Long Summer Nights and Appropriate Curtains
After trying to spend the last few weeks sleeping in the long summer days of Scandinavia, I was starting to get frustrated that every hotel, hostel, cabin, etc. had curtains that barely blocked out the light.
I had seen long days in the northern parts of Canada and Alaska before, but not for extensive periods of time, so it was starting to effect my sleep.
It was explained by a local friend that the curtains are very thin such that the light comes in. The winters are so long and dark, that they wish to take advantage of all the light and keep it close in mind so they do not forget its warmth when the long cold dark of winter sets in.
When followed up by questions about thicker curtains possibly being better insulators to keep heating costs down, this was dismissed by a simple reply that a couple more blankets on the bed would fix that.
The right of public access in general
The right of public access (allemansrätten) is a unique right that we have in Sweden (there are similar systems in Norway and Finland). It is alike for Swedes and for from visitors from abroad. In short it means that everyone has the right to be out in the countryside. You can use and enjoy all natural spaces in Sweden, whether it is privately owned or by the government.
But the right of public access is a freedom for all. The main rule is that you don't damage the landscape or animal life, and you must show consideration for both landowners and for everyone else that is out and about in the countryside.
In short: Do not disturb, do not destroy.
So this is the right of public access in general, but what does it mean for you? I'll try to explain a little bit more about it in my next few tips.
You can read about the rules in more detail on this website: http://www.allemansratten.se/ (available in Swedish, English and German)
The right of public access: camping
The right of public access is great for backpackers and people travelling on a budget. The rules for camping are simple: It is allowed to camp in the countryside for one or two nights in the same place. But there are some restrictions. It is only allowed if you are not disturbing the landowner, or the local people. You are not allowed to put up your tent near homes, farm building or on farmland. These rules do not apply for groups; they need special permission. Other exceptions to the general rule are also national parks and nature reserves. Camping with a caravan also has extra restrictions to these general rules.
As you can see we didn't have any buildings close to us, no people being disturbed, it wasn't any farmland, the perfect spot to put up our tent for the night :-)
Åke is expertly demonstrating a totally different type of right: "the right of public laziness". The rules are simple, hahaha, the sun must be shining and the tent must be set up before you get this right. After that you can be lazy as much as you want :-))Related to:
The right of public access: berries
Let me give you another example of the right of public access (allemanrätten). You are allowed to pick berries or mushrooms in the countryside. But do remember that in areas protected by law, like national parks, nature reserves and historical sites, special rules apply.
But in general this rule gives you a great opportunity to taste some of those delicious wild berries such as blue-, lingon- and cloudberries that you can see so much in the Swedish countryside.Related to:
The right of public access: flowers
You are allowed to pick wildflowers under the right of public access, but only the ones that don't have a protected status. Now here is where things might get very complicated. Some flowers are protected in one area, but not in another. Like this flower for instance, the Gullviva. In the part of Sweden where I live (Södermanlands Län) the flower is not protected as it is so common in this area. But in huge parts of Sweden this flower is protected.
One flower is easy though: the orchid. All species of orchid are protected throughout Sweden, so you are not allowed to pick those. It is also not permitted to gather mosses and lichens in large quantities.
If you are not sure about whether a flower or plant is protected or not, you can ask at the local tourist information. They will be able to help you out with some more info.
These tips have only been a few examples of what the 'allemansrätten' or 'right of public access' in practise means. On the website mentioned below, you can read much more about it, like rules for hiking, boating, fishing, making a fire, dogs, etc, etc.Related to:
When you want to buy alcohol in Sweden, you have to go to the Systembolaget. The selling of alcohol in Sweden is state controlled and that means that you can only buy it in these stores. Every bigger city has at least one.
The assortment of the systembolaget is huge, especially in the wine section. It's the world's largest importer of wine. There are 3000 standard articles in a regular shop and as many available by ordering. Everything is described in a 200 page catalogue.
The prices are enormous too though :-(( The tax on alcohol is very high, making it very expensive to buy alcohol in Sweden. I think the only country that is more expensive is Norway. On my recent trip to Germany I discovered that the prices are about 3 times higher than the German ones. The only thing that is reasonable priced compared with the other alcoholic drinks is the wine.Related to:
- Wine Tasting
Driving in Sweden
Driving in the north of Sweden sometimes includes driving on ice-roads. When the temperature has been low for quite some time, the crossing of rivers can be done by car (!). However, only go on the marked trails.
And did you know that when driving on ice you unbuckle your seat-belt, so that you can easily get out of the car, should the ice break.
Otherwise the law in Sweden decides that everyone in the car, front seat and back seat must wear their seat-belts all the time. Otherwise there could be a fine, should you be stopped by the police.
Also, drinking and driving is NOT allowed, it can cost you your license, and even a jail sentence. Keep the speed limits, esp important with the lower ones, driving 35 instead of 30 kilometres an hour might cost you a fine!
For more information on driving in Sweden try the web-page listed below, there you will find everything about drivers licences etc, that you will need to know before embarking your vehicle.
There is info in many languages.Related to:
- Road Trip
Some beautiful Swedish music
You can download and listen to the beautiful song Koppången here: http://www.knopfler.net/mp3/koppangen.mp3 Sweden has a rich culture of Folk Music and Dance. The folk tunes often appear in the art music, as well.
I particularly love much of the Swedish folk tunes, as they are generally in a lighter mood than my own country's, and still very sophisticated.
Nyckelharpa (picture) is a unique instrument from Sweden. More about the nyckelharpa if you follow the link below.
This a flower you put on your clothes. Swedish school children sell them during two weeks in May and they can keep 10% of the profit from the sold mayflowers. The profit goes to sick and handicapped children in Sweden. They usually sell three million mayflowers every year. It was Beda Hallberg who started this 1907. The Queen of Sweden is protector of the Majblomman.
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Mail a letter/post card....
Well, in Sweden they have no post office anymore like the old days. They have let shops take over their services and now you can find them all over the country, more places too and have more open time too. But they are not specialied in only post office stuff. But the yellow post office boxes are still there so you dont have to worry when you mail your letter/post card from Sweden. Look at the picture and you know how they look like! You find them mostly in centers and where many people are.
Midsummer is one of the best days during the Swedish summer. from 1953 Midsummer is always on a Friday during the dates 19-25 June. Usually Midsummer means alot of alcohol among the young and everybody else in Sweden. It is not a day you want to celebrate your night in the centre of the city on a night club. People usually have parties in their homes or they go to dance places in the countryside. Usually many people start their vacation around Midsummer and there can be many cars on the roads and during this time many accidents appear. So, take it is easy if you shall drive car around Midsummer.
If you want to celebrate a real Swedish Midsummer, go away from the city and find a dancing place in the country side. Look in the local newspaper or ask people who live where you are, they should know where the party is....
Dress up in a white skirt and the girl in a dress. Have flowers in the hair, and sing. usually at this time Swedish people like to eat sill (a cold fish), with fresh small potatoes and a nubbe. It is ashout, with some kind of Swedish vodka. After that you shall have whipped cream with fresh strawberries! Yummie.
Have fun and laugh.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Arts and Culture
24th December: Christmas time!
Holidays & celebrations of Sweden
24th December: Christmas time!
God Jul! (Merry Christmas!)
24th December : Christmas time! Not the 25th and 26th are the most important days for Swedes, but the 24th is the 'real' Christmas day!
For me that is something to get used to, as I never considered the day of 'Christmas Eve' part of Christmas. That has never been a tradition for me. Hahaha, the 25th was the day to look out for! But I guess I am having Christmas a day early now :-)))
This day, like a lot of other Swedes I visited the family in the morning, had a skinkmacka (ham sandwich) for lunch. Went home just in time to see the 3 o'clock Disney Cartoons, opened the presents and enjoyed the Julbord (Christmas dinner).
The Swedish Christmas traditions are so unlike the typical Christmas that I expected: It's a day early, there is fish instead of turkey on the dinner table and a Jultomte (Christmas gnome) instead of a Santa (like in the Coca-Cola advertising saying HoHoHo) is bringing the presents. So as you can see this was quite a culture shock for me ;-))
If you want to read more about the Swedish Christmas traditions, you can have a look at my Hedlandet page.
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When you want to make good deals...
When you are in Sweden and want to find good deals and good bargains. Look for the word "rea". It means that the shop lower the prices. Always nice to make good deals in an expensive nation. Usually they write this word in the windows, market in the paper or they will have a sign in the shop.Related to:
- Budget Travel
1) Christmas Festival:-
Lucia - celebrated on 13th December (not an official holiday).
Christmas - celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ
24th December (Christmas Eve) - public holiday
25th and 26th December - public holidays.
New Year - 31st December (New Year's Eve) is treated as a Saturday
1st January - public holiday.
Epiphany - celebrated to commemorate the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. It is the 13th day after Christmas (6th January) and is the last holiday of Swedish Christmas festival.
2) Easter - celebrated to commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is the second of the major Christian festivals. It usually falls in March or April. Good Friday is a public holiday. Sunday and Monday are public holidays.
3) Walpurgis Night - celebrated to welcome the return of spring. Bonfires are lit all over the country on 30th April.
4) Ascension Day - celebrated to commemorate the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven. It is a Church festival and is celebrated 40 days after Easter and is always on a Thursday.
5) Whitsun - celebrated ten days after Ascension Day. This is the day the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles and the Christian church was founded.
6) Sweden's National Day - falls on 6th June.
7) Midsummer - celebrated to welcome the arrival of summer and falls on a weekend closest to 23rd June. The eve of Midsummer is always a Friday.
8) All Saints' Day - celebrated in memory of the dead and falls on a Saturday in the beginning of November.Related to:
- Family Travel
Allemansrätten (The right of Common Access)
Everyone living in Sweden enjoys certain rights and privileges in the countryside which is known as allemansrätten or the right of common access. The countryside is accessible to everyone living in Sweden provided you do not litter, cause any damages, cut down trees or bushes or disturb other people.
You may pick mushrooms, berries and flowers which are not protected. But you are not allowed to touch or pick cultivated fruits and vegetables or walk into the cultivated fields and gardens without permission.
You are not allowed to hunt for wild animals and birds. You normally require to apply for a licence to fish in the lakes and rivers.
You are not allowed to drive motor vehicles including motor cycles and mopeds off the road or to pitch a tent too close to a house or a private property. Permission can be obtained from the landowners if you wish to pitch a tent for several days.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
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