Close to 3,000 Americans per year choose to combine getting a new car with the adventure of a lifetime; they travel to Scandinavia to pick up their new car at the Volvo factory in Göteborg. The car brand offers a range of opportunities for pick up, not just in Sweden but all over the Nordic countries and most parts of Europe.
While researching another feature for the magazine we ran into Jim Merritt of California. Jim has worked as American distributor for a Swedish company for years and as such knows a thing or two about the country.
He went to Sweden in mid-December to pick up his new Volvo where, through the help of Hasselblad, we equipped him with a Hasselblad XPAN camera. The idea was to immortalize his trip from outside Göteborg and the Volvo plant through the south of Sweden and later visit to Stockholm. In case you're looking for a new car, a Volvo and need a vacation, look for both at Volvo’s Overseas program

Seven days well spent for Jim and his daughter Amanda

The trip in Jim’s own words:

I and my daughter planned this trip for months, as a mutual experience of Sweden before Christmas. I had already been immunized with Swedishness and had already made many friends from earlier trips but the overall experience remains Sweden in itself and different encounters here. The atmosphere, the quaint villages of Småland, the history an hour’s drive from Stockholm, Stockholm, the bustling metropolis, yet in many ways still a small town to me.


The trip from San Francisco to Göteborg is long and strenuous, we planned it in such a way that we would be able to rest a bit prior to the actual pick up of the new car. The couple of days extra was also an opportunity to experience Göteborg on Sweden’s west coast, sample the local seafood specialties and also receive a crash course in dealing with Hasselblad’s versatile XPAN camera from the company’s VP. I had one week and I wanted the most out of it while experiencing the new car under what I hoped would be tough Swedish winter conditions. On our third day in Göteborg we were picked up by the Volvo limousine for the short trip over to the Volvo factory in Torslanda, in the western part of Göteborg. After a complete introduction to our new car, which was driven in through the Volvo doors of the show room we were given a tour of the factory and treated to the (for us mandatory) meatball lunch.
We drove out from the factory area as the sun set around 3 p.m. and were on our way to Stockholm. It was dark during our three-hour trip via Jönköping to our first destination, at lake Södra Wixen in the forests outside the town of Eksjö in Småland. The Romantic Ullinge Wärdshus hotel was delightful, located down snow covered county roads on the frozen lake. Dinner here was an event. Our first Swedish Christmas dinner came with all the traditional foods, the herrings, the salmon, different flavored meats, fresh cheese, beer and aquavit and even a real St. Lucia party.
Next day brought us along small winding county roads I had picked out earlier to get as much driving experience as possible from the trip.

The roads took us through the forested regions of Småland and Östergötland, then Södermanland, immediately south of Stockholm. We stopped in Trosa, an exciting little summer town with cottages, built between the rocks and pine trees overlooking the Baltic harbor, sail boats that were boarded for the winter and quaint stores decorated in the Christmas spirit. Everywhere we went along the trip people were friendly and extremely helpful.
We arrived in Stockholm in the late afternoon, just in time to change for our second Christmas dinner, at Villa Källhagen, this time with representatives of the Swedish company that I have come to know though my work for them in the U.S. We sang Swedish songs with each course (or was it aquavit) and even learned to enjoy lutefisk, supposedly a staple of Scandinavia (and best eaten with several large glasses of the aforementioned aquavit!).

We stayed the night, and the next three nights at the Stockholm Hilton hotel located in Södermalm overlooking Lake Mälaren and Gamla Stan. The next day, we drove on the expressway to historic town Mariefred on Lake Mälaren. After lunch at a central Café we proceeded to Sigtuna, over the small roads and bridges of Södermanland and Uppland.
Still traveling the back roads, we stopped to see real horses in the pasture and an ice horse in front of a county boarding house. We spent the remainder of the day at Sigtuna, one of the oldest towns in Sweden, walking the narrow streets, visiting the town’s museum, and climbing in the old ruins. The drive back to Stockholm was an hour and we got ready to attend yet another Christmas dinner - a corporate Christmas party with 400 people at a Factory in Nacka Strand.
Next day offered a visit to Drottningholm, one of the royal castles and current residence of the King of Sweden. After walking around the gardens and buildings we drove to a Volvo dealer to turn our new car into the company for proper shipment back to the United States. Needless to say, our Volvo was well used, very dirty.
The evening brought a quiet dinner with friends and family at Den Gyldene Freden - a small restaurant in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town, reportedly a favorite for hundreds of years among the capital’s many troubadours. The final hours of the day were spent at a St. Lucia (Luciakonsert ) concert performed by the student choir from Stockholm in the old town (Storkyrkan) Church in Stockholm’s old town.
The next day we walked through the Christmassy town, visiting the Christmas fair in the old square, watching the ice skating in the King’s garden (Kungsträdgården) in front of the Opera Café and walking through the Skansen park’s Christmas fair, seeing time period demonstrations at the old houses, watching the animals). Our last night in Stockholm was spent quietly with friends.

We turned our new car into the Stockholm Volvo dealer and waited a bit for the delivery to California.
Jim Merritt, California

This story was modified from its original version in Nordic Reach Magazine.

Eager for a similar experience?
The official gateway for information on Sweden is or; Information on Stockholm:; Volvo’s Overseas program:

Hotels and restaurants:
Radisson SAS, Göteborg:
Wärdshuset Ullinge:
Stockholm Hilton:
Villa Källhagen:
Den Gylden Freden: