Swedish Meatballs and Island Life
What is Sweden?
Sweden is: Swedish meatballs. Blonde hair, blue eyed Swedish gods. (A.K.A. Swedish guys). Or maybe the swede. The purply root vegetable that looks like a turnip….
OK, maybe not the last one….Whatever you think when you hear ‘Sweden’, I am going to let you in on my adventures in the pretty land of all that is Sweden. It was in June of this year – I’d just finished my exams for my second year at university and having the travel bug as I do – a trip to celebrate being halfway through my degree was inevitably on the cards. One of my housemates is half Swedish, so we thought; why not Sweden? It’s somewhere different. Free accommodation staying with my housemate’s family. Ryanair return flight all in for less than £35. I was sold.
Sweden’s beautiful landscape
What I remember of Sweden is the long open roads with tall pine trees on either side, outstretched and disappearing into the forest. It was a sight to see as my head hung out the window, I was left thinking, wow. Although Sweden is home to beautiful rivers and lakes, there is also lush greenery that covers the land. Hands down, Sweden for it’s landscape alone is one of the most amazing places I have visited. Whether you want to lay in the grass and catch shade underneath a pine tree, get your boots on and go explore the woods or go for a run around an idyllic lake.
Sweden has got it all covered.
Is Sweden expensive?
Yes. Despite the cheap ryanair flight, staying in Sweden may not be so nice to your bank account once you get there. It is quite expensive to go out, eat out, just living in general. For instance, my Swedish friend told me a shot in a club could cost £10. But it’s all relative, in Sweden the average hourly wage is around £15. Although Sweden may be expensive, you get what you pay for. Ryanair is neither comfy nor great service, that’s why flights can cost peanuts. But Sweden is beautiful, very clean and just a delight to the eyes, this is what you are paying for.
No exaggeration. I had one of the best meals of my life in Sweden. I’d tried IKEA meatballs, they were good – don’t get me wrong. But when my friend’s aunt cooked us proper homemade Swedish meatballs…there was no comparison.
The traditional dish looks something like this…
As well as a gravy, the meatballs are served with lingonberry sauce. So great. However, if you don’t happen to have any Swedish friends who can cook you all this homemade – when you go out to eat, order the meatballs. You won’t regret it.
On the subject of food, let’s talk snacks. Let’s talk ‘fika’. ‘Fika’ is the typical Swedish snack eaten at around 3 or 4 o’clock. ‘Fika’ can be a cup of tea, an ice cream, a cake…It’s just another excuse to eat really! Amen.
Sweden is made up of many stunning islands. You just have to go out there and find them for yourself! When I went to Stockholm in June, me and my friends took a ferry out to a picturesque island called Grinda. Whether it was because we went in early June and school holidays hadn’t started yet or just because we were lucky – the island wasn’t too busy and we managed to grab our own spot on the rocks looking out at the never-ending sea that is a Swedish paradise.
A few Swedish traditions
If you go into any Swedish household or a Swedish game shop, you are guaranteed to find the game ‘Yahtzee’. Let me explain…
‘Yahtzee’ is a very traditional game which involves 5 dice and not much else. Each turn you pass the dice round and each round will ask for a different dice combination. For instance, all 5’s. 2 pairs. Yahtzee…which is 5 of the same number. Once you get started and you’re on a roll, it’s difficult to stop!
As well as being a clean country, Sweden is also pretty polite…When you go to the supermarket in Sweden it is custom to lay out all your products in a single file line on the conveyor belt with the barcode facing the scanner. Just to make life easier for everyone.
Now let’s talk politeness at meal times. This is one politeness rule I found tricky. At meal times, you should not take huge portions in one go. It is frowned upon; instead you should pace yourself. A concept I don’t really understand and one that goes against all my Italian instincts. So hold back, lower your fork…And don’t eat all the meatballs in one go!
The Swedish language is by far not the easiest. Being a language student, when I travel I always like to learn at least a few words.
Here’s the basics:
- Hey/Hi – Hej (the ‘j’ is pronounced like a ‘y’)
- Thanks – Tak
- Thanks very much – tack så mycket (‘mycket’ is pronounced ‘mm-ki-e’)
- Your welcome – Varsågod (pronounced as ‘Va-sha-guuud’)
My favourite Swedish word is ‘hallonbergen’ which means ‘raspberry mountain’. I only remember it because it was the name of the tube station which we took every day. The word might come in handy…one day?
Sweden is a place that you will never forget: for the food, the stunning landscape….and the Swedish people aren’t too bad to look at either! Also Stockholm is the place to be! A bit more expensive but with a lot more to offer…Whether you go in the winter, the summer, or find yourself there for National Swedish day (as I did, which made a happy coincidence).
Celebrating National Swedish Day, just minus the Swedish meatballs and more with the German hamburger…
Whenever you go – it’s worth checking out what cheap flights are on offer and booking yourself a ticket.
Just DO it!