I had just finished my first work shift in Malta and was ready to go home. With my head spinning after the first day, I briefly introduced myself to the colleagues who came to the evening shift. I had no clue where that quick handshake would take me. Little did I know that I had just met a great person, a person with whom we would become good friends. Even less did I know that one day I would travel to Sweden to meet this guy after our year in Malta.
Perhaps it was the jokes during our first shift together that made me realize that our humor is quite on the same level. Maybe it was him being so down-to-earth and genuine that it was easy for me to be myself from the very first day. Or maybe it was his ability to talk about anything, and I really mean anything – a trait that I value highly. Anyway, perhaps for all these reasons, we ended up becoming close friends. Soon I started to wonder if the best thing in Malta actually comes from Sweden.
Travelling and living abroad gives you a lot. It brings new people into your life, you get new experiences, you create new memories. The harsh truth is though, that way too often the friendships you create on the road are doomed to fade away sooner or later. One of the most difficult thing about travelling is the relationships becoming so temporal. You don’t even want to become too attached because in the back of your mind you know that you will continue in different directions. For this reason, I was a bit worried when Isak called me while I was in Iceland and told that he had decided to leave Malta and return to Sweden to study. I already saw myself saying permanent goodbyes once again.
Things don’t have to go like that. Not if you decide otherwise. So I took a train from Copenhagen to the Southern Sweden to a town called Karlshamn. It is a small town founded in the 17th century with some 30 000 inhabitants. Cute little wooden houses surround the tiny streets decorated with different flags. Near the shore, you can find several larger wooden and stone villas facing to the sea. The sea continues all the way to the horizon, as far as your eyes can see. There are several parks, a rose garden, oak forests and tiny islands nearby. Life is easy and relaxed and no wonder that Karlshamn is a popular summer destination for the Swedes.
This was not a touristic holiday and I hardly did any sightseeing. We were just sitting in cafes eating mud cake. I even tasted a Swedish speciality, a pizza with curry and banana. I was watching Swedish news about the upcoming parliamentary elections and talking about the politics and the Swedish parties with Isak’s father. We took a car to the nearby countryside and visited a beautifully renovated family farm built in the 17th-century. We celebrated a crawfish party, kräftskiva, with crawfish and prawns, snaps and drinking songs. I got to speak more Swedish than I had for a decade, even though I was struggling to understand the local dialect.
This was supposed to be a post about Sweden but it ended up being a story about people. When I started writing this, I noticed that I don’t have anything interesting to say for a traveller looking for some inspiration about Sweden. I had even left my camera at home on most days. However, I guess this is a story on why one should travel. You should travel because you will meet amazing people on the way. Because you will encounter people that are surprisingly similar despite the differences in your backgrounds. You should travel because you never know where it will actually take you. You can even end up singing Swedish drinking songs with a crawfish hat on your head.
PS. I have to admit that I am going to visit Sweden again next month. This time I will go to another town, though. Anyway, more to follow later.