Yesterday was a special day for me, as my super amazing niece (T.) turned four. I only met her two years ago, but this little girl (along with her siblings) quickly took hold of my heart. Since they live in Sweden and only speak Swedish, communication was an interesting topic for me, prior to my trip in December of 2010. But during my visits since, surprisingly, the language barrier has never been much of an issue, as human beings have this amazing way of communicating their needs and desires without relying on the spoken word. Of course I look forward to the day when the kids speak English (and perhaps then my Swedish will be a step up from nearly non-existant), but even so, we have fun together.
I haven’t yet written about it, but back in April/May, M. and I took a trip up North to visit the family, and the weather was perfect for a handful of outdoor excursions with the whole gang. Seeing T. outside is like having her in her natural element. She is adventurous and outdoorsy, as well as super competitive with her big brother. So on a particularly beautiful day, we took the train into downtown Göteborg and headed out to the coast to visit the Southern Gothenburg Archipelago.
These are a group of islands in Kattegat, which is a sea area or a bay, depending upon your interpretation. It is the area of water between Sweden and Denmark, and is “enclosed” by the Baltic Sea if you travel in a southeastern direction, and the North Sea if you travel up through the Skagerrak straight. But for me, all that mattered was that it was open water, and how I had missed the ocean!
Any of the islands can be reached by ferry, and the price of the ride is the same as a ticket on the train, so it’s fairly inexpensive. There are about 5,000 people who live on the various islands year-round, as well as many who have summer residences. None of the islands allow cars, and each of them tends to have their own preferred method of transportation.
We opted to go to Styrsö, because it is one of the bigger islands and is also connected by a landbridge to another one of the big islands, Donsö–although if we had had more time I would have loved to do some serious island hopping to get a flavour of all the islands. Each time we approached one, we would get a glimpse of what it was like, which was a bit of a tease.
And of course I relished the openness of it all, the smell of the water, the crispness of the air. For the first time since moving to Europe, I was back by/on the water, and it revitalized me.
Eventually we made it to our destination and disembarked onto one end of the island. Styrsö isn’t terribly huge with its 1,400 inhabitants, but it does have two ferry ports (and maybe more, but I am not certain).
On land, we took a quick look at the map and then headed out on our way, slowly walking through the streets and taking in the houses and the residents driving around on their flakmopeds.
As we walked, I took the opportunity to get in some good shots of my wonderful company, including these two gems:
After a bit of hill climbing, we reached a historical schoolhouse, which was the perfect place to stop and eat. That’s one thing I learned about young kids: they are always hungry, so you are always eating.
We also took the opportunity to take some tuff photos, as well as the classic “we’re on vacation!” close-up self shot that we are so good at.
Continuing on, we saw lots of standard small town sights, like a church and graveyard, locals homes, and even a little nature reserve area for hiking, where we encountered a frog.
Eventually, we came out near the other ferry port and spent the last amount of time before the ferry arrived playing on the playground. M. climbed the climbing wall, the boys all played on the equipment, and we went on a boat with T., who was meticulous about getting the sand out of her shoes.
We then had some chokladboll for dessert and boarded our ferry home. We also might have had ice cream once on the mainland while we waited for our tram, but you wouldn’t be able to prove that…