Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Island in the sun

Today we decide to take advantage of the Swedish ferry system which considers them just another bus or tram. There are many tiny islands in the Göteborg archipelago. Most reviews have people spending an hour or so on each - sitting at the beach, having lunch in a cafe, walking the island paths, with comfortable cheap boat rides in between. We arrive and puzzle over the map of the islands. Which one shall we try first? I blithely paraphrase Lewis Carroll:

"Which road do I take?" Alice asked the cat.

"Where do you want to go?" was his response.

"I don't know," Alice answered.

"Then," said the cat, "It doesn't matter."

We decide to simply get on the next ferry that docks, then ride it to the end of the line and island hop back. We have a lovely boat ride with the sun shining and the wind in our hair. The boat docks last at Stora Förö. Hmm - not much here - a few houses, tiny beach, one room store - let's go on to the next islet. Except - we've landed on an island so infrequently visited that there's only a ferry every four hours. So much for lunch and island hopping.

But it isn't bad. We sit at the postage stamp beach and watch kids fish for crabs using pieces of mollusks they pull from under the dock, then pound with a rock to get the meat to bait their pole with. The crabs crawls on to the line - no hooks that we see, and the kids shake them off into a bucket. We get the nice people at the tiny store to put the coke we buy in their ice cream freezer and come back for it in an hour when it's cold.* We traipse around the island paths, eat the bread and cheese Natalia insisted we bring when she heard we were going to the islands (good call, Natalia!) and sit on the rocky shore watching sailboats and sea birds.

When I sit there for a long time - no phone, no noise from humans - only the cry of birds and sound of the wind and the warmth of Craig's arm around my shoulders, a feeling of peace descends, quieting my restless spirit. I wish that I could go back a hundred years, a thousand, a million, on this very summer day and see what this huge rock has seen.

At last the ferry arrives and we zip back to reality. We have seen only one island, and a tiny one at that, but we are not displeased with our time spent here.

After our little voyage and yesterday's excursions, we decide to stay close to our B and B for the evening. I chat with Natalia about the trials of having teenagers (the same the world around) and Craig and I get a pizza - swedish style. Pepperoni here is a Jalapeno type pepper and they top the pizza with some sort of meat that tastes a little like barbequed chicken. It's good. We buy fresh strawberries from a street vendor - tiny and very sweet and eat them with ice cream at the bar with Natalia and Olga. Unlike yesterday's hustle and bustle, today has been a calm reflective day to enjoy nature and each other.



*I love a lot of things about Sweden: the well organized and inexpensive public transport system, the friendly people (who all speak English - a real plus), the cleanliness and beauty of the neighborhoods can't get a cold drink here to save your life. We found the same thing in Iceland and a few years ago when we visited the Yukon. It must be a mindset. Evidently, if you live in a place where you spend most of your year walking on and shoveling off ice - the last place you want to see the stuff is in your drink. At restaurants and B and B's, they bring a carafe of tap water to your table. Ask for ice and, IF they have it at all - they bring you a measly 2 cubes that melt as soon as you put your water in. Coke is cooled - maybe - a bit below room temperature, but not to the ice cold standards we've come to enjoy in the States. I'm walking around Sweden on the brink of dehydration and collapse, mainly because I can't stand to drink tepid water. Yeah, yeah, talk about a first world problem, right?


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