Are you one of the many citizens of the European south who plan to seek shelter from the heat and/or earn some much-needed cash in Sweden this summer? We’ve got some guidance on employment opportunities, and some hints as to what you svalor (Swedish for “swallows”*) might expect to encounter, if it’s your first time… but before that, you need to work out how to get here!
There are three main options, all assuming you’re starting somewhere in southern Europe and ending on the Slow Coast.
- The fast track: Take the high-speed train routes north to Denmark, and then over the bridge to Malmö; travel by day, and pray to whichever deity (or lack thereof) you prefer that the AC is not malfunctioning! The DCHM housing cooperative network has a separate category of “cool rooms” available to members, but do make sure to snag one early. Once in Copenhagen, take the high-speed rail to Hässleholm and change to the regional electro-buses that will take you to your final destination. (Note: unless you have access to a Swedish bank account, you will only be able to buy these connecting tickets at the “international” price, rather than the rates for locals. It’s more expensive, yes, but the excess goes to subsidise the summer’s expanded timetable, so svalor such as yourselves can bus around the Wetlands.)
- The slow cruise: For you who are in no hurry to reach Skåne, the company Sloth offers the world’s slowest cruise along the North coast of France, around the Netherlands and Denmark, and onwards into the Baltic, by way of the “littoral loops”. These boats are small and slow; this is an engineering thing, it reduces the size of battery needed to maintain movement on less windy days. As such, they don’t have a very great range, which is why there are lots of them, with each boat repeating a relatively short port-to-port loop along the coast—so if you feel like getting off in Calais or Notterdam for a day or two, no worries! (Be sure to plan ahead for accommodations, though.) Absorb the beauty of the sea, stop in port towns across Europe, and arrive in Skåne on (your) time.
- Blimp my ride: If you’re feeling flush with cash and want to do it the luxurious way, various airship terminals have regular departures going from the south of Europe to the mooring field at the former Malmö airport (which, confusingly perhaps, is actually a little east of Svedala). One benefit of high elevation is cooler temperatures—so pack a sweater, it might get a bit nippy up there! Once you’ve come back down to earth, there are busses aplenty to take you where you need to go.
- Mixed mode: Nothing to stop you from cobbling together a hybrid itinerary! One popular option is to take a train as far as Hamburg and then get a ferry over to Ystad or Trelleborg from Rostock or Lübeck (the latter of which is worth a day’s stopover, if you’re a fan of medieval architecture). Always leave a decent bit of time to make your connections, though: timetables are best taken as an aspiration rather than a strict promise, especially in the summer.
[ * — So, about that term, svalor: it’s the Swedish word for swallows, the migratory birds. Its use in this context comes from an article published in Dagens Nyheter in 2043, the first year of the EU-wide exchange programme aimed at moving vulnerable folk out of the scorching summer heat in the southernmost parts of the Union, but it wasn’t meant to be complimentary: the article’s author was trying to depict seasonal visitors as “swallowers”, a drain on national resources. Sadly, you may still encounter people who will use the word in this pejorative fashion—even without a good grasp of Swedish, the tone of voice will usually make it obvious—but the more progressive and egalitarian elements of Swedish society decided the best way to take the sting out of the term by using it with the same kindness and affection reserved for the birds themselves, whose arrival has long signalled the much-anticipated start of the summer. Opinions differ as to how effective this has been—can a slur be defanged through normalisation? Our advice is not to worry about it too much: in Sweden as elsewhere, the majority of people are kind and welcoming, and the best we can do with those who aren’t is to leave them to their misanthropy. ]