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Sweden: Country Number 90

I’ve now been to all of the Scandinavian countries.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden- Some countries I’m in for years. Some countries I’m in for days. While some countries I’m in for hours.

Country count isn’t about duration of stay, it’s just a measure of how many lands you’ve set foot in. If it means anything at all it’s just a show of how geographically dispersed your travels have been: i.e. someone who has visited 100 countries across all the continents is probably going to have a deeper picture of the world than someone who has spent years and years in a single region.

Country count is a collection, and collecting is just something that people like to do. We like to represent our existence, we like to quantify our experience, we like to compare swords at the great urine trough of travel.

***
I just entered Stockholm on a flight from Prague. It’s my first time in Sweden: country number 90.

We are on a 22 hour layover on our way to New York City, where we hope to set up a base of operations for a while. It was around 11 PM and we booked a cheapish hotel by the airport — the Good Morning Hotel — and tried to go to sleep. The midnight sun was shining through the windows — one of the experiences of Scandinavia in the summertime.

I laid in bed for a while. The last time I was in this region during the summer was Iceland in 2010. I tried to ride a pink bicycle around the country. It sucked so I didn’t make it very far. I just sort of camped out, spending many nights just hanging out in the midnight sun. There is something about it that makes you think deep about life, about the ephemeralness of it all and how none of it really matters. You’re born, you laugh, you die. And that’s okay.
***
If you get a round trip ticket into Stockholm from the airport on the bus you get a ten cent discount. No joke. Instead of paying $20 you pay something like $19.90. Thanks, Sweden. Much appreciated.

***
The historic part of Stockholm has been refurbished as a Disney-esque tourism zone. It’s not a place for real culture, everything is set up for visitors to spend elevated amounts of money for things that look, feel, and taste “Swedish.” It’s real but a stage set as well, the inauthentic authentic — places trying so hard to be what they think they are that they become something totally different.

No big deal, these zones are all over Europe still pretty to walk around.
***
It’s true:

***
Unisex public toilets

I took my daughter into the public toilets in Stockholm central and found myself confused? Where’s the ladies room? What one is the men’s … The tide of all sexes and genders are going to the same place. There is only one bathroom.

Basically, rather than having a men’s room and a women’s room they just had one large restrooms with door-ed stalls around the walls and an array of sinks in the center.

No big deal … male bathrooms in Asia are often cleaned by women and while the men are using it — I once had an older Thai woman cleaning something at my feet as I used the urinal. But what was interesting was the inefficient use of space. Without urinals, which can be crammed close together, it meant that everyone had to use a stall, which takes significantly more space and water.

But I suppose Sweden has an excess of both … and a lack of people. I’m not in Asia anymore.

Filed under: Sweden, Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3546 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Astoria, New York

23 comments… add one

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  • Rob July 13, 2019, 11:48 pm

    90 Countries, congradulations!

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    • Wade Shepard July 14, 2019, 10:37 am

      Thank you!

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  • Trevor July 14, 2019, 4:04 am

    Good job. Im on 90 too.;))
    2 more coming in September!!

    Norway was my first Scandinavian hit. Finland the last.;))

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    • Wade Shepard July 14, 2019, 10:37 am

      I know! I originally had “Take that Trevor!” in the headline for this one haha.

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      • Trevor July 15, 2019, 12:46 pm

        Are you going to PNG or was that just a quote??

        Then ull have to put something in the sub headline….

        Whos gonna get to 91 first??

        Bigger Q is, who is gonna get to 100. 100 is looming. And fast…

        An aussie guy i know who has 196/197 said he” ll join me in my 100th (algeria for him… in October is 197th)

        mrp is on 130+ (😣😣)

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        • Wade Shepard July 15, 2019, 2:27 pm

          That was a travel question from someone else.

          It’s a race to 100! You’re on.

          But you could get a good head start on me because I’m not going to be able to move until September!

          Man, 190-something countries! That’s remarkable. 50 is easy. 100 takes perseverance. 150 is challenging. 200 is insane!

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          • Trevor July 15, 2019, 2:46 pm

            im not going any where til September 23 that ll be 91st 92nd will come september 28th +/- then i gotta wait til Jan. assuming i quit then u have ooodles of time to gain a few… then, ill be on a roll… cos ull be working and illl be free again… 👀👣👣🙈🙈

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            • Wade Shepard July 15, 2019, 6:00 pm

              So it’s I that has the head start. Watch out!

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              • Trevor July 16, 2019, 9:43 am

                u can get oodles of countries if u DO Africa….. and if i DID South and or Central America, I can get oodles too

                re an old post of urs.. re doing people and not doing countries

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                • Wade Shepard July 16, 2019, 10:54 am

                  Or the Caribbean! There’s like a million countries that nobody has ever heard of there. You could just hop from island to island all the way down to South America and tack on 20+ countries.

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                  • Wade Shepard July 16, 2019, 10:54 am

                    Shit! I gave away my strategy.

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                    • Trevor July 16, 2019, 11:48 am

                      yeah cos i see u have so much red (un visited as yet) on ur map…. u need a UN map…

                      https://www.nomadicbackpacker.com/blog/map-of-un-member-states-visited

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                    • Wade Shepard July 16, 2019, 12:43 pm

                      Oh man, UN country count. Now that’s controversial. We don’t really have a definition of what constitutes a country. For example, Taiwan isn’t included in the UN count even though it has its own government (the previous government of all of China), controls its own borders, and has its own immigration / customs regime. If it’s not a country then I don’t know what is … which is the problem: nobody knows. I follow the “if it seems like a country I call it a country” rule of thumb.

                      But, you’re right, using the UN map would give me a bunch more green!

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  • Trevor July 16, 2019, 2:30 pm

    if only talking about UN memeber states… the 193 it lists as fully fledged members.. im on 84..

    6 that i add are for my COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES count, HK, Taiwan, Abkhazia, Transnistria, Nagorno Karabakh and Western Sahara (it’s on the FCO.UK list)

    and by my rules, i gotta over night in country.. ;)))

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    • Wade Shepard July 16, 2019, 4:35 pm

      I’d count those too. F the UN and their political BS. Gotta overnight? Why? If you’re in you’re in. Also, you gotta count the UK. Just because you were squirted out there don’t mean you can’t travel there. So you’re at 91 (at least) by my count. Ahead of me!

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      • Trevor July 17, 2019, 12:26 pm

        I’d have to inc Wales, Scotland AND England and have been all over, all 3….. shamefully i never been to N. Ireland.. yet

        been in Palestine and Lichtenstein too…

        re UN… well there are so many lists…. my list, ur list, my rules, ur rules.. UN list, NATO list, FIFA list, FCO list travellers club list and so it goes on…

        re sleeping…. they r my rules…. simply so…

        those that bag countries….. u can go from… Stranraer -Belfast-Dublin- Holyhead-Dover-Calais-Brussels in a 24 hr period…. lol

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        • Wade Shepard July 17, 2019, 3:35 pm

          All kinds of lists and rules! I guess you just have to make up your own…that’s what everyone else is doing.

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          • Trevor July 18, 2019, 8:11 am

            so where is ur next up and coming country?

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            • Wade Shepard July 18, 2019, 5:05 pm

              Don’t know yet. Maybe Uzbekistan.

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              • Trevor July 19, 2019, 11:11 am

                Awesome… have you been in Turkmenistan?

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                • Wade Shepard July 19, 2019, 5:06 pm

                  No, not yet. Have you?

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                  • Trevor July 27, 2019, 3:25 pm

                    No. but its on my list lol…

                    actually its not on my list… the gates of hell would be cool but the visa situation is/was crap.. South Ossetia has more draw …

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                    • Wade Shepard July 27, 2019, 5:22 pm

                      That’s true!

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