Tack, Sverige

I’m slowly trying to get back to reality after arriving home last night from our trip to Sweden. The time change didn’t affect us all that much going over, but it certainly did coming back. As with any time you’re unplugged for that long, getting back to a routine is painful. I need to dig out of a gigantic pile of email, and have a lot of catching up to do.

The trip itself was phenomenal. Sweden is a beautiful country — far more so than I had even anticipated.

We started the trip by staying three nights in Stockholm, then renting a car, driving across the country on a southern route to Göteborg (I think I can sort of pronounce this now) on the opposite coast, then driving back on a northern route. All along the way, stopping only for a night here and there, while checking out the little towns and cities in between. Then we spent the last two nights back in Stockholm. It sort of felt like we were coming “home” there.

I could go on and on about how much we loved Stockholm — it’s a large city, but clean, with an unhurried pace. And its island stucture of separate regions of the city is fascinating.

One of the highlights was meeting up with Stockholmers, Kate England and Dave Brasgalla, both of Icon Factory. They were both kind enough to show us around a bit and answer our various questions about all things Swedish. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their stellar work. Would’ve liked to have met more folks along the way, but got too wrapped up in everything.

Some things I liked about Sweden:

  • Everyone speaks English. This makes it so easy to travel around the country.
  • 11:30pm and the sun is still settting.
  • The “head start” you get from a traffic light as it turns red and yellow just before turning green.
  • Mariestads beer (I believe the best of those I tried — and there were a lot). Named after a nice little town that we stopped at.
  • Glass (ice cream). It’s everywhere. Swedes love ice cream. This is a good thing.
  • Saying “tack” (thanks) almost excessively — the only way we ever sounded like locals.
  • Hotel Birger Jarl — an amazing Swedish design hotel we capped the trip off with. Highly recommended, with also the best breakfast we had.
  • That every house (it seemed) in the country was the same color red.

The entire country was also inspiring from a design perspective — with the the clean lines of the furniture and everyday objects, as well as the sans-serif typography that’s used so often.

View slideshowAs is customary when one goes on a trip to faraway lands, photographic images are captured to immortalize the moment. This trip was no exception, and I’ve posted a 38-image slideshow from the 240 that I took along the way.

It’s time now to get used to the idea of not being on vacation, replying to the mountain of email and working the six-hour time difference out.


  1. Faruk Ates says:

    Welcome back! Glad you had a great time, and glad you loved Stockholm! I did, too, and I reckognize some of the locations in your slideshow! :)
    Oh, and you’ve taken some really great shots, there.

  2. Glad you enjoyed your stay! :)
    It’s interesting to see a non Scandinavians view of your country. For instance, I had no idea that the yellow lights we have on our stop lights was unique in any way. I thought that stop lights was designed that way all over the world.
    The fact that the sun is in no hurry to set during summertime is great, especially since it means your barbecue parties can last well into the night without having to move things inside. ;)
    In fact, in the north of Sweden the sun does not drop below the horizon at all for five or six weeks during the middle of summer (known as the midnight sun or “midnattssol” in Swedish). The downside of this, of course, is that during the winter things are reversed and the sun hardly rises at all. It gets pretty dark for a month or two. But the way I see it, the extreme changes in seasons we get in Scandinavia is part of the charm.
    Nice photos by the way.

  3. Dion says:

    The Red+Yellow traffic light thing happens across quite a few places in Europe. It’s to give you time to get your manual gearbox into first.

  4. How about putting together a Swedish CSS theme? Would be a cool addition to your style switcher. :)

  5. We have the Red + Amber traffic light “warning” in the UK too! I have no idea how you are meant to pull away immediately when the light goes straight to green without getting a horn sounded at you in countries like France and Spain. :-)

  6. Josh S says:

    Good to hear everything went well and that you had a good time. Pictures look great! I’d love to go there sometime myself.

  7. allgood2 says:

    Welcome back. Great pictures. Do you have them in a higher digital resolution than the slide show. I think image 1, 12, 21, 30, and 36 would make fantastic desktop images, but at their current scale they don’t expand well to the 1280 x 854 resolution of my Powerbook G4 15″. They’re not too bad, just a bit blocky. Assuming you don’t mind if a few of your vacation photos end up on someone elses desktop, I’d love to have access to the unmodified images.

  8. Tomas says:

    It’s great to hear you had a nice time in Sweden, and also that you took my advice to drive between Stockholm and Göteborg. It must have given you a pretty good idea of what Sweden is really like.
    If you should ever happen to return to Sweden, next time try to come about a month later. Our summers are usually short, but amazing, and you didn’t catch it this time.
    Nice pictures.

  9. Kim Siever says:

    Great photos; really captured the beauty of Sweden. Never had a desire to go there before, but I sure have one now.

  10. Mats says:

    I just had to comment on those photos and your writings about Sweden.
    As a proud Swede – living abroad – I was immensly pleased that you enjoyed Sweden and it’s visual culture. It is quite unique, although as Swedes we often take it for granted.
    Your photos were very good !!! I am suitably impressed by them, being an ‘ex’-photographer myself.
    Just a question finally. Pic’s 22 & 23 were they taken in Västerås ?? I kind of recognise the view, but haven’t been there myself for over 8 years. Although it is my old home town.
    Just curious.

  11. eric says:

    Great photos, and I’m extremely envious of your trip. This next summer I hope to visit Stockholm, Copenhagen, and maybe Prague, but right now it’s still just a dream in the back of my mind!

  12. If you enjoyed Sweden, you should go visit Denmark and Norway as well. Both countries are very similar to Sweden, but yet unique in their own way.
    Scandinavia truly is a wonderfull place to live, if you can stand the bad weather some of the year ;-) (I am from Denmark)

  13. Jocke Bengtson says:

    First of all, very nice pictures!
    I’m from Sweden and I’m glad you enjoyed your stay here.
    Did you try the beer “BlåGul”, that’s one of my favorites…

  14. Rune says:

    I’m glad to know that you’ve had a great trip. Your photos are amazing aswell – very inspiring.
    I can tell you that i like the swedish ‘falun’-red colour aswell. And it’s everywhere. The nature is beutiful aswell, and i can agree that the car-rides in sweden can be not more than fantastic.
    The thing about the yellow stop-light is fun, cause i had never thought that it weren’t in the USA.
    And again, nice pictures – you are the borned photograph :-)

  15. Dion – that’s exactly it, and why I loved it so much :)
    Mats – 22 and 23 were indeed taken in Väserås! We just stopped off the highway and ended up staying at a hotel there. What a great little city. We had a great italian dinner there (go figure).
    Jocke – must’ve missed that one, damn. I did try Falcon, Pripps, Spendrups (the Budweiser of Sweden?), Abra, etc.
    Tomas – yes, I must thank you for that advice — the driving was spectacular on the route to and from Gothenburg. What scenery.

  16. Johan says:

    Great photos, indeed! You captured the glimpses of beauty of Sweden! Good to hear that you had a nice experience. Repsonse to ‘Tack, Sverige’: Varsågod (You’re welcome)…//Johan

  17. Dante says:

    Glad you had a good time. We missed you whilst you were away.
    I’ll be going to Ireland in two weeks, and there they also have the yellow light before green thing as well. I don’t speak Swedish (but I do speak German).

  18. Waylon says:

    Been a regular reader for some time now, just never posted. Just wanted to comment on those excellent pictures of your trip.
    And in response to the traffic lights, here in the US we do not get a warning before going, we get a warning before we have to stop. When it hits green, manual or automatic, you just go.

  19. Javan says:

    Great photographs. I love all the vivid colors. Thank you for sharing.

  20. dusoft says:

    The “head start” you get from a traffic light as it turns red and yellow just before turning green.
    That’s absolutely normal in Europe… This way you know whether it is switching to green or red.

  21. Faruk Ates says:

    “That’s absolutely normal in Europe… This way you know whether it is switching to green or red.”
    Just to point out, not all countries in Europe have this, actually. For instance, I wish we had it here… (Netherlands)

  22. Keith Bell says:

    Glad you enjoyed your visit, Dan. You seem to have crammed quite a lot into a short stay — too bad you didn’t have a chance to meet up with some of your readers here in Göteborg, but at least you made it down to this neck of the woods to see something a little different from Stockholm.
    Coincidentally, I agree with your choice of beer. I’m more of an ale-type beer drinker than a lager-type, so most Swedish beers don’t actually hold a lot of appeal for me — but Mariestads is the one I favour. Nice that you were able to visit its “home town” along the way!

  23. Ludvig says:

    Tänkte jag kunde skriva på svenska så får du öva på att översätta ;)
    (Thought I could write in swedish so you can practise in translating. Tip: http://lexin.nada.kth.se/swe-eng.shtml)
    Trevligt att du gillade sverige. Har faktiskt inte tänkt på alla saker som en icke-svensk upplever annorlunda eller ovanligt. Intressant att se att till och med våra brevlådor kunde väcka intresse ;)
    Många bra bilder också, tror faktiskt jag känner igen vissa platser i Stockholm fastän jag knappt varit där.

  24. danno says:

    I liked the story and must say that it’s always fun to get an non-swedes opinion on Sweden. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. Very nice pictures!
    I just wanted to share the historical facts behind all the red houses: Falu r

  25. Yannick says:

    Good to hear your trip went well. I haven’t been to sweden but I have been to Norway which is just as nice. Lovely pictures by the way.
    Have a nice day!

  26. Dante says:

    Does anyone know how to say “Grease is the Word” in Swedish?

  27. Dante says:

    Dan, I highly recommend you look at this from Zeldman’s Ad Graveyard.

  28. Dan, the pictures are beautiful. I have not been to many European destinations, but your pics made me wish I was travelling to Sweden this week. Thanks for brightening my day!

  29. Gunnar says:

    Dante, a direct translation of “Grease is the Word” would be “Fett är ordet”.

  30. danno – very cool, thanks for pointing to the history there!

  31. Krasimir says:

    Great pictures! I’ve never been to Sweden before but I see – it’s very nice place. Photos don’t have any comments and I don’t know what I’m looking at in a particular moment. Hey, Dan, you can add some info if you have any spare time and if you wish, of course!

  32. akokskis says:

    wow that traffic light thing is a really good idea..
    we really should do someting like that in the states, but then again. it would confuse people way to much..

  33. Björn says:

    Hi. I have to say it is allways fun to read about tourists that have visited sweden. To read about their experiences etc. It was a good idea to rent a car and travel a bit across the country, to get a view of its countryside. Too bad you didnt travel more in a north-southern direction, (the country is ALOT longer than wide). My advice for your next visit is to start of in southern sweden (this may take about 2 weeks), travel up thru the country until some point in the north, where you go in to Norway (very easy). And travel a bit thru norway to (amazing mountain/sea -enviroment, but not cheap), and then get back into sweden… As some previous speaker sad, i would have choosen to come here in a month or so, to catch the real summer, and the possibility to take a swim in the middle of the city (people frequently do :).
    bad map over sweden:
    // vänliga hälsningar
    Björn Höglind
    Stockholm, Sverige

  34. Fabio says:

    I love Scandinavia, mainly for fresh air, small towns, clean and bright coloured houses giving me a peaceful sensation (being from an Italian big city…). Sometimes I have a vision, thinking of increasing heat on planet earth: a big migration to nordic lands. A scary vision to be honest…
    Dan, what was the airport in your picture 1?

  35. swimp says:

    I would’ve liked to see some pictures from Gothenburg :>

  36. Tungsten says:

    I love your pictures from Sweden. Your eye in the real world is as good as on the web!
    I was there at approximately the same time – on business rather than pleasure, though. It seems so random that the author of a site I’ve learned so much from was half way across the world in the same country at the same time.
    I spent my entire trip in Gothenburg. Photos here if anyone is interested. Enjoy!
    Day 1 in Gothenburg
    Day 2 in Gothenburg
    Day 3 in Gothenburg
    Day 6 in Gothenburg

  37. Emanuel says:

    If you like the Mariestad beer, you have to try “Eriksberg”.

  38. emrex says:

    umm, in the photo with the plastic clown, no. 13 i think, my ex girlfriend’s house is shown. small world, eh? glad you liked your stay!