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594 travelers at this place:

  • Day21

    On checking at Munich Central Station, I was advised that there were no 2 or 4 berth sleepers available. All I could get was a couchette in a 6 berth compartment. The thought of sharing a small compartment with 5 big Germans full of the joys after their World Cup match win did not appeal, but it was either that or sleeping in a train seat. I was pleasantly surprised therefore on boarding the 22.52 Nightjet train to be told by the attendant that, because of a mix up over booking, I had a 6 berth compartment all to myself - ya dancer!

    I enjoyed a good night’s sleep in my couchette compartment, as we thundered through the night from Bavaria in south Germany to Hamburg in the north. ‘Thundering through the night’ was an expression my good friend Jean McCormack used whenever we were driving in the dark, and she used to say it followed by a girlish giggle. She was a bit eccentric at times, but I still miss her.

    The attendant brought a welcome simple breakfast of coffee, crispy rolls and butter and jam. We arrived at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof exactly on schedule, and I was in ample time to make my next connection to Copenhagen. Similar to my experience in Sicily (which now seems ages ago), the train actually rolls onto the ferry at Puttgarden, Germany and crosses to Roedby, Denmark in 45 minutes. Another exciting experience. Everyone had to leave the train for security reasons. This time however the ferry was much more upmarket, with restaurants, bars and duty free. Elegant, blonde Scandinavians sat on deck and opened their neatly packed Ikea lunch boxes nibbling at carrot batons and the like, while I tucked into my grilled sausage on a bread roll with potato salad and lashings of ketchup and mustard - yecannaewhackit.

    An hour was all I had in Copenhagen before catching my next connection to Gothenburg. However I did manage to see some of the Tivoli Garden rides from the station platform. Some passengers passing through Copenhagen obviously had not changed any currency into Danish Kroner and were stumped at the entrance of the pay-as-you-enter loo. ‘It’s ok’ announced the efficient lavatory attendant ‘we take the credit card’. Well, I know Scandinavia is expensive, but who’d have thought you needed a credit card to spend a penny. I just hope it was Contactless for hygiene reasons.

    Less than half an hour after we left that Wonderful, Wonderful city, we were crossing the famous Oresund Bridge, at almost 5 miles long the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. I was particularly excited as the Oresund Bridge was the setting for the Nordic noir TV series The Bridge. (I meant to say that Split, Croatia was boasting it was one of the main locations for Game of Thrones, but I don’t watch that). A couple across from me, who were not in their first flush of youth, were very lovey dovey, and were constantly taking photos of each other on their mobiles with the bridge as a backdrop. I asked if they would like me to take a photo of them both, to which they reddened and explained that they shouldn’t be seen together. I decided not to press the matter further.

    Most of the trains I have been on have been very busy, and I was glad I had purchased a 1st Class ticket, as you were always guaranteed a seat, and sometimes extras like power sockets, free WiFi and refreshments. It was another sunny day as the railway hugged the coast as we sped up the Kattegat. On arrival at Gothenburg, I checked into the charming Hotel Royal, the oldest hotel in Gothenburg and family run. Complimentary coffee and cake was available in the foyer - a nice touch and very welcome.

    Had a nice walk about the city in the evening sunshine. It’s been many years since I was last here, and the place has changed quite a bit. A lot of folk were watching the World Cup on big screens. As I am only in Sweden for one night, I had brought some notes I had at home from my last visit, only to be told that they had been withdrawn last year! I therefore had to withdraw some cash from an ATM. When I tried to buy a bottle of water to get some change for the tram, I was told the shop did not accept cash. Swedish people pay everything by card I was told. Ah well, you live and learn…
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  • Day335

    Arriving in Sweden! Country #9

    May 27, 2017 in Sweden

    Today was Day 7 of our big trip to Sweden and there were 403km left to Gothenburg. The sun rose early and the day grew hot quickly. Fortunately the blown air in the van provided relief once we got going.

    We skirted around Copenhagen, through the 4km Drogden tunnel under the sea, surfacing at the artificial island of Peberholm before climbing up on to the 7.8km long Øresund Bridge, the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. Funnily enough it is a lot shorter than the 18km road bridge we took yesterday, but it was still a cool experience, especially when we entered Sweden while still on the bridge! It was one we payed for, the toll being 720DKK or £90!

    Sweden is the 9th country we plan to tour. There were a few changes we noticed when driving along the motorway; the different road signs, the many red painted barns and a few red houses sitting on the edge of fields, we even saw a couple of classic wooden windmills.

    Denmark's motorway rest areas had been relatively frequent and well layed out with good facilities. It seemed a long time before we came accross one one in Sweden and when we did it was packed. There weren't any van services as there had been in Denmark and there weren't many marked bays, so people made up their own system (to give them credit it was a sensible one). Picnic tables had been provided, but there was a lot of noise from engines and people shouting to make themselves heard. The area looked grimy with litter so we stayed in to eat lunch.

    We saw a few IKEAs and there were a lot of McDonalds, KFCs and Burger Kings along the way. We'd been worried about the cost of living in Sweden so were pleased to find a Lidl and to discover that the prices weren't too exorbitant.

    There is often a lot to take in when entering a new country and our Lidl shop was our first experience of brushing shoulders with the Swedes. Many seemed taller than we were used to and it was a very quiet atmosphere.

    There was beer, but no wine or spirits; these are only sold at government-run shops. All the cans and bottles had deposits included in the price and there were machines where you could return them at the entrance. Alongside the beer, which was all under 3.5%, there were energy drinks, with signs telling us that only those of 15 years or older could by them. The cigarettes in the cabinet by the checkout had a minimum purchase age of 25.

    Country specific products included giant circular crispbreads and pitta-like breads packaged up and sold as an ordinary loaf. Something we've not seen in Lidl in any other country was a sweety pic'n'mix counter! It brought back memories of the Woolworths shop at our summer holiday destination in the 1980s and 90s, Stranraer in SW Scotland.

    We found home for the night at an elongated car park, quite near the road and some woods in Ängelholm. We'd done 166km but felt shattered.
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  • Day362

    Poppy reached 100 human equivalent years old today! We let her have a lie in before taking her for a sniff in the forest and giving her a special pouch of jellied dog food for breakfast. We are so happy she's been able to spend nearly a year with us on our travels!

    We'd booked a pitch at Gällivare Camping online a week ago with the hope of being close to a town for Midsummer festivities (Swedes celebrate on the Friday and Saturday after the solstice).

    Upon entering the Reception, Vicky asked the attendant 'Talar du Engelska?' (do you speak English) as she never likes to presume. 'What!?' Came the unamused and brusque reply. It was as if the question was an insult. Despite this poor start we booked in successfully and were directed to the allocated area on a detailed but easy to read map. We'd opted not to have electric hookup and were pleased to see we got a grassy area amongst mature pines overlooking the river, all to ourselves as a result. The dozen or so vans who were plugged in where further back and had gravel pitches.

    As with most places in Sweden, the site was quiet. There were several fire pits with benches and chopped wood provided. A play park kept children from the town of Gälivare amused and there were facilities for badminton, boules and mini golf. A few of the red painted wooden board cabins were being used, but considering it was a celebratory weekend, the site couldn't be described as busy.

    Unfortunately Vicky's lethargy had resurfaced so there was a limited amount we could do as far as exploring and celebrations were concerned.
    Will picked her some flowers and bendy branches with glossy green leaves. He then went to look around the local area while Vicky made the flora into a midsummer garland.

    Adjacent to the campsite was a 'Sami Camp', a collection of houses used by the indigenous Scandinavian people. Most of the window shutters were closed but there had been a recent large bonfire and a Maypole stood close by, covered in Birch cuttings, yellow Globeflowers, Red Campion and a few other wild blooms.

    We'd hoped to make use of the little Sauna rooms (men's and women's) that were inclusive in the price of the stay, but neither of us could figure out how to get them working. It was only as we were leaving and therefore too late, that Will discovered the secret of pouring water over the stones. We had seen less of the midsummer celebrations than we'd hoped but things don't always work out. We had a lovely peaceful stay at the site and by the time we left Vicky was beginning to get a lot better.
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  • Day344

    The last day of Sue & John's visit was here, the sun was shining and we wanted to make the most of the short time left together. Gothenburg has a good tram system and a line ran close to where we were parked, through to their hotel. Unfortunately we spent almost the entire journey trying to get the ticket machine to accept our bank cards because it didn't take cash!

    Making our way to the Trädgårdsföreningen park we passed yet more students celebrating their graduation, dressed smartly and in high spirits, blowing horns and whistles. Once in the park we followed the river and came to a rose garden and cafe. Wooden chairs and tables were set up amongst the flowers, sparrows and ducks hopping and waddling close by in hope of crumbs. It was a peaceful place to spend 20minutes with a drink and a cake.

    Close by were the glasshouses, with yet more tables and chairs beside the exotic palms, mosses and climbers. People had brought a packed lunch or a book and were able to take time out and relax in the warm for free. What a fantastic facility! For us however, time was ticking on, so we marched off towards our next port of call; the Fish Church. This fish market by the river is so called because of its close resemblance to a place of worship (see photo). On our way we were approached by a guy with a packed lunch in hand, wanting to ask us a question. Considering the number of street sellers we've encountered, using a range of different techniques we were wary to begin with but he said he thought we'd been emailing him and introduced himself as Jandi, a coordinator of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in Sweden. We have signed up to stay and work at a farm at the end of August, via this organisation which is based in Gothenburg. Jandi had been eating lunch on the riverside when he'd seen us pass by and recognised us from our profile photo!

    Our last sight to see was a hill top fort, we didn't get time to climb up to it and explore but we got to see it in all its glory from the street below. The fort may have been built to defend the town from invaders, but the locals couldn't have been more helpful to us foreigners, with two different people asking if we needed help or directions (in English) when we weren't looking sure where we were going.

    To minimise the risk of any delay getting to the airport we drove out of the city to a lakeside layby Will had found on Park4Night. We loaded up one of the stone tables with food and enjoyed a last picnic with Poppy in the sun and wind before laying back on a wooden jetty being gently rocked by the waves.

    The time had finally come to say goodbye to Sue and John. We'd been looking forward to their visit since they booked it back in October and it certainly hadn't disappointed. Being just 3 nights we had managed to pack the time full of activities without ending up exhausted. It had been wonderful spending time with family and we were a little tearful when we left them at the airport, but we kept in mind that we were well and truly past the half way point of our first stint living on the continent and only had 5 and a half months to go before we would return to the UK and see lots of people back home!
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  • Day359

    The Arctic Circle!

    June 20, 2017 in Sweden

    It was the day before midsummer and we were looking forward to crossing the Artic Circle! Sweden is so vast and sparsely populated that the road network is very spread out, meaning there weren't many opportunities for Vicky to take a wrong turning! We therefore set the sat nav to display the coordinates of our position and continued North West on the 97 towards Jokkmokk, watching the longitude count up the degrees and minutes.

    The Arctic Circle, the southernmost latitude from where the midnight sun can be seen on the summer solstice, moves north and south in an oscillation that is 180km wide and lasts 40,000 years. There is a shorter oscillation too and both are controlled by the gravitational pulls of the sun, moon and planets. The line is currently on a northwards track at 66°33.778'.

    At the midpoint of the large oscillation we pulled into a rest area that had a sign and information. Flagpoles stood along the line and darker flagstones ran through a modern looking, wooden pyramidal shelter to mark it out. We'd been planning and looking forward to visiting the Arctic for years so were very excited! Our mental health is something we both need to actively manage and at exciting times like these we both need to keep an awareness of Will's bipolar, assessing whether his high is a direct result of what is happening and within reasonable limits or whether it has escalated. We thought there was no better way to show this in photos than Will standing across the polar line. We feel very glad that since we've been travelling, it has been easier to spot early warning signs and therefore manage our mental health effectively.

    Several other vans used the rest area while we were parked (they make up a significant proportion of vehicles on the road up here). We talked to a Norwegian couple who lived near Nordkapp, one of the most northerly points in Europe. They said Spring had been late this year and the snow had only just melted from the lowlands, although it was still on the mountains. Talking of snow, the temperature had turned perceptibly colder, so we lunched inside the van before driving on and crossing the current line of longitude into the Arctic!
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  • Day417

    Today we said goodbye to Norway and hello again to Sweden, where we plan to spend the next month. We were sad to leave the beautiful country that had become our favourite of the tour so far, but Sweden is by no means unscenic and it soon began to work charms on us, lifting our mood. The low lying land held so many accessible lakes barely hidden behind curtains of forest.

    We'd been gradually running down our supplies of food in the extremely expensive Norway, so one of our first jobs was to visit a supermarket. A lesson constantly being reinforced as we travel, is how much our opinions are based on context. Coming from the UK, you wouldn't think food in Sweden was particularly cheap, but coming from Norway, we were elated to once again walk around the shop without feeling we were walking on eggshells (that we couldn't afford)!

    The last time we were in Sweden we'd stayed next to Vättern; the 2nd largest lake. This time, Will had found a spot on the north shore of Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden and the EU. It is also the third largest lake in Europe with an area of 5,650 square kilometres. We approached it via the large town of Karlstad, but soon left the urban streets and came to a single track gravel road that wound round tall pines and past pretty wooden holiday homes. Reaching the lake, we saw a few small timber piers with wooden or plastic boats moored to them. To our relief we found a clearing large enough to park a few cars and the van at the end. It was a gorgeous glade, protected from the wind and waves by a headland, with an area specifically allocated for swimming. Lichens, berry bushes and heathers grew under the trees and tall green reeds swayed in the shallows. Vicky and Poppy paddled while Will got out the snorkel, fins and mask.

    We stayed 2 nights so had plenty of time the following day to take the canoe out. The weather was just right; dry, not too hot and not too cold. We paddled over to a nearby uninhabited island, pulled the boat on shore and clambered up the slippy rocks to a spongy surface of deep light green lichen and heather, where we found a couple of large stones to perch on and have a picnic. We stayed well clear of the vast expanse of open water because the wind had whipped up whitecaps that we didn't want to mess with. Instead we explored the shoreline within our cove, protected by a few islands, a headland and some handy rocks. There were many wooden holiday chalets that looked as if they were owned by individuals as opposed to a rental company. Some had pipes pumping water from the lake and all had outdoor decking to sit and take in the fresh air and scenery. The area was obviously well used and lots of small boats were stationed on the rocks or in the reeds.

    Will dropped Vicky back then spent a happy few hours fishing from the canoe without a single bite. Sweden does not require you to have a license to fish on its five largest lakes. In the evening the sun was casting a warm glow on the water and we both made use of the swimming area. It was a little chilly for Vicky to start with but once we acclimatised the water felt glorious. Afterwards, it was warm enough to lay out and air dry on the smooth rocks that had spent all day absorbing the sun's heat. Perfect!
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  • Day421

    Arriving to WWOOF at Jan-ols Gården

    August 21, 2017 in Sweden

    We drove the short distance between our stopover and the farm that would be our home for the next two weeks. Jan-ols Gården was reached via a gravel track off the main road. We parked beside the riding school ring and jumped out to meet Mikaela who was there to greet us. Walking up to the house there was a field of small ponies on our right and a field with the larger ponies and horses on our left. The goats were in their field at the bottom of the hill.

    We met Salomé then Mikael, both WWOOFers from France who had been at Jan-ols Gården for a number of weeks (Mikael was on his second placement there). In the house we were introduced to Tobbe, Mikaela's partner, their Saluki Charlie and Afghan Hound Howie. We later met Olivia, (Tobbe's daughter) and the two house cats, one of which was an extremely affectionate Rag Doll called Luva. Vicky felt wonderful being around so many animals and Will loved having new people to chat to!

    That afternoon we drove the short way to Olivia's house that the family was in the process of renovating to make it fit to live in. Poppy sat out under the shade of a tree while we shifted a huge pile of branches and small trees and created a stack ready for a bonfire. We enjoyed the work until near the end when we discovered 2 Adders who appeared to have made a home out of our assigned project! We switched to removing the electric fence from the posts surrounding the field and returned, hoping they'd moved house!

    After a while Tobbe's parents came over and introduced themselves, before picking a bucket of rasberries for the family and WWOOFers. They chatted with us for a while, with Tobbe's Dad Roger, using 'Svenglish' (a cross between Swedish and English!) We enjoyed feeling part of a team again.

    We returned to the farm in the afternoon and ate lunch in a relaxed and jovial atmosphere. Later we walked back to Olivia's house and finished shifting the wood and dismantling the electric fence so that a sturdy wire mesh could be erected to protect the goats from wolves roaming the surrounding forest.

    Back at the farm we put the goats on leads and led them from the field to the stable. When we say we 'led' the goats, what we actually did was to hang on to their leads while they pulled us towards any tasty looking foliage. They were a lot stronger than expected and we sometimes felt we were being drawn and quartered, but it was lots of fun, especially when the kids came running in after them and we had to round up the stragglers by picking up the little balls of soft fur and carrying them in!

    Around 9:30pm the 6 of us shared a meal of pasta bolognaise in the large country kitchen and dining room before returning to the stables, giving the goats more warm water and carrying the kids to their separate pen with a bag of hay for the night, so the nannies would be ready for milking in the morning.
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  • Day442

    Långasjön Lake badplass

    September 11, 2017 in Sweden

    We tried not to travel too far today because we didn't want to find ourselves at the ferry crossing to Denmark. We had a small breakfast because we knew we'd soon pass through the town of Jönköping and planned to have a Max burger for lunch. Every country we have visited so far has had MacDonalds and Burger King outlets. When we entered Sweden, we saw that they had competition - Max! We've avoided these international burger retailers for years but Max seemed to be a uniquely Swedish experience and so we decided to dip our toes in and try it. Handily there was a menu board outside so we knew what we wanted by the time we got in. Many of the options had a strange mix of English and Swedish; 'Lyxshake' for example. Vicky ordered in Swedish and was pleasantly surprised when the person taking the order replied in Swedish (normally people decide that our grasp of their language is so poor that it will be easier for everyone if they use English). In fact, the whole conversation was carried out in Swedish, Vicky using her intuition over linguistic expertise to work out what was being asked. What's more, we got what we wanted without pointing - result! We took our tray of two burgers, fries and milkshakes to a high, wipe-clean table that hadn't been wiped clean and sat with them under the glow of a light shaded by a large dome of orange perspex that Will hit his head on. The food was ok, the fries cut from potato with the skin intact at either end but our tongues tingled from the sugar and presevatives. We are glad we tried it once, even at i er £10 each, but this Max experience wouldn't be changing our habit of avoiding these type of food retailers.

    Moving on, we ended up at the end of a gravel track in a wonderful pine forest grove on the sandy shore of Långasjön lake. There was another van and caravan there when we arrived and a few cars came and went, but we were by ourselves in the peace and quiet most of the time. There was a compost toilet, bin, one of the flat bottomed rescue boats and a ladder as we've often seen in places up here where the water is likely to freeze over. A wooden jetty had been hauled on shore now that the summer had passed. Unlike the expansive Lake Vättern, we could see accross to the opposite shore of 'Long Lake' and on the first morning we took a walk along the soft narrow woodland path that skirted the bank. The wind that swayed the tops of the tall pines was strong but not cold. Will took our mushroom book with him and began to identify some of the many funghi that had sprung up. There were lots of a big brown sort that was deadly poisonous but we couldn't find any chanterelles to forage. We suppose the more experienced locals had already collected the most obvious ones. There were however still many billberries and lingonberries in some parts of the forest and after Will had picked a bowl full, he boiled them up and made a jar of jam!
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  • Day336

    Exploring Ängelholm

    May 28, 2017 in Sweden

    There is a video of us exploring Ängelholm on VnW Travels' YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/f-SiioONtSw

    There were just 225km between us and Gothenburg so we decided to give ourselves a break and stay 2 nights at Ängelholm. The afternoon we arrived was warm, so we set out walking along the well signed trails through the woods to the beach. The sun filtered between the tall tree trunks and full foliage. Tiny white, star shaped flowers sprinkled the floor which was soft and springy with fallen needles. The gentle smell of the pines infused the air but there was a good mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. The only downside were the mosquitos who bit us if we stayed still for more than a few seconds! After about half an hour the path became considerably sandier and we emerged to low dunes covered with spiky marram grass. Down some wooden stairs and we were on the beautiful sandy beach, scattered with sun bleached shells. The water was clear and there wasn't even a hint of the smell of rotting weed this time. Will enjoyed his swim and Vicky had a good paddle. Evening was coming on so instead of braving the mosquitos in the woods we made our way back along the beach and up the quiet road. We even saw a slow worm slithering away at the side of the pavement and a red squirrel scampering along low branches, just a few meters from us, its rich rust coloured coat almost glowing in the evening light.

    The following day we took the tandem along the cycle tracks to Ängelholm. It was a good sized town but we again noticed that quiet atmosphere we'd picked up on when shopping yesterday. There was a feeling of space with a pedestrianised central area and while there were a few decorative touches, such as a fountain, planters with yellow and orange pansies and a small town park on the outskirts, you got the sense things had been designed with practicality and purpose in mind. We didn't need anything but we took a look round the government-run off licence, the only place allowed to sell alcohol stronger than beer. The drinks were nicely set out and every one displayed their country of origin. The cheapest wine we could find was £6 a bottle so we were very glad Will had cut down significantly on his weekly intake!
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  • Day338

    Vistorp's Harbour

    May 30, 2017 in Sweden

    It was a short hop to Vistorp's Harbour where we were able to stay in the car park of a Nature Reserve (for a maximum of 24 hours). We could see why this restriction was in place; it was very close to a sandy beach and the low dunes had a stark beauty to them. Shrub roses were dotted with large bright pink flowers, paler pink Thrift grew in drifts and the Wild Pansies were so small you could only see them if you stopped and looked. Close up, the colours of the flowers stood out intensely against the washed out sand and grasses in this harsh environment.

    There were only a few boats moored in the small harbour, where the smell of the sea was once again strong! The temperature had cooled so Will opted to sit on the end of the boardwalk and fish. We had a wander through the reserve where there were a few holiday homes and a couple of tasteful beach huts. At the next car park along there were well kept toilets and Will was able to empty our cassette.

    In the afternoon the sky turned a dark grey and the rain came on and off. It felt more like the sort of holidays we were used to in Scotland and we were quite happy watching the wildlife from inside the comfort of the van. We even spotted a Great Grey Shrike, a small bird we weren't familiar with but that seemed friendly as it perched on a rock to check us out!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Kingdom of Sweden, Schweden, Sweden, Swede, ስዊድን, Suecia, Swēoland, السويد, ܣܘܝܕ, İsveç, Schwedn, Швецыя, Швеция, Suwɛdi, সুইডেন, ཧྲུའི་ཏན།, Sveden, Švedska, Suècia, Svezia, Švédsko, Szwedzkô, Швеци, Sverige, སུའི་ཌན, Sweden nutome, Σουηδία, Svedio, Rootsi, Suedia, سوئد, Suweed, Ruotsi, Svøríki, Suède, An tSualainn, સ્વીડન, Suwedan, שוודיה, स्वीडन, Šwedska, Syèd, Svédország, Շվեդիա, Svedia, Swedia, Suesia, Svíþjóð, スウェーデン王国, შვეცია, Uswidi, ស៊ុយអែដ, ಸ್ವೀಡನ್, 스웨덴, سوید, Swedherwyk, Swideni, Zwede, Swédɛ, ສະວິເດັນ, Švedija, Suwedi, Zviedrija, Soedy, Шведска, സ്വീഡന്‍, Żvezja, ဆွီဒင်, Widen, स्विडेन, Zweden, Ruoččii, ସ୍ୱେଡେନ୍, Szwecja, Svessia, سویډن, Suécia, Suwidsuyu, Isvetzia, Svezzia, Swaden, Ruoŧŧa, Suêde, ස්වීඩනය, Iswidhan, Suedi, ஸ்வீடன், స్వీడన్, Шветсия, สวีเดน, Suwesya, Suēteni, Suwidan, Швеція, سویڈن, Svèsia, Thụy Điển, Svedän, שוועדן, Orílẹ́ède Swidini, 瑞典, i-Sweden

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