When you travel abroad as an embarrassed Brit, the initially uncomfortable but ultimately welcome thing you become aware of is that there are plenty of bars around that (apparently) cater for British or Irish tastes.
I don't understand it personally. When I go to a foreign country, I want to experience everything about it, right down to drinking their beer in their bars. One or two locations for tourists sure, but has our cultural influence really subsumed all else?
Well, sometimes, needs must. In the Summer of 2018 I spent a week in Stockholm. On the Monday afternoon at 2pm Sweden were playing South Korea in their opening match of that year's World Cup.
I initially planned to go to O'Leary's - a chain pub which can best be described to a Brit as a bastard lovechild of Wetherspoon's, O'Neill's and TGI Fridays; an American-Irish bar. In Sweden. Lots of Boston-themed imagery on the walls. But they couldn't guarantee a seat would be available at that time.
So I did a quick Google and found another "bona fide" Irish bar in the Gamla Stan, the old town, called the Liffey. The name was a good start.
I was dressed the part in my Sweden football shirt and had learned enough of the language to try and get by in a pub environment without exposing myself as a numpty tourist.
As you go in, a wonderfully expansive floor opens up in front of you with a bar to one side. And yes, it's typical Irish bar fayre, recognisable to anyone who's spent too long in an O'Neill's.
At first glance it seemed busy but not packed. Just as I thought I would be standing for the duration, my eyes were drawn to a small, inocuous looking staircase in one corner.
Going down I found a lovely little snug built into the ancient cellar space of the pub with a small additional bar, TV and seating, and plenty of ambient lighting. This was more like it. When they're not showing soccer matches this is where the live music happens, as the small stage and PA system suggested.
There is a popular perception that drinking in the Nordics is expensive. As with everything, that's relative. I paid 59SEK for my pints of the ubiquitous mass-market lager Falcon (approximately £5 at the time) and 69SEK for the Guinness (about £6).
Sweden, as the 450 sadists who have sat though my "Introduction to Swedish Beer" video will know, is one of many countries where alcohol is state regulated. For home consumption anything over 3,5% must be sold in the SystemBolaget; the state run off license. Advocates of the cold chain will be horrified to hear that everything is sold at room temperature, and smallpack literally is that - small. Every beer is sold in individual units. Meanwhile every pub must offer food, with the delightful result that most nightclubs have finger buffets and you get as much complimentary popcorn as you can stuff down your gullet.