Monday, November 27, 2006

Stockholm Archipelago

Before I talk about the islands we visited, I have to mention the coolest thing I saw the entire trip. You have to understand, I’ve long had a fetish for trimarans, especially of the racing sort. Given Stockholm’s location on the Baltic Sea, you can imagine the number and variety of boats on the water. While cruising out of the harbor one morning, we came across one such trimaran. Later, we found it docked at the same island we visited. Check it out.

Pure Menace.

Sweetest. Boat. Ever. One day, I'll own one, and I'm not even joking.

On the way back from the island, we saw it sailing again. In the picture below, you can see it listing to one side. Moments before I snapped the photo, the boat turned and in doing so tilted at least 35 degrees. One of the coolest things ever. The boat was also, by far, the fastest thing on the water. Bear in mind it was moving under sail while everything else in the harbor was under full throttle. I can’t express how impressive I find really fast sailboats and how much I love to watch them.

One last boat note. We came across this military ship thingie during another trip. I didn’t see it until it was almost on top of us. Who knew camouflage actually worked so well?

Ok, enough of boats. The first islands in the archipelago we visited were Vaxholm and Grinda. Vaxholm, which supports a small community, notwithstanding, the islands are mostly uninhabited and serve primarily as camping and hiking sites. During the summer, they’d be a great place to visit. In October, however, when it’s cold and wet, the situation gets a bit more complicated. On the upside, however, is that the leaves were changing. All things considered, the first day of hiking was very pleasant. The clouds even broke briefly for about twenty minutes.


Robert Frost, eat your heart out.

Given that the island only has a few permanent residents, I was convinced something foul was afoot. During our hike, I found evidence. The Swedish government, or perhaps some rogue organization of international bandits, is clearly performing sick and twisted genetic experiments on animals. If you don’t believe me, I present the hybrid goat, ram, sheep, thing below:

I didn’t find any lasers coming out their eyes, but you never know. Watch out.

More pics from the Grinda...

The sum total of civilization on Grinda was a small lodge (or evil lair?).

Our second excursion was a bit less successful than our first. While Vaxholm and Grinda took a little over an hour to reach by boat, Finnhamn, our destination the second day, took three hours. Still, all would have been okay but for the unrelenting, torrential rains. When we finally arrived at the island, we actually found a small hostel not too far inland. Hoping they might have a place to grab some food and warm up (it was only about 40 degrees), we stopped in. Luckily, someone was there, but they had nothing to eat. Instead, she directed us to a small store about a five kilometers from the hostel that sold vegetables and vinegars from a local farmer. Giver her description, we thought it sounded promising, so we headed out in the pouring rain. Below is what we found:

Now, don’t get me wrong. It was a cool, little place. There was no attendant, so you just took what you wanted and left your money on the table. And the vegetables were HUGE. Trouble was, we took a six-hour round-trip boat ride to a nearly uninhabited island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, and then hiked 10 kilometers round-trip through pouring rain, standing water, and thick mud, and this was our reward. I was a little bitter. Nonetheless, I’ll always remember it. Good or bad, it was an unforgettable experience. And that, I suppose, is the point of traveling.

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