Three nights in the Stockholm archipelago, my third visit in four years.
The Stockholm archipelago being a relatively unknown part of the world baffles me. It couldn’t be easier to access from the mainland, given the efficiency and comfort of the Waxholmbolaget boats, and it’s a really green, natural, unspoiled landscape, with English widely-spoken (have you ever met a Swede who couldn’t speak English with near-fluency?) I’ll admit, the climate isn’t quite as reliable as alternative holiday destinations, the water’s bloody freezing, and everything costs that little bit more, but still I hope that this third visit won’t be my last.
This was my second time on the island of Gällnö (I visited Årholma last year) – my friend Emma spends summers and winters in a house built by her great-grandad with an amazing sea view and its own access to the water.
She picked me up from the island’s main jetty on a quad bike (no cars!) and we headed straight for the water. Yep, it was a shock to the system and I got straight out, but Emma’s hardened to it and splashed around a bit longer. I went in again a couple of days later, but nothing more than a very quick dip! We spent one afternoon at the beach, reading books on the rocks, I went for a jog another day (I wish I had enough luggage space for trainers; running in Converse – not ideal!), and we spent evenings watching films, eating sweets, and listening to badgers fighting!
The afternoon spent on Sandhamn was perfect. Emma’s friends own a speedy RIB boat and we all got kitted out and set off to enjoy some live music on this far more built-up island. Millionaires’ yachts lined the harbour and beautiful Swedes were drinking expensive beer in the sun, with the main attraction being some old rock star, a Eurovision veteran apparently. This is the life.
The day ended just about perfectly; a typical Swedish BBQ (pork chops, potato salad, garlic sauce, rosé) with a dream sunset view, and me trying to make sense of the herdy gerdy conversation!
It was one of those experiences I could only have had by visiting a local – not really a standard day in the life of a backpacker, and not a lifestyle I can let myself get used to (on this trip, anyway)!