KNOW IT ALL: Sweden. Five essential things to consider before you go…
1. Most people speak English, but Swedish greetings are simple for even the most linguistically challenged: say hello, hej hej (literally, hey hey!), and goodbye hej do! Easy.
2. Swedes do lunch. Even fancy restaurants offer a dagens rätt, an affordable, set-price daily special featuring such Swedish classics as salmon with dill potatoes and cream sauce. Lunch starts from 11am – leave it till 1.00pm and you’ll go hungry (see punctuality, below).
3. Welcome to the land of hardcore punctuality. A minute past the allotted meeting time and you’re late. Anticipate disapproval.
4. Fika is a coffee break and an institution: it’s a chat, but always with a sandwich or pastry (such as the omnipresent kanelbullar, or cinnamon bun).
5. Pack nice socks; Swedes always leave their shoes at the door in their homes.
Partygoers note: payday across the nation is the 25th of the month, which means it’s party time! The weekend before, expect tumbleweeds blowin’ through the bars.
This article by Belinda Jackson was published in Sydney's Sun-Herald Traveller section.