The Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark often fall under the radar of many travellers and holiday goers. I totally understand this. With the conjured image of constant freezing weather, shy people, and expensive booze;I understand why people choose to head to the warmer and cheaper destinations further south.
However, having lived in Sweden for 8 years, I feel fully integrated in to the culture and feel kind of obligated to spread the word about this beautiful yet seemingly unknown piece of planet earth.
Let’s cut to the chase. Here are 10 reasons why you should visit Scandinavia:
1. The Men and Women are beautiful.
Allright. I am going to start straight off by chopping off all stereotypes of Swedes. No, we are not all tall, blonde and blue eyed. No, we are not all Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt knock-offs. However, there is something special with the Swedish style, grooming and dresscode that for some reason makes us attractive. Maybe there is some truth to the Viking myths – raiding the villages further south for the finest ladies and bringing them back to Skandinavia to keep…
2. The food is different from anything you have ever tasted.
If you are one for letting your taste buds go on an adventure, up north is the place to do this. Everything from fermented fish, delicious meatballs, crisp bread, and all kinds of berries imaginable are available. Since there is a ‘right of common way’ (meaning you can walk wherever you want, whenever you want) here, all forests are available for your delicious berry-picking adventures.
A word of advice, though, dinner time here tends to be at around 17:00 – 18:00… Early, huh?
3. Equal rights are at its finest.
Gay? Trans? Black? Muslim? Good news, folks, none of that matters here! Forced trans gender sterilization is a thing of the past in Sweden. Although the variation in fashion sense or appearances may not be as diverse as in major cities like Berlin, there is a massive acceptance for other people in Sweden. People from other cultures are more than welcome, and plenty of people come from different backgrounds.
Me with two good friends of mine at a BBQ in Uppsala, Me – bisexual, Tuli – Mulatt, and Linda – Black. Yay for diversity!
4. Everyone speaks English.
The TV shows are not dubbed here so kids from about the age of 10 have a great grasp of the English language. Asking for directions in the middle of even the smallest town is never an issue, even if the person in question is older.
5. The Public transport is amazing.
Unlike what I imagine Los Angeles to be like, cars are not needed here. Most people rent a flat a few towns outside of their closest metropolitan city and simply take the train or bus in to work every day. The large number of commuters ensure a well built up transportation system. Moreover, traveling to or from Scandinavia is also easy with help of the Interrail tickets.
6. We have an ancient history
Skandinavia has many years of Vikings, Kings and Queens in our backpocket. How cool is that? Museums in most major city hubs show you all about the medievil times we have had. However, even the architecture of most of our buildings display a piece of the past, and most towns have a large church or castle as a piece of central history.
This cathedral is the epidome of my home town Uppsala. I walked passed it on a daily basis on my way to school.
7. We are as harmless as babies
Want to mind your spot at a café by leaving your jacket (and IPhone, and bag, and wallet, and laptop, and 2000 euro chihauha named ‘Gucci’) at the table? No problemo! I’m not sure if it is our culture that makes us this peaceful or something in the water we drink, but Skandinavians just don’t steal. Crime is low here. As a teenage girl, never once have I felt unsafe walking home alone after a night out. Unless you are specifically looking for a culture where you are free to punch every one you see walking down the street, this alone seems a great reason to come visit.
8. The weather is incredibally seasonal.
Yes, I could not get any more Swedish by bringing up the weather. However, the climate here is something one should definitely experience in ones lifetime. You will be given entirely different experiences depending on whether you choose to visit in Summer or Winter. In summer you recieve mild heat and long days, whereas winter brings darkness, cold, and snow.
Ideally, you should come here for a year so you can get a feel for the gradual changes that happen. After a long winter, there is nothing like the feeling of sitting outdoors with the sun in your face, jacket off, surrounded by the melting snow. Even though it is only 4 degrees celcius (39 degrees farenheit).
9. We have cheese slicers. !!!!!!!!
Possibly the best thing sliced sliced bread. Except in order for that analogy to work here I would have to be talking about pre-sliced cheese. And I’m not. Let’s just get back to the information, shall we?:
These nifty little tools are the staple of every Skandinavian’s kitchen. Basically, they are like cheese graters but instead of cutting the cheese in to little bits you get a big slice of the perfect thickness. We use these to make our open-faced sandwiches.
10. Europe is right on your door step.
If, for some reason, you have found Skandinavia to be too much for you (whether it be the weather, people, or abundance of shiny cheese slicers scaring you off) then there is nothing to fear because the rest of Europe is incredibally close. A cheap flight will get you to London in about 2 hours. Or, for the more environmentally friendly, there are trains and busses that can easily get you further up north.
Hopefully this post has generated some interest for the place that I have called home for half of my life. Feel free to comment if you agree/ disagree with anything!