Föråging thröugh Sweden

Leaving Denmark, we were in Sweden within a 30-minute train ride! We came across ‘The Bridge’ which joins Copenhagen and Malmö, many people commute between the two cities/countries every day. We picked up our rental car, a sporty new Volvo – which a quick google (after seeing them everywhere) had us realise is a Swedish brand! After securely placing our luggage in the boot, we left our new ride in the hire-car car park and went for a quick visit through Malmö town…

There were two main reasons why we chose Sweden for our last couple of weeks in July. The first was to get away from the busy cities to try find somewhere with less summer crowds, and the second because Kadin found out that it was wild berry season and that…

“In Sweden, there is an ancient Swedish customary law referred to as “Allemansrätten”, meaning “All Men’s Right”. It allows you to roam in any wood, meadow or field to forage for wild food. As long as you don’t cut down trees or break twigs, the owner of the land can’t stop you or ask for compensation”

It was pretty exciting when he saw some blackberry bushes straight away next to the moat around the Malmö Castle – even though these blackberries weren’t quite ripe, he enjoyed them anyway…

On our way out of town, we stopped by a real Swedish institution… Ikea! We had to laugh at the ‘flat pack’ car which was parked beside us when we pulled up. Ikea was exactly the same as back home. We genuinely needed to visit Ikea to purchase a set of bed sheets and another towel for our airbnb cabin that night. We decided to treat ourselves to afternoon tea at the cafeteria …it was much better than other Ikeas and the refillable elderflower water was very refreshing.

We then hit the road, driving through very scenic farmlands across the Skåne County. A much-appreciated atmosphere after a long stint of large cities…

We arrived at our eco-cabin in the early evening. It was a simple room attached to a greenhouse with a BBQ outside for cooking dinner. The host also rented out the surrounding paddocks to campers, with whom we shared the shower and toilet facilities. His raspberry and black currant bushes were a real treat – although not technically  ‘foraging’ it didn’t stop us from enjoying plenty! He also had a very friendly black cat and two old dogs in a kennel nearby to keep us company…

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, our host told us that his friend (who lived in a house 200 m up the driveway) breeds Birman and English long-hair cats… and they had 24 kittens at the moment! We enjoyed some cuteness overload – reluctantly we had to tell the lady we had a fair bit more travel ahead of us so couldn’t take home a kitty or twelve…

The next day, we drove along the coast. Our first stop was at a long golden sandy beach. We dipped our toes in the freezing Baltic water and decided against a swim. Instead, we read our books and enjoyed a stroll along the beach and around the rocks…

We stopped by the small coastal town of Simrishamn. It was fairly quiet, and we were able to get a carpark right in the middle of town. Like many of the little towns in the area, the gardens were showing off bright coloured foxgloves. We had an ice cream down by the fishing harbour…

Further south, we visited Sandhammaren Beach. We were surprised when we walked out through the dunes to be met with a long white sandy coastline – not too dissimilar to Western Australia. We walked along the beach and soon realised the wind factor was another similarity this place had with WA… but we had some fun with the beach sarong…

All beached out, we headed back to the farm. On our drive home we managed to pull the car over (there really was a lack of a shoulder on most of the roads) and we took some countryside snaps…

The next morning, we went for a walk through the woods surrounding our airbnb. Kadin was very eager to forage for berries… The wild raspberries and strawberries were easy to identify but a few times we weren’t sure whether other berries were edible or not (But, alas he lives). . Although Kadin managed to avoid being poisoned, he did get to reminisce a feeling he said he hadn’t felt for about 20 years – when he went to get a close-up photo of a beautiful butterfly and ended up with burning legs due to stinging nettle!

After lunch, we drove to Stenshuvud National Park. We chose the uphill lookout trail and then looped around through the forest, returning via the coast and farmland. It was a decent walk and it took us through many different sceneries…

The following morning, we packed up the car and checked out of our little cabin. We had a big day of driving ahead of us, so we planned a fun break along the journey – a moose safari! Even though North America has more moose, Sweden has the most moose per area. However, when we arrived at Smålandet Moose Safari we found a goat pen…

It wasn’t long before our train was ready to depart. You could pay less to drive your own car through, but the train tour included commentary and the guide enticed the moose to the carriages where you could feed them…

On the tour there was also a separate area with Bison…

Late that afternoon, we arrived to our next airbnb, a basement unit in a family home nestled in the small lakeside community of Örserum.

Once we were checked in, we went on an evening walk recommended by our host. The walking trail went through a meadow on the edge of the village and joined up to the lakefront. Kadin saw a snake in the long grass, but it was too quick for a photo. The sheep were very friendly and came racing over to us for a pat…

It was a pretty warm evening, so Kadin couldn’t resist cooling off in the lake…

The next morning, we parked our car in Gränna, situated on the east of Vättern Lake (Sweden’s second largest lake). From here, we took the ferry across to Tunnerstad Island…

On the island, we walked north past the ruins of Visingborg castle and along the lake. The trail went through the forest which was filled with raspberries. We picked 2 cupfuls, which we had for dessert that night…

When the trail came out of the forest, we found ourselves in a quaint countryside village…

Soon, we reached the Kumlaby Church. We paid the small fee to climb to the tower. The stairways inside were very tight and steep…

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Kid in a Candy Store

We then walked back to the ferry and Gränna. Apparently, rock candy sticks (‘Polkagris’) were invented here. We had a quick visit to the candy store. The taster was fresh from the factory kitchen and was still hot from being stretched into shape. We purchased a small sample of the teeth breaking treats for our road tripping.

The next morning, we checked-out and headed north. We took a small detour to visit, ‘Naturum Täkern,’ a large bird reserve. There was a bird-viewing tower which provided expanse views of Lake Täkern, and a ‘fairytale’ walkway through the woods and wetlands. We found a new berry to forage on this trail, the Dew Berry. We finally got a photo of a Swedish snake too!

We stopped for lunch and to stretch our legs in Linköping. We visited the Cathedral (built in the 1100s) and also the town park…

Further up the road we quickly pulled into Nörrkoping to admire the annual cactus garden…

We still had a 2.5 hour drive to our next accommodation. It was made a bit longer with a couple of road accidents. Our airbnb was located in the archipelago east of Stockholm. When we drove in near the city we went through these long and complex tunnel systems – under the city the lanes regularly forked and tunnels split in many different directions. Luckily, we had our friend google giving us the directions, even when she would say “GPS signal lost,” we managed to go the right way. The drive out to our cabin was tedious, slow and windy but very scenic with many little bays along the way. When we pulled up, there was a deer in the neighbours garden. Right outside our cabin was a cranberry bush which we picked at over the following few days.

The weather was incredible and there was a perfect swimming beach just down the road. The next day we spent most of the day relaxing by the beach and swimming in the Baltic Sea…

On Saturday, we drove to Stockholm. It took us a while to work out the car parking system in the inner city. We spent a few hours walking around downtown. It was surprisingly busy, even though it was the holidays for most of the workers…

Feeling rather hot and bothered, we left the city behind us and found another little swimming spot on our way back to our accommodation…

In the evening, it was still pretty hot, so we went for an evening dip down at the beach…

The next morning, we checked-out and drove back towards the lakes. On the way we took a detour to the small town of Mariefred (west of Stockholm) and visited Gripsholm Castle…

Another 80kms along the journey, we came to Stora Sundby Castle. It was a bit further off the highway and didn’t have many people visiting. There were plenty of signs pointing towards the castle, however, when we got closer to the gardens outside the castle there were some chain fences partially blocking the walkways. We figured they were to stop vehicles driving around the grounds, so we just walked around them to get a closer look at the buildings and gardens. As we were leaving, we weren’t so sure when a group of Swedish people confronted as saying, “I don’t think you are allowed past the fence?” Not sure if it was a question or accusation, we responded, “Not sure, but we did.” (Later, we googled it and it turns out that you are allowed to walk on the grounds, but past the driveway it was private property – whoops).

The castle is situated on the lake Hjälmaren. There was a little access way from the carpark to the lake. There were plenty of others down by the lake so we were pretty sure that this was public property. Another hot day called for a dip in the lake before carrying on to our next airbnb. Our next little Swedish cottage was in the Götlunda countryside. Our hosts greeted us warmly along with their super friendly cat, ‘Lizzie.’ The house rules stipulated she stays outside the cottage… turns out she hadn’t read the rule book! We were forever chasing her out the door, which we had to leave open due to the hot nights (sometimes we just gave in)…

The next day, we headed south to Tiveden National Park (on the western side of Vättern lake). There were several walking trails to choose from but with help from the park ranger volunteer, we worked out a route that crossed the highlights of three trails that would take about 2.5 hours to hike around. The trail began by leading us through the forest and past large moss covered rocks (dropped by glaciers). It was a perfect place to escape the heat.

Along the pathway we came across wild blåbär (blueberry bushes)! They were very tasty. The only problem was, there were heaps of ants which crawled all over us and were biting our feet. We had to shake them off and choose our foraging spots carefully…

After refuelling ourselves with berries, we took the high trail for an incredible view over the treetops. Then on the descent, the trail wound through some awesome rock crevasses.

We continued our forest trail and eventually came out alongside the lake. Here we had a morning tea break, which we ate the last of the muesli bars we bought in Canada (there was a special at the supermarket; 5 boxes for $10). When we left Canada, the American customs officer scanning our bags remarked, “You must really love granola bars.”… Anyway, sitting by the lake eating our last bar we established they were a pretty well-travelled snack, going through 10 countries since Canada…

The return trail followed the lake around the edge of the forest. We found a beautiful spot to relax and cool off. Kadin took the opportunity to go for a swim…

After our hike, we drove to the eastern side of Vättern lake to the very popular Varamobaden Beach in Motala. It was a super busy spot, but we found ourselves a patch of sand to lay our towels on and spent a couple of hours alternating between swimming in the crystal clear (but freezing) lake water and laying in the scorching sun…

Late in the afternoon, we went for a quick walk around downtown Motala. The Göta Canal runs through the town (a 614km waterway linking lakes and rivers from the Baltic Sea on the east to Gothenburg on the west), and there are several locks and bascule bridges operated by volunteers for the leisure boats using the canal. It was a very picturesque town to walk around…

It was a long drive back to Götlunda that evening. Then overnight, the weather changed… we woke up to rain and a much colder temperature. Plus, we had another long drive ahead of ourselves to reach our next airbnb in Gothenburg. On the way we stopped in Mariestad for lunch, a small town on the east of Lake Vänern (the largest lake in Sweden and the European Union). It was a bit cold and showery and not too much happening in town, except the church was celebrating its anniversary…

Both Stockholm and Gothenburg cities have a congestion tax. Toll-road cameras above the roads leading into the central city take photos of your car registration plates and you are billed for each trip in and out of the city. It’s quite pricey and the worse part is there’s no easy way to pay. Luckily, these cameras are turned off for the month of July because all the Swedes go on holiday. Our airbnb was central to the city so we decided to leave the car parked in the driveway and explore Gothenburg by foot. The rain and cooler weather had followed us, but in a way, it made walking more pleasant than a scorching hot day. We only had one full day in Gothenburg, so we woke up early and started with a walk through the nearby Slottsskogen (Gothenburg’s main park). We hiked up to the highest point for a view of the city. The viewing tower was a bit disappointing because the trees had outgrown it, but it was good exercise.

In the middle of the park was an incredible free zoo (opened in 1874)…

Across the road is the Botanical Gardens. The flowers were in full bloom. This was another amazing freebie…

Next, we walked through Haga district, one of the oldest neighbourhoods but now a hip area with many boutique shops and cafes lining the cobblestone streets. There were still many people milling about despite the wet day…

We waited until we were in the city and chose an amazing chocolate café, ‘Berzelli Choklad,’ where you could choose the strength of your hot chocolate. It was the perfect place to be on a rainy day! We didn’t spend a lot of time downtown as it was mostly packed with shoppers. Instead, we went across to Trädgårdsförening (‘The Garden Society of Gothenburg) to enjoy some more time with the flowers. In the middle of the park is a large palm house (free entry), by the time we walked around the palm house we were getting pretty tired… we found a seating area at the top of the glass house and the warmth made me feel especially sleepy…

The next day we checked-out early and took the freeway back to Malmö to return our rental car. We made a short detour to the coast, where we were treated to some rocky cliffs and best of all a last forage in Sweden… of (ripe) blackberries!

Once we had dropped off our car (with an extra 2200 kms on the odo), we lugged ourselves back to the train station bound for Hamburg, Germany…

sweden
Our Route

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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