The minute we arrive in Sweden I get this familiar feeling, the same feeling I get every year when we go for the yearly ‘Malta’s pure heat and firework enthusiasts’ escape, but it’s not the feeling you might expect from someone visiting his or her home-country, it’s that strange emotion of not blending in. It’s always a weird feeling to speak the language, understand every sign and conversation and recognize the surroundings yet not feel like it’s part of yourself, and as it happens every year, it takes me a while to acclimatise and pace myself for the coming three weeks.
In Malta I sometimes find myself doing or saying something very ‘Swedish’ but when trying to mix with Swedes in Sweden, I realise I have more Mediterranean ways and habits than I thought, and maybe it’s not so strange after all. With over 12 years in Malta and only one yearly visit to Sweden, it’s easy to adapt to the country you chose to live in, not the country where you were born.
To me Malta is home, but this year, with the Swedish sun shining every single day and people seemingly more ‘defrosted’, we had an amazing time and enjoyed it more than I think we ever did.
Sweden is not a country to visit if you need energy from people, they are very quiet, calm and unfortunately too reserved, with plenty of exceptions of course, but generally speaking, Swedes seem to tend to themselves mostly. It also strikes me how much they obey rules, it’s almost as if they find it hard to go about their day without clearly marked instructions on how to live and behave. It’s probably a good thing, but very hard for a person like me who does everything ‘the Maltese way’ – first looking at what seems to be the most practical way for me to do something, then, look at the actual rules or signs. It’s not a popular way to do things believe me.
On the other hand, it’s a great country to visit if you’re a fan of nature and clean air. Those summer days in the Swedish countryside when it’s peacefully quiet and you can smell even the smallest flower – it’s easy to see why it attracts a lot of tourists – and most of all the Swedes are more likely to come out of their shells.
When it comes to dining out you get a smaller shock looking at the bill, but the culprit is mostly the beverage and not always the food, and I have to say the food served in restaurants is always of great quality so it might add up in the end. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, this is (or not) the place to go – pastries and sweets everywhere you look, cinnamon buns being my worst enemy!
Apart from the most common places for tourists to visit, Stockholm being one of them, I’d say Dalarna, the valleys, represents Sweden at its best, in terms of culture and beauty. That’s where my old family home is, and where we spend most of our summers. Definitely worth a visit!