July 2016 – I broke with the tradition of going on a holiday during the calmer periods of the year. My choice was a country with islands, beaches, sunshine, good food and…where I can practice my new language.
Ibiza? No, too cool for me (not cool as in cold ofcourse)
Sydney? No, I would go gaga spending that much time on a plane
Hawaii? No, but maybe next time.
The Carribean? “Me don’t speak Patois”…(yet)
Destination? The trendy capital of Sweden: Stockholm.
Part 1 features island hopping, the Swedish coffee break and my experiences with learning Swedish. You’ll find interesting links with ‘more Sweden’ at the end of the article. Part 2 features shopping tips for the trendy area Södermalm.
A Thousand Islands
One of my main reasons for choosing Stockholm is that you can stay in an urban setting with numerous musea, cool shops, walking routes,… and also enjoy idyllic isolated areas with pastures, small forests and lakes.
The islands near Stockholm (which is a combination of islands itself) are called The archipelago. There are literally thousands of them! Some are the size of a large rock, while others are worth a daytrip.
I visited the small but very green island of Grinda (Southern Grinda). My criteria were: an island that is easy to reach in less than 3 hours and which is not too crowded. Due to the wonderful weather in July there actually were a lot of visitors, but not up to the point of having to queue a long time everywhere. When you get straight off the boat there are large rocks and a small strip of beach where you can soak up the sun and go for a swim. There were only a few people on that part of the island during late afternoon, so absolutely fine and calm for me.
How to reach Grinda? I took the boat at Kungsträdgården in Stockholm. Waxholmsbolaget operates beautiful boats with vintage wooden interiors. You can take a seat inside or on the deck where you can feel the breeze. It’s possible to have a meal,drink or snack on the boat (or to bring your own lunch alternatively). It’s best to queue at least 30 min. prior to your boat’s departure during the summer season(queues). The boat makes several stops and tickets can be bought on board.
Time to eat (and drink)
A fika is a coffee break, which you can enjoy with other people or just by yourself. The definition isn’t very strict: you can also have e.g. lemonade, tea or a milkshake…instead of ‘Kaffe’ (coffee)
And it gets better! Pastry makes it complete. Two all time classics are the chokladboll* and the cinnamon roll (Kanellboll). The complete range of Swedish desserts is much larger though…
Do it yourself: Chokladboll
A Chokladboll is, simply translated a chocolate ball. It’s key ingredients are cocoa, oatmeal, butter or margarine and a sweetener (usually sugar). I used a traditional recipe from chokladbollar.net as a base, and made a custom version (that is also suitable for vegans)
3 table spoons of cocoa
300 ml of oatmeal
100 gr of margarine
150 ml of rice sirup
a pinch of vanilla sugar
grinded dry coconut
Mix the sirup and margarine in a large bowl. You want to obtain a homogenous mass. Add the oatmeal and cocoa. The mixture is now ready for you to start rolling it into little balls. It’s sticky and that’s why you’ll gently roll it through the grinded coconut until the ball is covered. You can roll 10 medium chokladbollar with this quantity (or more smaller ones).
You now have a Swedish companion for your coffee, enjoy!
Talar du Svenska ?
[Do you speak Swedish?]
I started learning Swedish in november 2015 by using the duolingo app. I took conversation classes a few months later with a Swedish student. Learning a new language takes time, however the app made it very accessible to get started.(another thing to remove from the bucket list). For me, speaking with a native Swede made my knowledge evolve in a few weeks. I can now have a simple conversation and be understood, what a relief! By the way, the Swedes were patient and pleasantly surprised that I could speak a bit of their language, so if you’re learning and you want to practice: don’t be shy. *Most people in Stockholm speak English just fine, so don’t be worried though if you don’t speak Swedish.
You can follow me on instagram: http://www.instagram.com/aypaucoffee/
Fabian Schmid made a cosy series of short films about the Fika phenomenon, watch it on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/167658298
Island information: http://www.stockholmarchipelago.se/en
If you live or work near Brussels and you want to learn a Scandinavian language: http://www.scandinavianschool.be
*special thanks to T. Berglöf for the conversation classes