Recently, I traveled to Sweden to visit several friends. This journey was a lot of fun and I was able to get some great shots too!
My friends pulled out all of the stops to make sure that I had a great time. I told them that I wanted to experience the language, the food and the culture; they did not disappoint.
For several months prior to going to Sweden, I tried to pickup some Swedish via an online program DuoLingo. My attempts at the language kept us entertained. Essentially, I have the vocabulary of a 2 year old, so my ability to converse was quite limited. I was successful in ordering food and reading directions on a map, but that’s about it.
When I was out on the town by myself, I found it helpful to understand a little of the language as I navigated the city of Stockholm. Of course, studying the layout of the city for several weeks in advance of my trip made it mush easier.
You have not had Swedish Meatballs until you have had meatballs made by my friend’s girlfriend’s family. These meatballs were so good, I just could not get enough of them. We also ate reindeer with ligonberry jam and moose.
Sweden is also known for their Cinnamon buns called “Kanelbullar.” I found the most amazing bakery in Stockholm called Gunarsson’s Konditori. If you visit Stockholm, I would highly recommend that you stop by Gunnarsson’s for some Kanelbullar and a confection called the Picasso. The Picasso is a Pistachio cake with pineapple coated in a pistachio candied shell. This place is a real treat.
Wanting to make sure that I had an authentic Swedish culinary experience, my friends also had me try Surstromming. For those who do not know, Surstromming is femented Baltic Sea Herring; this really means that it is rotted fish. I would describe Surstromming somewhere along the lines of Whale puke, but worse. I ate it. If you are looking for an entertaining subject to search on YouTube, look up “Surstromming” and you will see how wonderful it really is.
While visiting Sweden, I got to experience the Swedish culture and it was quite the learning experience. First of all, the Swedish people are very friendly. I hard to look very hard to find a rude Swede.
Something that I immediately noticed was that the Swedish people do not talk to strangers unless in situations where it is necessary. While riding on the subway, expect to see everyone trying to avoid eye contact and keeping to themselves. Some may interpret this to be antisocial behavior, but I observed that it was actually out of respect for everyone else. The Swedish people have unwritten rules of social interaction that avoid making people feel uncomfortable and avoid confrontation.
While the social behaviors of strangers seemed distant and unconnected, it was my experience that anyone I spoke to was very friendly and helpful.
Another thing about the culture in Sweden is that immediately it is clear that the Swedish people care about their country and the environment. Everywhere I went, the streets and subways were clean; even the bathrooms in the subways were clean.
My friends treated me more like family than a friend. They brought me into their home, introduced me to their extended family and showed me around. I never really felt like a visitor, more like I belonged there.
This trip will be something that I will look back on for many years to come with great memories and gratitude to my friends.
Click here to see my images from Sweden