For many years, as a Swede going on holiday, your first choice would be to go to Oslo. It seems that it wasn’t until the 60’s and 70’s that people began to go elsewhere, such as Germany, and the UK. Having spoken to relatives, and elders around me, I have always gotten the impression that Oslo is the first capital other than Stockholm that us Swedes tend to visit. When my grandparents married back in the 40s, their three day honeymoon was spent in Oslo. I asked two friends, and their grandparents had done the exact same, regularly returning throughout their married lives. Norway being so very close, and so very similar to my native Sweden, it does indeed seem a natural place to go often. Not only was it close and easily accessed, but the language is similar, many stores are the same, and culture, cuisine, tradition and manners aren’t all that different either (other than the fact that norwegians have totally incredible folk costumes called ‘bunad’ that I wish we had an equally popular equivalent to in Sweden).
BUT, and here comes my confession – despite having travelled a fair bit myself, I had until last week never been to Norway! And not once had it crossed my mind to go, either. I hadn’t been, and neither had many of my friends. Why was it that my grandparents, and many others in their generation chose to go there, and why did it change? I pondered over what has caused this shift. Why don’t Swedes go to Norway any more?
Recently, many young Swedes have gone to Norway to work (almost every single waitor or waitress I stumbled across during the course of my stay was Swedish!), but it just doesn’t seem a popular choice for holidaying. Maybe we can delve into the psychology behind the travel interests of the Globetrotter of 2015, and the Post WW2 honeymooner? What do we want when we go abroad? Do we want a thrill? Do we want a home away from home? Maybe what seemed to my grandparents as a great journey abroad, to a place where they recognised enough to be at ease, but didn’t risk culture shock, might just feel a bit too close to home to me? And then there’s of course the question of money. Norway is ridiculously expensive. Maybe Swedes don’t go simply because we’re cheapskates. That’s another possibility, but that wouldn’t sound as romantic.
The globalisation of the world, the constant Instagramming and Pinteresting of locations abroad, our international cuisine, and the blog post you read on what to do and what to see when you go to Touristtown, have made the world a lot smaller. If I were to go to, say, Thailand, I would already know what things would look like. I would know the street of my hotel from Google maps; I would know the menu and what to avoid from it in the local restaurant from Yelp, and I will know in what mall to get the best pedicure. My grandmother wouldn’t have known any of those things. I must confess I am spoiled by the comfort of the modern world. If I didn’t know any of those things, or anything at all, about the places I go, I’m not sure I’d jump at the chance to go to the other side of the planet either. I can do nothing but admire the braveness of travellers before internet, GPS and mobile phones. What seems perfectly natural to us today has never been, and still isn’t a given to many people. To venture out into the world with a map and little else is a challenge few of us would take on today. But maybe that’s a challenge for another year? I must confess the idea is tempting.
If you could go anywhere in past times, before cellphones, internet and GPS – where would you go?