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DISCOVER SWEDEN

The seven types of Stockholmer you’re bound to find in the city during summer 

You might have noticed that Sweden’s cities seem to empty out in July as thousands leave to go on holiday. But who are the stragglers? One of The Local's reporters investigates.

The seven types of Stockholmer you're bound to find in the city during summer 
Unsurprisingly, tourist hot spots in Stockholm have been quieter since the pandemic. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

The happy tourist

All right, they’re not technically a Stockholmer, but they’re so delighted they’ve been allowed to travel that we’re not going to take it away from them. 

You’ll see far fewer tourists this year, due to travel bans and pandemic restrictions, but a determined few will join the seagulls and pigeons crowding the Kungsträdgården park.

They’ll be taking photos of themselves on Gamla Stan’s empty streets, or eating ice creams, amazed that there are no queues for Gröna Lund amusement park. When they’re home they’ll tell people about how quiet the city is and how weird it was not to have to wear a face mask all the time. 

The lonely international student

Armed with a suitcase full of textbooks and winter clothes, they’re ready for their new semester at Stockholm University, eager to make friends and learn about Swedish culture.

They decided to arrive a month before term starts to settle in, only to find cafes closed and not a person in sight, other than a few other international students in their residence. So they spend their days reading ahead in parks, and their nights at home video calling with family, waiting for something to happen. 

At least there’s more time to read up on course texts without any distracting people around. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Image Bank Sweden

The under-stimulated intern 

They only took this job because they needed it for school and were hoping it would give them some skills that look good on their very sparse CV. But no one is around in the office to teach them anything.

Now they’re stuck writing generic response emails to enquiries that come to the main company email address. All they’re learning is the best way to copy-paste from the FAQ section and how to keep busy with nothing but a coffee machine and some paper clips for company. 

Bored bored bored bored bored. Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/Image Bank Sweden

The seasoned raver

You’ll find them walking through Nacka at 6am, half covered in glitter, exhausted but still buzzing. Sure, they could go to their parents’ summer house for a month but it would be boring, and they haven’t danced in a crowd for nearly a year. 

They know that the best parties in Stockholm are during the summer and they spend all year looking forward to the open-air raves that crop up at secret spots in the forests dotted around the city. With pandemic restrictions still having an impact on concerts and music festivals, there are more parties than ever. And a heightened police presence at some illegal parties isn’t going to stop them from having an amazing time.  

For some, even a pandemic won’t stop the party. Photo: Rodrigo Rivas Ruiz/Image Bank Sweden

The overworked bus driver

It’s a good day when they get to drive one of the air conditioned buses, and there aren’t too many tourists who come in proffering cash and asking for directions to Uppsala. 

Shifts might be extra long because they’re covering for a colleague who is off on semester, but at least they don’t have to talk to anybody. More than anything, they’re looking forward to autumn when they’re flying off to Spain to lie on the beach and not step foot on a bus. 

Many public transport drivers don’t get the chance to take holidays over the summer. Photo: Erik Abel/TT

The first-year foreigner

They arrived in Sweden to start their new life during the winter, and by now they’re feeling proud of how well they’ve adapted. The long nights of summer will be a well-deserved reward. Too late, they realise their error. Their new local friends have left town, they don’t quite know anyone well enough to be invited on a sommarstuga vacation, and they’re stuck at the office covering for everyone else, but unable to do much because every email is met with a cheery out of office reply. On the plus side, it’s the best time of year to have family or friends visiting and show off the city’s parks and beaches free from crowds.

It’s only when the city clears out for the summer and you didn’t get the memo that you realise you might not have adapted to Sweden quite as much as you thought. Photo: Tove Freiij/imagebank.sweden.se

The native Swede

They’re only here for three days before they go on a yoga retreat after spending a few weeks at their brother’s summer house in the archipelago. During that time they need to see all of their friends and be seen at the right pop-up summer bars sporting a hefty tan, white trousers and Birkenstocks. When they’re not looking like they’re having the best time on Instagram they’ll be busy on their phone planning their next escape from the city. 

The Swedes who leave the city for the summer have a lot of catching up to do with friends. Photo: Simon Paulin/Image Bank Sweden

Member comments

  1. Don’t forget the native Stockholmer who loves the fact that the streets and parks are empty, similar to 25 years ago 😂

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DISCOVER SWEDEN

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.

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