Skip navigation
text size: default | enlarged——servicing readers in 130 plus countries——110 free stories
Genre: Travel
Back to Previous Page Review This Story Share This Story

Sweden's Kust Linjen, The Coast Line

By: Sandra Smith

I am staying in southeastern Sweden for three weeks with my daughter-in-law, Katarina, her parents, Berith and Klas and my grandson. It is nice to get to know this country and the language which will be baby Kalle's "lingua materna." Staying with the family allows this budget traveller to explore the area by day and get to know our extended family better.

Upon arrival in Norrköping I visited the bus information in the Resecentrum, the travel center. You find centralized stations with trains and busses in most towns here. Tourist information is always available in English. Their sign is a lower case i. I bought a ticket good for 2 months on all public transit in the region for about $120. Schedules for the express bus, train and local bus are available in print or on the internet: Travel Schedules. My confidence in exploring is bolstered by communication. Most people I have encountered speak English.

For planning long distance travel in Europe I like to visit: Rail Europe. Seat reservations are usually needed on intercity trains but my local travel requires no advance reservations. On a previous trip I bought the ScanRail Pass in the United States and booked all my seat and sleeper reservations for Sweden, Norway and Denmark at Stockholm's convenient Central Station.

Today's trip is to the Kinda region, a popular vacation region in southeast Sweden. There I see small towns, granite boulders, lakes, camping and signs advertising fishing, boating and cycling. The train crosses and parallels the Kinda Canal. With luck and good weather I will return to this area and ride the canal boat.

A 40 minute train ride on a cushy seat with a table to write on and I'm in Kisa. It's a small town with everything a day-tripper could want: a deep blue sky dotted with white clouds, a market, and a cup of rhubarb cream tea at an outdoor café. The market is held on Wednesday and Friday and there are children performing this Friday on the square. Drawn to the singing, I happened onto the town's modern library. An hour later I had chatted by email with some friends and read an English language magazine about America's tourist invasion of Europe. They aren't in Kisa.

My travel pass is also valid on busses and I decide to do more sightseeing. A van runs the bus route out to Björkfors east of Kisa. There is time to do the round trip and enjoy the scenic ride before returning to Norrköping by train. I have chosen this particular route based on the map's promise of many lakes along the route. A friendly passenger directs me to points of interest on the ride. The trip doesn't disappoint at all and I even discover a youth hostel in Björkfors in case a return trip brings me this way again.

Back to Kisa, a stop for tea and a visit to the Emigrant Museum and I am ready to catch my train north again. I have learned that Sweden's first emigrants to the U.S.A. were from Kisa and settled in Iowa.

Often when I travel I see the original version of some aspect of America, brought by some of the enormous variety of people who make up the American Salad Bowl. (I prefer this metaphor to a Melting Pot because in a salad each element maintains its individual flavor while contributing to the whole.) Here in Sweden I see the roots of America's farms. Our barns tend to be smaller but much the same in design and painted the red color which has traditionally been used here. The pastoral scene from my coast-bound train could just as easily be seen from an Amtrak window in Iowa. Norrköping's textile factories remind me of Lowell Massachusetts.

The fruits of prosperity are different here though. In Sweden there is affordable health care for all. New mothers receive 80% of their wages to stay home with their babies for a year and either of the parents may extend that for an additional 6 months. Everyone who reaches pension age receives enough to live frugally. Workers who retire receive an additional pension. University is free with the student paying only for books. Gasoline is expensive (I estimate it at about $5.60 per gallon now) but an excellent rail and bus network reaches every town and village with comfortable reliable service. You can set your watch as the train pulls out. I will soon be home for dinner with the family and an enjoyable evening with my grandson before I plan tomorrow's travel adventure.

To top of page