- Swedes love to spend their kronas on coffee; after Finland, Sweden ranks second in the world in individual coffee consumption.
- Savoring a cup of joe goes hand in hand with a social tradition called fika ,meaning a coffee break from the workday and special time when old friends gather to chat and make new friends.
- Don't expect most stores -- except petrol stations -- to be open past 5 p.m., even on weekends. Do anticipate taking a number and waiting in line for services, and, during July, forget most shopping as nearly the entire country is on vacation.
- Ingmar Bergman may unquestionably be among the best-known Swedes and renowned filmmakers in the world, but younger moviegoers will more likely sing the praises of Alexander Skarsgard, who plays the blood-thirsty Viking vampire in "True Blood," or his father Stellan Skarsgard, who has starred in movies such as "Good Will Hunting," "Mamma Mia!," "Angels and Demons," and "Pirates of the Caribbean."
- Pop star Robyn may have been named Swede of the Year in 2010, but it was Swedish singing sensation ABBA (an acronym of the first names of the two couples composing the band and, coincidentally, the name of a Swedish canned fish company that agreed to lending their name to a pop group) that captured worldwide attention, when the group won the Eurovision Song Contest on April 6, 1974, with their song, "Waterloo."
- Sweden has codified land use for hiking, camping, berry-picking, and mushrooming. Citizens can do so without the landlord's permission. This right of public access, or Allemansraetten, is in keeping cultural ideology, as Sweden became the first European nation to establish national parks, in 1910.
- Sweden is considered laid back: Professionals can don jeans and long-sleeved shirts in place of suits in the workplace -- except when meeting with foreign clientele! Also, don't be late for appointments or overly expressive in demeanor, as that violates Swedish personal code.
- Want to swim in the nude? Visit the Kallbadhuset baths, in Gothenburg. Don't worry; there are separate men's and women's sections.
- Eager to see a stuffed blue whale? The only one in the world can be found in Gothenburg's oldest museum: The Natural History Museum.
Sidebar: Volvo Overseas Delivery Program
This Swedish carmaker's Overseas Delivery Program is designed for American consumers, diplomats, members of the military, and European expatriates who have taken up residence in the U.S. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the program is you actually save money on your Volvo purchase!
Here's how it works: American buyers wanting to travel to Europe, as well as members of the U.S. military and diplomats stationed in Europe, can order a Volvo in the U.S and take delivery at one of 13 locations in Europe, from Sweden to Spain. They can drive their U.S.-spec vehicle during their time in Europe, and then have it shipped, with no extra fees to their residence in the U.S.
In addition, expatriates -- Europeans who have relocated to the U.S. for an extended period of time -- can order a U.S.-spec Volvo and have it delivered in the U.S. for use here.
Volvo buyers, who are at least 18 years old and have a driver's license and passport, can combine their purchase with a vacation to Europe. The package comes with a Volvo factory tour, a visit to Volvo's Safety Center, and a walk-around of your vehicle with a personal demonstration of all of its features and technologies. The package includes airport pickup and transportation services before the time of your car's delivery; a hotel stay in Volvo's hometown, Gothenburg, Sweden; and concierge services to assist with setting up travel on the European continent.
The program bundles the purchase price of a vehicle through a U.S. retailer with round-trip flights to Sweden and a waver on the 25-percent value-added tax that would ordinarily be levied on a car being exported back to the U.S. Buyers who participate in the program have to take their vacation and return home within two or six months, depending on the official shipping site in Europe where they drop off the car.
In addition to the opportunity for a unique vacation, participants can choose colors, wheels, interiors, inlays, and other features otherwise available in Europe only. Plus, there's a discount of up to eight percent off the U.S. MSRP, depending on the model.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO DO
When you sign up for the Overseas Delivery program at the time of vehicle purchase, you'll need to fill out an order form, a Swedish Application for temporary registration, and a Power of Attorney form. A $2000 deposit and photocopies of your passport and driver's license also are required. About two weeks later, an order confirmation package arrives in the mail. Within two weeks, you must finalize your plans, and you have six weeks to head to Europe.
For diplomats who participate in the program, the benefits include discounts on the vehicle's MSRP, the choice of vehicles with specifications designed to meet the requirements of many different countries around the world, a wide variety of pick-up locations, and direct shipping/return of models to and from the U.S., depending on where diplomats are posted and when they'll return to their home countries.
Active-duty military who are U.S. residents and serving in Europe can also participate in the program, which offers savings on the MSRP on U.S.-model Volvos, as well as free return shipping for military personnel returning to the U.S.
Vehicles available through the Volvo Overseas Delivery Program are the C30 and C70; the S60 and S80; and the XC lineup including the 60, 70, 90 and 90 R-Design.