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Published: August 13th 2010
The pano at the top of the blog is also Tylosand.
For those of you unaware, I am currently in Sweden visiting my girlfriend Adina's home for the very first time. Over the next six weeks I will explore some nearby European areas, based from Adina's hometown city of Halmstad on the west coast of Sweden.
It has been one week now since the 30 hour trip across 12 time zones and landing in Copenhagen. I've had the worst jet lag experience of my life (three days of unbearable tiredness during the day combined with frustrating sleepless nights), and I am finally settled in Halmstad, with my bearings to the city center and nearby beaches. Adina's home is in a suburb of Halmstad called Gullbrandstorp (aproximately 15 minutes drive from the city center). The neighborhoods feel not-so-surprisingly European with narrow roads and roundabouts, and every home on the block has apple trees in their yard. Mostly small cars fill the streets and gasoline costs $7/gallon. The Halmstad area of Sweden is best known for its beaches. Renown as the best in Sweden, it serves as the most popular summer spot for Swedes and a common destination for Norwegians, Danes, Germans, Austrians and Swiss who are looking for sun, beach and nightlife.
Immediately beyond the suburbs, the Swedish countryside shows beautiful colors with a mix of active farmland and vibrant forests.
Lucky for me, Adina had four days off from work beginning the day I arrived here. In between meeting the masses of family and friends, Adina has acquainted me with the city, the nearest beaches which are called Vilshärad and Tylösand, and the beautiful forest that borders her backyard. Halmstad is a small city with a population of only 100,000, and the city center is about a 10 to 15 minute drive from Gullbrandstorp. The heart of the city has a lot of personality with several blocks of pedestrian malls lined with outdoor cafes and pubs. It reminds me of Main Street in Ann Arbor during the spring except covering a much larger area. A river called the Nissan cuts right through the city center as well, so if you please, you can sip your beer or coffee on the water's edge. So far its been a lovely place to spend some time walking, reading and writing, and a place I intend to spend far more time before this trip is through.
As previously mentioned, the beaches here are
We all watch as Adina carefully picks her crayfish
what make Halmstad the top summer tourist location in Sweden. If you're like me, you had no idea Sweden had famous beaches! The most famous beach of all is Tylösand. Lined with numerous hotels, restaurants, and golf courses, Tylösand is the "place to be." Stockholm's wealthiest have second homes here and the real estate is some of the most expensive in the country. On sunny summer days, the beach is packed end to end, and every day come four oclock, there is a migration of beachgoers to the south end of the beach. Here, at the fanciest hotel on the strip, is where they host the daily "After Beach" Party. An outdoor concert stage is set up just beyond the beach with a terraced lawn and three separate hotel bars looking over the stage. From 4 to 6 oclock, everyday, from early June to early August, there is a 2 hour concert where one of several cover bands plays Sweden's favorite drinking sing along songs. "After Beach" is now over until next year, but it was a very memorable experience to have. Between Tylösand and Gullbrandstorp is a quieter neighborhood beach called Vilshärad. On good weather days there are never
After Beach at TylÃ¶sand, Halmstad
Every day during the summer there's a party at the fanciest hotel on TylÃ¶sand called 'After Beach.' There is always a live band from 4 to 6 PM when a terraced lawn area, patio, and several of the hotel bars turn to face the stage which sits just off the beach. Very cool scene.
waves to speak of at Sweden's beaches, and softened by Hawaii's warm waters as I am, the ocean is a bit colder here than I prefer. Nevertheless, its always refreshing and invigorating to jump in the ocean, and the beaches here are as good as Kauai's when it comes to that.
The last few days I have also been spending a lot of time taking Adina's dog, Snobben, for walks in the massive forest that borders Adina's home. The forest strikes me as especially green and healthy. I suppose it thrives off the ample sunlight of the long summer days. It is currently filled with blueberries and raspberries, and blackberries and edible wild mushrooms will be prominent in a few weeks. A beautiful morning walk through the forest is especially enjoyable when you can pick hand fulls of fresh berries to snack on along the way.
Aside from the nearby city, beach and forest which I have been exploring at my leisure, I have spent a day sightseeing along the coast south of Halmstad. It is beautiful everywhere you look on a good weather day this time of year, but Båstad and Hovs Hallar were two especially beautiful
A walk near Adina's brother's house
The suburbs of Halmstad city are immediately surrounded by active farmlands.
spots. Båstad, a very quaint town with cobblestone streets, is another popular summer destination but much smaller than Halmstad. Shops and restaurants sit right on the water beside a large tennis arena where an annual professional tennis tournament is hosted. Another 20 minutes drive down the coastline from Båstad is Hovs Hallar. Here, a small mountain drops into the ocean exposing rock formations and beautiful rocky shorelines. Nestled between, in, and around the rocks are beautiful flowers and blackberries. Trails wind throughout this coastal stretch, and from everywhere in the park you look out on the blue sea. Yet another virgin spot in the world.
The last story I want to share for now is about the great Swedish tradition of the crayfish party! One hundred years ago, it was law that crayfish could only be fished in August which led to an annual August celebration where crayfish is the entrée and Swedish schnapps is the drink of choice. There's no specific date to celebrate - as long as its in August. This past Sunday we celebrated and its one tradition I may try to bring back to Hawaii. Everybody wears crayfish hats and bibs, buckets of crayfish are
Nissan River through Halmstad City
Taken with iphone from Adina's friend's apartment.
spread across the table, and every 5 minutes throughout the meal there is a crayfish song sing-along followed by a "skål" (cheers in Swedish) and sip of your drink. By the end of the meal, everybody is drunk, full, and covered in crayfish juices.
In a few hours I am off for a weekend in Norway and next week to Stockholm! Til then, hej då (goodbye!)
Make sure you look at all of the photos - there are three pages of them. They tell the story best.
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