We have kept to the coast and the sun has stayed with us and then some. We hoped for some sunshine whilst we were up here but we have been totally spoiled with blue skies and the thermometer reading over 24 degrees and up to 28 degrees all week. The good weather and our love for the area have combined to mean we have stayed a week longer here than we planned or expected.
We finally found where the Moose hang out 🙂
The South East coast in Sweden is, be their own admission, overlooked for tourism. Considering its the worlds biggest archipelago, with over 30,000 islands, skerries and islets, it’s amazing to us that the tourists don’t flock here. To be fair the main attraction is the sea, islands, more sea and then some more islands. But if you like those things, as we do, then it’s a pretty amazing place.
The views most of the time are very like this
The majority of visitors come in by boat or yacht, there are marinas large and small on every cove. Talking marina here is much less than talking them at home, here more a small harbour with maybe a cafe, basic facilities and space for half a dozen boats. That said some very exclusive and expensive vessels pull in for a night or two.
Another night – another harbour
We pottered down as far as Monsteras, saw it was flat with plenty of cycle paths so we pitched up for a couple of days. The village itself had a church, a few shops, a Wok’n’Go kiosk and not much else. It’s major claim to fame apparently is its links to the writer of the hymn “How Great thou art”, Carl Boberg. Other than that it was just small town with an impressive cobbled main street, pleasant enough to walk around for an hour.
Monsteras to Okno
We found our favourite ever Tourist Information centre in Monsteras, they didn’t just give us leaflets, they gave us a whole goody bag – a bag (obviously), pens, soft drinks, sweets, water, bottle opener, trolley coin and of course a ton of literature. Little things, but they make all the difference so first impressions were great.
Based on this we took their tip of visiting Pataholm. I was reasonably sure it was 7 or 8 miles, I must have mis-read something though as it was 16 miles each way! Long hot cycle ride so we were hoping for something pretty special when we arrived.
To be totally honest Pataholm wasn’t jaw droppingly amazing – it was just 10 or 12 very cute cottages on a cobbled street. With only 20 residents it was never going to be a massive town but it was once a market town for the area and they have beautifully preserved the buildings turning them into cafes and craft shops.
It seemed safer to let Iain chose the next destination, we cycled straight down to Okno, a small island liked to the mainland by a causeway. As with everywhere we have been in Sweden the local children were congregated around a diving platform – as soon as the sun shines the Swedish youngsters appear to head for the water, fun for them and very entertaining for the holiday-makers to watch :).
National past-time of Swedish youngsters
The island of Oland was down on the list for at least a night. We drove over on the imaginatively named Oland Bridge (6km / 3 mile and toll free – bargain). On arrival we were both a bit under-whelmed, the roads run along the middle of the island only glimpsing the sea. We stopped off to have a look at some of the famous windmills, and both agreed not to go any further along the island road. With it being a roasting day and the weekend coming up traffic was queuing back over the bridge – all in all it wasn’t going to be for us.
Oland Windmill – one of many
Instead we aimed for Sandholm – a little spot of nothing in the far South East. The two guys who run the marina here kindly offered Iain the use of a kayak! No instructions, no nothing just a life jacket and in. My heart stopped several times before he left dry land – as he paddled away the harbour-master and a couple of sunbathers were loudly humming the theme tune from “Jaws” – gives you loads of confidence then!
Next stop Finland??
However it has to be said that within a few minutes “Jaws” had been replaced by “Hawaii Five O” humming. Several trips around the harbour, and no fish, people or other boats were harmed in the taking of these photos. The only downside is Iain now wants a kayak, confident he won’t injure himself on the kayak – it’s the getting it on and off the van roof that will cause the damage (to him, the roof and the kayak!)
Eat your heart out Steve McGarrett
Call it what you will but we are struggling to move on from Sandhamn. The harbour consists of a few guest moorings and several spots for motorhomes. there is a cafe, a supermarket 10 minutes away and a nature reserve which stretches down the peninsular. Whilst there are a good few boats and motorhomes here its very peaceful. The main activities here are fishing and sunbathing – I have joined in with the latter were Iain has been out partaking of the former.
Fishing in the last of the evening sunshine at 9pm
Last night most people were still sat outside at 10 pm watching the sunset, a few drinks were passed around and we were invited over by some Swedish people for a drink and a chat about travelling. All in all it suts us well here, we should be moving on but just paid for another night so we are here for a bit longer.
Sunset over Sandhamn Hamn