Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Swedish Rites of Passage - The Summer House

I'm starting a new series here at The Accidental Swede called 'Swedish Rites of Passage'. Each time I pass a Swedish rites of passage milestone - by participating in activities and events that are quintessentially Swedish and bring me that much closer to 'Swedehood' - I'll be sharing my experiences with you.

One such rite of passage is the Swedish summer cottage. I've never known so many people to own summer cottages - known as the sommarstuga - in my life. It is truly a Swedish phenomenon! Many of them are family owned and passed down from one generation to the next. And while some of them are quaint single-room cabins with no modern facilities (that means indoor toilets), others have been expanded to resemble nothing short of a year-round modern home for 10 people! If you are really lucky, you are the offspring of generations past who built their summer cottage on the coast or one of the hundreds of islands just off the coast of Sweden.

Now, in the land of summer cottage ownership, I single-handedly found the one man in Sweden who's family does not own a summer cottage. If you knew the odds of that happening, you'd really be shaking your head now. So we find ourselves at the mercy of our kind and good friends to partake in this rite of passage.

In my 10 years here, we've had three such wonderfully Swedish opportunities. The first time was a lovely family summer cottage in Smögen on Sweden's west coast. With picturesque fishing huts and a uniquely smooth-stone coastline, it was a great initiation into this Swedish rite of passage...although I was in that 'I just had my first baby and don't quite have all my wits about me yet' fog. So apart from the photos, I must admit I don't remember too much about it at all. Pity. The 2nd time was in Fjällbacka, a lovely town also on Sweden's west coast and summer home of legendary actress Ingrid Bergman (pronounced berry-man in Swedish). It was a lovely time that included a 'scraped knees' incident that our friends will never let us live down.

And that brings us to our recent stay with friend's at their 'family cottage', again on Sweden's west coast (often referred to as Sweden's best coast). This was one of those summer cottages that is really more like a house by any other terms. And they've even split it down the middle so that more of their families can enjoy the space (that's how big it was). We were just north of Grebbestad, and right smack dab on the coastline! We had just enough time to say hello and hug our hosts before our breath was taken away by the view beyond.

We went on to have a great mini-vacation with boating to the rocky islands off the coast, rock hopping, exploring, and scavenging for really old junk washed up on the island shores (a big thanks to Andreas for not rolling his eyes at me when I loaded up the boat with my treasures which included a sizeable driftwood log and part of an old door that still had the front handle and lock box attached).

So now that I have stayed in a Swedish summer cottage right on the coast, I feel secure in knowing that I have indeed come through this rite of passage and am now on the other side.

With that, I'll leave you with a little visual goodness.

A HUGE thanks to Dale Miller - the smartest person I know (I seriously doubt he relies on Google like I do) - for gently pointing out to me that my original 'rights of passage' used a million times in this post should actually be 'rites of passage'. Edited! Remember that "I had a baby" fog I referred to earlier? Yeah. I still try to use that one even today. Not successfully.

Until next time...

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1 comment:

  1. We had a great time! I never thought of it as a rite of passage, but I like it. That means that I am really becoming a Swede because I married into a family with two summer homes! I agree that Swedes have more summer homes than anyone I know too. I was shocked when Andreas told me they had two summer homes (I thought I had struck it rich....and I did, but not in the money sense). Love the pics. I have some great ones of you guys too. We will have to share.