Beaches with wild roses
Darlek-like rubbish bins
Almost empty motorways
What do you think of when you think of Sweden? Blond hair, Volvos, pickled herring? Well yes, all these things are true – there are a lot of people with blond hair, pretty much every second car is a Volvo and the supermarkets are full of jars of pickled herring. Let’s face it, most clichés have a basis in fact. But we have been surprised by a few things too.
Everyone we have met speaks English. Not just ‘learnt a little bit at school’ English, but completely fluent English. When we ask (in Swedish) if they speak English, we are met with ‘Of course’. They start learning at a young age and there is English everywhere – on the radio and TV, on posters, food packaging and shop signs. It makes for a very easy and lazy life for us, although we are doing our best. One guy we were talking to said that, because everyone speaks English, they tend to switch to it when they hear someone speaking bad Swedish, which makes it difficult for anyone trying to learn!
Things aren’t as expensive as we were expecting, certainly down south. We expect things to get pricier as we move north but so far, they seem to be little more than we would expect to pay in the UK.
Motorhomes are well catered for too, even better than in France which is usually considered a motorhomer’s paradise. The roads are quiet and there are dozens of ‘rastplatzen’ – rest stops with parking, picnic benches, toilet block and some have emptying facilities for motorhomes and caravans. You can get water from petrol stations and, as far as we can make out, can park overnight pretty much anywhere there isn’t a sign forbidding it. The rest stops are spotlessly clean and some even have interesting architecture on the toilet block!