Travel Journal

Hej Sverige!

(Wednesday 4 June 2014) by Mariken
The Danes make far better bread than the Swedes. But the Swedish kanelbulle are unbeatable by whatever the Danes produce.

To me, ignorant Dutchie, Denmark and Sweden are both part of Scandinavia, as are Norway and Finland. As a result, I had never thought of any differences between all these countries. Subconsciously, I considered them interchangeable. Of course I knew that Norway is not part of the EU, and the other countries are. I know that the Finnish language is completely incomprehensible and part of the Magyar language family instead of the Germanic one and that as the only Scandinavian country it uses the euro (hooray for that). I knew that IKEA and H&M originated in Sweden and the Little Mermaid in Denmark. But other than that I considered them all the same.

How very wrong I was. Denmark is small, Sweden is big. Denmark is neat, Sweden is rough. Danish houses are made of bricks, Swedish houses are (largely) made of wood. In Denmark they sell tomato paste in tins, in Sweden only in tubes. Okay, that was an insider's joke. But seriously, Sweden has a completely different feel than Denmark. Denmark feels clean, well-organised, sterile even. Sweden is equally well-organised (hey, it is Scandinavia after all!), but somehow it feels more natural. It has less nicely trimmed fields and more natural forests, so the landscape is rougher. Personally, I like Sweden more. Another positive feature of Sweden is the so-called allemansrÃtt, or the right of public access. This basically means that you can enjoy the Swedish nature for free, which includes free camping.

And that, my friends, is a feature you need in Sweden, no matter from what class you come. Because Sweden is expensive. An official campsite costs at least 20 euros, not including the showers. That is a peculiarity that Denmark and Sweden share: paid showers. I find it affronting. Why on earth would I go to an official campsite in a country that allows free camping, other than to use a shower, the only thing I do not have in the wild? Why are 'luxury things' like swimming pools and cooking facilities included in the (already high) price, and a basic facility such as a shower not? It's mind-boggling to me, and as said, I find it affronting. Having a beer on a terrace is not an option, unless you want to go bankrupt. I am told this is even worse in Norway. O well, at least we will not become alcoholics then.

Good things about Sweden: beautiful nature and the wildlife is free. We have spotted deer, countless rabbits and birds, a hedgehog, fish etc. Nature is everywhere, and that is something that immensely pleases me. And I am happy that such a thing still exists in Europe, a place where nature can roam freely, where animals are not kept in zoos and pens, but are free to go wherever they want. And that is worth all the money in the world.

We stayed on Gotland for a few days, where we enjoyed the tranquil island pace, the scenery, some nice small spots (churches, old houses) and old Hanseatic centre of Visby. And now we are near Stockholm, Venice of the North, which we will visit tomorrow. Pictures will follow, we have a lot, but we need time and a good wifi spot to upload them (the situation on the campsite is ok, but a bit Spartan).

  • Kanelbulle please! by Marije
    • I love Sweden! by Mariken
  • Lättöl by Jac

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