Life on Earth and Beyond
The History and Philosophy of the Origin of Life
Ven Island, Sweden, 4 - 6 May 2015

 

Access
Please see the Venue & Access page for details.

Allergies
During the summer course spring will be in full bloom. Please note that pollen seasons of different plants arrive later in Sweden than in Central Europe. If you have a pollen allergy, check with your doctor about possible medication during your trip to Sweden. For an updated pollen forecast go to Polleninfo and click on the map for Sweden. A good Swedish website is Pollenrapporten.

If you have any food allergies, please inform the local organisers (mentioning it on the registration form will do).

Banks
Banks are open from Monday to Friday 9.00 - 16.00. Most banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Currency exchange offices are open from Monday to Friday from 09.00 to 18.00 hours. If you want to change cash or cash traveller cheques, it is highly preferable to do so at a bank. ATM machines are widespread in Sweden. However, there are no banks and cash mashines on Ven Island. Although you will not need lots of cash during your stay there, it is good to have some money for small purchases, since some smaller shops do not accept cards. There have been discussions to install a cash machine in Ven, but so far (October 2014) nothing has materialised.

Climate
The climate in southern Sweden not so different from Central Europe, but slightly colder and more humid, characterised by wet summers and fairly mild winters. The weather is often breezy and humid. Throughout the month of May daytime temperatures will generally reach highs of around 17 degrees C (about 63 degrees F). At night the average minimum temperature drops down to around 7 degrees C, that is 45 degrees F. Average humidity is 73 % in May, the month usually has 9 days with rain. Please note that there will be Nordic twilight during the event (see below).

Crime
Reading the very popular Swedish crime novels (the Wallander series plays in the region of the summer course) one can be forgiven to think that the country is a centre of capital crime with murderers lurking around every farmstead. But, Sweden is generally a very safe place. The most common problems to hit foreigners are pickpocketing and car break-ins. Also drunken riots (especially Friday and Saturday nights) are not unheard of. There is no police station on Ven, but traffic police controls can happen, since there have recently been incidents of drink-driving.

If you want to report a crime, contact the police station at Rådhusgatan 1, Landskrona (on the mainland). It opens Monday and Wednesday 10-19:00, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10:00-15:00. Since going there involves taking the ferry to the mainland and probably long waiting times, it is better to ring the number 11414 (the general number for reporting crimes in Sweden) . For emergencies call 112. The non-emergency local number for the Swedish police is (+ 46)77 1141400. Most officers speak English very well.

Drinks
One should try the local apple juice. Swedish cider has, strangely, got very popular in foreign countries recently despite its fairly artificial taste. There is no significant amount of grape wine grown in Sweden, but there are a lot of microbreweries and the different types of spice and corn brandy "Akvavit" are very popular. It is common to eat the first (fish)" course of a Swedish buffet with a small glass of strong liquor - "the fish must swim"(often accompanied by a small song "snapsvisa"). The venue has a distillery producing different brandys. Alcoholic drinks above a certain (very low) strength can only be bought in state-owned liquour stores ("Systembolaget"). Thus, you cannot buy a bottle containing one of the products of the local distillery at the course venue to take it ome as a souvenir(although you can sample a glass of it, since the restaurant has a full licence. Taking drinks bought at the restaurant/bar off the premises and consumption of alcoholic drinks at the venue are not allowed. There is no general prohibition to drink in public (although it has been outlawed in some parks and other places), but it is generally seen as a very loutish behaviour.

Driving in Sweden
Car headlights must be lit at all times (even during the day and the Nordic twilight). Traffic drives on the right. In the course of 2008 and 2009, the former Swedish Road Administration and certain municipalities introduced new speed limits. These were based on a more flexible ten-step system which means that the existing speed restrictions now are supplemented by new speed limits of 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 km/h. Fines for speeding are very heavy, if you exceed the speed limit a certain amount even your driving licence is in danger. Your vehicle must carry a warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and wheel chocks. Seat belts are compulsory in front and rear seats.

DO NOT drink even minute amounts of alcohol before and during driving. The legal limit of alcohol in the blood is zero and drink-driving is punished by heavy fines and/or imprisonment. The same applies for steering marine vessels under the influence of alcohol.

Credit cards are accepted at most petrol stations. Often they are unmanned and open 24 hours a day.

For emergency car repairs call the "Assistancekåren" service, toll-free within Sweden, Tel 020 912 912(number available within Sweden only). In case of road emergencies call 112.

Take the road signs (with the moose) warning for animals crossing roads very seriously. In northern Sweden, collisions with mooses (who seem to think that cars are not dangerous for them) are one of the most common car accidents.

Emergency
112 is the general emergency line throughout the European Union (similar to 911 in the U.S.) By the way, Sweden was the first country to introduce a general country-wide emergency number.

Food
Although Swedish food is down to earth and one cannot expect Haute cuisine (and can happily forget the associated chi-chi), it is now internationally highly appreaciated ad in some places even fashionable.

Traditional Swedish food "Husmanskost" is sometimes a bit onthe heavy side to support people with energy to work hard in a rough climate. Soups are popular, pork and beef are widely eaten, since a couple of years lamb is more frequently seen. Swedes are fond of mincemeat, in form of meatballs ("köttbullar") and mincemeat loafs ("köttfärslimpa"). Potatoes are a common side-dish, often boiled or in mashed form "potatismos" or as fried small potato cakes ("raggmunk"). Very good fruit cakes are found in Sweden, especially in summer. It still somewhat common to eat pea soup with pancakes at Thursday evening. In older times kitchen maids had the afternoon off on this day, so the food had to be pre-pepared.

The traditional Swedish buffet "smörgåsbord" consists of three parts. The first part are different kinds of fish (pickled herring, salmon). Then one goes over to the warm dishes (meatballs, "Janssons frestelse"), finishing off with the desserts. It is common to take a new plate with each course.

Coffee is usally served after each meals and often free in restaurants. Bread is also put on the table before meals and included in the meal price.

Immigration
Sweden is an associate member of the Schengen agreement which exempts travellers from regular personal border controls between 21 European Union (EU) countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) and two European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway and Iceland), as well as Liechtenstein and Switzerland. People coming from Great Britain and Ireland are subject to personal border controls upon entry to the Schengen area. Border controls can, however be imposed on travellers from all states.

A list of countries whose citizens need a visa to visit Sweden can be found here. If you need a visa, please start the paperwork AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Not only can handling times be long, but it might be difficult to find the embassy responsible for citizens of your nationality and location. In many states, Swedish embassies do not hold consular offices and the visa applications are handled by embassies of other countries (and then also apply the rules of other countries). Information about conference visa can be found at the Website of the Swedish Migration Board.

Internet
The hotel offers Wifi connections. Free Wifi is getting more common also in Sweden in cafes and restaurants.

Medical Services
In case of emergency, call 112 (general emergency). In cae of non-emergency it is best to contact the next medical centre "Vårdcentralen". There is no one in Ven, the nearest one is in Landskrona, Kolonigatan 9, 261 52 Landskrona, phone 0418-65 14 00. It opens Monday-Thursday 08:00 - 18:00, Friday (and days before holidays) 08:00-17:00. There is a consultation fee. Furthermore, waiting times can be very long and reaching the center by phone to book an appointment can be a lengthy affair.

Howeever, Ven has a District Nurse. Her name is Inger Vernersson and she lives on the main road (Landsvägen 227) She opens her surgery on weekdays from 7:45-9:45 and is on duty call on weekdays from 10:00 to 20:00. Her phone number is 0418-720 60.

If you are a citizen of any of the Nordic, EU/EEA countries or Switzerland, you have access to essential health care if you register beforehand at a social insurance office in your home country and obtain a European Health Insurance card. If European health insurance cards are not yet issued in your country, ask for a form E128, or a form E111. With this form you only pay the normal patient fee, just like all Swedes. People from other countries are strongly encouraged to obtain a travel health insurance. Treatments in Sweden without insurance are usually a costly affair.

Pharmacies are widespread in Sweden to the new more liberal laws. There is no one in Ven, though. It is also worth to remember that many drugs sold over the counter in other countries are available on prescription only in Sweden (this includes contraceptives). People using medication constantly are advised to bring them with them.

Money
Sweden has its own currency, the "krona", plural "kronor", code SEK. Coins exist for 1, 5 and 10 SEK, notes for 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 SEK. Pictures of notes and coins can be found at the website of the Sveriges Riksbank.

Cash machines (ATMs), in Swedish "Bankomat" or "Sedelautomat" are never hard to find in Sweden (but there are none at Ven). Currency exchanges, however, are more elusive, especially after business hours. Banks often do not offer very good rates, since there is not much exchange business any more due to the widespread use of credit cards. The latter are widely accepted, but sometimes this does not include "Diners" and "Amex" due to their higher fees for businesses.

Nordic Twilight
During the summer course it will not get dark in Ven. Some people thus might find it hard to sleep. So some sleeping cover for the eyes could be a good thing to bring.

On the other hand, the Nordic Twilight makes romantic night walks in the beautiful countryside of Ven possible.

Post office
Post offices are generally located in supermarkets and sweet shops and open during their shopping hours. However, there is no post office in Ven. The nearest one is in Landskrona at Godis Paradiset, Rådmansgatan 5 and opens Monday - Thursday 08:00 to 22:00, Friday 08:00 to 23:00 - Saturday 10:00 to 23:00 and Sunday 10:00 - 22:00.

Public transport in Ven and the Scania (Skåne) region
Information about the local transport can be found at the website of Skånetrafiken. There is a zone traffic system, which should allow you to book a ticket to Landskrona/Ven fromthe vending machines (those exist at Copenhagen airport). Trains from Copenhagen Airport to Landskrona. There is a local bus traffic on Ven (connected with the departure and arrival dates of the boats to Landskrona). For information on how to get to Ven please check the Venue & Access page and the website of Skånetrafiken For schedules of long-distance trains check the excellent web site of the German Railways (in 6 languages)or the Danish State Railways or Swedish State Railways.

Sightseeing
We will have a small tour around Ven on the second day. Please note there will be no other time for sightseeing during the course.

Shopping
Shops generally open 09:00 - 18:00 (Mon to Sat), supermarkets even longer and on Sundays. Please note that there is only one small shop at Ven. It is located on the main road (Landsvägen 226) opens Tuesday - Thursday 08:00 - 18:00, Friday 08:00-18:30 and Saturday 08:00 to 14:00.

Souvenirs from Ven can be:

  • HvenDurum: Pasta from world´s northernmost durum wheat grows at Ven)
  • Liquors from Backafallsbyn destillery (Have to be bought from "Systembolaget")
  • Goat cheesefrom Ven (Hvens getost).


Other (more generic) popular souvenirs are:
  • Sausages, patés from moose abd reindeer
  • >Swedish liquor (Akvavit)
  • Outdoor equipment and clothing (often of very high quality in Sweden).
  • Glassware from Orrefors or Kosta Boda.>
  • Swedish design
  • For children: Brio quality toys and children books by Astrid Lindgren, Gösta Knutsson and many others.

Taxis
Taxis are safe and cheating tourists is not very common. Taxis are equipped with taxameters. However, they are expensive. Nevertheless, often fixed rates exist to or from airports. As everywhere, it is a good idea to enquire with the driver beforehand which costs are to be expected and if a fixed rate appear. In some place there are extra charges to enter the railway station or airport area.

When setting off, the taxi's meter should be turned on. It is illegal for driver to smoke or to allow others to smoke in the taxi. The driver is not allowed to ask for more than what is on the meter. Ask the taxi driver for the receipt from the meter's printer. Credit cards are widely accepted in taxis.

There are no taxis on Ven.

Telephone
For calls to Sweden: Dial ++46 (the country code for sweden), then the area code (without the 0) and the subscriber's number. If you want to make a call from Sweden, dial 00 + the country code + area code + the subscriber's number. Mobile phones are very common (and annoyingly overused by some people). Pay phones are not so frequent anymore, many of them only accept phone cards. These have to be bought in advance at the newsagent "Pressbyrån".

The GSM network works on frequencies of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz (dependent on the carrier) . If you are taking your mobile phone with you, make sure that it is able to work on these.

Time
Central European daylight saving time (GMT + 2) will be in force during the meeting. There is no time shift between Germany, France and Sweden and a 1 hour time shift between London and Sweden. If it is 1 o' clock in London and 2 o'clock in Frankfurt it is 2 o'clock in Sweden. Daylight saving time is in force in Sweden during the course.

Tipping
Tipping is less common in Sweden than in the rest of Europe. In restaurants, service is included in the bill, but if you get a good service in a restaurant where the bill is sent to the table you can tip 5-10 %. In case of bad service it is OK to give nothing.

Toilets
Called "Toalett"or Toa in Sweden. Often they are marked D or "Damer" for ladies and "H" or Herrar for Gentlemen. At railway stations and in department stores it is common that a charge of 5 SEK applies for toilet usage.

Tourist Office
The Landskrona tourist office is conveniently located at the ferry terminal. So you can pick up infos about Ven from there waiting for the ship.

Venue
Please see the Venue & Access page for details.

Voltage
The electricity supply in Sweden is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. European-style 2-pin safety plugs are in use. Do not attempt to connect any devices not specified for 220 V!

Weights and measures
Sweden uses the metric system. Sometimes the word (hekto) is used for 100g, especially in cheese, sweet and meat shops.

! DISCLAIMER !
All the information given above is to the best of our knowledge. However, we cannot accept any liability for inadvertently false or incomplete information on this site.

Välkommen till Ven !

Backafallsbyn hotel Tycho Brahe's castle Uraniborg Kyrkbacken harbour