The other day, I got an email from someone I don't know; not even by blog. It did not seem to be spam, and it contained a polite enough request: The writer is planning to go to Sweden and wants some touristing tips. Now, I'm not a Tourist Office, and therefore feel a bit hesitant to reply personally to a request "out of the blue" like that. But I thought I might make a blog post out of it...
Besides wanting to "see the world", the email writer claims to be interested in biking, swimming and dancing. This in itself tells me that this person has not been doing very thorough research into my blogs before asking my advice!
Fact: I have not been on a bicycle in ten years. No, sorry - eight years. My last very brief attempt was on a holiday in 2002. Not successful from neck-pain aspect. The last (and only) time I went on a longer biking adventure was 34 years ago. And that was fun only because of the company!
Fact: I have not set foot in a lake or sea in ten years either. Well, possibly my feet - but definitely not my whole body. Having got used to gentle exercises in an indoor rehab pool heated to 33°C, everything else seems too cold now!
Fact: The last time I "went dancing" was... 38 years ago, at a disco in England! [laughing out loud here] I may also have walked around a Swedish midsummer pole a few times in my twenties, but that's it. Not my kind of entertainment.
So what advice could I give? Only of a very general kind:
First, if you're not into winter sports, go in the summer. Our main tourist season is between mid June to mid August. May or September can be fine too, and less crowded; but you might also find many typical tourist places closed.
If you want entertainment and city life, go to our capital, Stockholm, beautifully situated on the East coast; or our second biggest city, Göteborg (Gothenburg), beautifully situated on the West Coast. If you like sandy beaches, go to Skåne (South) or Halland (West coast south of Gothenburg). If you prefer rocky shores, try Bohuslän (West coast North of Gothenburg). For old stone age tombs and medeival abbey ruins and churches, go to Västergötland. (Västergötland and the Stockholm area compete about which best deserves to be called the true "cradle of Sweden".) If you want midnight sun and mountains, travel far up north to Lapland. If you want forests and lakes, but don't want to go too far north, I suggest Värmland, or Småland. (I'm naming provinces rather than towns.)
Here's a link to a Travel Guide web page I found.
Quite amusing to read about one's own country seen from a foreign tourist's point of view. This page I find pretty accurate though (and with some nice pictures), even if their selection of noteworthy things (like my own!) might be a bit random. Quote:
- It can get chilly, or wet, or both, even in mid-summer.
- Endless tree views can be sooo monotonous.
- Swedish cuisine is healthy and hearty but hardly entertaining.
They must have gone about by car a good deal, because further down the page they repeat:
Self-driving in Sweden is, frankly, often slow and dull [unless you have a passion for endless forest] while city parking is difficult.
"Endless tree views can be sooo monotonous"
(My own picture from February 2010)