I have never been to Sweden, but nonetheless, I somehow grew up with this country. I read all of Astrid Lindgrens novels at least twice, went to IKEA with my parents on the regular, drank Fläder Saft and ate Kötbullar meat balls. I even had a Swedish Aupair. Childhood days are long gone, but the presence of Sweden in everyday life is still around. These days my friends and I wear Swedish labels such as Acne or Cheap Monday, we listen to Lykke Li and get excited about movies by Tomas Alfredson and Lukas Moodysson.

So much Sweden, except for the real thing. I knew I had to go and when I finally got a chance to, it just so happened to be Midsummer, quite possibly the best time to visit this country up North.

No sooner said than done. A few days before midsummer, which this year was on the 24th of June, me and my colleague Luise arrive in Gothenburg – ready for a one-week-adventure-trip through West-Sweden.

Our first destination is the biosphere reserve Kinnekulle at Lake Vänern. It is a beautiful piece of land famous for its rich fauna and flora and its great hiking trails. We picked the right time of year, everything is on blossom and we promenade through an ocean of flowers. On our hike we hardly meet anybody – Kinnekulle is still an insider.

Flowers are beautiful, but we want to see more! We want to see a moose! When we tell that to Elin, one of the girls working at the lovely Bed&Breakfast Karlslund in Gössater, where we spent the night, she just laughs and tells us, that she had even heard of Germans taking moose droppings back home! Needless to say, that we are not that crazy, but still we want to see one. Elin recommends we go and look for them at the national park Hunneberg. Before she can finish the sentence, we are on our way. The moose-safari is on! I picture us bushwhacking for hours, analyzing every sound to eventually find one. The reality of it is much easier though, with only five minutes after entering the national park by car, we spot our first moose cow grazing right by the street.

We feel accomplished and content with our completed mission, but this is by no means the end to our adventurous day. Tonight we will not just sleep in any old hotel bed – our very special accommodation set up is in a tree house! What I only knew (and envied) from watching American TV shows as a kid, finally happens for me!

Our tree house is not just a tree house, it is a little paradise with an incredible view and the most lovable owners – Lotta and Bosse. They welcome us like family and prepare us a delicious dinner. In the morning, after a night in 7th Heaven, breakfast is brought to our tree house via a bowden cable in a little red basket filled with homemade delicacies.

Life in Sweden is beautiful! No wonder that Astrid Lindgren came up with so many amazing stories.

After having explored the countryside, it is time to discover the sea and the shores. No better way to do that than with a kayak! It is not only my first time in Sweden, it is also my first time in a kayak and I am prepared to get wet.

To my tremendous surprise, I miraculously manage not to capsize. For the next eight hours, our guide and angel Joakim leads us through the archipelago and shows us hidden beaches and islands, only inhabited by sheep. All of a sudden, a seal appears right next to Luise and swims along with us for the next half hour. One with nature and amazed by the beauty we see on this trip, we don’t realize time passing by.

It is already time to go ashore and catch some sleep, before we embark into the next day on another adventure: Midsummer on Weather Islands.

Made you curious about West Sweden? The addresses mentioned in this post come by highly recommended. For more info on the area, check out www.vastsverige.com.

Here are some more of Luise’s impressions of Sweden…

Text: Karolin Langfeldt

Pictures: Luise Müller-Hofstede