David and Tessa

David had always had Sweden on his wish list but for me it was driven mainly by being able to catchup with one of my greatest friends Tessa, who was over from NZ.  Sometimes thats all it takes to lead you down another path, and who knows whats to be found.

Traditional colour of summer houses



The Stockholm Archipelago is a magical spot, not unlike the Marlborough sounds.  There are over 30,000 islands, varying in size and over 50,000 holiday cottages owned mainly by people from Stockholm.  Lovely during summer but not so accessible during winter as the ice conditions can pose a bit of a challenge. 



Literally on the water



One of the glorious things about the Baltic Sea is the lack of tidal movement. You are not restrained as to how close to the waters edge you can build.  We saw some places that you literally step out the door onto a terrace and then straight into the water!!!  The water was a bit chilly, more stimulating than relaxing, but again a plus of the Baltic is the lack of salt.  Most seawater is usually about 35% but here its as low as 6 - 8% which meant none of that sticky saltiness after you've swum, no need to go looking for a shower to rinse off.


Pure bliss


More than 3/4 of the islands are privately owned but during the summer many people are out enjoying the Archipelago and taking advantage of 'Allemansratt' (every man's right).  A Swedish law which gives everyone the right of public access to private land for recreational purposes.  You are even permitted to pitch a tent for one night provided you are not within view of a house.  So if you are kayaking or sailing around the islands and you want to draw up on a beach for a spot of wild camping you don't have to worry about whether its owned by anyone.


Vaxholm

We stayed with Annika and Michael, great friends of Tessa's, who have a Summer house out in the Archipelago. The island is Ekholmen and is a magical spot - the house on high land and two cottages built almost right on the water.  From our room we stepped out onto the jetty at water level. By the end of the week the early morning bathes were almost enjoyable - you were certainly wide awake. 



Home for five days


A slice of paradise


View from our front door
This spot is a mecca for water sports and this family have many tales of sailing expeditions all around the world. Harry and Matisse were out sailing most days and water skiing or biscuiting, we swam and had a couple of great sessions out in the kayaks.

Michael getting Harry on the water

Matisse and Harry out for a ski








Michael and Annika


Look like they know what they're doing?


Matisse and Harry


Matisse rectifying the situation 

Went island hoping to find some good walking/running tracks, had a wonderful afternoon sailing further out in the Archipelago admiring some of the wonderful places , visited Vaxholm a very popular tourist spot and were introduced to the fabulous Swedish custom of 'Fika'. 


Fika in Vaxholm



 An eye watering selection of delicious sweet cakes, slices, pastries and biscuits accompanied by either tea or coffee. 







 And too our delight Annika announced every morning and afternoon, just as we were feeling peckish, 'now we have Fika' with some of her delicious baking.  So the habit must remain- none of this morning or afternoon business.
'Now we have Fika!!'




Tessa picking berries
Tessa and I picked wild blueberries and strawberries - small, about the size of a small redcurrant,  but tasty. Were treated to some delicious Swedish fare, pickled and salted herring, different caviars, knacke breads, cheeses, Moose casserole and all sorts of other yummy things. Sang some traditional songs as we drank local Schnapps, Annika's grandmothers secret recipe, and beer!!  

Beware of the Scandinavian waters






Then most days late afternoon, just before dinner, we joined Annika in the sauna and followed with a quick dip in the cool waters.  Luckily everything still intact, perhaps fortunate, as on our return to the UK a friend delighted in producing this article from the Telegraph!!




Wonderful dinners down on the jetty














Sven and Dave setting the world right
The girls, Cia, Annika and Tessa


10pm and dinner progressed to enjoy another special spot 

Dinning outside almost on the water was very special, as we enjoyed the company of new, and old friends in what felt like a little slice of paradise.  Sven and Cia, another delightful couple from Stockholm, kayaked across from the mainland and were here for the weekend.  The lovely long evenings seemed to go on forever as we watched the stunning sunsets at about 11 o'clock. 

Gorgeous sunsets

Early morning when the sea was sometimes like a millpond, we'd watch these big ferries and cruise ships slide by, heading up to places like Helsinki, Tallinn or Riga.

Dave on watch 
 We've been thoroughly spoilt by Tessa's friends, loved learning a little about the Swedish culture, not to mention trying all the wonderful foods, and fallen in love with this part of Europe.  
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AuthorDavid and Nicci Cambridge