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Published: March 7th 2016
We had been on the road for hours before we got our first glimpse of the beautiful lighthouse by the sea. Our route had taken us southwest from the little red and white summerhouse on the shores of Lake Mälaren, past the medieval town of Arboga and the picturesque Göta Canal, between Sweden’s two largest lakes, Vänern and Vättern, and into Göteburg, Sweden’s second largest city. We ate an excellent lunch at the home of Maria’s friend, Ylva, while we sat and watched Göteburg’s picturesque waterfront from the top of a bluff. After lunch, Ylva joined us as our journey continued southward along Sweden’s west coast. Eventually, we turned off of the highway and followed a small country road between the rolling fields that lined the coast. We spotted the lighthouse a short time later and then we arrived in Glommen, a small fishing village with a tiny harbor packed with colorful fishing boats and sailboats. The lighthouse stood on a rise just across a narrow inlet from town and, together with the lovely harbor and its colorful boats, formed an idyllic seaside vista.
We decided to stop and explore Glommen before we continued on to Morups Tånge.
We walked around the small harbor, which was dominated by a large fish factory, a field strewn with colorful fishing nets lying out to dry, and several large fishing vessels. We watched a jellyfish swim past one of the large, rust-streaked mooring chains in the crystal clear water beside one of the piers as several of the fishing vessels motored past and headed out to sea. We left the harbor and walked down to the end of the road where there was a large rock called the Glomsten, which was one of many that had been placed on the shoreline around a thousand years ago to help the ancient mariners navigate the treacherous waters around Morups Tånge – The rock was high and dry, showing how much the water level had receded over the years. From there we watched the colorful fishing boats fan out toward the horizon and then we walked back to the car.
We left the harbor and drove to the edge of town and then back into the countryside. A short time later we turned onto a narrow dirt track that passed through a cattle gate and continued into the green costal pastures.
We came to a stop at a group of buildings in the shadow of the old lighthouse. Ylva opened another gate and she and her mom directed us into a small, grassy driveway attached to the first group of buildings. Over the next few minutes I met Ylva’s family and we were given a quick tour of the home. To say that Ylva’s parents’ home was stunning would be an understatement. It was, perhaps, the most perfect representation of my dream home that I have yet encountered. The house itself was old in the most charming of ways and it was clear that it had been well kept over the years. We were shown into a guest room in a small building that had once served as a chicken coop. The house and the out buildings were nestled into a small, beautifully landscaped garden paradise in the heart of the sprawling, seaside nature reserve of Morup’s Tånge. From just about anywhere in their yard I could see the grand lighthouse – It was a perfect place!
We decided to go for a quick swim in the sea before dinner, so we quickly changed and headed down to
the shore. Less than five minutes later we were wading into the calm, boulder-strewn bay that separated the town of Glommen from the reserve. The water was warm and pleasant, so it didn’t take long before we were swimming. Large jellyfish were plentiful in the crystal clear water around us. Ylva promised us that there were two types of jellyfish in the area and the ones that we were seeing, the blue-tinted ones, were harmless. She went as far as picking one up and handing it to us to prove her point. I was surprised as I tentatively held the appropriately named jellyfish in my hand – I was under the impression that all of them could sting you. A short time later, as Ylva was swimming out into the deeper water, we heard a panicked splash as she stopped in her tracks and quickly came back to us – She had almost collided with one of the stinging jellyfish, the ones with a red tint. The sun was descending and we had learned enough about jellyfish, so we headed back to the house, stopping to marvel at an odd contraption that served as a water fountain for the cows
- When they stuck their large noses into the small basin the water would start flowing.
That evening we all gathered around a long table out in the garden and we ate a wonderful dinner and talked until the stars came out. After dinner Maria and I took a short walk in the garden and then we sat and watched the light from the lighthouse go around and around while we looked out toward the sea. There was a gentle breeze stirring the salty air and a newly fallen blanket of dew on the grass when we returned to the chicken coop and went to sleep.
We woke up early the next morning and spent the day in leisure. We walked along the pebbly beach, plucking up wave-worn glass from amongst the clumps of seaweed. We swam in the cool water and we walked through the rolling seaside fields of the reserve. My love of lighthouses necessitated a walk around the old lighthouse, which was constructed in the 1840s to guide ships through the treacherous waters after a shipwreck claimed several lives just off shore. Its massive white and black tower stood alone on
a grassy rise just above the sea, its light still guiding passing ships along the coast.
Between our little outings we spent our time in the garden playing kuub, a traditional Swedish lawn game that was a lot of fun, and eating and talking about the world. Late in the afternoon, after many of the fishing vessels had returned, we walked across the small inlet to Glommen to see what the catch of the day was. We returned with a massive slab of monkfish, which we turned into another amazing meal in the garden. After dinner I grabbed my tripod and we set out to take a nighttime walk to a place that would give us a good view of the lighthouse in the darkness. We found a place at the base of a long, curving rock-rubble wall and I took several pictures as we watched the light beneath a blanket of stars – It was a beautiful evening!
The next morning we said farewell to our friends and to the wonderful old house by the sea and to the lighthouse that dominated the landscape and we set our sites back towards Enköping. We
followed a new route for part of the way before rejoining our original route. We paused for fica at a small settlement on the Göta Canal and we sat in the sun and watched the lovely boats go by. After fica we walked through the town’s museum, which had an interesting assortment of memorabilia and history on its upper floor, and then we watched a glassblowing demonstration before hitting the road again.
Our next stop was in the medieval town of Arboga to visit with some of Maria’s family there. Arboga is a famous town in Sweden. In 1435 the town was the location of the first parliamentary session in Sweden. The choice to move the capital of Sweden to Stockholm saved Arboga’s historic center and its cobblestone streets. Now Arboga is considered one of the best examples of a medieval town in Sweden. Its narrow cobblestone alleys, traditional buildings and the picturesque river running right through town make it an amazing place to spend some time. To highlight its medieval importance the town has a yearly middle ages festival where people dress up and have music and events and markets and food and drink and lots
of merrymaking. As luck would have it, we arrived right in the middle of the festivities! We spent several hours walking around the old town center taking in the sights and sounds of the Middle Ages. We walked along the canal admiring the lovely stonework and old red and white wooden structures and then we turned up a beautiful cobblestone street that seemed to be the heart of the action.
As we passed a lively place serving wild boar kebobs and playing traditional music we heard, “MARIA!” being shouted from a group of revelers at a long table in the middle of the action. We found her great aunt and cousin sitting there with several friends, so we joined them for dinner and a lot of fun. Later, we walked back to her cousin’s home for fica and then we put Arboga behind us and headed back to Maria’s mom’s house in Lillkyrka.
Our road trip to Sweden’s west coast was over. The following night we left Lillkyrka and passed back through Enköping on our way out of town. A few minutes later we turned down the familiar oak-lined alley, drove past
Haga castle, lit up in all its glory, and then rumbled our way down the dirt road through the dark fields along the lake. One last turn and we stopped beneath the ancient oak beside the beautiful red and white summerhouse. It was time to slow things down a bit and absorb all of the wonderful things that the beautiful Scandinavian summer had to offer.
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