Fun day with visitors

It’s already Friday! And we discussed what to do over breakfast. Should we stay here on Öland for another day? Should we go to Varberg on the west coast of Sweden where David is heading today? It was hard for us to make up our minds since we both want to go to Varberg, and at the same time we want to enjoy the beautiful day here in Haga Park. And then, our friends Elisabet and Moutasm called! They and their children are going south from Västervik to Blekinge today to visit some friends, and they were wondering if they could stop by here to hang out with us during the day. We couldn’t have been happier and the timing was perfect! It made the decision very easy to stay one more day on Öland.

They arrived around noon and we decided to start out with getting something to eat. We went to the only nearby place we know to get lunch – StrandNära EkoCafé. We had a very tasty lunch, but it wasn’t exactly cheap. Strandnära means “close to the beach”, and it’s an organic café, hostel and Bed & Breakfast. It’s a beautiful place but it took a veeeery long time to get our food, even though we only had grilled sandwiches that were already pre-made. Us grown-ups had a nice time sitting in the garden, but the children were not fond of waiting.

Saga & Karim got their own kid’s table 🙂

After lunch, it was time to hit the beach. Kelly had been looking forward to some nice wind all day, and we wanted to show the kite to the kids. They seemed quite enthusiastic at the prospect of seeing “Kelly fly” ;). As usual when we try to kite, there was no wind… So we had a swim instead and played in the water while waiting for the wind to pick up. Saga practiced swimming and even Moutasm got into the water despite his initial protests.

After a while the wind started to pick up, and other people packed up and left. That’s usually a good sign for kiting! The wind increases = non-kiting people leave = there is more space to inflate and rig the kites. Eventually we could blow up the kite and take it out for a spin. I don’t know how excited the kids were once we got the kite out (it’s not all that exciting to watch grown-ups play with their toys) but a certain father was getting a little more into it. Kelly convinced Moutasm to try the kite and they had a blast body dragging and jumping together. Moutasm handled the bar and wore the harness, while Kelly was holding on to him at the back of the harness and telling him what to do. I think Moutasm is into kiting now!

Eventually our friends had to leave to go south to Blekinge, where they were headed. Kelly stayed out kiting until there was no more wind. I practiced some body dragging as well (that’s what it’s called when you use the kite to move your body in the water) and we got quite comfortable with launching and landing the kite together, even with all the bushes and rocks, the tight space and the huge 17 square meter kite that doesn’t exactly make things easier.


Northern Öland 

It was raining this morning. Quite a lot! We stayed in the tent until it stopped, and when we got out there were puddles of water everywhere. Some of our stuff was wet, but the sun was coming out, making it hot immediately, so we just laid our things out to dry. 

We checked today’s forecast in different apps. They all agreed that there wouldn’t be any wind today, which means no point to try the kiting. Instead we decided to go and see the northern part of the island. 

First we went as far north as possible, to the lighthouse on the farthest tip of Öland. It’s called Långe Erik (Long Erik) and it has stood there since 1845. We didn’t feel like climbing the stairs to the top, but we did walk around a bit and looked at the view of the sea from the rock beach. 

Långe Erik

Don’t build rock towers!

Then we drove back south on the same road that we came on. There seems to be one main road on the island. We stopped at a place called “Neptuni åkrar”, or “Neptune’s fields” in English. Visit Öland describes it more vividly than I could:

Where sea and sky meet

It was Linnaeus who, in 1741, gave the expanse of shingle beach and undulating embankments here the name Neptuni åkrar, and the landscape certainly looks like it has been shaped by the sea god himself. Tourists and locals alike flock here when viper’s-bugloss is flowering against the grey-white limestone. 

Wave-like embankments

The material for the beach embankments at Neptuni åkrar was once deposited by glacial action. Baltic Sea waves have then milled and ground the material to create smooth stones and washed up the stones onto the shore. This process has been going on for thousands of years while the land has being rising from the sea.

It’s apparently a very fossil rich place. We didn’t find any fossils of interest, but the view was interesting. 

Neptuni åkrar

Neptuni åkrar

Then we went to Böda Sand, the longest beach on Öland. There are claims that it’s the longest beach in Sweden, but I’ve heard the same claim about other beaches in Sweden, so someone must be wrong ;). In either case, we went to Böda Sand to experience some beach life. And wow, it was like going into a different world!

It was basically a whole theme park built up near the beach. If I was a kid, I would’ve loved it. There was a water park with a huge pirate ship, and there was live music, and more activities and commerce than we could even wrap our heads around. They have a giant camp ground to stay in and everything you didn’t even know you needed, right there at your fingertips. It was loud and bustling and very unlike the places we normally found ourselves at. 

We found a more quiet spot on the giant beach and laid down there. I meant to go in the water for a swim, but the wind picked up and made it quite cold despite the sun. It was a bit ironic really, that the wind picked up when we were far from any possibility of kiting, and in a place where we actually would have enjoyed a wind free day! Yeah yeah I know, us and our luck with weather, haha…

Böda Sand

We stayed for only 2 hours and then headed back south. The island isn’t big but it’s long! It takes a while to drive from where we are staying to the north part and back. 

There are lots of windmills on Öland

We stopped for dinner at Seasalt Kitchen in Färjestaden. It’s the town right by where the bridge to the mainland is, and the name means “Ferry town” (supposedly older than the bridge then ;)). Our instincts brought us to one of three eateries on the whole island that has been honored with an entry in the White Guide – sort of the Swedish version of Guide Michelin. We might not be very good with weather, but we are really good at finding (or stumbling upon) good food. We had a burger and a cider and finished with a scoop (some of us had two) of their homemade ice cream. It was a very nice meal!

Back at Haga Park, we talked to my brother David about what we are going to do next. He’s an experienced kite surfer and he’s heading to the west coast tomorrow. Maybe we’ll go there too? I think we need to sleep on it. Kelly is already doing just that…

First day in Öland

I woke up at 6 am after a night of constantly interrupted sleep. I tried to sleep some more until 8 o’clock, and then we got up. Part of the interruption was from the light, since the sun rose at 4:47. The larger part however, was noise. Luckily not from other people (apart from the ones trying to find their way home in the middle of the night when it was pitch black; they really freaked me out for a second), no no, Haga Park is a very nice and quiet place. The noise came from birds, mainly a) a pigeon who decided that the tree right by our tent is a fabulous spot for sitting and making annoying sounds, and b) migrating geese! As it turns out, birds migrate at night (I had no idea) and at least in the case of geese, they do not do so quietly. They were calling to each other, and since they flew over us a few at a time all night, I woke up again and again from their calls. 

Beautiful morning and a pretty nice setup!

I always have a hard time sleeping the first night in the tent, but after that, I get used to it. We at least had a very relaxing morning. We went for a walk in the area around the camp ground to see what’s around. It was a sunny, warm day with no wind. Now, I haven’t told you this yet, but we actually want wind! We are here to learn kite surfing, and to do that you need wind. Since we sort of have a thing for being unlucky with weather conditions, I can’t say that I was surprised to walk down to a sea that had the surface of a mirror. We even met a couple down by the shore who said they had never seen the sea so still. Yup, we’ve heard that before… We also ran into our kite instructor from Sälen, Anders Rolf with Öland Kitesurfers, by the shore. He does snow kiting courses in the mountains in winter, and kitesurfing courses here at Öland in the summer. Unfortunately he’s all booked up so I won’t be able to get any lessons from him this time. 

We went back to our tent to relax for a while, and waited for the wind that was supposed to pick up in the afternoon. I discovered that I managed to get a sunburn on our long walk earlier. 

At around 14 in the afternoon, we went back to the shore to check out the surf spot. The wind had picked up, and it was crowded with kitesurfers. The shore is divided up for windsurfers (they have a big piece), normal beach goers/swimmers, and kitesurfers. The kite portion is very small and blocked off with a fence on land and buoys in the water. It’s not popular when the kiters go outside their perimeters. We sat there watching them for almost an hour. The launching seemed pretty crazy with kites everywhere. Some were very inexperienced which didn’t improve the situation. We moved away after almost getting hit by a kite (and we were on the other side of the fence). 

At the kite launching area

Lots of kites!

We continued walking farther south along the shore. We saw Anders again and he told us that there’s more space to launch a kite if we walk just a little farther. So we did. We didn’t have any kite gear with us at that point, but we walked quite a long way south of the camp ground, just to see what it was like. We talked to some kiters who had set up away from the crowds, and we found out that we could even take the car over there. Walking far with all the euipment didn’t sound so appealing; being able to drive there was a definite plus! After walking for quite a while, we decided to head back to our tent and get the kite gear for a first try by ourselves. We had a quick bite to eat at the café, got our stuff together and drove to the less crowded spot farther away. When we arrived, the wind had died. Did I mention we don’t have much luck with weather? We decided to give it a shot anyway. We pumped up Kelly’s 17 square meter kite, and had to walk the lines three times before finally getting them right (= not twisted). It wasn’t easy with the limited space and all the rocks and bushes in the way. Then we launched the kite with some help from a friendly fellow kiter. Kelly tried to work the kite, but there just wasn’t enough wind to do it. He had to give up after only a short while. We took a swim instead and then packed up our stuff. 

On our way back we decided to go to the nearby town, Mörbylånga, to get some groceries. We bought some quick food to cook on our camping stove. I was happy that the food took little time to make, because mosquitos found us when we got back to the tent. As long as the sun is up, they’re not a problem, but in the evenings the mosquitos are looking for dinner too… We ate our food inside the tent and then stayed in there the rest of the evening, relaxing with some cider and chips and talking to Kelly’s mom on Hangouts. 

That was our first day in Öland!

New trip – Wait, where are we going?

It’s time for the best time of year, and no, it’s not Christmas I’m talking about. Summer in Sweden with three weeks off work, now that’s what I’m talking about. 

So what to do with all this wonderful free time? Well, Kelly and I like to spend it roaming free, going wherever we want or where the weather looks nice, living in the moment, just us, a car and a tent. Yeah, we’re like hippies in the summer ;). So the only issue with that plan is that we have to know where we want to go. At least kind of. So I know which direction to drive… And this year we were more indecisive than normal. The weather forecast didn’t help much either; it was a sort of “it might rain cats and dogs but it might be sunny and really nice” kind of situation. Eventually we decided that we are starting out with going to Öland! 

Öland is an island outside the eastern coast of Sweden. It’s the second largest island after Gotland. Öland is connected to the mainland by a bridge that was built in 1972. At 6 072 meters, it’s one of the longest bridges in Europe. Öland is a very popular holiday destination in the summer. 

Map of Öland

Our drive from Uppsala to Öland

We drove from Uppsala quite late in the day, I think it was around 13:30. That’s when we had finally decided where to go, after comparing the weather forecast with that of the west coast. Our first stop was at Tullgarns Slott (slott means castle) near Trosa in Södermanland. I was starting to get in the mood for lunch, when I saw signs for the castle on the freeway. “Let’s get off here, I bet they have something nice to eat!” I exclaimed enthusiastically. Kelly agreed, although with slightly less enthusiasm. It was a bit of a detour and since we left so late in the day, we would get to Öland pretty late as it was. Anyway, we went to Tullgarn and had a nice break there. 

Tullgarns slott

We didn’t eat there however, because the restaurant took too long and the café food didn’t look very exciting. Instead we went back the way we came and stopped at a plant nursery, Nora trädgård, with a lovely garden and café. We were greeted by a new age hippie who told us to “forget all you think you know about food, then think about what you want and then take that times 200”. He also claimed that his quiches are “the best in the galaxy” and that we didn’t have to pay if we didn’t agree. We ordered a zucchini pie and a pumpkin pie, and wow, we were not disappointed! The food was amazing, and it was really nice to sit and eat in the lush garden, very relaxing. Kelly said it reminded him of the Wild Animal Park in Escondido, CA. We are already planning on going back there, if we drive that direction going home. And oh yeah. We did pay the man! 

Yummie savoury pumpkin pie…

The rain was hanging in the air while we were eating, but luckily we had time to finish our meal and start driving before the rain poured down, accompanied by thunder and lightning. The rest of the day was spent driving; we just made a quick gas stop in Tindered (which was a very nice rest stop by a lake) and arrived at the camp ground at Haga Park, Öland, just before the reception closed at 21:00. We set up our tent and had a quick meal in the dark, and then we went to bed. 

Vacation has started! 🙂