The Road Ahead : June July 2007
TRAVEL & LEISURE 42 JUN/JLY 07 STORY & PHOTO STUART ROBERTS The arrival of summer in Sweden is a revelation. The snow has long melted and the bare trees and frozen fields have become profusely green. It's holiday season (sommar lov) and Swedes throw off their winter coats and scar ves en masse, and head for the coast in winding convoys of Volvos and SAABs. The miles of multi-laned freeways are a tribute to Swedish design, and deliver tourists to their destinations with customar y efficiency. But this coastal area is best explored by meandering sedately through the maze of winding back roads. The rolling pastures, picturesque lakes and thick fir tree forests give way to blue waters and fishing villages, with rows of brightly coloured wooden houses and rickety water front boardwalks. This is the Bohuslän area of Sweden's west coast, a tranquil archipelago dotted with craggy guano islands and Bronze Age Viking rock car vings. It's the home of Swedish herring (sill), and where enthusiastic Scandinavian holiday-makers follow in the footsteps of Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish silver screen icon, who used to retreat here for her summer holidays. The charming seaside villages of Smögen and Fjällbacka are the highlights of a visit to this area. Scores of salt-weathered cottages cling to the steeply sloping hillsides like barnacles, jostling for position above cobble-stoned esplanades. Bustling docks fill with bobbing fishing boats and pleasure craft, pubs ripple with chatter, and street restaurants ser ve seafood fresh from the fish markets. It's easy to feel lost in another time wandering the steep twisting streets, browsing the trinket shops, watching the fishing boats chug gently into their moorings, sipping strong coffee in shady cour tyard cafes, or basking on the foreshore late into the balmy evenings. Returning at the end of a long day in the sun to one of the many quaint hotels is salve for the spirit, especially if you are for tunate enough to be booked into Fjällbacka's unique Stora Hotellet. Its owners promise guests a trip "around the world in 23 rooms". Built at the turn of last centur y by a ship's captain, who named each of the rooms after his favourite por ts, explorers and women, each room is individually styled and decorated with exotic curios to recall a different destination. But the real star of Sweden's west coast is the sweet table delicacy and culinar y icon, the herring. The delicious marinated herring is locally caught and processed, and is expor ted around the world. It comes in a variety of flavours, with blends of spices as diverse as dill, curr y, sweet mustard and sherr y, all sweet pickled and mouth- Swedish summer The summer weather in Sweden inspires people to head for the coast. "... a tranquil archipelago dotted with craggy guano islands and Bronze Age Viking rock carvings."
April May 2007
August September 2007