Sweden.

Visited July 2016. Just a small taste of it. A trip caused by a big white and tabby cat.


Islands, national parks, towns, culture..nope I am not able to tell you everything, I just spent three nights there (and a short time  during our journey to Norway and back some years ago). Anyway there are some hints I can give you. Let´s make this a short manual for travellers in the Stockholm area.

The way how I got here was quite unusual. During my work for a cat shelter, I found home for one cat. This particular one was quite a pain in the neck, all other cats hated it for its tireless playfulness and hyperactivity. But it was incredibly lucky. Her new owner payed a lot of money to get it to Sweden. And then instisted that I would have to come and check on the cat. Well, why not…

Around the airport and transportation

The boring part first. We bought tickets with Czech Airlines which someone recently nicknamed “not even water for free airlines“. The ticket from Prague to Stockholm Arlanda cost round 120 euro, not bad, at least the aircraft was fine.

We got picked up but on the way back we used Flygbussarna bus from the Stockholm main train station. Easy to find, comfortable and fast. There is also a special train which is very expensive even for the Swedish. One trick about the bus tickets. If you buy them in the machine at the station, they are 118 SEK each. If you download their app and pay for them online, they are 99 or 100 SEK. Don´t ask me why. I was standing two meters from the machine when I was booking them.

You generally do not need cash in Sweden. Most things can be paid for by card. Hamburgers, tickets, groceries…but sometimes it is hard to pay cash.

Unfortunately Sweden is in some ways not really user friendly. The first time I noticed it was when we wanted to go on a trip by bus, the last when I wanted to buy some liquor in a duty free shop at the airport.

There is a network of buses and trains going from Stockholm and around it up to the coast.  There are different zones and fares, nobody explained us exactly, so we saved quite some crowns on a train ticket by buing a wrong one. Nobody checked. If you are planning to use public transport (including ferry), you will need the SL card. Available at the airport information, post office etc. Without it, you are lost. Our host gave one to us telling us that bus drivers don´t except any sort of payment and only want to accept this card. Even in the middle of nowhere. So make sure you have credit on it. It can also be used by two people but you have to inform the driver first.

 

Prohibition once again

Having returned from Finland recently, I was well trained in the matter of prohibition and high alcohol prices. So I did what I usually would not do – bought a bottle of gin at the Prague airport shop. We had just cabin bag and couldn´t bring any liquids other way than this. I was later very positively surprised by the offer of the airport shop in Arlanda but immediately fell in despair realising I wasn´t allowed to buy around two thirds of the goods. Why?

Swedish state has monopol control over sale of alcoholic beverages. Duty free shops are not allowed to sell any drinks that have special tax on them to EU. At least I was told so. Well, you have a shop full of bottles which can by ony sold to people travelling outside EU. Great fun and no souvenirs for my dearest.

Supermarkets offer wide range of non alcoholic wine, beer and cider. I have never had any reason to try the first two ones but I recommend the cider. Crisp, not too sweet and refreshing. Can be mixed with gin.

Into the woods

The area where we were staying was a typical Swedish countryside. Houses hidden in the forest along the road, partly used as summer cottages. Forests full of huge blueberries and fields of chanterelles. We also managed to find three rotten Volvo cars from the fifties in the middle of the forest. No idea how they got there.

Concerning wildlife there are a lot of foxes, lynx, deer and even moose. We where  lucky to see one ravaging somebodys field of grain. Huge indeed. It is common that they come steal apples (especially the fermenting ones) from gardens and get high. Remember that story of drunken moose on an apple tree? Locals say it is not funny, a drunken moose can be pretty agressive. Still don´t understand why they don´t have fence around their gardens and everybody plants apple trees…

Beautiful Landsort

If you have time for a half day trip then go to Landsort. You can get there by bus (we took one from Nynäshamn, took round 40 mins) and ferry. Just go to the final stop Ankarruden, the ferry is several meters from the bus stop. Return ticket is 150 SEK.

Öja. This is the correct name of the island. Doesn´t matter, everybody knows it is Landsort. Picturesque and etremely photogenic place with an old lighthouse, bunkers, cute wooden houses, tiny harbour, views and one pub. You can walk around, go swimming, sunbathe or relax on some of the big stones on the top of the island. Beautiful!

 

Nynäshamn and Nåttarö

Probably the biggest town in this area, Nynäshamn is the place where ferries to Gdaňsk and Gotland depart from. I would not really call it a big town anyway. Sleepy holiday place with several restaurants in the harbour and fancy hotels and summer residences around. Close to the centre you can find a Lidl supermarket, cheap option for your groceries shopping. We unfortunately didn´t have time to try any of the restaurants as the food looked very tempting, but I tried grilled or smoked shrimps from Nynäs Rökeri which is a shop selling fish and seafood and a restaurant from the other side. They have lots of different smoked fish, bread, dips..everything perfect to put in your picknic basket on the way to some of the nearby islands. Prices are ok compared to restaurant prices in Stockholm. Everything is super fresh and delicious.

Ferry going to the Nåttarö island departs from the molo just opposite this shop. The bus station is about 50 m in the other direction. You just can´t get lost here.

Nåttarö is about 30 minutes by ferry (tickets sold on board), a very popular holiday destination for Swedish families. They say it has the most beautiful beaches in Sweden. Well, Sweden is not the Carribean, is it? 20 meters long beach means real long not mentioning the temperature of the Baltic Sea. But the nature is beautiful and it is not overcrowded. Just make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before the ferry departure back. It happens that there are too many people and you have to wait for the next one.

Food, drinks an souvenirs

This will be short and brief. Try cidre, eat fish and seafood, it is excellent and be aware of licorice. They put it in everything. We found some oldschool chocollate and candy in Coop at the main train station as well as typical Pepparkakor. This is gingerbread with pepper and you can also get it at your local Ikea. Worth trying. And then I got some little sausage. I was atracted by a sign saying „wild beer sausage“ which turnded out to be wild deer. Mix of deer, moose and reindeer meat.

Forget about typical souvenirs. They don´t have many and those you find are overprized. I always bring magnets for the fridge of my catsitter. I hope she loves this one. At 60 SEK (almost 7 euro) it was the cheapest fridge magnet option available.

Anyway, thank our hosts Tereza and Sophie, for having the opportunity to see a beautiful part of Swedish countryside. We will return!