Courtesy of the Gulf Stream, Sweden enjoys a temperate climate
in which extremes of temperature are rare. Central and south Sweden
experience short, cold winters whilst summer temperatures are
comparable to those in southern Britain, but with significantly
longer daylight hours. Winters become colder and harsher the
further north in Sweden you travel although summers remain warm.
Sweden above the Arctic Circle sees year-round snow and here summer
days are at their longest and winter days their shortest.
Swedish culinary tradition has typically been shaped by three
factors; long warm summers, cold winters and the fresh produce
available. Some of the staples of Swedish cuisine, such as
meatballs or pickled herring, you'll be familiar with, others less
so. Swedish food simply hasn't caught on in the same way as other
European foods, but it is different, distinctive and definitely
worth trying. Our guests on a rail tour of Sweden should know that
lingonberry jam is used as an accompaniment to food in the same way
as ketchup or brown sauce. The historical need to preserve food
over long and inhospitable winters means that the Swedes have a
strong tradition of pickling and this is responsible for the
national obsession with pickled herring. Swedes have a sweet tooth
and favourite snacks and desserts include cinnamon buns, and the
vibrant green Prinsesstårta (princess cake); a sponge layered with
jam, vanilla custard and whipped cream and carefully wrapped in a
thin skin of green marzipan.
Swedish law prohibits the retail selling of alcohol over 3.5% in
volume. The only noticeable difference this makes to guests
visiting Sweden on rail tours with Great Rail Journeys is that they
have to visit a government controlled Systembolaget if they wish to
buy alcohol for consumption off licensed premises.
If you're chatting with a Swede about your experiences in Sweden
take care not to make unfavourable comparisons of your current
destination against one you may prefer; Swedes take great pride in
their native town or region.