I connect many good memories from my childhood with Sweden. For many Finnish families a cruise to Sweden was the only affordable trip abroad and that was also the most exotic trips you were able to do. The cruise itself was a big experience for a small child, with all the slot machines, limitless tax free sweets purchases, the small cabins (two night on board and one day at the destination) and all the luxurious buffet eateries. And all this was just a pre-taste of all the exotic things that waited in Stockholm! That was the city where we, the Swedish-speaking Finns, were surrounded by the Swedish language only!
Nowadays Sweden does not feel so exotic anymore and the cruises are often replaced by flight trips. The luxury of the ships has become so expensive that a flight to Stockholm can be more affordable if the only thing you need from your trip to the Swedish capital is the transportation. Over the years Stockholm lost its attraction for me as a Swedish-speaker when local vendors turned the conversation into English when I spoke to them with my Swedish-Finnish accent. But even today Stockholm is to me one of the most beautiful cities in the world and especially when the cruise ship approaches the Stockholm archipelago you are surrounded by breathtaking beauty.
Sweden is of course much more than just Stockholm. The ironworks villages in Uppland are stunning and the cake supply in the cafeteria of Taxinge Castle deserve a special mention. The small towns of Gränna and Sigtuna make the visitor feel as if being in a fairytale by the famous children’s book author Astrid Lindgren. The islands of Öland and Gotland need to be visited as separate trips.
What unique can be tasted in Sweden? From a Finnish point of view I can mention just some examples, although non-Scandinavian readers might view a lot of other dishes as exotic as well. Swedes seem to often eat something called Skagen-mix (mayonnaise with seafood) with their bread or baked potato. On Lucia day (13th of December) a special bun is baked and served to friends. Cafeterias often serve Princess cake, which has a layer of marzipan on top of a whipped cream and raspberry jam. Confectioneries sell small chocolate balls with coconut flakes on top or small pastries sweetened with punch. Those were sweets we were not able to bake at home and therefore they tasted especially good abroad!