I believe I first developed an interest in Scandinavia when I read that it was the happiest country in the world. Researching Denmark, I found that it had been the first nation in the world to introduce civil unions for the GLBT community in 1989. Progressive and charming, laden with history but at the cutting edge of design, architecture, fashion and many more, I fantasised about moving to Denmark permanently.
When I found that a Danish guy my age had joined my Facebook group 'I Love Postmodernism', I wasted no time in contacting him, and before I knew it, I had my first Danish friend. Rune (pronounced Roo-neh) was so polite, intelligent and on my wavelength that it wasn't long before I had convinced myself that I was totally in love. I would write to him often, doing my best to impress with my writing skills and worldliness. But the more I got to know him, it became apparent that we were just supposed to be good friends. Thus my 'perfect Danish romance-to-be' transformed into 'an interesting and lively friend who just happens to hail from Copenhagen.' ;o)
Not long after I met Rune, I got an email from a Swede called Bjorn who had read my blog and wanted to get in touch with me. We seemed to be uncannily well-matched in personality, and had an intense online relationship for about two weeks, agreed to meet in real life, and just as I was making plans to go to his hometown of Stockholm, his ex-girlfriend came back and he cheated on me. Distraught for a few days, I bounced back quickly and vowed to be more careful about who I gave my heart to. Bjorn looked rather unforthcoming in appearance, but there was a lot going on beneath the surface, and so I had caught a glimpse of some sort of Swedish psyche. Bjorn seems to have lost all interest in me as a friend now that we are no longer lovers, though I do occasionally wonder about him from time to time.
At around the same time, I discovered another Dane (yet again on a Facebook postmodern group, though not my own) with similar interests, and was slightly infatuated with Kaare for a while. With a PhD in Social Science, audacious good looks, pride towards his bi-ness and with a strong personality, he became a muse and part-time role model of mine. We chat from time to time about philosophy, travel and life in general. Life is never dull when Kaare is around, and maybe someday we will travel together.
The last Scandinavian friend I really got to know is Andy... he's a Swedish lover of postmodernism with eclectic interests - everything from Buddhism to comic books, James Joyce to August Strindberg. We have been getting to know each other more and more, and I put our compatibility down to us both being Scorpios, very progressive and skeptical of all authority. If I hadn't been so preoccupied by all the other Scandi men I probably would have fallen in love with him as well, lol.
Now, maybe I've met the four coolest individuals that Denmark and Sweden have to offer. But I doubt it - the more you look, the more you see. I bet that for every wonderfully open-minded, deeply perceptive, charmingly articulate, meticulously cultured and unmistakably warm Scandinavian I've met, there are hundreds more just waiting to be discovered...
So in about one month's time I'll be mingling with the acquaintances of Robyn, Aqua, Kierkegaard and ABBA, musing on Lego and Volvos, IKEA and hygge. I'll be checking out the anarchic Christiania in Copenhagen and the historic Gamla Stan (Old Town) district in Stockholm, delighting in the small town of Helsingor and the big city of Uppsala, home to one of Europe's best universities. Discovering a tiny nation alongside a pretty large one - even though they have almost the same number of people in them.
Rune and Andy are my tour guides, but I have researched all of my destinations carefully just in case they're not available all the time, and would feel comfortable sight-seeing on my own if our plans fell through. However it's a nice change to have two special individuals be my main attraction, and I look forward to meeting the people close to them.
After all, travel is at its most rewarding for me when I am able to make a deep and meaningful connection with a fellow human being. :o)