Last week I realized it was past mid-June and besides reserving our flight to Sweden, we hadn’t made any other reservations. Sure, we could just wing it once we land, but we have only one week in Sweden (after 4 days in London) and I have wung it (winged it? wung?) through Europe in the summer before only to spend half a day looking for a place to stay, which can be exhausting for my hands with all the sign language. So, like all other trips, I cracked out the spreadsheet and started planning out our itinerary.
Not so easy, despite having an entire apartment furnished by Ikea. Some of my difficulties:
1. Despite that most Swedish tourism Web sites have an English version, every once in a while a Web site will pop out with little boxes in Swedish. There are oomlats (the two dots), single dots like little circles over letters, and o’s with slashes through them and it’s all very confusing, and not a language you can even try to guess (although I figured out that “boka hare” means “book here”). In addition, it takes too long to replicate on an English keyboard, so sometimes the boka engine has difficulty figuring out where I am trying to go.
2. There is Gotland (the island we’d like to visit), Western Gotaland (a portion of Sweden), and Eastern Gotaland. Then there’s also Gothenburg, which is also called Goteburg (with oomlats over the “o”), which is also called Gotenborg (picture of this three-named city, above).
3. Once you’re on the west coast of Sweden, you become very tempted to step over to the fjords of Norway (3 hours north!) or Copenhagen (3 hours south!)(picture, right). The next thing you know, you are trying to read Danish or Norwegian, where it is actually Kopenhamn. And just as you became acclimated to dividing your SEKs (Swedish Kroners) by 7.8 to get a price in dollars, you have to start in with Danish and Norwegian currencies. In addition, you start reading more about Side Trips from Copenhagen that all sound so fascinating that you want to take advantage – I mean, how often does one get to Scandanavia? The next thing you know, you’re trying to fly everywhere or take night trains to maximize your time and deprive yourself of sleep.
4. There are many resources for Sweden, but not every book mentions them, and it becomes quite a scavenger hunt to pull all the information together.
So here are my resources.
Josie’s and Steve’s wedding Web site. Yes, these are my friends whose wedding is taking place in Gothenburg/Gotenborg/Goteborg. Josie, who is Swedish and from Gothenburg/Gotenborg/Goteborg, has listed some great ideas for places to travel. She also gave me opinions of different areas of Sweden, so it boils down to if you have a week, stick to the coasts (kind of like the United States, with exception to the Grand Canyon).
Train: The SJ has the high-speed X2000 that takes you across Sweden in 3 hours. Fares tend to come down as you get closer to the date, but don’t wait until it sells out, particularly on weekends.
Ferry to Gotland: This site (Destination Gotland) gives timetables, including from when the bus picks up in Stockholm to when it arrives in Visby. The ferry also departs from Oskarshamn, towards southeastern Sweden. It is a four-hour commitment, so consider flying as an alternative. Skyways flies Stockholm to Visby regularly, and CityAirline flies from Gothenburg to Visby.
Stockholm airport transfers: You can take a fast train, shuttle bus or taxi from any of Stockholm’s airports into the city center. There are also transfers between Arlanda and Bromma. It’s a 40 minute bus ride, or a 20 minute train ride.
Swedish Lapland. I’m very sad that we won’t have enough time to venture above the Arctic Circle and witness the midnight sun, maybe play a round of very expensive golf at 1 in the morning, go dog-sledding and camp out in the wilderness among reindeer and eat mysterious cloudberries that have been talked about in various guides to Lapland.