As I sink into the driver’s seat of the grey Volvo station wagon my mind is racing. ‘Why did they give me the longest car in the country,’ I think with a slight huff as I envision a choppy four-point turn to maneuver the tight parking space. Next to me, my sister is ruffling through papers as she tries to decipher the directions we were given, which include details like turn left at the red tackle shop.
I glance over and our eyes lock. Instantly, and in unison, our lips curl into colossal smiles.
“We are in Sweden,” she whispers as her eyes beam with excitement.
“I know,” I respond as my shoulders shrug and my fists pump the air. “I’m beyond excited.”
Almost ready to shift the car into drive, I spot the navigation system and do a small victory dance, feeling as if we just hit the directions jackpot. My fingers wander over the buttons and the system clicks on. Immediately the music in my head halts. A jumble of Swedish splashes over the screen.
“Hmm,” I groan. “I thought I just pulled a genius move, but unless you can read this then we are out of luck.”
Sarah leans in, taking a stab at the seemingly strange words displayed on the screen.
“Sväng till vänster,” her voice slumps over each syllable as she speaks what sounds like an imaginary language. We both giggle.
Surely we can conquer this. I reach over and swivel the knob, searching for anything that resembles English. I punch each button in random sequence like our 3-year-old niece trying to operate a remote control.
“Ok, we need an expert,” I exclaim as I shift into drive and cautiously inch the beast of a car toward the Hertz rental office. I squeeze into a tight parking spot that feels like SmartCar parking, and Sarah hops out of the car in search of reinforcements. She shuffles back with an employee at her side.
“So… we don’t speak Swedish,” I say quietly, feeling like a huge tourist.
“No problem,” he states. I watch eagerly as he pushes a few buttons with ease and then the sweet sounds of English pulse through the speakers.
Sarah climbs back in, gives the employee a thumbs up out the window, and we are off.
We had no idea what was in store for us over the next few days, and it did not take us long to fall head over heels for Sweden, its incredible design style, stunningly gorgeous and welcoming people, and the stop-in-your-tracks scenery.
A few of my favorite spots include:
Fiskebäckskil is a picturesque seaside community on the island of Skaftö. Balanced between the rolling sea and jagged granite cliffs, it was the prime location for leisure and bathing during the 20th century. The town has retained its charm and is dotted with well-preserved wooden architecture and colorful bathing huts.
Where to stay:
Gullmarsstrand Hotell & Konferens - The overall style is spot-on Scandinavian, with its wash of muted colors, beautiful functionality and jaw-dropping views of the water directly outside the floor-to-ceiling windows.
What to do:
- Hop aboard the local ferry and cross the Gullmar Fjord to Lysekil. Take a peek at the neo-Gothic pink-granite church or explore the charming streets by bike.
- Walk up the Vetteberget cliff for remarkable 360-degree views and mesmerizing sunsets.
Found in the heart of Scandinavia, Gothenburg has everything you would expect in the country’s second-largest city. It is bursting with shop-lined streets, hip cafes, must-see sights and tasty seafood treats. The atmosphere is one of easy-going genuineness.
Where to stay:
Hotel Flora - Full of super swanky sophistication, Hotel Flora wows its visitors with designed chic themed rooms and excellent customer service.
Where to dine:
Gabriel - This delightful fish and seafood restaurant is located upstairs in Feskekôrka (‘fish church’ in Swedish) fish market hall. Owner and chef Johan Malm happens to be the 2010 World Champion in oyster opening.
Familjen - This modern brasserie has a west coast influence. The atmosphere is cozy and intended to feel like an extended living room where everyone is welcome.
The famous crime writer Camilla Läckberg grew up on the island of Fjällbacka, and many of her novels are based in the small fishing town. The island even offers a Läckberg murder mystery tour where visitors can see the crime scenes described in the book during a 45-minute guided tour.
What to pack:
Labyrinth Gold Wayfarer Garment Bag $128 Hudson + Bleecker
The Executive $425 Vince Camuto
Striped T-Shirt $136 Hoss Intropia
Available at select Bloomingdale’s locations across the country.
Jet Lag Essentials Kit $60 3FLOZ
Keep your eyes peeled for retail stores across the country, including airport terminals.
Mach-Two by DITA Eyewear $700 Oberle Opticians
Shiny 18k gold with black frame.
Rope Square Scarf $336 Leigh & Luca
Shadow Ombre - Grey & Orange Embroidery
The fabric is made on looms that are over 100 yrs. old.
Platinum Diamond Nail Polish $28 AZATURE
Nail polish contains a real black diamond for extra sparkle.
Racquel Wedge in Black $285 Alejandra G.
Balance Hydration Spray $27
Helps balance skin’s oil production and pH.
POMMISST Hydration Spray $27
Hydrates, conditions and protects all skin types.
D2O Hydration Spray $27
Helps hydrate and plump the skin cells.
Long Weekender Leather Bag $1,498 Robert Talbott