• Sweden edition
 
My Sweden - Karlstad
'I felt like a tall blonde in the middle of Shanghai'

'I felt like a tall blonde in the middle of Shanghai'

Published: 05 Apr 2013 14:20 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Apr 2013 14:20 GMT+02:00

In our weekly profile of life in different parts of Sweden, Colombian-born entrepreneur Carlos Perdomo waxes poetic about Karlstad, a town that offers small-town charm, a bevy of foreign students, and no shortage of outdoor adventure.

Perdomo first visited Karlstad, a mid-sized Swedish city with around 60,000 inhabitants, several years ago to catch up with Swedish friends he'd met while living in Barcelona.

"They were on holiday almost ten years ago and we just kept in touch. We've managed to meet up every year since, and one time I came up to Karlstad for a long weekend," he explains.

"It was summer, so everything was green and beautiful and everyone was happy."

Perdomo's initial impressions of life in Karlstad stayed with him, and were reawakened last summer as he found his business ventures in Barcelona hitting a wall.

"I was going broke and it was just impossible to keep things going. I needed a break, and my friend said, 'pack your bags and come to Karlstad'," he recalls.

"Sweden always had this sort of charm of being a country where a hard-working person with a little initiative could make things happen, so I figured, why not give it a try."

Perdomo arrived in September, just as the famed Swedish summer was coming to an end. Looking back, he admits that leaving sunny Barcelona for an uncertain future in Karlstad was a bold move.

"But once I was here, I couldn't sit still," he says.

IN PICTURES: Click here to see more of Carlos Perdomo's Karlstad

In just over six months, the spirited entrepreneur has already launched two business ventures and left local residents scratching their heads after introducing what he suspects may be a new adventure-sport hybrid to the area.

"I did a lot of kite surfing in Barcelona. But Lake Vänern was frozen so I was forced to improvise," says Perdomo, referencing Sweden's largest lake by which Karlstad sits, nestled where the lake's northern meet the Klarälven river.

Along with a fellow Karlstad transplant from the UK, Perdomo strapped on a pair of alpine skis and rigged up a kite similar to the ones he used for plying the waters of the Mediterranean off the shores of Barcelona.

Soon, he found himself cruising along the frozen surface of Vänern, spawning a crowd of curious onlookers.

"We attracted a lot of attention. People were taking pictures and videos. I don't think they'd seen anything like it before," says Perdomo.

"I felt like a tall blonde woman in the middle of Shanghai."

Perdomo also tried his hand a winter recreational activity somewhat more common among Karlstad residents: ice fishing.

"All I caught was a cold," he quips.

However, Perdomo found his heart thumping when he ventured into the nearby Värmland woods to witness another Swedish winter sports spectacle he calls "the most amazing experience of my life".

The transformational experience? Watching Rally Sweden, an annual auto racing competition held every February in Värmland.

"After watching it on TV for 20 years, the chance to see these cars barrelling through the trees at 100 km/h was just awesome," he says.

With the snow melting, Perdomo is looking forward to getting back out onto Lake Vänern, but this time on a boat.

"The lake is my favourite thing here in Karlstad. It's just a short walk from the city centre, and when you're there, it's like you've come out to the middle of nowhere. It's so peaceful. It's like being in a picture postcard of Swedish nature," he says.

Another Karlstad-area gem, according to Perdeomo, is the nearby Bryngfjordan Bike Park, which turns a popular ski hill into a mountain biking paradise during the summers.

As home to Karlstad University and its steady stream of Erasmus exchange students from across Europe, Karlstad is also a place where Perdomo has been able to connect with other foreigners.

"Socializing in Sweden is a bit different, however, and it's something I'm still getting used to," he explains.

While saddling up to a bar for a beer by yourself is common in Barcelona, and often leads to spontaneous conversations and new friends, Perdomo has found the practice yields a different reaction in Sweden.

"When you go for a drink by yourself here, people assume you are an alcoholic and have no social life," he says.

In addition to busying himself with Swedish language classes at SFI, Perdomo is focusing a lot of energy on his business idea to introduce electric "tuk-tuk" auto rickshaws to Sweden.

"These cars are 100 percent electric and Swedes are really into green and environmentally friendly transport," he explains.

"Swedes also love Thailand, and these vehicles bring the charm of Thailand back to Sweden."

With the help of investors, as well as seeking funds on the crowd-funding website FundedByMe.com, Perdomo hopes to have the first set of tuk-tuks in Karlstad this summer.

"Who knows, maybe we'll eventually organized a tuk-tuk rally," he says with a laugh.

While he admits he still misses Barcelona, Perdomo is happy to call Karlstad home for now.

"Karlstad is also great because you can get to a lot of really great places in less than three hours. Olso, Gothenburg, Stockholm. It's a great road-trip starting point," he adds.

"And I really like the small-town atmosphere."

SEE ALSO: A list of The Local's past My Swedens

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Erik the Holy's skull and the crown, believed to be Sweden's oldest. Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

King Erik the Holy died 854 years ago, but scientists have just unveiled his skull at Uppsala Cathedral. READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

Swedish girls report more eating problems
Teen girls. File photo: Chloe Chaplin/Flickr

Swedish girls report more eating problems

A youth wellbeing report from Save the Children found that more teenage girls than in previous surveys reported having an eating disorder. READ () »

'Zlatan will be back for finals': PSG coach
Photo: AP

'Zlatan will be back for finals': PSG coach

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc said on Tuesday that he believed Swedish goal machine Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play again before the end of the season. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Advertisement:
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

712
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com