Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn

Nybroken Stockholm  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
When we realized that R had an upcoming "weekend" during the actual weekend, we began plotting a trip: Copenhagen? Skåne? Tallinn? Turku? I voted for a boat trip vs. a plane or train trip, but we couldn't get the schedules to work quite right for an overnight cruise so we fell back on a trip type that worked well for us before: a day boat to Stockholm's archipelago.

Two months ago we went to Grinda, an island that's an hour away and extremely...quiet. Almost desolate, actually. I'm not sure if that's just the way it is (since it is a nature preserve, after all), but maybe it's because we went in the off season that the only company we had were a group of friends and a family of (somewhat) friendly cows?

Whatever the case, we decided to head to a livelier island and we found a nice day trip via Stromma for a canal tour to Sandhamn, one of the furthest-away archipelago islands. I believe a regular boat can get there in 90 minutes or so, but we opted for the company's "Canal Tour" which takes a southerly route through super narrow canals making it much different from the normal speedy boats that zoom across the open water of the archipelago, or skärsgård.

On Sunday we headed off to the main port in the city for a 9:45AM departure, which would have us in Sandhamn by 12:45PM, where we'd have two hours to explore before heading back for the 3-hour return trip.

Once we were away from the edges of Stockholm and Nacka, we started passing adorable summer houses (or maybe year-round ones!), plus lots of people out on their motor or sail boats. And then we started winding through the seagrass-edged canals.
Nybroken, Stockholm  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stockholm archipelago skärsgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stockholm archipelago skärsgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stockholm archipelago skärsgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn port  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Time passed pretty quickly and soon we were steering our way into Sandhamn's (packed!) port. We disembarked and found ourselves in a very charming area. But since we had picked a picnic, we quickly skedaddled through the bustling waterfront area and headed for the hills where we passed lane upon lane of typical red wooden Swedish houses with heaps of climbing roses, an incredible number of waving Swedish flags and people toting blankets and hampers on their backs or on their bikes as they wound their way to their own private summer afternoon spots.
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.comSandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.comSandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Typical Swedish houses in Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
Sandhamn  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.comSandhamn port from above  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
When we found a rock face overlooking both a beach and a smaller port, we spread our blankets out to enjoy our lunch and the view. We snuck in a little nap, too—with the warm stone behind our backs and waves of salty sea air washing over us we really had no choice. As our watches ticked towards 2:45PM we sighed, gathered our things, and headed back to the port for the trip back to Stockholm.

I'd had more than enough sun by then, so for the return journey I opted to spend most of it in the cabin below deck where big windows that were opened wide made it seem just like I was up on the sun deck (where R stayed), but without the intense Swedish sun (seems ironic, but it really was strong!) beating down on me.

While Stockholm is certainly the most greenest city (and a capital one at that!) that I've ever been in, sometimes you just need to be completely removed from all things urban, even if it is for just a day, and Sandhman was the perfect destination for that.
Stockholm archipelago skärgård  |  Stromma canal tour to Sandhamn on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.blogspot.com
One year ago: Almost an American
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Canalside life in Hammarby Sjöstad: a pier picnic

So here's the thing about dining out along the waterfront in Hammarby Sjöstad (a.k.a., my happy place in Stockholm)...
...Who says you have to dine out?

The night after our sushi feast we rode ourselves right back to the port, but headed to one of the bigger decks to spread out our picnic blankets and towels along with our neighbors, instead of parking our bicycles in front of a restaurant.

Some people brought stacks of piping-hot boxed pizzas from down the street, others brought portable grills with korv (I was a little jealous once that smoky scent filled the air), but we brought a bottle of ice-cold mineral-y white wine and a huge bowl of mozzarella salad for dinner. And for some light entertainment? A specially-sent issue of Kinfolk magazine from someone in San Francisco that knows me very, very well, and one of my new Swedish library books. I read a few pages of the latter aloud to R so he could correct my pronunciation (and explain the many things I didn't understand), but then turned my attention to the former. We set a good summery playlist on a phone (quietly) and then leaned back to soak up one of Stockholm's most perfect July eves.
One year ago: Almond detritus

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer's morning light

Summer's morning light on afeathery*nest  |  afeatherynest.blogspot.com
My favorite time of day this summer is 7AM. That's when the apartment is flooded with warm morning sunshine and I open the balcony door and take a glass of water, a cup of coffee and my phone toggled to my favorite news app outside with me.

(Sometimes I read the news...sometimes I slyly spy on my neighbors' morning routines.)

I perch myself in the wicker armchair facing the sun and sit with my eyes closed for a few minutes. This is the only meditation I need. A few deep breaths, a whiff of salty sea air, and the distant giggle of a child being slowly woken up.

Even when the sun is strong and beating down on my upturned face, the air is miraculously fresh and cool. I've never experienced a summer like this: there's no humidity! Virginia was full of it, NYC too, and of course Sicily is heaped in it (plus just hotter anyway).

But this natural marvel of crisp, fresh, weightless air is something I'm still getting used to. I don't have to pull my old tricks of washing my hair in the morning and leaving it wet and wound atop my head to act as my portable air conditioner and blood-pressure-lowerer as I braved the NYC subway commute (truly one of Dante's circles). And what a relief to no longer plan my day around ensuring I'm inside and safe from the waves of suffocating air between 9:30AM and 4 PM.

It's liberating.

The same way I never imagined I'd fly over three bridges on my bicycle as part of my daily routine, I never imagined I'd ever say these words:

I'm actually enjoying summer (formerly my absolute least favorite season).

How's your summer going?

One year ago:  Feasting at Eleven Madison Park