Please enjoy our guest entry by our new Swedish travel expert: Esbjörn Torstensson.
As with most expats, I am very passionate about my mother country. There is a trap you can fall in to of seeing everything with rose tinted glasses, but I think I have avoided this by falling equally in love with the city & country that I currently live in, Melbourne Australia.
It has always seemed unusual to me that there is not more tourism to my home country, and region. It must sound strange to a non Swede, but some of my fondest memories are of the sandy beaches of the south, and long summer nights that you experience during our summers. Naturally, what to a child felt like endless days playing in the snow, walking up the hill to go tobogganing is also fond memories. To me personally, I will always remember looking out through my bedroom window and seeing the falling snow lit up by the distant street lights.
In recent times, Sweden get a lot of attention due to some of the popular novels that have enjoyed worldwide success, such as the Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell books, and consequent movies and tv shows. The unfortunate thing is that the dark themes and sometimes dreary grey environments that are very suitable to crime fiction are some times described in the media as typically Swedish and something that the introvert Swedes endure whilst staying indoors with their many dark secrets…Now, I do feel the need to get this off my chest – this is far from the truth! Whilst Sweden do have crime and Autumns are not always uplifting, that is the case in most parts of the world with seasonal weather. What I will say is that Swedes are very liberal, and issues like child abuse, corruption & other crimes have always been openly discussed in our media and amongst our people. We are almost French like in our compulsion to argue and discuss everything that is wrong with the world, so not much stays hidden for long. Also, the darker times of the year often results in great creativity which is part of the reason we have so many great authors, and are often quoted as the 3rd most music producing country in the world, behind the UK and the USA.
The point is, Swedes can be perceived as a tad reserved, but as an English speaker, you are likely to be overwhelmed by the locals willingness to help you and more times than not, in perfect English. Thanks to very liberal immigration policies, most of our towns are far more interesting these days, with local food markets and a great variety of restaurants. If you go in summer, you will see a lot of happy Swedes frequenting the outside bars, cafes and our many beaches. If you go in winter, we do all we possibly can to light up the dark streets with Christmas lights, candle and lanterns. Mention any of our local football teams in summer, or ice hockey teams in winter and you will instantly be welcomed with open arms. And as with many other cultures, Swedes gladly open up over a drink or two.
I have often noticed in my travels that no matter where you go, there seem to be a Swede, German, Kiwi, Australian and North American around somewhere. Next time I go home, I want to experience the same thing in my home country – so get to it and I’ll see you there next time I’m having a beer at Harry’s in Helsingborg.