Finally, the first travelogue of my Europe Exchange. My first stop from Singapore in mid-March was to Copenhagen. My school in Germany starts in April so I had some time to do some pre-semester travelling. So yeah, first stop to the Scandinavian countries! After I put my huge luggage with my friend in Copenhagen, Denmark, I head over to Lund, Sweden to meet my friend. And there’s where we began our journey around Sweden!
So here’s a compilation of the 7 things to know about Sweden, based on my own experience!
1. Safety and valuables
The country is pretty safe, at least safer than Southern and Eastern Europe (eg, Paris, France). I’ve never heard of scary pickpocket stories in Sweden as to Paris! In fact, here’s a true life story experienced by me. The stupid careless me actually dropped my pouch on the ground unknowingly and continued walking down a street. Suddenly a lady shouted “Hello!” and we turned around and to realise she was holding on to my pouch, signalling that I dropped it on the ground. That moment, I could only thank her multiple times. I was so so thankful for her kindness because if this incident happen elsewhere, guess I’ll never find the wallet again. Then again, there are many beggar syndicates around so be careful. I’m not trying to be insensitive to the homeless and beggars because I have verified with a Stockholm tour guide that many beggars do belong to a group of beggar syndicates. A man dressed in white with face painted white as well approached and suggested us to take a photo with him. But his intention was to ask for money after the photo was taken – a way to cheat your money.
The Swedish people that I met are generally very nice! This is especially so when I ask them for directions. Usually, you can easily approach anyone on the streets and they will be very willing to help you with the directions, unless they really don’t know the way too. Passers-by aside, the service line people like waitresses and working staff are more or less nice too! I emphasized ‘more or less’ because I do meet some counter staff/waitresses not being really friendly, but THAT’S NORMAL. I mean compared to Singapore, all waitresses give the kind of poker face (neither black face nor friendly face), so I’m perfectly okay with Swedes service people acting the same too. But honestly in general, everyone is pretty friendly here and you can easily say “hi!” (pronounced as hey in swedish) to anyone you meet.
Transportation in Sweden can be really easy to follow. I know things like the tram maps can be quite confusing as compared to our MRTs in Singapore, but if you spend some time understanding the metro lines/S-lines and Regional lines, they are quite easy and flexible! Most trams/bus stops have the sign that indicates the waiting time for your tram/bus.
|Stockholm Access Card allows me to take ferry|
In Stockholm, I travelled mostly by their Metros using their 2-day Access pass, which covers all the trams and buses. Tourists should find Access cards useful because you can use it a lot of times and mostly wherever you go! It also covers some ferry rides to e.g: Galärvarvsvägen where Vasa Museum is.
Whereas in Gothenburg, I travel mostly on their trams and boy, they are so convenient! A stop can easily have more than 2 or 3 trams stopping by so you don’t have to wait too long for your tram to bring you to the same destination.
In Uppsala, I travel mostly by buses. And before I forget to mention: Sweden’s transportation IS REALLY PUNCTUAL. If you check the bus timings, the buses really arrive on time.
Unfortunately, if you choose not to buy the Access card/day pass, transportation can cost really high. So as much as the transportation is really well developed and extensive, they can be quite pricey too. Take note! 😉
Food is a big part to experiencing the culture and lives in foreign countries. Especially Swedish food. But in Europe, be prepared to pay much much higher. This phenomenon is even worse in Sweden because the food are even more expensive than Europe countries. If you compare those food prices to Singapore’s and Thailand’s, I think your heart will cry just like how mine did 🙁
But then again, I always tell myself that I shouldn’t be saving money on food because high chance I won’t be visiting the country anymore, so just do (eat) it! Otherwise, most people usually cook at home with the groceries they got from the supermarkets. I always cook my dinner at either my friends’ places or my couch surfing hosts’ places. All in all, it’s about your own travel philosophy. Experience your travels the way you want it to be. People treasure attraction places more, while others treasure food culture more.
|Stockholm VERY delicious and famous fish soup – Kajsas fisk, in stockholm, Hötorgshallen|
This bowl of fish soup costs about SGD20 but it’s very worth it and really delectable, which explained why I went back the second time because it’s too nice!!
5. Historic buildings and architecture Need me to explain further? Sweden has a lot of history and has, thankfully, preserved the many historic buildings and museums. Enjoy viewing the old buildings with over decades of history as you take a stroll around Sweden. I really enjoyed walking on the cobblestone while taking a look (in fact many looks) on the old architectures like cathedral, museums or even town tower.
|Situated in Gamla Stan.|
|Parliament house in Gamla Stan|
6. Price Similar to point 4, not only are the food expensive, almost everything is relatively more expensive compared to Asian countries. Be prepared for high transportation fees, food, groceries and attractions costs. To put into perspective, a small slice of cake costs about SEK40 (>SGD9) and macdonalds meal at >SEK80 (>sgd15!!!).
7. Cold weather
This is of course not applicable all year round. But when I was there in late March, it still can snow very heavily out of a sudden! How unexpectable the weather can be. Just be prepared with extras such as hand gloves and beanie. Beware of cold rashes too cos when your skin got too dry, it starts to itch so badly like mine! Make sure you slap on generous amount of moisturiser on your skin too.
And…. that’s all for the guide for 7 things to know about Sweden!
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading 🙂 If you have any questions, you can throw me questions by dropping a comment or emailing me. My exchange and travelogues all pictured on instagram #celinetourseurope and on @chiamhuiy. Love,