Sweden — A Holiday of a Lifetime
Most people who come to Sweden are struck by its sheer size. The wide open countryside, the rolling landscapes and vast forests give a feeling of spaciousness, silence and tranquility which makes an unforgettable impression on many visitors. Sweden is also open and spacious in other ways. You can see it in the city architecture, in the trendy fashion boutiques in furniture and interior décor and in design in the widest sense. Sweden has a surprisingly small population given its geographical size, but it has won worldwide recognition for its achievements in design, music, IT, sport, fashion and gastronomy.
Getting to Sweden from the U.S. is easier than ever. Airlines with non-stop or direct service from the U.S. to Stockholm are: SAS (in cooperation with United Airlines and Star Alliance), Continental Airlines, Finnair, Icelandair and Malaysia Airlines.
Certainly U.S. travelers are captivated by Sweden’s magic. Overnight stays by U.S. travelers to Sweden were up by approximately 14%, from January to June 2005, over last year. In 2004, Sweden had nearly 400,000 overnight stays from the U.S.
A Taste of Sweden
Traditional Swedish cooking is still based on the fresh ingredients that were available in our northern location centuries ago. Of the various delicacies from the Swedish smorgasbord, the most well known are pickled herring and gravlax, sometimes called “Swedish sushi,” because it is made from raw fish that is seasoned and served in endless variations. Swedish fish, and Swedish shellfish in particular are famous for their richness of flavor and fine consistency. This is because they have grown slowly in cold clear waters. The same applies to the early fruits and vegetables, berries and mushrooms, which, along with different types of game moose, roe deer, reindeer and bird make up the “stars” of Swedish autumn cuisine. Many of the most exquisite and exotic Swedish delicacies come from northern Sweden smoked reindeer filet, grouse, game fish such as char, grayling and trout; roe of salmon, lavaret and bleak, as well as mountain berries such as cloudberries and arctic raspberries. Swedish cheese is a story in itself, with delicate local specialties from all parts of the country. The most well known of these is Västerbotten, a sharp cheese sometimes called “Swedish parmesan”.
The recent years have seen an extensive transformation in Swedish agriculture, with ambitious investments in small-scale production and organic cultivation. One result of this has been a general increase in the quality of fresh ingredients. More or less anywhere in the country, you can now taste or buy and take home genuine Swedish culinary delights of the highest quality, with origin and growing methods clearly labelled. The recent years have also seen a creative revolution in Swedish cooking, where the doors have been thrown wide open, welcoming influences from all over the world. “The Swedish Food Miracle” has become something of a phenomenon. Swedish cooks are having great success in international cooking competitions. Not only in the larger cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, but all across the country, you can now find exciting restaurants that are well worth a bit of a detour, even for the most discerning international gourmet. Budget travelers with an interest in food can choose from a rich selection of restaurants and cafes with food and drink not only from Sweden, but from around the world.
Photocredit: West Sweden Tourist Board