On May 1, the boats to the different islands of Stockholm’s archipelago began running on a regular timetable again. To me, this signifies that summer is just around the corner. And after a long, dark winter, I need summer!
This time of year, there are few places that I would rather be than in Stockholm’s archipelago. Depending on who is counting, there are somewhere around 24,000 islands in the archipelago here and they extend 60 kilometers east from Stockholm into the Baltic Sea.
One of my many favorite destinations in the archipelago is the island of Sandön (Swedish for sand harbor) or Sandhamn. Most of the islands don’t have an infrastructure, instead having either nothing at all or just one or two houses. They are uninhabitated, rocky, wooded islands and are thus naturally beautiful. But some of the larger islands such as Sandhamn have a small village of sorts with a grocery, a few restaurants and hotels. And there you will also find an amazingly beautiful array of sailboats in the harbor, as you can see at right. There are not many better places to be than at the harbor there, enjoying a beer or glass of wine directly on the dock next to the boats.
Another great island destination is Utö. It was there during my first summer of living here that I was first acquainted with the Swedish concept of stuga (cottage) living. Everyone here dreams of having that charming little red house on an island. (I would love one too, I have to admit.) And it is somehow part of the vision of that dream to be at one with nature, doing such things as nude sunbathing and also living simply. By that, I mean that the dream does come equipped with a cozy home, but not necessarily indoor plumbing and warm water. This I learned the proverbial hard way. After renting one of those charming cottages on Utö with friends, we went to our summer house. I had made sure to ask about the indoor plumbing and yes, we had a composting toilet inside the house. But there was no shower to be seen. I had asked about that, too, and had been told there was one. In summoning the owner and asking about the shower, she took me out on the deck and pointed to the garden hose. As anyone who knows Sweden knows, it does not typically get that warm outside during the summer months. So using that outdoor garden hose shower is to this day still about the coldest I have ever been in my life. I’ve learned my lesson and now I know to ask for a few more details about the facilities when staying on the archipelago.