Sunday, July 4, 2010
The Greatness of Grinda
How do you pronounce Skarsgård? It might help if you try getting a bit of knäckebröd stuck in your throat, and don't even think about pronouncing the "sk" like you would in English. When asked what the term meant, Simon replied "It's the Swedish archipelagos!" Then seemed surprise that I needed to know what that term meant as well. Grinda is part of the collection of islands (archipelagos) that surround Sweden, and is proud to offer nothing more than peace and quiet. Their website may boast that it's just one hour from the "madding crowd" of Stockholm, but I'd give it about 2 or even 2 and a half. We queued up for a boat just outside the national museum, staring across the water at the palace as we road out on a cloudy day. One doesn't need to purchase a ticket in advance, just hop on and pay before you hop off. I had a nice Grüner Veltliner shoved in my purse and idly sipped away the swaying commute. We bounced from island to island, depositing families to their tiny, tucked away houses and picking up vacationers like ourselves. The 2 hours felt like 3, or possibly 4 and we were let off at our final destination with a host of soon-to-be-drunk businessmen. We had no idea how to get to where we needed to go, but Simon assured me that there was nothing but our hotel on the island (save for 1 cafe, 1 hostel, and 100 boats). For so small an island, the menu varied enough (traditional Scandinavian of course) to keep me interested and there were enough wines to keep me occupied for several days had I intended to stay longer than just the 1. Our hotel/cabin was decorated in natural wood, bamboo, and then more wood. It was spacious, calming, and posted no door numbers, only pictures of birds and fish that corresponded to the pictures on each room's key-chain. Grinda's Wardhus had that ingeniously simple, beautiful Swedish design to it. No bathtub but a large, smart shower. No television, but a quiet view of little red houses and trees. We wandered on trails, naming flowers and searching for a "Bad" (Swedish for swimming area) so that Simon could "cool off" in what, a Texan, could only describe as frigid waters. Noting the signs which indicated Grinda was home to Sweden's only and most unusual serpent," I was cautious to say the least (think: frightened hipster girl in hot pink Ked's, crunching nervously through a forest looking down the entire time).
The next morning, our breakfast was included and I was surprised to learn that at Grinda, like Simon, they had lunch for breakfast too. It was your usual pastries, cracker bread, boiled eggs, yogurt, granola, jam, but then the Swedish add-on's of spicy mustard, red bell pepper, salted meats, cheeses, cucumber, and tomat. I consumed more than my fair share of coffee, tea, and watermelon then set out with Simon's camera snapping what I thought to be artistic photos of utterly astounding island. Soon we had to go and hiked through the woods to the other side of the island to await whatever ocean craft would swing by next. I got bored, and therefore mischievous (bad habits of mine) and decided to sneak down to the water to see if I could so much as stand in it. It went as well as you might think, but I must admit, the high summer sun did something to my southern skin that made the neither salty, nor sweet Swedish sea water feel as though my legs were being licked with cold breath. I remembered that I still had some small boxed wine I purchased at the Systembolaget in my purse, tiny, Italian adult juiceboxes really, and decided to use the Baltic as my own personal wine chiller. We weighed the wine down with rocks and I threatened to swim halfway across the sea if needed should a large boat's wake pry it from our makeshift refrigerator. The boat finally came, the sun refused to leave, and I fell asleep on a deck chair, once again, sleeping on Simon's shoulder.