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Friday, June 28, 2013

Outing to Utö

On a cloudy day in the midst of our archipelago adventure, we decided to take a little boat trip over to the island of Utö.  We've wanted to visit this southern archipelgo island for quite some time but it's a bit far to make the journey in one day in the Finnmaster. But from our island paradise in Mefjärd it's just down the sea a bit. We thought we could dump trash, do the recycling and get fresh water as well. So off we went. We were not disappointed.  Both of us fell in love with this wonderful place. To us, it represents the best of archipelgo life. It's a large island even though we only saw a very small portion of it. The guest harbor has many slips where the tie up is easy. It costs 75 sek, about $11.00 for the day, but that includes access to fresh drinking water, the toilets and showers so if you are at sea for a long time on a larger boat, it's quite a good deal. The harbor buildings are the quintessentially red stugas that mark Sweden's landscape.  There are several places to get a little something to eat and a couple of really lovely fine dining options as well.  A small ICA grocery store was buzzing with activity and while there is no system bolaget (government liquor stores, the only place you can buy beer, wine or liquor in Sweden), the ICA did have a system whereby you could place an order and it would be delivered to the grocery store for pick-up.  We could smell the bakery from down the road and I must admit, I think the cardamom bulle I had was one of the very best I've ever had in Sweden. The bakery also offered fresh bread delivery to your boat if you placed an order. There's a shop to rent bikes, a place to play mini-golf, and of course, ice cream for sale.  I know you can rent kayaks out here as well.  The wonderful mood of summer was fully embodied on Utö.
We took a little walk up the hill to go look at the old windmill that overlooked the town. Along the way we saw rental stugas that I'm sure will be packed to the brim beginning this week-end. Most Swedes take the entire month of July off work and I'm quite positive there will be a mass exit from the city out to the country and archipelago this weekend. Everywhere we looked we found charming beauty. The view from atop the hill where the mill sat was lovely in every way.  The old windmill was in great condition and has become a familiar and important landmark for Utö.
Utö has a mining history that is quite interesting.  We saw evidence of this as we passed old mining cars, saw the mining museum and stacks of ore along the roadside. The entire time I was there, I was thinking that if someone asked for advice as to where to spend some days in the archipelago, I would definitely tell them Utö.
We bought some bubbly water and some other snacks, recycled our trash, filled out water container for the house back on Mefjärd, loaded up the goods and the dog and shoved off. The Utö church sits out on a peninsula and we figured that all summer long weddings are held in this idyllic spot. If anyone would like to get married there, we are available to perform the ceremony! We also found the ultimate swimming and diving spot!

We drove through a very narrow canal to return to the open sea and saw some of the private residences that lined the canal. I wondered if any of them would be for rent. I, for one, would love to return.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Enchanted Evening

We are enjoying the incredible generosity of our dear friends, Kjell (pronounced shell) and Marilyn, who offered us the use of their amazing island home for the week ahead.  We've been out here before, twice overnight, but this is the first time we'll spend several days in a row out here. The island is called Mefjärd and is about a 3 hour boat ride, in our boat, from our marina in Stockholm. The ride takes us out into the more wild area of the archipelago and it feels so wonderful to be so far away from the noise of the city. Your senses are filled with the surrounding sea, the gorgeous islands, and the vast sky that envelopes you.
The main house where we will stay is perched on a hill that sits above the boat dock. It's quite unique in that the island is long and skinny so there are views of the water from both the front and the back of the house. Doug was a champion, hauling all of the goods up from the boat as I am still in the phase of healing where lifting is a big no no. We had to bring all of our food out for the week as there are no stores nearby. He was happy to have it done and soon we were relaxing on the deck taking in the long, warm sunny evening.
I was absolutely smitten by the dazzling evening that the archipelago provided for us on our first night here.  Doug and Tanner went swimming but I wasn't quite brave enough to venture into the chilly waters. Doug grilled steaks and we enjoyed a lovely meal on the deck. It was well after 9.00 p.m. by the time we finished up.  The evening continued to impress the later it got. On our left was the incredible “super moon”, hanging low in the sky, a huge orange ball of light casting a street of gold on the water's surface that looked fake.  To our right was the calming sea, with the barely setting sun dipping just below the horizon creating the most wondrous palette of color and beauty.  It was well after midnight when I could finally fall into bed and let these views go.
I awoke at 7.00 to a bright, calm sunny morning.  The sea was absolute glass, with a lone boat creating a lovely ripple in its wake.  A day in the sun awaits us. Even Tanner has taken on the calm beauty of the archipelago.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Glad Midsommar i Sverige, Igen

That's, "Another Happy Midsommar in Sweden" for those of you not well-versed in the language of my current home land.  This year topped them all in the weather department.  Warm and sunny with no rain, that is almost unprecedented!  And the presence of the "super moon" on one side of the night sky with the setting sun on the other side of the sky on the summer solstice made it a spectacularly beautiful day and night!
The wonderful stuga in Mellösa that has become our midsummer destination for several years has had a makeover and we are the lucky one who get to use it.  For years, we slept in the "guest house" under a table, amidst hundreds of books so now that it is fancy schmancy, we feel we've earned the right to reside therein!  
Hosts Hannah and Sven continue to dazzle us year after year with their amazing hospitality and joyous spirit.  The food and drink and singing and laughter filled our hearts with joy once again.  The always raucous National Anthem round inspired many with renditions from Sweden, Ghana, England, the USA, Japan and the Netherlands.  The 3.5 Americans did the red, white and blue proud, me thinks.
I only observed the dancing around the may pole this year but fashioned a midsommar krans (midsummer wreath) with my own hands and enjoyed feeling typically svensk.  Tanner even got in on the action.  He was one happy hund joining old friends Sven and Bell in a weekend of running, playing and swimming.  I don't think I've ever seen him so exhausted.  
I took my first post-op swim and enjoyed every minute of it.  Water was even reasonably comfortable although I had to beg off the after dinner swim.  Didn't want to push my luck too much. We sat for a long time enjoying the lovely, long evening.  
Doug and I took a midnight stroll to take in the evening beauty.
time stamp should say 12.09
The moon combined with the slightly fading light of the summer solstice were just breathtaking to behold.  We sat on the dock and enjoyed a quiet moment together.  The sun had set on another midsummer eve in Sweden...but just barely.  (Note, the time stamps on the photos are one hour later than it actually was...)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oh, Oh Those Summer Nights

We're in the long, light days of summer here in Stockholm and loving every minute of bright sunshine that each day brings.  It is still light around 11.00 p.m.  The sunrise was at 3.33 a.m. today and the sunset is not until 10.02 p.m.  Of course, it is light on either side of those times as the sun reflects light long before it actually rises and sets!  We're loving it.  We haven't been able to get out on the boat for every good evening just yet since it's still a bit chilly and the weather changes every 10 minutes.  So on the evenings when it's lovely, we've been tucking a beverage into a backpack, leashing up the dog and walking about 15-20 minutes down to one of piers on the waterfront.   Then we sit there and watch the world go by! Tanner loves it.  In fact, tonight he even found a red carpet to roll around on!And he gets a free drink from the water hook up that boats use when they pull in!
 There's a brand new restaurant next to one of our favorite piers called Ångbåtsbryggan...The Steam Boat Bridge.  It is lovely.  Old time steamers pull in and out and you can sit on their lovely deck and take in the gorgeous city views.
The light dazzles right now.  The city glistens.  Oh Stockholm...when you put winter to bed and bring out your summer warmth and light, you are positively irresistible!