displays to tell them how to do it.

We got there early, just after it opened at 10am. The carpark was fairly empty and there were some people inside the store, but that was nothing compared to the mass of people there when we left at 3pm. Huge queues at the checkouts and heavy parcel pick-ups, heaps of people just wandering around the displays, full cafes and dining room. Despite the much larger scale and there being more of everything in both quantity and range – I counted at least 6 different high chairs – it felt familar as we are used to navigating our way around the Adelaide store. We started at the top, on the 3rd floor and wandered around the displays for a while, then fortified ourselves at the cafe on the 2nd floor with pancakes (Greg) and coffee and a cinnamon roll (me). There were a couple of things that we wanted to buy, but we left them until the end of our visit, so we didn’t have to carry them with us.

We broke the Ikea experience up by visiting a few other shops nearby – an electronics shop, a couple of specialist sports shops (golf & horseriding) and a big supermarket which offered customers a handheld scanner to use as they placed items in their shopping trolley. Not many people used them, but as the queues for the ordinary checkouts were so long, it would have saved a lot of time not having to wait in line.

We went back to Ikea for lunch and to do our shopping and the whole place was full of people browsing, eating and shopping. We bought cushions to use as pillows when we camp, plastic containers, a wire colander that we’ll turn into a toasting rack to go over our little woodburning fire and a neat little folding table. I’m sure when we’re camping there will be photos of it all. We dropped into the Food Hall on the way out for a few supplies, then headed back to our apartment on the subway.