i was excited about my trip west across sweden. i reserved a ticket on the high speed summer train.
first class in a solo seat w/ a table. less than 80 USD. they are cheaper the further in advance you book them so i booked mine from home.
my fellow passengers drifted off to sleep quickly. i was less accustomed to the rollicking nature of the train.
at first i was a bit worried about motion sickness. the train was really flying around the curves.
besides, no one else was wasting sleep over it.
i got some blogging & travel journaling done, but not as much as i'd hoped. i couldn't stop staring out the window.
soon the 5 hour trip was over and we pulled into the strömstad station.
i saw ingrid at once. here she is marching towards me with a pastry in the box for fika back at her house.
this was our first time meeting, although i have known her online since 2010. the handful of people i've met via blogging is growing. it would potentially be much larger, but i'm afraid i'm not that interested in meeting people i don't know. it's the introverted part of me. has nothing to do with shyness, but extroverted types sometimes have difficulty comprehending the desire of introverts to be immersed in their own thoughts. i write about it here because i think the desire to be by oneself needs a voice. so i'm giving it one.
when i do decide to meet people, i trust my instincts about such things and am not nervous.
right away ingrid said she had some old cottages to show me. excellent!
oh just leave your bag here and we'll walk up this lane
whaaaa? i'm from LA. we don't leave our bags in lanes, cobbled or otherwise.
here are some of strömstads oldest houses. some built in the 18th century.
this area is known as bukten. it is strömstads oldest remaining quarter.
pastel exteriors and ornate wood trim set the mood. drifting white curtains let you know there's more than meets the eye.
ingrid insisted i walk behind one of the houses to take in the garden view. while i was admiring everything one of the cottages' owners appeared.
this is the first of quite a few local swedes ingrid would strike up conversations with while i was visiting. most she knew, but in wanja's case, they had never met.
i'm charmed by small town life and listening to the lilt of swedish. so these run-ins were lovely.
wanja (pronounced vawn-yuh) was so pleased that we were interested in her garden. she hospitably invited us inside to have a look at her cottage.
i tried to hide my glee.
here she is, the exquisite wanja 83 beautiful years of age. look at that bone structure! those eyes!
i asked permission to take photos to use here on the blog and she politely agreed.
without expecting visitors, her house was in a state of natural, lived-in elegance.
in an internet age of stylized photoshoots i present to you an unvarnished real house of a real woman in strömstad, sweden.
wanja moved here by the sea permanently about 15 years ago.
norwegians make up most of the town's tourists & residents in the summer. but in winter, the year-round swedish residents go about their lives.
blomsholm, just north of stromstad has relics from the stone age to the middle ages, which include bohusläns (the name of this swedish province) largest stone circle and the third largest stone ship in the area. i didn't visit, but think it would be a very worthwhile walkabout for a future adventure.
best of all, it's a part of sweden that sees few non-scandinavian visitiors.
the harbor is filled with norwegian boats bearing norwegian flags. we are after all only a few miles from norway out here on sweden's westernmost shores
this was my favorite piece in all of the house.
but of course all of it made quite the impression.
i was moved by wanja's kindness. it meant so much to me, this glimpse into her quiet life.
wanja's wet bathing suit was hanging outside on a hook from her morning swim.
we gave our deep thanks, said our goodbyes, and soon enough made our way to the harbor to get on ingrid's very own good ship lollipop.
got on is really a silly way to describe boarding the boat. i've done a really good write up of it in my travel journal which i'll show you eventually.
until then, let's just say it is about 16 inches below the dock and it requires a bit of faith and courage to step down onto the thin rail you can see in the pic below.
ingrid's husband jonas gripped my hands firmly and down i stepped. just like that.
i pretended like it was no big deal, but it kind of scared the crap out of me.
i sat in the back and felt like i was IN THE WATER. we glided over the dark clear surface, then picked up speed and i got my first taste of salt spray. fantastic!
i held on tight as the little boat plowed through the wake of larger vessels. slap, splash, wee!
thoroughly exhilarating and...
the smell of the sea intoxicating.
i made a short video - unedited... (no time for that right now!) see for yourself
i was in a dreamworld. ingrid & jonas's house was almost too much to take in. from the train ride, to the boat ride, wanja's house, and now this. a string of earthly delights.
i am pleased to introduce moppa the best dog in all of sweden. each morning he accompanied me to the pier for my solo swimming adventure in the skagerrack sea.
i. love. this. dog.
their island is only a short boat ride from the train station & harbor in stromstad.
i unpacked while ingrid prepared fika.
jonas prepared our dinner that night.
i have more island posts coming. for now i'll leave you with some of the island's wildflowers. they scent the path to the dock where i went for my morning baptisms in the skagerrack sea.
happy saturday from stockholm!