All of June was terrible weather here in Sweden, freezing and lots of rain. But now, finally, we have had
great weather for a few days, temperatures close to 30°C and practically no wind - perfect summer weather in other words!
Now for me there are a few things that truly represent summer in Sweden. If i have not experienced these things during June, July or August here in Sweden, then it simply has not been a proper summer for me that year. Now I am happy to say that I have managed to experience most of these things this year. And of course I have had my camera ready to document them.
So below are a few momentous of my summer 2015 in Sweden.
Things that, for me, make summer in Sweden truly Swedish are:
Lots of sun.
Fresh Swedish strawberries with ice cream and whipped cream.
Lovely Diva (my sisters 10-year old beauty) playing around in, and cooling off in, the ocean.
This past Sunday was Le Grande Election Day here in Sweden. A day when we every fourth year vote for the party we want to rule our country for the next four years. I voted, of course. And this time the party I voted for got the majority of votes - yay! Which means that there has been a change of government this week here in Sweden.
Now what I was not that happy about with this election was that the party that got the third most votes was a nationalist party. Actually, I think that that is a quite embarrassing fact! Hopefully no other major party will collaborate with them, hence their power will not be that great after all. Other than that I was quite pleased with the outcome of the general election this time around.
To get an idea of how big our top three parties are I have put together a list of their vote count in percentages from this general election compared with their result in 2010. So the following numbers show the total vote count of the three biggest parties here in Sweden after the 2014 general election:
Social Democrats 31.01 percent, (+ 0.35 percent since the 2010 election)
Moderate Party 23.33 percent ( - 6.74 percent since the 2010 election)
Sweden Democrats 12.86 percent (+ 7.16 percent since the 2010 election)
And 85,81 percent of the Swedish population voted in this general election, an increase with 1.24 percent compared to the 2010 general election.
One of the most popular posts on this blog, where I continually get a lot of traffic to from search engines, is Food And Gas Prices In Sweden Today. And because I published that post about one year ago (on August 11, 2011) I thought it was time for a post with an update of the current food and gas prices in Sweden. So today I went to the local supermarket CityGross again here in Karlskrona in Sweden, the same supermarket I checked food prices in last year, to see if any food prices had changed since then - which they had. In fact, when I compared the same food items I checked last year with how much they cost today, most of them had become more expensive. However, some had also become cheaper.
The Swedish supermarket CityGross here in Karlskrona in Sweden, where I checked food prices today.
And the JET gas station here in Lyckeby in Sweden, where I checked today's gas prices.
Now the JET gas station is also the same gas station where I got my gas price information in last year's post. And, like most of the Swedish food prices, the gas price had also increased since last year. Though I do think gas has become more expensive all over the world, but I am not sure about food prices?
Anyway, below are the lists of the complete Update On Current Food And Gas Prices In Sweden today. The food prices are from well known Swedish and international brands, just like last year. And today's gas prices are gathered from the same sources as last year as well. The prices in the lists are listed in Swedish Kronas, SEK, and US Dollars, USD. Also, because of the slight change in the USD currency since last year the price increases and decreases look a bit different between SEK and USD.
Explanations: kg = kilograms, g = grams, (Swe) = Swedish origin, (-/+) = change since last year
Now the food items I have chosen here are some basic household items, which can of course be found cheaper - as well as more expensive, both in other supermarkets and in CityGross. It all depends on what type of quality of food you prefer to buy. But these prices are a kind of average, not the most expensive - but not the cheapest brands or meat either. The currency comparison is also just to give an idea of the prices in USD. So in case you are coming to Sweden for a visit and/or plan to buy groceries here, I hope this post gives an idea of how much food and gas cost in Sweden today. And hopefully it is not as expensive as Swedish prices are rumored to be. ;-)
Something I can certainly vouch for. In fact, I read in the news recently that in Sweden we eat about 11.5 liters of ice cream per person per year. Only Finns eat more ice cream than us in Europe. On the other hand, we only eat half as much ice cream as the Americans. Either way, I must admit that I can indeed relate to these statistics, because I do love ice cream! Especially during warm lovely summer days, like today. Which is why I, instead of lunch today, went into town here in Karlskrona and got in line to buy ice cream from our most popular ice cream shop here in Karlskrona in Sweden, Glassiären.
Here I am in line to buy ice cream at Glassiären today.
Now the ice cream shop Glassiären is only open during the summer season and is popular mainly because of the HUGE ice cream's they serve. One scoop there is actually about four scoops. Which is why you don't order "one scoop" but "one flavor" of ice cream.
The ice cream menu at Glassiären.
The ice cream flavors at Galssiären.
And my ice cream!!! Flavors I chose: salt licorice, caramel/marshmallow and pistachio, topped with soft ice cream. However, I did not eat that monster ice cream myself though. I shared it with my lovely mum. :p
I also thought I share a few other facts about Sweden and ice cream:
Sweden's first ice cream factory was founded in 1934 by the Milk Central in Stockholm. However, the big breakthrough for ice cream on a stick in Sweden came during the hot summer of 1955.
- The total Swedish ice cream sales were estimated to reach 97.9 million liters in 2010, according to Swedish Board of Agriculture.
- And below are stats over how much ice cream some other European countries eat every year. The stats are in terms of liters per capita per year (2009):
Now, it is a good thing for me that I have only started to work on my estimated ice cream quota per year. Because that means that I have many more delicious cold treats to look forward to devour this summer. Yuuuummm!!! I can't wait to continue to represent these statistics. :p
In this post I will write a bit about how the health care system in Sweden works. I will also give examples of how much it can cost to visit a doctor at a local health care clinic or hospital emergency room, buy medicine and other health care related costs.
Our local health care clinic, pharmacy and dental care clinic here in Lyckeby in Sweden.
Now the health care services in Sweden are mostly funded by county and local community taxes. So the fee we pay, for example, for a doctor's appointment is just a small part of what it actually costs. Each county in Sweden decides what fees to charge for the health care services it offers. But overall, most fees are quite similar in the different counties. The fees are also the same at the county's own health care clinics as they are at private clinics of which the county has an agreement with.
Furthermore, most counties offer free health care to children and adolescents up to their 19th birthday. But again, each county decides which age limit should apply for free health care in it. For example, in Örebro county the age limit for free health care is 25 years old, whereas in Stockholm county the age limit is 18. Örebro county also offers free contraceptives for everyone up to 25 years old.
Some other health care services that are always free, no matter where you live in Sweden or how old you are, are school health services and vaccinations offered at schools. Prenatal care and visits to maternity and child health care clinics are also free. As are health care and medication needed for treatment for a so-called public health hazard according to the Communicable Disease Act.
Examples Of Patient Fees For Adults In Sweden 2012
There are of course patient fees for most health care related visits and treatments in Sweden when you are an adult though. So below are some examples of how much it can cost for an adult to visit a doctor at a local health care clinic or emergency room at a hospital. The fees below apply for each county's own clinics and private clinics of which the county has an agreement with. Entirely private health care clinics may have different fees.
Prices are listed in Swedish Kronas, SEK, and US Dollars, USD.
Currency today: 1 USD = 7.1 SEK
- A doctor's appointment at a health care clinic costs about 150 - 250 SEK or21 - 35 USD.
- A visit to a hospital emergency room costs about 200 - 380 SEK or28 - 53 USD.
- Admission to a hospital costs a maximum of 80 SEK or11 USD per treatment day.
- Some counties charge a fee for transportation by ambulance or helicopter, whereas it is free in others.
- Mammography for early detection of breast cancer and smear examination of the cervix, a so called gynecological health control, can cost up to 200 SEK or 28 USD. But if you live in Stockholm for example, mammography is free if you have been called from the county for a check up.
- Some health care clinics reimburse the visit fee if you have had to wait a more than a certain amount of time from when you had your appointment. In Stockholm for example, the limit is 30 minutes.
High-Cost Protection And Free Pass
Although some health care is free, medicine prescribed during these visits are not. However, there is a limit for how much you will have to pay for prescribed medicine, health care, medical travels and technological tools per each twelve month period in Sweden. This is called the high-cost protection. Also here each county decides its ceiling costs, but they are roughly the same in all counties.
- For example, the high-cost protection for health care, medical care and some dental care is roughly 1100 SEK or154 USD per twelve month period. Which means that if your first doctor's appointment was on May 1st, 2012, and you reach 1100 SEK in medical care costs by September 1st, 2012, you will not have to pay for any more medical visits until after May 1st, 2013. You get a so called free pass for the rest of that twelve month period. This principal also apply to the other high-cost protection areas.
- The high-cost protection for medicine prescribed by doctors, nurses or other authorized health care personnel is roughly 2 200 SEK or308 USD per twelve month period. (Non prescription medicine is not included in high-cost protection.)
- The high-cost protection for medical travels is roughly 1400 SEK or196 USD per twelve month period. (Medical travels means trips between your home and a caregiver, such as physician, physiotherapist, dentist or counselor. All medical travel is based on a medical assessment. The health care provider decides if you qualify for medical travel.)
- The high-cost protection for technological tools is roughly 2000 SEK or280 USD.
Even though you cannot add medical care costs and prescription medicine costs under one high-cost protection area, children and adolescents who are under 18 years old and belong to the same family share high-cost protection. This means that the fees for all children in the family are counted under the same high-cost protection area. For example, if a family has three children and two have needed prescribed medicine where the cost adds up to more than 2000 SEK or 280 USD within a twelve month period, all three children will receive free prescribed medicine for the rest of that twelve month period.
Health Care For Foreign Citizens While Visiting Sweden
So I have written a bit about how the health care system works if you are a Swedish citizen, but of course foreign citizens are also entitled to emergency care in Sweden. However, not the same rules apply.
Although, if you come from another EU/EEA country and have a European Health Card, you pay the same fee for emergency and necessary care as citizens registered in the county you are visiting. Without a European Health Card, you pay the entire cost yourself. For instance, a visit to a doctor at a local health care center will cost about 1700 SEK or238 USD and a visit to an emergency room at a hospital will cost about 2100 SEK or294 USD in Sweden.
Also, Sweden has an agreement, a convention, with a number of countries and provinces outside the EU. So depending on which country and region you come from, different rules apply. Read more about which rules apply to you at -->vardguiden.
Now there are of course many more aspects to how the health care system in Sweden works, but my intention with this post was to give a rough idea of its basics. However, I feel that I should also mention that even though our health care system and patient fees are pretty affordable here in Sweden, there are constant discussions and debates regarding how well the Swedish health care system actually care for its patients. But that is an entirely different post. Either way, I do indeed appreciate the health care system we have here in Sweden - even though it might not be a perfect.
Ever since 1955 the only chain of stores in Sweden where you can buy alcohol exceeding 3,5% in alcoholic strength is Systembolaget. And it is definitely important to plan ahead if you want to buy alcohol in Sweden. Because Systembolaget has quite limited open hours.
For instance here in Lyckeby, where I live, Systembolaget is usually only open between 10am - 6 or 7pm during weekdays and 10am - 3pm on Saturdays. Always closed on Sundays all over Sweden.
Also you must be at least 20 years old to be able to buy alcoholic beverages exceeding 3,5% at Systembolaget. Even though the legal drinking age in Sweden is 18. And you are allowed to drink and buy all sorts of alcohol at pubs and restaurants from the age of 18. So a bit conflicting age rules I think.
Anyway, the initial idea for monopolizing the sale of alcohol in Sweden came about in the mid 1800s. The goal was to try and decrease the extensive use of liquor at this time. Which was a common cause for health and social problems in Sweden in the 1800s. So really, the very first attempt of alcohol monopoly in Sweden started in the mid 1800s. And it was a successful attempt. But it was not until 1955 that local companies came together and created the national company Systembolaget. A company and concept that has survived to this day.
So this is why we have alcohol monopoly in Sweden today. However, if it still works as intended. Well, that is an entirely different question...
I went to a local grocery store here in Sweden to check out what we actually pay for food in this country today. I also stopped by a local gas station to check out the current Swedish gas prices. Even though I don't really think too much about food and gas prices in Sweden on a daily basis, I do know that I always find it interesting to know what these things cost in other countries. So I took some photos and made some notes of how much food and gas costs in Sweden today.
Local grocery store in Karlskrona, Sweden. This is where I went to check out our current food prices.
Inside City Gross in Karlskrona, Sweden.
Below I have listed examples of prices for some common food items I found at City Gross. I chose to list food from well known Swedish and international brands. Prices are listed in Swedish Kronas, SEK, and US Dollars, USD.
Currency today: 1 USD = 6,5 SEK
Explanations: kg = kilograms g = grams (Swe) = Swedish origin
Local gas station in Lyckeby, Sweden. This is where I always get gas. :p
Currency today: 1 USD = 6,5 SEK
Type of gas
I personally think that food prices in Sweden are ok. Of course it always depends on what type of food you want to buy. I prefer to buy Swedish meat, organic if available. I also try to buy as much local and organic dairy, veggies and fruit as possible. But if you want to keep costs down, foreign meat and non-organic food is always cheaper. However there is not a whole lot one can do to find cheaper gas to buy... Not that I know of anyway. Hehe.
- Form of government in Sweden is constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
- The population of Sweden in 2010 was approximately 9.3 million.
- Sweden is one of the countries with the highest average life expectancy in the world. In 2010 the average life expectancy was; for men 79.1 years and women 83.2 years.
- Sweden has the highest number of McDonald's restaurants per person in Europe.
- The two most watched TV-shows in Sweden during 2010 were: Melodifestivalen - Swedish song contest. The singer who wins this contest represents Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest. Donald Duck "From All of Us to All of You". This cartoon first aired on Christmas Eve in Sweden 1960. And it has continually been one of the most watched TV-shows every year since then.
- Sweden hosted the Summer Olympics in 1912 and FIFA World Cup in 1958.
- The three most popular sports in Sweden are:
- Some Swedish inventions are:
The pacemaker - invented in 1958 by Rune Elmqvist.
The three-point seat belt - invented in 1959 by Nils Bohlin.
Tetra-Pak - invented in 1951 by Erik Wallenberg and his team.
The zipper - invented in 1913 by Gideon Sundbäck.
Dynamite - invented in 1866 by Alfred Nobel, who also instituted the Nobel Prizes.
Not even I knew all this before I did some research for this post, hehe. What really surprised me was the McDonald's thing. Yikes! And I didn't know that we had hosted the Summer Olympics either, cool. :-)
Sources: VisitSweden, DagensMedia, Wiki, SverigeTurism
I know that in many countries you can buy alcohol pretty much 24/7, but not in Sweden. So I thought I'd share how important it is to plan ahead if you want to buy alcohol in Sweden.
The only chain of stores in Sweden where you can buy alcohol exceeding3.5% in alcoholic strength is Systembolaget. Systembolaget is a state-owned company with monopoly to sell alcoholic beverages in Sweden. Systembolaget has limited open hours, closed Sundays, in some citys open on Saturdays until 1 or 3 pm and during weekdays usually open between 10 am - 6 pm. To buy alcoholic beverages exceeding 3.5% at Systembolaget you must be 20 years old. However you are allowed to buy all sorts of alcohol, and drink of course, at pubs and restaurants from the age of 18.
If you want to read more about the origin of our Systembolag and alcohol regulations, visit THIS LINK
The pics below are from Systembolaget closest to my home here in Lyckeby. I went there today to buy some beer for tonight, yum! I mean, it is Saturday after all :-)
And because alcohol is quite expensive in Sweden. Many Swedes, including me, love to take bus trips to Border shops in our lovely neighbour country Germany (where it's a lot cheaper). Below are some pics from such a trip me and my sister went on last year. The city we targeted was Puttgarden, Germany.
I'm curious, what do you think of our booze rules, hehe? And how does it work in your country? Are there any regulations regarding alcohol?
We have an election to Parliament on September 19 here in Sweden, which we have every fourth year. Now I know a lot of people prefer to keep their political opinions to themselves, as well as which party they vote for. That's fine with me and I respect that. I'm just not one of those people, LOL!
I don't mind sharing which party I vote for and why. I have the privilege and freedom to do so and I don't see any reason not to. That doesn't mean I am one of those people who bring up this topic, or very much enjoy discussing it, but if anyone asks - I tell.
I bet you want to know wich party I'm voting for this year...no? Yes? Well I'm going to tell you anyway. I'm voting for the Social Democrats’ (in Swedish - Socialdemokraterna). It's been a long time since just one party had a majority in our Parliament so the seven major parties have divided themselves into two blocks, the red block and the blue block. The red block is the one with the Social Democrats’, but the blue block are those who won the election last time. I'm hoping for a change this year. Unfortunately I'm not sure we'll get one, simply because the Social Democrats’ don't have a very strong leader...
Oh well, enough political chatter. I saw these signs when I was on my walk with Lisen today and they got me thinking about this.