In celebration of the 250th anniversary of the abolishment of censorship, Sweden, with the aid of the Swedish Tourist Association, will become the first nation to have its very own phone number and offer anyone the opportunity to learn more about the country by speaking directly to local Swedes.
We decided to give it a go and our call directed us to Edward, a warm and informative 21-year-old waiter at an Asian fusion restaurant in Stockholm. When asked what are some definite things to do and see in Sweden, he responded with: “If you’re in Stockholm you have to check out the Old City. It’s right in the middle of Stockholm. Stureplan is a great area of the city for nightclubs if you’re looking to go out. In the winter time, I suggest going up north to Lapland and watch the Aurora Borealis and to take in some beautiful nature.”
How does Sweden stack up when it comes to being gay-friendly? This Swede had only the best to say: “For my friends and for my family members who are gay, it’s a very welcoming atmosphere here. Stockholm is even known as the gay capital of Sweden! You’ll find the bulk of the gay bars and clubs in Old Town, or in Södermalm.”
We knew it might not be what’s expected but we wanted to know what do people do when they are craving some down time on a beach? “Well, you can’t find a beach in Stockholm. Not really. People go out to the Archipelago during the summer.” There are daily ferries that drop you off at different islands all around the Archipelago so book a house for a weekend and spend some quality time on one of the thousands of islands there. “If you want to go down south, that’s where we do have some actual beaches. Tylöfand is really popular in the summer time, there are usually a lot of parties going on there.”
Although Edward does work at a restaurant in Stockholm he directed us to three different ones that he’d recommend for travelers seeking traditional Swedish foods. “Operakällaren (The Opera Cellar) is a classic restaurant in Stockholm that has stood the test of time. Sturehof also has some very good Swedish food also. Östra Station is also super old and has been voted Best in Europe- it isn’t as fancy as the other too but it still serves some delicious food.”
Filled with interesting information he told us that “Patricia is an awesome night club that is actually a boat” which is situated in the river that runs through Stockholm. “Every Sunday night is Gay and Lesbian night. Actually, it is pretty widely known in Stockholm that when Winston Churchill would visit Sweden he would come to Patricia every time.” “Tank is a gay bar with a pretty mixed clientele.” If you are coming to Sweden then make sure you check out the “Stockholm Pride, this year it’s in July and it can get pretty crazy.”
The Swedish Number is open to the world—anyone who calls the telephone number will be connected to a random Swede and have free reign to talk about anything from nature to politics to polar bears. Using Swedish citizens as ambassadors to answer the calls, the Swedish Tourist Association is aiming to introduce people to the true culture, nature and mindset of Sweden.
“In troubled times, many countries try and limit communication between people, but we want to do just the opposite. So instead, we are making Sweden the first country in the world with its own phone number and giving our fellow Swedes the opportunity to answer the calls, express themselves and share their views, whatever they might be,” said Magnus Ling, General Secretary & CEO of the Swedish Tourist Association. “In doing so we want to show the real Sweden: a unique country worth visiting with the right of public access, sustainable tourism, and a rich cultural heritage. With The Swedish Number, our goal is to create more pride and knowledge about Sweden, both nationally and internationally.”
How to Call The Swedish Number
The Swedish Number can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world by calling +46771 793 336 (+46771 Sweden). At TheSwedishNumber.com visitors can learn more about the initiative and see the latest statistics on number of calls.