best time to visit Sweden is in the summer months
of June and July. The sun doesnt set at all
for several days during this time of the year. When
the rest of the world is plunged in darkness in the
night, Sweden and its Scandinavian counterparts have
the unique experience of having sunlight at all hours
of the night. Winters can be cold and crisp but in
spring and autumn, the country is full of flowers
and berries and in summer it can become quite warm.
in Stockholm is not in the least bit difficult. Ferries,
buses and underground trains leave at regular intervals
to all destinations. But if one has the time, the
best thing to do is to walk as much as possible in
order not to miss the intermingling atmosphere of
the medieval and the modern. Most Swedes speak English.
So gathering information from Information Bureaus
[marked as i] is not a problem at all. Stockholm
is compact enough to be able to do a lot of sightseeing
on foot. It is pedestrian friendly to the extent of
having traffic lights which motorists actually observe.
Conversely Swedish pedestrians are so disciplined
that they respect red lights even when there is not
a single car in sight
to tickling your appetite in Sweden, one must be aware
that here, they do not have a great gastronomic reputation
like France or Italy. Nevertheless, visitors to Sweden
can definitely expect to eat well. The sight of all
those healthy looking Swedes is proof enough to the
high standards of Swedish cuisine. Swedes make the
most of their natural resources when it comes to eating.
Mushrooms and wild berries, meat of reindeer or elk
and fish [considering the number of lakes and rivers
they have] make up for most of their food.
is probably best known abroad for its unpronounceable
Smorgasbord. Translated literally,
a Smorgas is simply a slice of bread and
bord is a table. But it is definitely
a misnomer to describe it as bread and butter
table. The giant Smorgasbord had
its heyday in the 19th century and even
then was still regarded only as the prelude to a proper
meal. Nowadays the Swedes are gourmets rather than
gourmands. So the Smorgasbordis a meal
in itself. The secret of Smorgasbordship
is to take things gradually and not to overload ones
plate. Start with a few slices of herring prepared
in mustard or horseradish sauce, accompanied with
a hot boiled potato. If you are lucky, you may encounter
gravad lax [thinly sliced salmon
cured in dill].
the main course you graduate to a bewildering choice
of cold meats or fish and salad or a typical hot dish
like Swedish meat balls or JanssonsTemptation
[a concoction of potatoes, onions and anchovies] before
rounding off with a fruit salad.
best value for visitors is the breakfast served in
most Swedish hotels, which is really a mini Smorgasbord
Youll usually find several kinds of cereal,
cheeses, herrings, boiled eggs, jams, fruits, milk
and different types of bread, including the ubiquitous
Wasa bord [crisp bread]. You can
stock up for the day with a hearty breakfast, but
it would be a pity because the best value of eating
out is to be had at lunchtime rather than in the evening.
In cities you will often find many restaurants offering
a dagens ratt [dish of the day]
for about 40 kronor which includes a main course,
salad, soft drink and coffee. Eating out in the evening
is generally much more expensive and you should reckon
on paying not less than 150 kronor for a meal. The
price of alcohol in Sweden is prohibitive, so you
may prefer to stick to mineral water [Ramlosa is the
best known local brand].
budget conscious will find plenty of cafes and cafeterias
in the larger cities, as well as fast food outlets
such as Wimpy or McDonalds. For something more
typically Swedish, try the korvkiosk,
the nearest equivalent to Britains Chippy.
it comes to formality, the Swedes follow a rigorous
protocol. If you happen to be invited to a Swedish
home for dinner, remember to be punctual and to take
something like chocolates or flowers for the hostess.
The most important part of their table etiquette is
to be aware of their skaling [toasting
a drink]. On no account take a sip till the host has
raised his glass for his first skal
[pronounced as skoll]. After that, you
are free to skal anyone at the table at
any time. One must remember to establish eye contact,
while you raise your glass.
visitors to Sweden should have a valid visa to enter
author has been a resident of Athens for more than a decade.
An intrepid traveler, she has visited several of the European
countries. This is a first hand recount of her many travelouges)