You savvy travelers no doubt know about the Swedish Tourist Association‘s campaign to link the world to Sweden – one Swede at a time – by calling a national phone number (+46 771-793-336; international charges apply).  What better way to celebrate Sweden’s 250th anniversary of the abolition of censorship than to encourage the entire population to chat with strangers about, well, anything.

I wanted to learn about Skane, in Sweden’s southeast and high on my travel list. So, I called.

I reached Håkom, an ER nurse who volunteered for this outreach to counter his “frequent boredom.”  As luck would have it he was born in Skane and, as with most interactions with locals, I found a treasure trove of information, perspective and “color commentary” that is not captured in print or on websites.

In our conversation, I found that:

  •  The best way to arrive in Skane is to fly to Copenhagen and take the train to Malmö – all of Skane is within a 90 minute drive and easily accessible by frequent bus/train service.
  • By an old royal proclamation, there must be food, water and accommodation offered at regular interval distances, so one is never far from a place to stay, a meal, or a pint.
  • The eastern side of the peninsula is the “artistic” side – where painters, sculptors and ceramicists show their work.
  • Danish influence (Skane was part of Denmark until the 17th century) still exists, with Danish ancestry revealed in first names: Karl is Swedish; Christian is Danish.

I’m definitely on – with an eye to early September. My target destination is deep in Skane’s woods: Daniel Berlin’s exquisite restaurant.  It’s so far afield that accommodation is available through the restaurant.

The most fun in talking with  Håkom was his sharing experiences with in-coming calls. Some folks just want to know if the number is “for real” or just a prank. Many Americans, he reports, want his view on the U.S. presidential campaign – go figure. I declined to ask his opinion on that one.

Just remember that Sweden is +6 hours ahead of North American Eastern Time, so it’s best to call in the morning or early afternoon, depending on your time zone,  or you’ll hear the automated “Sweden is sleeping”.

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