Shared by Academic Travel Abroad’s Guest Service Adviser, Rebekah McCann and written by Julia Train.
My research and development trip to Sweden this spring took me on an unexpected and enriching journey. Sweden’s sea-blue coastlines and rich-green forests enchanted me just as her sophisticated and lively cities impressed me. Furthermore, Sweden’s top-notch hospitality and tourism standards made my trip more pleasant. In fact, all the locals and guides I encountered on my trip were welcoming and knowledgeable. After spending the night in a “Bird’s Nest” at Granö Beckasin, eating fresh nordic food by the water front of Fjällbacka, and petting a moose at The Elk House, I fell in love with Sweden.
I could not get over how delicious and fresh the food was in Sweden! Sweden is unique in the fact that everyone has the right to legally forage for food that is not protected, endangered, or in private gardens. With easy access to forests, even around large cities, Swedes often take advantage of forging in the forest for food. In fact, many restaurants that I dined at included food that they freshly picked themselves. My meals often included handpicked mushrooms, wild berries (Cloudberries, blueberries, lingon berries and raspberries galore!), herbs and nettles. And with endless access to the coast, fish was often fresh and plentiful. There was even an area of the country where the Swedes host mussel-safaris, which include cooking lessons, and cold water swims with saunas. I had lunch in Tjarn at a farm shop (also a farm used for raising cows), and I ate a scrumptious meal of house-made charcuterie, local juice, slow-cooked elk that was hunted by the owner, potatoes, fresh vegetables, homemade bread and the most delicious, mouth-watering dessert!
Another highlight was my post-trip to Umea and my night in the “Bird’s Nest”, an outdoor sleeping experience called the “Tree-Hotel”.Up in the trees with no one in sight, I had the most peaceful sleep on my trip at the Bird’s Nest. Furthermore, I also woke up the next morning with a view of the sun rising over the valley and river below. And although the “guestroom” was up in a tree, inside was quite modern and chic. I would highly recommend spending the night at the Bird’s Nest. Just observing the architecture of the Bird’s Nest tree-hotels is worthwhile! The closest city to the Bird’s Nest is Umea, which is also impressive. With easy access to the outdoors, an abundance of first-class restaurants, and a flourishing art scene, Umea has something for everything. Umea has won numerous awards, including the European Capital of Culture in 2014. The city is now hoping to win the most sustainable city award in 2017.
Although it’s a little off the beaten-track when visiting Europe, Sweden should not be over-looked. Natural enthusiasts, fans of the arts, and foodies all can find a place in Sweden. I know I did!