In the spirit of allemansrätten, I braced myself for a canoeing trip in Färnebofjärden, one out of twenty-nine national parks in Sweden. Unaware of what allemansrätten is? Sigh, you should have understood and remembered this term when you think about Sweden. Check the answer on Elke’s post and see how serious Swedes are regarding this law. For this adventure, I went with three of my friends so it was four people, three days, two canoes, and two newbies on canoeing which included myself. Furthermore, this was my first camping trip which made my expectation on succeeding and loving those dry toilets very low.
This park sits upon four regions which are Västmanland, Uppsala, Gävleborg and Dalarna. The plan was to start at the very north (top part on the map above), went to the south and returned back to the north while visited the other three spots. I was in the aluminum boat, which my partner called as The Silver Star later on the journey (such a cheesy name, I know).
As it was already afternoon when the journey started, the next stop would be the place where we would spend the night in the tent. My friends set up the tent inside a wind shelter at the west bay of Sand ön. I had an excuse to not help them built it as I was taking this picture.
No camping is complete without a trial in making fire. Get yourself entertained on my first (awkward) attempt in making fire with the help of matches of course, duh!
It was time to leave the white sand beach which some would call as the Saint Tropez of Sweden. After a dip in the clear water, the rough night of sleeping in the tent with the wind blowing from the west was forgotten as I felt refreshed and ready to start another canoeing journey. The first destination of the day is the observation tower at Skekarsbo. They said the height was 20 meters but it felt like 90, perhaps my fear in height was exaggerating.
Being a typical Asian, I used the time that my friends waste to figure out our location and route, to take a selfie. It is good to have documentation that life does not go smoothly and everyone experience lost in their journey from time to time, but living in the moment is still necessary.
Being placed at the front of the boat (and my boat was in the front most of the time), I was the first to see what lies ahead of us. It was a scary moment when my partner said there was a red-brown thing moving in the front, I saw it swim- float and got scared by this intense experience of Färnebofjärden landscape. In my head, I knew that it was almost impossible to encounter such large snake in Sweden but my paranoid mind was blocking me for being rational. Turns out, it was a beaver.
Another intense moment was the peaceful feeling I got when we got lost and stumbled upon a beautiful scenery. It was also where I encountered a heron, another beaver and the infamous white-tailed eagle (which was an endangered species in Sweden, a successful story in nature reservation). As I rowed the boat further, Doge appeared in my head saying,
On the way to Hällh where an open cabin is located (means that everyone can use the cabin without reservation needed), we took a stop by the Bårbyhällen where I felt super zen. Slept on the rock by the bay, surrounded by water, listened to the clapping of Swedish trees and birds chirping – what more could I ask for.
Food played a big role in the journey. The binge eating of vegetables, bread, cheese, fruits, and chocolate kept the spirit high and body healthy. It was quite tricky to prepare for the food as bringing too much would be annoying but having too little on the journey was a problem as well. Despite this, I was so happy to make use of my pocket knife properly which I got eleven years ago – years of waiting finally paid off!
Finally, it was time to packed up and went back to the city life. Even so, I felt fulfilled from this adventure that I think I would want to have another canoeing trip in the future. I never thought to have experienced all the things I did on this journey. The last sunset from Hällh was just breathtaking.
This trip really showed me the beauty of Swedish nature and summer. I encountered a heron, two beavers alongside the numerous birds and insects. It really felt different to see animals in their natural habitat compared to seeing them through a television screen. Months of windy and snowy weather was forgotten – who said that Sweden is cold? Even Marina regretted of not spending summer in Sweden after she had spent the dark winter. Here, I had learned to embrace the sunlight and getting my skin tanned is not a bad thing (you would understand why it is a bad thing if you are from Asian countries). If you have not yet convinced on the importance of summer holiday in Swedish culture, then I suggest you listen to Edite’s podcast.