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Sweden - Gullholmen - k.k. photo

 “In terms of landscapes, Norway’s mountains and fjords are much more dramatic than anything Sweden has to offer, though Stockholm is a much more interesting city than Oslo. Copenhagen, on the other hand, struck me as friendlier than Stockholm. Malmö and Gothenburg are nothing special, but Uppsala is nice. Of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden feels the most prosperous, though because of its oil wealth, Norway is actually richer. In terms of cultural sights, a visitor quickly discovers how many beautiful castles and palaces have been constructed in Sweden over the centuries. My favorites are Sigtuna, Lund and Visby.” (J. K., 2015)

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Myths:
Every woman is tall and blonde: Well, there are actually a lot of tall, blonde women, but the population is far from homogenous enough for this to be the case. Especially if we take into account the non-negligible numbers of immigrants (from every corner of the world) and also those who are no longer immigrants, but have been Swedes for several generations.
This is a country of high alcohol consumption: In fact, Sweden is near the bottom of the list for alcohol consumption. There are several possible reasons for this, including the Swedish system of only selling alcohol in specially licensed shops (Systembolaget), and the fact that Swedes don’t generally drink during the week, saving their ‘energy’ for Friday and Saturday night instead.
It’s always dark, with very short days: This is only true in winter, and even then, extremely short days are only a feature of the far north. In the south, for instance in Malmö, the winter days are shorter than in Prague or Paris, but the difference isn’t extreme. What’s more, this is balanced out by extremely long summer days. For instance, where we live, it’s light fort almost 23 hours in the middle of summer, right into the middle of the night, and further north the sun doesn’t set at all for a few days. Since Sweden extends a long way along a north-south axis, the difference between the two ‘ends’ is quite extreme.


Practicals

Transport

“The Swedes are models of serenity. They are able to drive for hours behind a truck doing 60, which by the way is much longer there than here, and yet not overtake them. Also, in addition to the two lanes of their main roads, they usually even have two hard shoulders. It is a common custom there to pull over to the hard shoulder to make it easier for others to overtake. Oncoming cars do the same. So the fact is they could go as fast as they liked, but the maximum speed is only 110 km/h.”

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“The transport culture is developed, but the pace is noticeably slower than in other European cities. Motorists invariably give way at zebra crossings, and pass cyclists in a wide arc. Public transport vehicles have low floors, and there are ramps and lifts for prams and wheelchairs everywhere. Swedes tend to have much more respect and understanding for each other, and the pace of life is also slower and less stressful, which is also helped by the larger amount of living space.

Stockholm is a city defined by rivers, lakes and the sea, which may have shaped the close-to-nature approach. Wherever one goes, one finds water and green space. A lot of sports, including running, walking, skiing, and skating are also related to these, and exercise is part of everyday life.

Swedes can find solutions in every area of life, nothing seems to really baffle them. Whether it’s a school problem, a public transport complaint or a labor issue. They confront issues head on and solve things quickly, which is also helped by a lot of statistics. General trust and compliance also make their lives easier. . (2019)



Public safety

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Sweden - friendly police - s.s. photo

Background

Sweden - national flag - Flaggan

Destination in brief

Sweden in brief

Sweden is a Scandinavian country located in Northern Europe. Neighbors: Norway (west), Finland (northeast)
The Swedish name for Sweden is “Sverige”.

Size: 450,295 km² (173,860 mi²) - Lush, large forests cover half of Sweden and over 100,000 lakes dot the landscape. The lakes, and over 24,000 islands, are all open to the public.

Capital city: Stockholm – 1.6 million (2020)

Population: 10 million (2020) – It is widely assumed that Swedish people are very reserved and difficult to communicate with. The Swedes are actually very friendly and polite - they enjoy meeting new people and learning about different cultures. They might seem reserved because they do not usually ask any personal questions, since they consider it rude, or even insulting.

Language: Swedish – Danish is the most similar language to Swedish.

Religion: 87% of those people who consider themselves religious are Lutheran – But almost eight out of ten Swedes are either "not religious" or "convinced atheists".

Political system: constitutional monarchy, the Prime minister exercises the executive power
Sweden is member of the European Union (unlike Norway), but it is not member of NATO (unlike Norway and Denmark).

Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
Average net monthly salary: about 2,200 USD (2020)

Taxes are very high in Sweden, and the state uses this significant income to guarantee many social benefits to its citizens. All Swedish individuals' tax files are accessible to the public.
Swedish parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave  - and of those, 60 days are reserved for the father.

Most common surname: Andersson

Safety: Sweden used to be considered exceptionally safe, but its safety ratings have gone down in recent years as petty crime, biker gang related violence, and even a terrorist attack, have weakened this image.

When to go? June-August
Top tourist attractions: Stockholm (Gamla Stan, Royal Palace), Stockholm archipelago, Vasa Museum, Skansen, Drottningholm Palace
The Cathedral of Uppsala, Oresund Bridge, Kalmar Castle, Visby, Marstrand


History

"They spent lived lives peacefully under the reigns of Harald, Magnus, Olaf, Margaret, Charles, and Gustavus Adolphus, and no one knew who was Norwegian, Danish, or Swedish. Then, in the early seventeenth century, the independent Swedes decided to introduce themselves to Europe. They built a huge ship, to show the slow-coach English and Dutch shipbuilders see what Swedish manhood was capable of. The ‘Vasa’ went straight from the dockyard to the watery deep, as it was swamped and capsized by the waves produced when it was launched. All of Europe laughed at the stupid Swedes, but they didn’t give up. Gustavus Adolphus II, who others described as capable, at least by Swedish standards, won the title of the most stupid king at the Battle of Lützen. It so happened that the short-sighted king forgot to put on his spectacles, and at the beginning of the battle, he rode cheerfully among the riders of Wallenstein, wanting to lead them into battle towards the Swedes. At first, they could not believe that the King of Sweden was so stupid, but then they welcomed the opportunity and knocked him down.

After their failures in Europe, the Swedes sullenly retreated into their closed world until they could make fools of themselves again against Peter the Great. The tsar just wanted to open a ‘window to Europe’ through the wall of the Swedes, which they took umbrage at and began to attack Russia. The Russians started playing ‘catch’ on their beloved steppes with the Swedes, then got bored and destroyed them near Poltava. After this, the Swedes became more sullen than ever, and for a hundred years hardly a peep was heard from them. Even then, it was only because Napoleon made one of his officers, Bernadotte, their king. Bernadotte soon realized the Swedes' tendency towards stupidity and, to protect the poor things from a perpetual cycle of failures, withdrew them from Europe with an ideology of neutrality. Of course, through Bernadotte, the Swedes once again managed to ridicule themselves, because they had the only king in the world whose chest was adorned with a tattoo reading "Death to kings!"

Nowadays

“Cheerful good humor was abandoned by the Swedes in the ‘90s, replaced by their most ancient national characteristic: stupidity. Generational change played a major role in this. The stupid Maoist kids of ’68, after shagging, drinking, and smoking their way through the ’70s and 80s, moved into decision-making positions. They wanted to show the world how smart they were and – unknowingly – revived the Swedish tradition of stupidity.

It started with the fact that they would be the champions of integration and then show well to the countries that could not cope with the curse of their former colonies. So they imported a bunch of Pakistanis, Kurds, Turks, Albanians, and Africans and started integrating them. The result is somewhat ambiguous: immigrants have accustomed themselves to prosperity with great grace, but unfortunately have not yet succeeded in internalizing the obligations that come with it. Thus, there are districts in some Swedish cities which – to the glory of integration –native Swedes are strongly advised to avoid. So the world once again laughs at the stupid Swedes who got themselves into such a predicament.


People

Here are just a few "novelties" that might be weird at first:

• they will only shake hands at the first meeting (on being introduced), it is not customary to start each day by exchanging skin microbes and germs.
• they do not use paper handkerchiefs, and instead hawk and sniff (and, if necessary, suck the ectoplasm from the nose into the mouth);
• at first they won't show their feelings, or after 5 minutes they won't reveal their most hidden secrets (I don't know how typical in general);
• if the situation arises, they will burp without batting an eyelid – here it is a natural thing (so long as it’s at a volume that does not shake the earth, causing a 7.5-scale earthquake, of course);
• you know you’ve been accepted when a Swedish colleague invites you to have coffee (it may take long weeks/months);
• privacy and family are sacred and inviolable, so for me, for instance, it was inconceivable when my boss asked me on Friday, almost apologetically, if I could come to work on Saturday (with paid overtime, and of course I could say no).

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Here, people are able to negotiate without offending each other or looking for each other’s weaknesses. All that matters here is to talk about the subject, to be professional and diplomatic. That's the expectation, and you're done.

Back home in Hungary, meanwhile, it’s almost inevitable that whether it’s a family dinner or a group of friends, the conversation becomes a political argument, in Sweden, this happens only tangentially, and politics is not a constant topic, although the Swedish political elite is also criticized there because of the refugee situation or the government.

Politics has no influence on everyday life. It’s commonplace, but you can live here without knowing about politics. At home, everyone thinks the only undeniable truth is what he or she thinks about the world, and that it’s independent of one’s emotional state. In Sweden, this seems rather ridiculous.(2019)

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Tourist etiquette

1. Locals may object if food or packaging is left on or near a bench.

Gastronomy

“Looking at the traditional meals on offer (lunch and dinner), I can say that seafood is an integral part of the local gastronomy. The interesting thing is that they largely have to import the fish (especially salmon), mostly from Norway. The Baltic Sea is apparently not the best or cleanest source for the Swedish fish market.

Chicken is as rare as hen’s teeth, so to speak, which is why it costs so much. Soups aren’t very popular, and if they do have some, they prefer cream soups made from vegetables. Due to the climate, vegetables and fruits are typically rather colorless. On the other hand, Sweden is very famous for its berries. Picking blueberries in the forest is a real family activity in summer. They add a lot of sauce to everything. Same thing with sugar. It’s a real challenge to find bread made without sugar.

Swedes are big fans of America. Sweden is the second home of fast food and frozen ready meals. However, this poor diet with high levels of additives and preservatives comes at a price. Sweden has a very high rate of food allergies by global standards. The silver lining in this is that the country is a gastronomic paradise for those suffering from lactose intolerance or sensitivity to glucose. Everything from lactose-free cream cheese in every corner store to gluten-free bread, cookies, and pizza is available (though of course, it is also true here that homemade is the healthiest).

Swedes love to eat, yet they do so relatively sparingly. Sweets and alcohol are mostly consumed on weekends and holidays. But on those occasions, they don’t hold back. This is indicated, for example, by the general term for candy, ‘lördagsgodis’, meaning ‘Saturday sweets’. Typical summer activity is a barbecue, with lots of sausages, meat, vegetables, sweets, and alcohol.”

husmankost - plain cooking

Attractions

Malmö

Population (in 2020): 322,000

Almost 50% of its inhabitants are immigrants and their children born in Sweden.

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 2700 USD  (Sweden's average: 2840 USD)

Malmö - Saint Peter's Church, a Gothic church built in the 14th century - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Malmö - the only synagogue in Malmö - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Gothenburg (Göteborg)

Sweden - Gothenburg - d.p. photo

Kalmar (Southeast Sweden)

Sweden - Kalmar - Cathedral (built on Kvarnholmen island in the mid-17th century) - Viktor Ohotin's photo

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