Berry-picking in Sweden

Some say berry picking is a national sport in Sweden. Due to the Allemansrätten (Right of Public Access), anyone can pick berries (and mushrooms) in Sweden, provided they are not on a National Park or Nature Reserve. Surprisingly, you can even pick and sell them, and the “landowner” cannot do much about it (only regret that he should have picked them earlier). Most of the people pick the berries for themselves, because they love to bake cakes or make jam, or simply, just eat the delicious berries. Personally, I use most of my berries to make icecream!

The season is quite short, depending on how long the Summer starts, and if you are on the mountains or closer to the coast (earlier), but the time spans, more or less, from July until September.

From my experience, the most common ones are the blueberries. Any portion of forest will contain blueberries. A simple box of 125 gr costs 25/30 SEK, and yet, it takes around half an hour to fill a box with 5 times as much!

Lingonberries are also quite common but no so widely spread as the blueberries. They are easy to pick, because the berries are attached in groups of 10 or 20.

The raspberries are sweeter than blueberries and more difficult to find. It’s common to see some bushes completely depleted, because someone else has already gone there! I find most of them close to the coast, even on beaches, since they like sun and a sandy soil. Unlike raspberries in Portugal, which have huge and pointy thorns, making berry-picking a dangerous adventure, Swedish raspberries have not developed these advanced survival skills!

The wild strawberries are amongst the tastiest fruits I’ve ever tried. Before coming to Sweden, I had only seen them in Bosnia. We could easily buy them on the roadside, for literally nothing! I could never forget that taste… Luckily, I found them in Sweden, though only on Luleå’s archipelago. Like raspberries, they need some sandy soil and plenty of sun to blossom. Tip: they like Iron enriched soils, and there is an island where strawberries just pop out everywhere you look!

Finally, the “berry” on the cake is the famous cloudberry, those heavenly orange berries. Unfortunately, I never picked them. However, I tasted some desserts with them, and maybe I wished I hadn’t… Those berries are something to die for, but very difficult to find, only on some mountain areas. I went a couple of times to the mountains this Summer, but I haven’t seen them.

So, berry-picking is basically a nice Summer activity, that you can easily combine with hiking (though sometimes I regret carrying 1 extra kg on berries!). Then, it’s just freezing the remaining of the berries, so that you can have them available during the Winter =)

Rental houses in Sweden

Most of the Swedes choose to buy a house, over renting it. Over time, it is much cheaper to own a house. And depending on where you live, this gap might be quite reduced. However, renting a place, sounds more appealing if you are not sure whether you are staying in the same place or not. Plus, you don’t have to worry about maintenance, since your landlord will be responsible for it 🙂

What I really like about the rental houses in Sweden is how the whole thing works. Very organized, or it wouldn’t be Sweden.

  1. You get used to the fact that you no longer wash and dry your clothes inside. It might be weird in the beginning, but soon you will notice the benefits of using a drying room, instead of leaving the clothes for 2 days on a rack! You have to book the laundry time that best suits you.
  2. You won’t need to go too far to dispose of your garbage. Probably, just around the corner. Batteries, cardboxes, metal, glass, and even bulbs and electrical appliances can also be left there.
  3. Sometimes there is a communal sauna that you can book and use for free!
  4. There is a communal shed for people to keep the bikes.
  5. There is a parking space (at least, one) for every house, either a garage or a carport with engine heater.
  6. There is an organization/person always around that ensures everything runs on track, including ploughing the snow!

The drawback of the rental system is the famous queuing time, reaching some 15 years in places like Stockholm, but even in smaller villages inland, can take 6 months/1 year, due to the recent emmigrants/refugees influx.

There are also housing facilities for students and for elderly people, which is a concept I would like to see in Portugal. Old people who are still able to live on their own, but have special needs (doctor, medication, wheelchair ramps…) don’t need to worry about that. They can apply to one of these houses, and make sure there will be a health center and a pharmacy nearby. The same with students: they can rent a small room with kitchen and toilet (20 sqm), but still ensure they can live on their own.