Being a Scandiphile

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sunset — Göteborg’s Harbour              

                                     Falling in love with a place               is never something I thought would happen to me.            I was born into a mining family from a               mining town in the Midlands of the United Kingdom, and it hasn’t felt like home for the latter part of my               adult life. Everyone can pick faults with the place they grew up in or currently reside and many people               where I am from never leave. But I have found more happiness in moving away from my mining town and               closer to a city. I have also developed a chronic case of wanderlust and found myself falling deeply in               love with a northern corner of this earth.            My journey begins with Norway, a country I am               privileged to have visited twice, once in summer and once over Christmas. I stayed with the kindest, most               generous and welcoming family I have the pleasure of knowing on Borøy, Tvedestrand and this is where my               life as a Scandiphile begins. This family taught me a lot about shared experiences and opening your home               to new friends from abroad — something which I have done for some of my Portuguese friends already.            

Snorkelling by the skerries, Tvedestrand — Norway
A family sailing trip to Lyngør — Norway

           A few years later a fateful visit to               Göteborg in Sweden solidifies this in more ways than one. I loved Norway, but as beautiful as it is I               couldn’t see myself living by fjords, purely because of how remote it is. Göteborg has this perfect               balance of being a city that is big enough to have everything you need and small enough to have peaceful               moments, whilst being on the coast at the same time.            

A Swedish flag on the boat to the Southern Archipelago, Göteborg — Sweden

           Since then I have also visited København               in Denmark, staying in a beautiful family home in Hvidovre. Here the architecture and suburban way of               life was beyond idyllic. Iceland is next on the list, and I would love to see more of Norway and Sweden,               too.            

AirBnb Family Home in København — Denmark

           No where is perfect, I am aware of this.               This article gained quite a lot               of attention by addressing some issues with my favourite part of the world. Though it is very tongue in               cheek, and I daresay there are lots of statistics that back up my love of this beautiful corner of the               world. But if you prefer a bit of comedy like I do this video is a good watch.            Without getting too deep into my views on the               politics I just want to highlight three simple reasons                 why I love Scandinavia, and why I would recommend travelling there to anyone.            Beauty            The landscape is breathtaking, whether you are               in the mountains, by the fjords or in a city, it is always beautiful (and clean). I have seen the sunsets               and the stars in Norway in the winter and with minimal light pollution it was by far the most beautiful               scenery I have ever seen.            

Fjords at Sunset on Borøy, Tvedestrand — Norway

           In all of the cities I have been to there               is an abundance of stunning architecture, bike lanes and a lot of cyclists, parks and lots of green               space. Even the street lighting has something unique and beautiful about it.            

Bangatan, Göteborg— Sweden
The frozen crossing, Tvedestrand — Norway

           Many parts of Scandinavia have fjords,               lakes, archipelagos and nature reserves so you are never too far away from some nature or the water. One               of my favourite photographers Stian Klo takes amazing               landscape shots in the Lofoten Islands where I would love to visit some day.            

The Lofoten Islands by Stian Klo

           The people            Renowned for being reticent, people from               Sweden can seem quiet, stoic or shy on the face of it. Keeping to yourself, not making a fuss and not               displaying wealth or status unnecessarily is something that spreads across the nordic countries. Whilst               my British tendencies make me fairly loud and invasive compared to the stereotypical Scandinavian way, I               have found some great friends who are honest, kind and easy to get along with. In fact our cultural               differences only make for an interesting and dynamic friendship.            

Jazz Musicians playing at Dirty Records, Andra Långgatan, Göteborg — Sweden

           What                 about the price of alcohol I hear you say? Well, despite this I’ve found that my nordic               friends really know how to party. Whether it’s the Norwegians sailing to Denmark twice a year to stock up               on affordable alcohol, or the Swede’s with their impressive selection of beers in their bars and at the               alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget. Many people               get around the cost with lots of house parties, but the bars are always bustling at the weekends. I can’t               wait to sample the joys of Midsummer in Sweden               sometime. Skål!            Way of life            This is the hardest thing to explain because               it is something that you just feel. It’s like it is woven into the fabric of society. Everything just               works, everything feels safe and there is a sense of acceptance, equality and calmness that makes being               unhappy almost impossible. To give an example of some of the               cultural ways of life that really appeal to me I will explain two of my favourite Swedish words.            Vill du Fika?            Fika — this               means to have a laid back coffee break, usually with a little bit of food, you could also have tea or a               cold drink but coffee is very popular in Sweden. It could be a date, with a friend or with a colleague.               This four letter word encapsulates an entire cultural phenomenon that is important around the world. You               get a sense of how important it is in Sweden because you can’t seem to get a really bad coffee anywhere.               It’s not just the coffee either, I haven’t eaten in a single restaurant that didn’t take pride in what               they do and how they do it, regardless of how expensive it is.            

Fika at Espresso House, Göteborg— Sweden

           Ska vi mysa?            Mys (mysa, mysig) literally translated you could say ‘cosy’ but that               understates the importance of this term. It can be related to a place, for example getting through the               harsh winters with warmth, fires, candles and blankets. There are lots of places to have a mysig                 kväll (cosy evening) and why would you not want to enjoy               a hot coffee outside with some blankets? It can also refer to cuddling or being affectionate with               someone, hanging out with a group of people in a cosy way or just being cosy on your own, too.            

Friends having Fika and being Mys, Linnégatan, Göteborg — Sweden

           There is something               inherently romantic about living in a place where having Fika and being Mys is highly important.            

The view from Skansen Kronan in Haga — Göteborg, Sweden

           For the record, I am not winter’s biggest               fan and I dislike the cold. I am ‘nesh’, as we would say in               the midlands. But if you put me in a nordic region in minus 10 degree winter, you will still find me               smiling.            More                 of my photo stories at