Tell a Swede you’re learning Swedish, and within 30 seconds you’ll be sucked into a deep, nuanced explanation of what “lagom” means.
If you’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, you’ll understand lagom. It’s when things are not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, not too much, not too little… when things are just right.
We are about to set off for the amazing country of Sweden, where you'll find things are just right!
How does one describe a country that has given the world the Vikings as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, little Swedish meatballs as well as Absolute Vodka, Volvo as well as ABBA, IKEA and H&M and…well, you get the idea.
Sweden is an incredible country that is often missed by those who only venture about Southern, Central or Eastern Europe. It has a spectacular landscape, incredible cities, an educated population (most of whom speak English) and a history and culture much older than ours in North America. Up north you’ll find a pastoral landscape and dense green forests, while to the south there are all those little red island cottages scattered across the Stockholm Archipelago. In between is a pastoral countryside filled with ancient Viking burial grounds, wonderful biking and hiking paths and a heartland in which tradition is still king. And in its cities you’ll enjoy first-rate cultural opportunities, upscale restaurants and wonderful shopping.
This is my top 5 of cool places to visit, but do not limit yourself to seeing only these places because there are too many to list on our blog today!
1. Stockholm is widely celebrated not only as the capital of Scandinavia, but also as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, built where lake meets sea, on fourteen islands, with ten centuries of history and culture. The Swedish Royal Capital is also widely known for its remarkable modernity, progressiveness and trend sensitivity in everything from lifestyle to fashion, design, food and drink and usage of new technology. The combination of magnificent scenery, ancient history and tradition, and a pervasive innovative spirit combine to give Stockholm its truly exceptional character and charm.
Swedes like to claim that Stockholm is a city that has all of the qualities and allures of a major international metropolis but few of its usual downsides. It’s a city where it’s easy and efficient to move around, where the air is fresh and the waters clean, with vast green areas permeating the city with plenty of space for everyone to roam freely. Few other places let you experience the pleasures and enchantments of nature, urban sophistication and cultural history, all in a single day.
2. City breaks don’t often come more perfect than they do in small, beautiful Gothenburg, the capital of West Sweden. Here you can discover quaint canals, the cobbled streets of historical Haga and countless green open spaces, including Sweden’s biggest botanical garden, boasting over 16,000 species. Immerse yourself in the Swedish lifestyle, soaking up the buzzing outdoor café culture with ‘fika’ (a break for coffee and a sweet bun) or indulge in the intriguing food markets, impressive museums and multitude of enticing restaurants — five with Michelin stars, including the most recent addition to the list, Thörnströms Kök. What’s more, there’s the city archipelago right on Gothenburg’s doorstep — easy to reach via a half-hour tram ride and a short passenger ferry trip.
3. Sweden’s first Marine National Park, Kosterhavet is centred around the car-free Koster Islands, only a two-hour drive up the lovely coast from Gothenburg. Once on the Kosters, you’ll see small fishing villages surrounded by an amazingly beautiful landscape, with many different plants and flowers. The appeal focuses on the unique seaside location, with beaches, rocky islands and the enchanting ‘Koster light’, which has inspired many artists on the island. You can rent bikes and enjoy a guided tour or a boat trip to see this marine wonderland. It’s the perfect environment for lobster safaris during the region’s renowned Shellfish Journey, as well as seal safaris, diving and sea kayaking.
4. No other city in Scandinavia and few cities in Europe can boast such a complete and ‘living’ picture of bygone days as Ystad. Many of the 300 half-timbered houses and other buildings bustle with restaurants and shops, and picturesque corners are alive with surprises and bargains.
Best-selling author Henning Mankell has put the city of Ystad on the world map with his detective stories about Police Superintendent Kurt Wallander, a bachelor who grapples with murder investigations and difficult criminal cases in Ystad and its surroundings and with his private life. The popular books have been adapted for the screen, and you can now go on a guided tour in an old veteran fire engine around Ystad and listen to stories about the films and the books.
5. Located only an hour’s drive from Gothenburg, Marstrand island is Sweden’s version of Hollywood as the playground of royalty and celebrities, boasting a rich, intriguing history. Enjoy an impressive vista from grand Carlsten’s Fortress, looking down upon the island’s colourful collection of wooden holiday homes and sailing boats of all shapes and sizes, alongside rugged rocks and the navy-blue ocean. Stay at the former residence of King Oscar II, Grand Hotel Marstrand, or the new Havshotellet Marstrand, just opposite the island, which has a superb spa (designed to reflect its natural coastal setting, with treatments to match) and a restaurant that lets guests watch the sunset over the island.
What about the air quality in Sweden? Emissions of air pollutants from road traffic have decreased both in Sweden and Europe, mainly thanks to improved cleaning and better fuels. Nevertheless, levels of air pollution are still high in many towns and cities, where they exceed EU air quality standards and national environmental objectives.
The research results confirm that it is emissions from Swedish road traffic that are most significant to the pollutants that cause problems in Swedish traffic environments. However only 1 out of 15 tested cities in Sweden didn’t meet European air quality standards. So I would say they have great air quality. However the Indoor Air Quality suffers many of the same deficiencies that other large cities have due to dust and pollen being trapped in HVAC systems in hotels and homes.
Well what about traditional Swedish medicines?
The Saami are the indigenous people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula. They have been hunters, fishers and reindeer herders, pursuing a nomadic style of life. Because of their way of life in the sub arctic and arctic environment they have developed a tradition of folk medicine, which to a large extent differs from the rest of Europe.
Medicine from animals came largely from bear and reindeer. Different parts of the animal were effective against different complaints. Bears were such powerful animals that it was enough, for example, to hold a pad of a bear paw against the cheek to cure a toothache. Pure bear fat was used as a salve or mixed as the base for a salve with other ingredients. It was believed that the bear was an animal endowed with a great power. Different kinds of fat were also used from the reindeer. The fat that was boiled out of the hoofs was considered to be extra good as medicine. For example, in small portions it was given as a laxative for infants. The fat of the hoof was used as a salve, just like the bear fat. Today we know that in Japan they use reindeer antlers as an aphrodisiac. The Saami made bullion soup with reindeer antlers, which was drunk in case of a bad cold. A special tendon from the back legs of the reindeer was kept and used to tie around a hurting extremity as a remedy for pain.
I thought this was super cool !....Ring så spelar vi (Call us and we’ll play) is a long-time favorite radio show in Sweden. As a matter of fact, it’s been airing since 1968 on Saturday mornings at 07:03-09:03, and is the radio program with the most listeners in the country. Recently, the listeners were asked to call in with their best household remedies, and since we’re fast approaching the cold and flu season, Nordstjernan wants to share some of these remedies for you to try.
“A tablespoon of olive oil will take away your cough. I’ve tried it several times on the kids; cough syrup is no longer needed.” Martina Karlsson
“A peeled garlic clove in your ear if you have an ear infection is very effective.” Catrine Månsson in Hörby (another listener added that it is important to wrap the garlic clove in a piece of cotton, don’t put it directly in your ear)
“Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle if you feel you’re about to get a sore throat. If you need to sing, then add a small piece of butter and let it melt in your mouth and swallow.” Curt Axelsson, Myresjö
“Ginger: as an aid for sore joints. Take a tablespoon in a cup with filmjölk (plain yogurt might be an alternative in the U.S.). Garlic against a cold (at least 10 cloves).” Leffe on Söderön, Östhammar
“When you have a cold, dissolve 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid in a glass of water and drink. Repeat 2-3 times a day.” Birgitta Bengtsson
“My home remedy for colds: Dissolve two throat lozenges into boiling water in a big cup. Squeeze half a lemon and pour in the juice. Add a splash of whisky and honey. Will tickle your sinuses in a nice way.” Helene Gustavsson, Göteborg
“Cough syrup: Slice a piece of ginger, add 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 cup of milk. Let boil 10 minutes then strain. Drink three times a day.” Lena Landy
“My grandfather always took a sugar cube with a glass of milk for his heart burn. Works for me, too.” Annica in Öjebyn
“My mother often had boils on her legs, and when antibiotics didn’t help she took a piece of bacon rind and put on top of the boil.” Birgitta Ström in Gävle
Ok well there are some destination ideas and some really cool info on traditional Swedish health remedies.
Wishing you the best health and safe travels-TheVentMaskTeam