Best cocktails in Sweden.
The best cocktails in Sweden can be sampled in the bar at Aquavit restaurant in Stockholm. Their bartenders won a competition at Café Opera recently, where 24 teams were competing. Aquavit in Stockholm is of course a licensee sister restaurant to the more famous Aquavit in New York City. For more info on the Stockholm restaurant, see

Malena wins Melodifestivalen.
"The voice" won: Opera sensation Malena Ernman won the Swedish Melodifestivalen 2009 in a nail biter of a finish. Ernman was the choice of the Swedish people, although the special Melodifestivalen juries had favored Måns Zelmerlöf. Ernman will represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest final in Moscow later this year with her song “La Voix.”

Buy a castle – get a church.
Buy one get one free. In this case buy a castle, and you’ll get a church thrown in at the same time. Bäckaskog Castle outside Kristianstad, over 800-years-old, is up for sale. The price? Some double digit million SEK. For that you get a beautiful castle with one hundred rooms, one of the prettiest of which is the red salon, and you get some exciting history as well. King Karl XV often lived at Bäckaskog Slott in the summer, and his amorous escapades were well known (local legend jokes that 2% of the local population is related to King Karl XV). The king’s bedroom has a hidden stairway leading to the kitchen, through which ladies were smuggled inside. King Karl XV had his own little room in the tower where he could sit alone, not to be bothered by his wife, Lovisa of the Netherlands. The property also has its own castle church, included in the price and perfect for weddings, it is said.

What do you want for breakfast?
Well, that all depends on where in Sweden you live. People in Skåne, for instance, like to breakfast on marmalade, and people on the east coast like to have tea and cereal, while folks up north like their Polarkaka. The most obvious difference is that people in Norrland like to drink välling (gruel) for breakfast, something people in Skåne would never do. If you like to have juice, yogurt and dark bread for breakfast, head for the east coast. If you enjoy a cup of chocolate and a bowl of filmjölk, then you should head further north.

Secular Sweden.
According to a new Gallup study of 142 countries, Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world. The study shows religion to be most important in poor countries. Topping the list of religious countries is Egypt, where 100% of people polled felt religion was an important part of their everyday life. “When you have your back to a wall you need something purposeful,” said Grace Davie, professor in sociology at the University of Exeter. “People in countries who don’t have the security Sweden has, find alternatives.” The country at the bottom of the list is Estonia, where only 14% called themselves religious. Sweden fares only slightly better off, with 17% people calling themselves religious.

Swedish millionaires willing to work for less.
According to a new study done by the magazine Connoisseur, Swedish millionaires are willing to work more but take a pay cut in order to keep their jobs. Eight out of ten also feel that it is unacceptable to pay out bonuses to the management if the business is failing. “We are representing the economy after all, and I think it’s very positive that so many of our readers are willing to roll up their shirtsleeves and work for less,” says Susanne Ytterskog, CEO for Connoisseur. Six out of ten Swedish millionaires said they’d work for less and nearly 80% said they’re willing to work more to save their jobs and to help their flagging business. According to the magazine, most millionaires in Sweden today have a positive view of the future, at least a more positive view than the one they had during the last quarter of 2008. Some 74% say they’re willing to invest in new businesses. Otherwise not much has changed, and the millionaires claim they spend just as much on travels and entertainment as they did before the financial crisis.

Would you pay 1.7 million SEK ($200 000) for a trip to outer space?
33% of Dagens Nyheter’s readers answered “yes” whereas 67% answered “no.” In spite of the disinterest, three Swedish tourist agencies have been selected to sell trips to outer space, as instructed by Virgin Galactic. Some of Virgin Galactic’s space trips will begin at Kiruna Airport and Esrange, the rocket range and research center near Kiruna. “We applied a month and a half ago,” says Andreas Axelsson at the Malmö-based The Search agency. “And now we will begin marketing and selling the space trips as soon as we can.” One of the 30,000 people worldwide who have signed on for the two and a half hour flight into outer space is Dane Per Wimmer. “For my part this is a project that’s been in the making for eight years,” Wimmer says. “And my goal is twofold. First I want to take the trip to outer space, and second I want young people to become more interested in physics.” According to Johanna Bergström-Roos, PR officer at Spaceport Sweden, trips to outer space from Kiruna could begin today. “We have the knowledge and the technology. We need not build anything extra,” she says. Apart from The Search, Icehotel Travel in Jukkasjärvi and Upplevelseakuten in Stockholm have also signed contracts with Virgin Galactic.

Licorice for the gourmet.
With all due respect to Kalles Kaviar and knäckebröd, what many Swedes really crave when they leave their country for longer or shorter periods is licorice. Especially the salty kind, which is almost impossible to get your hands on anywhere but in Sweden, but really any kind will do. When the longing gets really bad, it’s good to know that in Stockholm there's an entire store dedicated to licorice, or lakrits as we call it. It’s called Lakritsroten and owner Elina Forselius knows a thing or two about the black candy. “I have always loved licorice,” she says. “I never quite got into chocolate. But I also felt there was a need for a store.” Today Forselius sells some 200 different kinds of licorice. Coffee is perfect with chocolate but what do you drink with licorice? “For sweet licorice, champagne is perfect,” Forselius says. “For salty licorice try a red wine. Coffee and tea also work very well. But the best is actually to drink milk.” Licorice is best known in Scandinavia, although it is also popular in Australia. On the Italian island of Calabria they are crazy for licorice. England has a little licorice, as does the U.S., with emphasis on “little.” Finland is best when it comes to sweet licorice and Iceland for chocolate licorice, and then, explains Forselius, “the Dutch are best when it comes to making salt licorice.” Lakritsroten, Odengatan 15,