Destination: Sweden

The World’s Most Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotels: From the Amsterdam Hilton to the Chateau Marmont

The Guardian’s Sean Dodson picks 10 sleeping giants of rock, including the spot where John Lennon and Yoko One had their “Bed-in for Peace” (Amsterdam Hilton), the hotel where Led Zeppelin chucked TVs out windows (the now de-balconied Hyatt Riot House, pictured, on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip) and the place where David Bowie lived in Berlin while recording “Low” and “Heroes” (Hotel Ellington). One obvious clunker: The Hotel Rival in Sweden, which is owned by Benny Anderson of ABBA fame. I’ve heard “Dancing Queen.” I’ve seen “Mamma Mia.” ABBA ain’t rock.

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Nuclear Tourism: Still Hot, and Getting Hotter?

We’ve written before about the steady trickle of visitors to the infamous Chernobyl site, and to lesser-known, functioning nuclear power plants in Japan and the United States. Now we can add Sweden to our list of “hot” nuclear tourism destinations. A staggering one-third of Swedes have visited a nuclear plant in the country over the past 35 years, writes Barbara Lewis in a Reuters story. And they’re still going to Forsmark, one of the three main plants on Sweden’s Baltic coast, even after a safety scare in July 2006.

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Faro, Sweden: Through a Remote Island, Brightly

I’m a sucker for quirky, remote places that revel in their magical weirdness. So after reading Danielle Pergament’s fabulous New York Times piece on Ingmar Bergman‘s home island of Faro, Sweden, I’m already dreaming of a Storybook Hollow wonderland of verdant fields, giant mushrooms, wild strawberry fields and a cast of enchanted characters. “Like Bergman, Faro is remote,” writes Pergament. “Getting to the island, off the eastern coast of Sweden, takes a plane, a train or a bus, a car and two ferries. Which is exactly what made it so appealing to the reclusive Bergman.”

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Globalization Brings ‘Big Shift’ in Sweden’s Outlook on Vacations

When it comes to vacation time, nobody in Europe—or anywhere, perhaps—has it better than the Swedes. A recent EU study found that Swedish workers are “entitled to an average of 33 paid vacations days in 2006—close to 7 weeks, not counting public holidays,” according to the International Herald Tribune’s Ivar Ekman. Now, with the rise of a global economy, that may be changing. ““The Swedish vacation is being adapted to the international situation,” said Orvar Lofgren, a professor of anthropology at Lund University and author of the book “On Holiday: A History of Vacationing.” He adds: “The classic five-week vacation is not as holy as it used to be.”

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Tags: Europe, Sweden

The Ikea Hostel: Norway’s New Take on Sleepover Tourism

Photo by John Pastor via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Though Ikea has reliably provided me with inexpensive towels and silverware over the years, I’ve never looked forward to spending a Saturday trekking to one of its warehouses. So I was surprised to read in The Guardian that Norwegians consider the stores a destination, a must-see on the summer travel circuit. Now Ikea is capitalizing on this interest by turning hotelier, at least temporarily. This month the company will open a one-week overnight hostel at one of its Oslo locations, where up to 30 shoppers will have the chance to bunk down in-store each night, sample the cafeteria’s Swedish meatballs and wrap themselves in bargain-basement Ikea bathrobes, all free of charge.

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Spontaneous Trip to Somalia Leads to Three-Nation Ordeal for Swedish Couple

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The World Hum Travel Zeitgeist: The Traveler Beware Edition

They’re turning people back at the Canadian border, shrinking the payout for blackjack in Las Vegas and seeing through your clothes in Phoenix. Those stories—plus journeys to Alaska, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Sweden and Mulholland Drive—are intriguing travelers this week. Here’s the Zeitgeist.

Most Popular Travel Story
Netscape (this week)
Going to Canada? Check Your Past

Most Viewed Travel Story
Los Angeles Times (current)
Las Vegas: A Winner’s Guide to Blackjack
* Casino are starting to pay only 6-5 for blackjack. What’s next? No doubling down?

Most Read Weblog Post
World Hum (this week)
Full-Body X-Ray Security Scanner Debuts
* The first passengers asked to submit to a full-body X-ray, apparently, “didn’t bat an eyelash.”

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
USA Today (current)
Escapes Under $500: Go to Puerto Rico’s Second City
* That would be Ponce.

Most E-Mailed Travel Story
New York Times (current)
The Cold Show in Fairbanks, Alaska

Most Read Travel Story
World Hum (this week)
Stephanie Elizondo Griest: ‘100 Places Every Woman Should Go’

Most Popular Page Tagged Travel (recent)

Best Waterfront City
Project for Public Spaces

Travel Story of the Year
Solas Awards (2007)
Fishing With Larry by Tom Joseph
* Here are all the prize winners.

Most Competitive Country
World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitive Index
* What is this? “The index is not a ‘beauty contest’, or a statement about the attractiveness of a country. On the contrary, the index measures the factors that make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism industry of individual countries,” said Jennifer Blanke, Senior Economist of the World Economic Forum.

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Let Us Now Praise the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act

“Most Americans probably think Denmark is the capital of Sweden.” Sure, the remark was made somewhat in jest, but Tobias, the Dane I had just met while sitting outside of a pub in Aarhus on a crisp evening last weekend, had a point. As 2006 enters the home stretch, most of us Americans still don’t have a passport. The encouraging news, however, is that a bill currently under consideration by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and sponsored by Roger Wicker of Mississippi could reduce the frequency of such geography-related jokes in the future. If passed, the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act would “improve and expand geographic literacy among kindergarten through grade 12 students in the United States” by establishing a geography education grant program. House bill 5519 still has a long way to go before it’s signed into law, but I’m cautiously hopeful. At the very least, we owe it to the Swedes—er, I mean the Danes.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) is the editor of the Oxford Atlas of the World.

No. 15: “Europe, Europe” by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

To mark our five-year anniversary, we’re counting down the top 30 travel books of all time, adding a new title each day this month.
Published: 1989
Territory covered: Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Germany, Holland, Finland, Romania
Once upon a time, Europe was fascinating. There was much more to the continent than the endless pension and immigration debates we hear so much about today. In Europe, Europe: Forays into a Continent, Hans Magnus Enzensberger captured some of that old fascinating place. His book is filled with the rich, complicated, maddening, exhilarating patchwork of cultures that have mixed and clashed on the continent for thousands of years. Visiting just before the fall of communism, Enzensberger was concerned with politics, but mainly as a window into culture. He explored and skewered national character without reverting to stereotypes. In fact, he investigated stereotypes, turned them inside out, and made them at once amusing and insightful. Enzensberger has a gift for this, and for identifying minutiae that make even the most boring country in the world (Sweden) riveting. “Europe, Europe” is one of the few books written about the continent before the fall of communism that remains as relevant, vibrant and hilarious as when it was first published. What’s more, it’s one of the best travel books written about Europe in any era.

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Americans, Finns and Danes Have Most Freedom to Travel Visa-Free

I’ve been spending the week in Grand Cayman working on a story and chatting with travelers and ex-pats from around the world. Twice I’ve found myself struggling to explain the United States’ ban on travel to Cuba to people understandably baffled by it. When they ask what I think, I find myself saying that whatever you think of Fidel Castro’s government, and I’m not a fan, you should have the right to visit the country and make up your own mind. Besides, the policy has proved remarkably ineffective. The man is still in power. All this was on my mind when I came across this AP headline on Citizens of Denmark, Finland, U.S. have most freedom to travel without visas. It turns out that citizens of these countries can travel to 130 countries without having to get a visa, according to a landmark report. Germany, Ireland and Sweden tied for a close second place, with their citizens able to visit 129 countries without visas.

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Swedes Say “I Do” to Airport Weddings

Last year 488 couples got married at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, and any traveler would have to admit the reasoning for doing so is sound: It allows the bride and groom to get on with their honeymoon faster. The AP reports: “The weddings took place in the airport chapel or, more commonly, in a VIP room, where the bride and groom can check in their luggage, order champagne and catering, and when the ceremony is over, be driven straight up to the aircraft.”

For Sale: Private Island. Electricity Not Included. $350,000.

Who among us hasn’t dreamed of living on a paradisiacal private island—the kind of place where you can relax under a shady palm with a frosty margarita and forget about deadlines and bills and the “global struggle against violent extremism”? For those with the cash and the nerve, Islands magazine has just identified the go-to guy. His name is Farhad Vladi, and he is an impeccably dressed, German-raised private island broker who has sold more than 1,500 islands around the globe over the last 30 years.

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Here Comes “Honeymoon”

Franz Wisner’s book Honeymoon with My Brother, which chronicles the travels he and his brother, Kurt, undertook after his fiancee left him days before their scheduled wedding, comes out in February, but it’s already on the path to go where few travel books have gone: up on the big screen. According to the cover story of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times magazine, Wisner sold the screenplay rights to Sony’s Columbia Pictures for sum in the high six figures. Get ready, too, for the photo spread in Vanity Fair magazine and a huge publicity push. Franz and Kurt’s trip took them through 53 countries, in what the Times’s Robert Salladay says was “a sort of capitalist version of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries.’” He writes: “Unlike that of young Che Guevara’s eight-month trip through South America, the transportation was not a temperamental Norton motorcycle but a new Saab 9-5 sedan purchased in Sweden. It would take them across Europe and down through Syria. The Saab was an almost comic luxury for ‘backpackers.’ It would be ditched on a later trip in favor of sandals and crowded buses, including one with a vomiting little girl in the next seat.”

From Stockholm to the Top of Everest and Back to Nepal by Bike with the “Crazy Swede”

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Should we Protest or Order a Big Mac?

Simon Calder makes a good, if not terribly hip, point about McDonald’s. “Sometimes the familiar logo of McDonald’s provides welcome relief for a traveler,” he writes in the Independent. “The chain offers predictable standards of hygiene in parts of the world with uncertain sanitation, and solace for those in a strange land who are desperate for hash browns and the safe, insipid liquid that goes by the name of McDonald’s coffee.” He reports, however, that one major guidebook publisher may have crossed a line by top-listing the golden arches in the “where to eat” sections of its guide to Sweden.