Top attractions in Sweden.
All Travel Sweden (part of the European Travel & Tourism Board) has gathered the top attractions in Sweden. They are 1. Lapland. The largest intact wilderness in Europe, covering a quarter of the total area of Sweden yet with only 5 percent of the population. Lapland is probably best known as the home of Santa Claus. 2. Skokloster Slott Castle. A magnificent 17th century castle as well as one of the most fascinating Baroque museums in Europe, it is renowned for its unusual interiors as well as its vast collections of paintings, furniture, applied art, tapestries, arms and books. The castle also houses a restaurant, conference facilities and an automobile museum. 3. The Viking Town of Birka. Birka is situated on a lush island in Lake Mälaren, about 18 miles from Stockholm. It was a major port over 1,200 years ago. A new museum houses finds from extensive excavations around the site. Visit the museum and see how the Vikings lived. 4. The Hanseatic town of Visby. A former Viking site on the island of Gotland, Visby was the main center of the Hanseatic League of the Baltic from the 12th to the 14th centuries. Its 13th century ramparts and more than 200 warehouses and trading establishments from the same period make it the best preserved fortified commercial city in northern Europe. 5. Gripsholm Castle. Located in the small town of Mariefred on Lake Mälaren outside Stockholm, Gripsholm is a stunning Renaissance castle built in 1540. The castle contains exceptional Renaissance interiors as well as a theater and the world's oldest and largest portrait collections. 6. Sareks National Park. The enchanted landscape of Sareks National Park plays hosts to over 100 glaciers as well as mountains reaching over 2,000 meters. It should only be experienced with the help of a guide unless you’re an expert in outdoor survival. The best views are over the lake and delta of Laiture on the Rapa älv, near the eastern edge of the park. 7. Öland. Öland is a tiny island boasting many ruins, fortifications and nearly 400 windmills! The biggest Iron Age ring fort on the island, Gråborg — with a diameter of 200 meters — is an incredible sight. Nearby, Eketorp has been partly reconstructed as a museum to show what a fortified medieval village must have looked like. Equally impressive are the ruins of Borgholm Castle which was eventually burned and abandoned early in the 18th century. Also prominent are the lighthouses at the northern and southern tips of the island. Öland is a popular place to celebrate Midsummer. 8. Old Uppsala. Located just outside modern day Uppsala, Old Uppsala is regarded as the most important prehistoric monument in Sweden and the cradle of Swedish civilization. The three "Kungshögarna" or royal mounds, where dead kings were burned and buried, are situated on a ridge and can be seen from miles away. A fascinating site, there is plenty of interpretive material on site to guide you through the long and interesting history of the area. 9. The Kingdom of Crystal. Many of the world’s most famous glassworks can be found here, in southeastern Sweden's province of Småland. The Kingdom of Crystal came into existence when the first batch of glass was melted in 1742 at Kosta, now the oldest glasswork in Sweden which is still producing handmade glass. In the Glasshouse see the artists work in front of the furnaces. This trip is a must, especially if you are looking for bargains in crystal treasures. 10. Stockholm. The beautiful Venice of the North and the Swedish capitol, Stockholm is situated on 14 islands separated by wide bays, broad channels and narrow waterways. Surrounded by unspoiled countryside, the city is also peppered with lovely parks. In the heart of the capitol the contrast between old and new is striking: an ultra modern city center adjacent to the cobbled alleys and medieval buildings of Gamla Stan (Old Town).

Best excuses ever.
This might be the only book you ever need to read. The best excuses by the Swedish people all collected in one handy volume. Author Mats Holm has collected our best excuses, and he says about the book “Svenska folkets bästa ursäkter”: “We live in a country where excuses play a big part of society, and I thought it’d be interesting and fun to put them all together in a book.” The excuses come from what Holm himself has seen in media and from his research of archives. “The book can be used as a self-help book,” he says. “We all make mistakes and feel guilty, and we all feel others need explanations from us. In this book you can see what works and what doesn’t.” His own favorite excuse is a complicated one from a doctor who was caught driving drunk and had the following to say: “I had just smoked a cigarette and put it out, I pushed up the window by the driver’s seat and after that I kicked off my right sandal. I was going to kick off the left one too, because it was sticky, but I couldn’t so I bent over and noticed that my tie had gotten caught in the window, that’s when I lost control over the car and it went over the edge and into the sea.” Another excuse comes from a politician (Christ democrat) who was arrested for disorderly conduct at a swimming pool in Eskilstuna. “The man asked me to look at an injury on his penis. He showed off his genitals to make me see it better, but I thought it was embarrassing so I pushed him away and while doing so I might have touched his penis.” And here’s one from the man who was found using public transportation without a ticket: “The dog just ate my wallet. And afterwards he ran away.” And the man who was caught for speeding on the island of Åland said: “I have such big feet that they accidentally push down the gas pedal harder than they ought to. And a strange animal happened to pass by, too.”

Growl and sleep out in the wild.
Use the summer to activate your wild side, become my physical and enjoy yourself more, become clearer with what you want and what you do not want. Growl more and sleep in the forest. That’s Charlotte Eriksson’s advice, and she should know because she’s a relationship specialist, with courses for singles as well as couples. “More often than not, we should just follow our impulses,” she says. “We ought not to hold back as much as we do.” The best way to get more wildness into your life is by listening to your body.” Charlotte’s tips include: 1. Sleep out in the open. If it’s not raining, then all you need is a sleeping bag. 2. Make love in the forest. It will add excitement to your relationship. 3. Move around a lot, but don’t force your body. Play with your children and wrestle in the grass. 4.Growl, snarl and roar sometimes. It might seem stupid, but it might make you feel better. 5. If you’re a woman with long hair, don’t put it up but wear it down, and it you’re a man, don’t shave. Let it loose, in other words. It is, after all, summer only once a year.

Watchdog critique of capital over use of English
A group promoting the Swedish language reported the country's capital, Stockholm, to the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman for using too much English. The Language Defense Network reported the city under a language law that came into effect July 1 that declared Swedish the country's official language and giving public bodies a responsibility to use and develop the language. The network singled out the Stockholm Visitors Board, the Stockholm Business Region and the Stockholm Entertainment District for what it called a widespread use of English "in an attempt to appear modern." "It undermines Swedish as it signals that English has a higher value, that it has status, while Swedish is a language for out in the wilds," Per-Ake Lindblom, a spokesman for the network, said in an interview with Sveriges Radio.

A letter to the Prime Minister.
“Hej Fredrik! My name is William and I am five years old. Won’t you please ask the stores to quit sell candy? So that I can save my money and buy a bracelet with magic squares.” Thus wrote a young boy to Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. “Thank you for you letter,” the Prime Minister answered. “Many people think it’s nice to eat candy from time to time. If you don’t want to eat any, then you can choose not to buy it. Therefore I don’t believe in not allowing the stores to sell candy. I think it’s good if you choose not to eat any candy. Then you can save and buy yourself the bracelet you want. Finally, I want to wish you a lovely summer. Best Regards, Fredrik Reinfeldt.”

Sweden urges U.S. to act on climate change
A Current European Union president Sweden on July 25 urged the United States to take the lead in combating climate change. The call comes ahead of a major environmental summit in Copenhagen later this year. Andreas Carlgren, Environment Minister for Sweden, told journalists at a meeting of EU energy and environment ministers he welcomed President Barack Obama's efforts to fight global warming but called on the United States to do even more. “We still expect more and we need more,” he said. Sweden took over the six-month presidency of the European Union earlier this month and is helping to pave the way for tough talks on a major climate deal in Copenhagen this December which would replace the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012. Carlgren said it was encouraging the House of Representative had already approved a bill reducing emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 per cent by 2050 from 2005 levels had and was on its way to the Senate. European member states, however, have already agreed to slash carbon emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 from levels in 1990. “We see within that bill the possibilities of raising the ambitions, and we are really urging our American friends to raise their bids and make sure that they can commit to more,” he said. “The EU has so far put 20 percent on the table but we want that to go higher and we want to bring others with us.”

Swedish doctors refuse to circumcise.
Several Swedish doctors and local authorities refuse to circumcise boys unless it is medically motivated. Gunnar Göthberg, chairman of the Swedish Pediatric Surgeons Association compared the procedure to female genital mutilation. When asked two out of three pediatric surgeons did not want to perform the procedure that is almost common practice in the U.S. And Göthberg regards the operation as an assault since it is done without the child’s consent. Out of 21 local municipalities, 12 refuse to perform the circumcisions for non-medical reasons. It is estimated that around 3,000 circumcisions are done in Sweden each year, of these only 2,000 are performed by people who are not doctors and who do not have a medical license, which pose risks for the child and may cause complications.

Women get prison time for assault
Three women face up to 20 months in prison after a court convicted them of assaulting the girlfriend of an official for the far-right Sweden Democrats. The Södertörn District Court July 22 found the three women guilty of jumping the girlfriend of party spokesman Martin Kinnunen and pummeling her with brass knuckles as the couple walked near Gullmarsplan, south of Stockholm, on the June 6 National Day holiday. The Swedish News Agency TT said the court dismissed charges the women attacked Kinnunen on the grounds of insufficient evidence. The defendants, who are in their early 20s, received prison terms ranging from 10-20 months and were also ordered to jointly pay the victim 23,000 kroner ($3,000). "The prison sentence is positive, but it's strange that the assault against me was thrown out by the court," Kinnunen told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Barbro Lindgren interviewed.
When we think about Swedish books for children it’s usually the other Lindgren we think of, you know, Astrid Lindgren. But Barbro Lindgren has given us – and our children – much to be happy about too. What about Loranga, Masarin and Dartanjang? And Vilda Bebin? And Max? In the U.S. the toddler Max is called Sam and some of the titles include: “Sam’s ball”, “Sam’s potty”, “Sam’s bath” and “Sam’s cookie”. Dagens Nyheter recently interviewed Lindgren, who was born in Stockholm in 1937. “I was fascinated by death at an early age,” she says. “It was scary and puzzling. And I began to process it so that I would get used to the thought of dying before I grew old and ready to die. Being conscious of death gives you a certain space, everything can change very suddenly, somebody we love may die very suddenly, and therefore it is much more practical to always be focused on death.” Lindgren might be focused on death, but laughter is also something that’s near her, and she laughs often. “I explored the world by myself as a child, because I have always had a huge need for freedom. I was out and about all alone at age five and I would look up people, I was curious and asked if I could help, and many old people wanted to tell me their stories. That I was allowed to explore all this by myself is something that I have always remembered because I can actually say that I do remember what it is like to b a child. And perhaps that’s a bit unusual. And I used that in my first books.” Sometimes, she says, she feels guilty is she has embarrassed somebody in a book. “But I just cannot think about it anymore.” Barbro Lindgren intended to become an artist and studied at Konstfack (University College of Arts Crafts and Design) but never felt that what she did there was really important. “As a child I was also fascinated with music. Then when I was expecting my first child I thought ‘Maybe I ought to write instead’ and that summer I wrote my debut called ‘Mattias sommar’.” Simplicity is something she admires in books, complicated simplicity. “The whole point is to load the seemingly simple with something important. And what you write ought to reach many, many, otherwise it won’t survive at all.”

Swedish magician caught by police in China.
When Charlie Caper, a magician and street performer from Malmö, was performing his act in Beijing, police came and tried to arrest him. “I was doing a performance at a public place, when several policemen came running,” says Caper who is in Beijing to participate in the World Championships of Magic. Caper thought he would be arrested, but somehow managed to convey that he was just a magician. “They were very reluctant but they did let me finish my act. I suppose they were afraid because of the crowd that had gathered around me, I guess that’s why they wanted to have me removed.” Caper, whose real name is Karl-Axel “Kalle” Berséus, is the only Swedish contestant at the World Championships of Magic and he faces stiff competition from the entire world. Earlier this year he won a talent show on Swedish TV, and he has performed in the U.S., as well as in Japan, Thailand, Mexico, and around Europe.

Meet Håkan-Tina.
Håkan, 53, had a wife, four kids and a job as an engineer at Barsebäck (the nuclear plant). But then one day he woke up and felt that the feminine side of him that he had been neglected for years, no longer could be suppressed. “I began trying on women’s clothes at home, but I didn’t tell anyone about it,” Håkan says. Until he finally revealed it to his wife, who after the initial shock, came to terms with it and accepted it. As did his children. Little by little Håkan came out and began calling himself Tina. He also began wearing dresses, make-up and jewelry. He quiet his job at Barsebäck and opened a store selling clothing for plus sized women. He also wanted to have his name legally changed to Håkan-Tina – however the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) said no to such a name change. Håkan then appealed at the county court and they gave him the right to use the name Tina. The Swedish Tax Agency has asked for leave to appeal at the Swedish courts. ‘We’re not saying no just do be mean,” says Lars Tegenfeldt, a legal expert at the Swedish Tax Agency, “we just need a decision from the Swedish courts in how to proceed in cases like this.”