For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden. So winter in the mountains, and now, a summer sailing in Stockholm’s archipelago, and then cycling around Gotland.
(Almost) 10 impressions:
1.As promised, the archipelago is magical. And as advised, it is the smaller islands rather than the big sailing harbours that leave you with the strongest impressions.
2. As cities grow, how to maintain economic prosperity in rural communities is a challenge common for most developed countries. I took my son cycling round Suffolk in England last Easter, and was struck by the decline of the rural pub. Around some of Gotland it was the same. It’s not everywhere you check into a youth hostel, created out of a closed military base, to find it’s become a refugee centre. But ….
3. We saw great entrepreneurial spirit. The extraordinary Slow Train B+B and crêperie run by Franco-Swedish Valerie and Thomas in Fårö. The medieval restaurant and brewery in Fårö. The fish smokery in Lergrav.
4. Gotland’s beaches were as lovely as promised, with Vitviken near Åminne perhaps our favourite.
5. Cycling round Gotland you notice the churches and their spires in a way you don’t by car. My children go to school in Oundle, England, a part of the country that also became wealthy through wool, and I was reminded of similarly impressive churches in rural communities.
6. Sweden’s food is really good, in a way I understand it wasn’t 20 years ago. Having cycled (again) with the family along Hadrian’s Wall as our last holiday in the UK before we moved here, the average quality in Sweden is much better than at home. Szechuan cooking at Surfers in Visby was an unexpected hit. But …
7. The season really is the season. Take the bakery in Rute for example: 1,000 visitors on Sunday. Monday (when we arrived) – closed, until next year.
8. Highlight of the summer? So many, but for the parents perhaps the early morning swims off the boat. And the old harbour in Kyllaj we came to by accident. For children the water slides in Kneippbyn.
9. Biggest disappointment of the summer? Apart from not making it to Gotska Sandön because the sea was too rough, Swedish TV coverage of the Olympics. We were reliant upon the ordinary non-fee channels that our hotels showed, and basically saw nothing. SVT – what are you doing? Much to learn from the BBC, I’m afraid.
The plan for next year? Perhaps a slightly wider exploration of the Nordic region.