Touring the Archipelago of Gothenburg, Sweden
A good day for me is one that includes water and boats, so when the mention of visiting the archipelago just outside Gothenburg came up I was definitely game to spend the day hopping ferries in Sweden. We ate a lunch of fried herring, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry sauce before getting on a tram to take us to the Salthomen Ferry Terminal. Once there we boarded the ferry bound for Asperö, a trip that took maybe 15 minutes. Despite the cold and mist drifting around I stayed on the top deck because, well, I'm a boat and water person and this was an exhilarating ride. Mists drifted in and out of consciousness and the water bore the distinct steely grey of a moody day.
WELCOME TO THE ISLANDS
Others joined me on the top deck from time to time.
The route to Asperö wound between several small rocky islands until we hit open water for several minutes.
I think of Sweden as the scene of the prettier walks I've taken. The mixture of the seaside with wilder, rocky spots of heather and bare trees is an exhilarating mix. The wind almost always blows fresh and straight from the North Sea and the paths wind between white birches, heather and little pools of bewitching beauty.
Toward the southerly part of Asperö we found the inhabited part of the island. It seems there aren't many cars here, if any, and most of the people we saw were riding bikes with carts.
Waiting to board the ferry to Brännö. We had about half an hour before the next boat came which we occupied by walking around. One of the highlights was seeing a jellyfish in the harbor, spotted by Natasha. It was a slightly surreal feeling to see it bobbing in the chilly waters of the North Sea. Fascinating.
Brännö was a completely eclectic experience for me. In many respects it was like Asperö, except for one very unique cafe. We didn't walk nearly as far as we did on the other island because it was threatening to rain and we had been waiting for our fika for hours.
I had two bizarre experiences with cafes and coffee shops in Scandinavia and this was the first one (the second happened in Bergen and will no doubt be featured in my Bergen posts). We walked into this place and it looked like what would happen if you gave a group of giant 10-year-olds from the Mediterranean: an old railway dock, Goodwill couches, scaffolding, and the leftover wreckage of a tsunami. It just kept getting weirder every way we turned. The music was marimba, the decor in the cafe typical of coastal towns where retirees live, and the cold wind tugged at the tarps and blankets that formed the walls of many of the little "rooms." Metal tables with red checked tablecloths stretched out to meet the sea, and boats were stuck randomly in an upright position.
The proof is in the slideshow, below.
Nevertheless we had a delicious fika here with the chill and oddities to keep us company. The hot tea, in all it's ordinary Lipton glory, made me feel like I could walk another five miles.
OUR FIRST FIKA IN SWEDEN
Below you see pictured a cardamom and cinnamon roll. The cinnamon rolls in Sweden are much less sweet and gooey than American ones: more like spicy, soft bread with a coarse sugar on top. I was enchanted. I'm never a fan of how sweet Americans make so many of their desserts and pastries so this was near perfection to me.
During fika. Smiles warmed as stomachs filled.
After fika: now look at the happiness.
This concludes our day on a few of the southern islands. The high points were the walk on Asperö, the wind and water and boats, and the memory of the fika. I also enjoyed watching how the residents lived, and the bikes with carts that were rigged to carry home everything from toaster ovens to toilet paper, to milk for supper. Visiting the archipelago is definitely on my list of worthwhile things to do while in Gothenburg, and gets a hearty five stars from me.
All boats, trams and buses are covered in the tickets purchased for Västtrafik (public transport) at ticket centers and 7-Elevens. We had a pass card for three days and simply boarded the ferry located at the Saltholmen Ferry Terminal, bound for the southern part of the archipelago. You could bring your bike along to explore the southerly islands.
Note: To get to the northern archipelago one leaves from Lilla Varholmen. The northern ferries are for cars as well, and don't need a ticket.