Could Jessica of J B Canepa be any more enamored with Sweden? She loves this country from its snow to its food and she’s only gone and bagged herself a Swedish bloke too. TraveLinkSites is glad to have her, so sit back and check out her great tips for travelling through Swedish climbs…
1. Hola Jessica! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Sweden?
Hi there! My name is Jessica Benavides Canepa. I’m a travel and lifestyle writer who has been traveling extensively for both work and pleasure over the past three years. Although my site jbcanepa.com was primarily created to spotlight my published articles, I have since added a blog that gives advice to newbie writers and started to work (behind-the-scenes) on my new travel blog dedicated to luxury travel in China.
My love affair with Sweden began when I was a young girl with her first crush on a cute Swedish exchange student at school (I was raised in New York City). It increased with my stint as a reservations hostess at a high-end Scandinavian restaurant and exploded after my first visit to Stockholm in my early twenties; it was April…it was SNOWING, but that didn’t matter, I was hooked. Especially after I found great travel deals online when looking at Expedia.
I’ve spent some glorious summers in Sweden with my (you guessed it) Swedish boyfriend and this year is no exception. I have lived on three continents and this fall I will discover a fourth, but Sweden along with its unique culture, cuisine, breathtaking landscapes and the quirky-but-loveable characters I’ve met along the way, will always hold a special place in my heart.
In terms of weather, (very cold in the winter, short, mild summers) landscapes (picture perfect hills and plains) and architecture (ah! those brightly-colored wooden houses), I would say it is very similar to Norway… although I may have just pissed-off a few patriotic Swedes with that opinion.
Culturally-speaking, Swedes tend to be a very laid-back bunch. They have their colorful traditions (which includes dancing around “fertility” poles and singing nursery rhymes while sipping turpentine …er…I mean a strong liqueur called snaps during the Midsommar celebration) and their peculiar customs (i.e.: taking their shoes off indoors, even in sub-zero temperatures) but all in all they seem to take things as they come, never getting overly excited (except when it comes to football) or taking themselves too seriously. Sadly, this serene disposition has sometimes given Swedes a bad rap; they have been reputed to be a bit cold or elusive or at worst slutty and dumb. To this I say, “Watch a few Swedish commercials featuring their dark, sarcastic or alternately wacky humor and you’ll never misunderstand them again”.
Swedish cuisine varies between the northern and southern parts of the country with the former featuring game such as reindeer and wild boar while the latter focuses more on veggies and fish. The whole country however, seems obsessed with cultured dairy products; they offer a wide assortment of cheese, yogurt and milk options. Bread and potatoes are also staples of the Swedish diet with the popular “Wasa” flat bread coming in more varieties than I can count. There is often a curious mix of tart and sweet flavorings as evidenced in such dishes as meatballs with lingon berry jam, blåbärssoppa (blueberry soup) and the totally gross (did I write that out loud?) saltlakrits (salty sweets) that taste like licorice mixed with salt and pepper.
Summer (being that it lasts about five minutes) is alive with activity in Sweden; people go boating, bathing, swimming, hiking, to concerts, to clubs, terrace-hopping, you name it. There’s even a fantastic ancient custom called Allemansrätten that allows people to use and enjoy all uncultivated land – even on private property. This means anyone can freely pick flowers, berries, mushrooms, etc. and camp anywhere in Sweden, provided that you don’t stick around longer than a day or two. How’s that for a cold and unfeeling population? Change your mind yet?
The severe winters keep most of the locals indoors with the best heating systems I’ve ever experienced. This is good time to practice yoga, take up snowboarding or start writing your memoirs.
Sweden is a very expensive country in relation to many European cities. Although your wallet gets a little relief outside of the major towns, in general, a visitor needs to come prepared to pay handsomely for a holiday in Sweden. To give you an idea, a cocktail at your average bar can set you back as much as 15-20 euros and a modest hotel room averages about 100 euros per night. That said, one can get creative by staying outside of the major cities in tents or trailer parks, traveling with friends in order to split the cost, eating only once a day or going everywhere on foot.
On the plus side, mobile phone costs are surprisingly low, the water on tap tastes fantastic and free internet can be found just about everywhere. This will definitely come in handy when you need to Google those long distance country codes in order to call your loved ones to wire you more money while sipping complimentary water at a neighborhood café.
4. What are your favourite destinations in Sweden and why?
I love many parts of Sweden for different reasons. I like Stockholm for its scenic old town, the romantic Mälaren Lake and especially those snooty bars that are great for stekare (poser) watching. I like the west coast for its charming little towns and lovely beaches. The North features optimum camping options. Gotland is an absolutely stunning island with great photo ops and Gothenburg has arguably the best music scene in the country.
5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in Sweden and why?
I would definitely recommend the aforementioned Midsommar celebration — at least once. It’s celebrated on the longest day of the year to commemorate nature and fertility. The girls wear crowns made of fresh flowers and the boys try to stay sober long enough enjoy the sunlight – good times.
Jul (Christmas) time is also special in Sweden. The homes look picture-perfect with their cheerful lighting, roaring fireplaces and festive decorations –just like those postcards grandma sends every year. Families eat a traditional (delicious!) buffet throughout the holiday season called a julbord and a tasty hot wine concoction known as glögg keeps everyone toasty down to their toes. One added bonus is that Santa Claus himself is rumored to live in neighboring Finland a.k.a the North Pole, so naturally Sweden is one of the first countries to get their presents.
6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?
My favorite thing is taking in the fresh, clean air all-year-round and also those funky retro labels they seem to put on many of their popular products. My least favorite thing would have to be the dangerous ice on the sidewalks during the wintertime – you would think that a country that has as much snow as Sweden does would come up with a better defrosting system…but no .
7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?
The food! I can’t get enough of Swedish lax (salmon) sill (pickled herring) and Kalle’s caviar in a tube. I smear it on everything, I kid you not. Oh yeah, I also write about the pretty buildings, pretty flowers, and pretty people… Sweden is annoyingly pretty.
8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Sweden without?
My bright-orange Swedish Dala horse. It’s a huge icebreaker.
9. If you could have lived anywhere else in the country where would it be and why?
In my case, I have been lucky to travel for both personal and professional reasons all around the country, but to be honest; when I am in the city too long, I miss the wild beaches of the West Coast. When I am in trendy, industrial Gothenburg, I miss the cultural museums and waterways of Stockholm…you know, the grass is always greener.
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone had told you before you started travelling in Sweden what would it be?
Never challenge a Swede to a drinking contest – you will most definitely lose.
Thanks to Miss Jessica for a fabulous interview!
If you want be interviewed contact us