Arriving to Villa Azure

Still Saturday, November 4th, 2017

After a long flight – about 2 hours to Amsterdam, a 4 hour layover, and then 10 hour flight to Curaçao – we finally arrived at Hato International Airport in Willemstad. We picked up our rental car, a Kia Sportage SUV (even though I had ordered a pickup truck, but they were all rented out), from Alamo and drove a short distance – only 15-20 minutes, to Blue Bay, or Blauwbaai as it’s called in Dutch. Well, we did take a wrong turn which resulted in some driving on dirt roads in pitch black darkness… But Kelly guided us back to civilization and we got to the resort only a little bit later than planned.

We were greeted by the property manager, Jan-Willem, who showed us around the house. It’s spacey to say the least, as it has room for six people and we’re only three! It’s also very beautiful and well-equipped; I think we’ll enjoy a comfortable stay here :).

A nice, big patio just for us!

This is where we are on the island:

There were only two minor issues: the wifi wasn’t working, but Jan-Willem said he would get right on fixing that next morning, and the grocery store closed at 19:30, meaning we had no food or drink. But no worries, we strolled down to the beach and had dinner at the Sunset Bar & Grill. After a quick meal, we went back to the house and fell asleep faster than one can say “This is going to be an awesome vacation”.

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New trip – returning to Curaçao

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Finally, we’re going back to the island of Curaçao. We were there two years ago and had a wonderful vacation, with sun, warmth, and lots and lots of diving. November isn’t a fun month to be in Sweden, since it’s cold and dark and rainy, but not cold enough for snow and fun winter sports. It’s much better to go somewhere sunny for a while!

Much of the trip is exactly the same as last time. The alarm went off at 2:15 in the night (I refuse to call it “morning”) and the taxi picked us up at 4:15 to take us to our 6:30 flight to Amsterdam. From Amsterdam we had a 10 hour flight to Willemstad, Curaçao. We are going away for two weeks in the middle of November, and coming back just in time for when it’s reasonable to start seeing Christmas decorations. We’ll be diving with the Dive Bus, like last time.

Then there are some things that are different. This time, we have company! Rosario is going with us on this trip :). Also, instead of staying in a hotel, we have rented a beautiful house right near Blue Bay beach, and a car so that we can explore the island on our own.

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Villa Azure in Blue Bay Village

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Villa Azure kitchen/patio/living room

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Villa Azure

Apart from the friendly crew at the Dive Bus, we also know someone on Curaçao this time. A former coworker of mine, Frida, moved to Curaçao not long after we went there on our last vacation. We hope to see her and hear about what life on the island is like!

Junkön

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

I woke up to the squeaky noise of the fenders against the dock. It was a very windy day, and they made an almost moaning sound as the boat pressed against them. Coming back to the boat from the bathroom, I detected the wonderful, tantalizing smell of bacon, which meant that Fredrik was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. Veronica and Kelly came back from the morning walk with the dogs, and we had the bacon together with scrambled eggs, sliced apples and a fragrant Ceylon tea. Our hosts are spoiling us with all the nice food!

Pedro’s resting after his morning walk

We decided to stay in the harbor today, rather than going out and battle the waves. Junkön is a nice place to hang out for the day, with some things to explore, and we also booked the sauna for later!

Veronica and I went for a walk to the art gallery on the island, which was also a souvenir shop. I found some nice presents for my parents, made by local artists. The boys were out walking the dogs and joined us there. We sat outside the gallery in the sun and talked to the locals for a while. Then we walked the dogs for a bit and went back to the harbor.

The art gallery / shop in the house to the right.

Veronica found a cute, simple little clay ocarina (lergök) that she bought as a gift. 

Beautiful pottery for sale

Fredrik, Kelly and Pedro looking out on the harbor

This is where the sauna is!

Alvilda @ Junkön

Gästhamn = Guest harbor

Cuddle time with Pedro ♥
Back at the boat, we had a barbecue. Veronica fired up the grill and made some really tasty burgers.

Pretty avocados on a pretty plate

Healthy food coming up! Bun-less burgers 🙂

After yet another delicious meal, it was time for sauna! The guest harbor offers a nice, big, wood-fired sauna and it was just lovely to sit in there and soak up the heat and the steam. There was only one shower though, and it was in the next building. So we had to take turns going to the shower: Fredrik went first and then Kelly after. He came back and told me and Veronica that the shower was an absolutely horrible experience at the moment. Apparently people had gathered in the café/restaurant area (on the other side of the wall from the shower area) and were having a surströmming event. For all non-Swedes, surströmming is fermented fish that smell like a billion farts. And some people, particularly in the north, actually get together and eat it. The smell travels far and wide, and in this case, into the shower room…

Thankful for the warning, Veronica and I decided to stay away from the other building and the awful smell. Instead, we used the buckets of hot water in the sauna to wash with. And we finished the whole bathing experience by jumping (climbing) into the sea outside the sauna and taking a quick dip – which is what you’re kinda supposed to do when using the sauna. It’s something about the cold and the hot being good for you. And it was brrrr chilly but oh so refreshing! Unlike the guys, we felt clean and invigorated afterwards.

When we came back to the Alvilda, Fredrik had prepared drinks for us! “New fashioned”, which is their take on the Old Fashioned cocktail. Fredrik and Veronica don’t eat a lot of carbs, and their version of the classic drink substitutes freshly squeezed orange juice for the sugar. It was good! And a nice way to end a relaxing day, with some drinks and great conversation :).

Finally, a note on the name of the place, Junkön. Junkön does not mean The Junk Island. But it kinda does… (because “ön” means “the island”). So what does Junk in Swedish mean then? Well, in this case, it’s an old way of saying the name Johan in the Lule dialect. So, the island is named after an inhabitant by the name of Johan.

En dag på Skvalpen

Friday, August 4th, 2017
A day at Skvalpen

Today we sailed from Likskär to Skvalpen, further out in the archipelago.


Still at Likskär. There will be so many pictures of those cute dogs… and owners 😉

The sea was a bit choppy, and I ended up getting slightly seasick on the way. It really wasn’t a problem; I just had to sit and stare at where we were going so I didn’t get nauseous. Kelly felt worse than me, I think. He might’ve had a little much of the wine last night 😉 and he also made the mistake of going into the cabin, which quickly makes one more seasick. We arrived at Skvalpen and instantly felt better, when we got some protection from the wind and the waves. We anchored outside the sandy little island.

Luckily, Veronica knows exactly how to cure a slight bit of motion sickness (and possible hangover) – with food! She made a very quick snack/meal out of sausages (the classical Bullens pilsnerkorv, a must when you’re out at sea!) dipped in mustard and eaten with some cheddar cheese. It was fabulous.

All perked up after our little meal, we got a bunch of our stuff into the inflatable dinghy and headed to the beach. We were prepped for a nice day on the beach with inflatable sofas, kites, snacks, water, dogs, blankets and more…

Our dinghy on the beach

Beach sofas coming up!

Kelly, Pedro and Gordon

Fredrik and Veronica had been very curious about kite surfing, so Kelly took out the trainer kite. He showed them how it works and they both played around with it a bit.

Kelly explaining the basics of kiting

Chillin’ on the beach

Gordon’s wondering what Kelly’s doing over there…

Alvilda

After having a snack on the beach, Kelly got the big kite out! It’s quite a different experience; the trainer kite is 2,5 m² as opposed to the big kite which is 12 m². Kelly and I launched the kite and showed how it works and how it’s different from the trainer kite. Veronica tried it out – on land, not in the water. Kelly attached his own harness to hers, and that was a very good idea. One wrong turn of the kite, and it pulled them both off their feet. It looked a bit dramatic but no one was hurt and the kite’s safety features worked as it should. I think both Kelly and I was more concerned that it scared Veronica, but she was completely unfazed. She’s a badass!

Kelly kiting

Time to leave…

We ended up spending something like five hours at Skvalpen! We would have stayed the night there if we could, but the weather report said that the wind direction would change during the night, making it an unsuitable place to anchor. Instead we left the island and headed to Junkön, so that we could spend the night safely in harbor.

The wind picked up and it was a bit cold on our way to Junkön. I ended up steering the whole way, partly so I wouldn’t get seasick again, but also because it’s fun 🙂 . When we arrived at the little fishing harbor, it was very late – past midnight! The wind and the waves made going into the harbor and up to the dock a bit difficult and stressful. Fredrik had to make very quick decisions as we went in, but it all went well.

Beautiful sunset

Kelly keeping Pedro warm ♥

Working hard or hardly working?

I realized that I was very cold as soon as I stopped focusing on steering the boat. In fact, I should have paid attention much earlier, because I was cold to the bone and didn’t feel so good in general. I put on a lot of clothes, and Fredrik and Veronica turned on the space heater and made the cabin really warm. It helped me get back to a normal body temperature. Veronica prepared sausage and creamed cabbage for a very, very late dinner (past 1 am!); it was so delicious! We literally licked the bowls, so there wasn’t even anything for the dogs to clean…

Leaving Luleå and going out to the archipelago

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

We met up with Fredrik and Veronica in Luleå harbor in the morning. They also have two furry family members, Gordon and Pedro, who greeted us with excitement. We started out with having a cup of tea onboard Alvilda, their sailboat, and made a plan for the day.

Kelly and Fredrik stayed in the harbor to pack the boat with our stuff from the car, put some of their stuff in the car, go to the store and buy a new lamp for the boat, and play with install a new radio. Veronica and I took care of the errands in town: oriental grocery store, pharmacy, Systembolaget and lots of grocery shopping.

Back at the boat, with all our chores done, we enjoyed lunch in the sun. Already at this point, I was certain that this would be an awesome trip. We are in the company of foodies! 😉

After a tasty meal, it was time to sail away. We left Luleå behind us and steered towards Liggskär (according to the charts) or Likskär (according to the sign on the island).


Leaving Luleå. To the right are the yellow and blue icebreakers that keep Swedish harbors open during the winter. To the left you can (just barely) see the cathedral of Luleå sticking up above the other buildings.


Kelly and Fredrik

Veronica and Gordon

Pedro on my lap

When we arrived in Liggskär/Likskär, it was time for dinner (and wine!) so Veronica fired up the barbecue.


Alvilda

We all went out to walk the dogs on the beach. The sunset was amazing, and the full moon even more so.

Chapter 2 of the Hubble Summer Adventure 2017

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

It's time to embark on the next chapter of our trip. We're meeting up with our friends Fredrik and Veronica here in Luleå and are going out with them on their sailboat in the archipelago for a few days. We are (and have been for a while) incredibly excited about this! Since we just bought a sailboat ourselves, we are also hoping to learn a lot from them, as they are very experienced sailors.

Their boat is an Allegro 33 and they have sailed it from the west coast of Sweden all the way up to Bottenviken.

The red point is their starting point and the blue is the current position.

Fredrik has blogged about their transition to life as digital nomads on his blog metallapan.se.

Driving to Luleå

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Today we split up – Fredrik, Camilla and Vendla went south to visit friends in Östersund (and head towards home), whereas we went north-east to the coast. I missed them as soon as I saw them go the other way in my rear view mirror.

Kelly and I drove all day to get to Luleå by the evening. It was an uneventful day apart for some pretty views of the landscape and some wildlife on the road: a mother grouse and two chicks, and many reindeers.

We didn't get any pictures of the grouse and chicks, but this is what they looked like:


The reindeers aren't very difficult to take pictures of, since they couldn't care less about people, or cars…


We arrived in Luleå at about 6 o'clock in the evening. We booked a very basic cabin at Örnvik Hotell & Konferens and booked the laundry room as well. In the evening we switched from hearing only the sounds of the wind in the trees, and the soft rushing of the river rapids in the distance, to the sounds of civilization: music, people, traffic. But there were at least no mosquitoes.