So, before the daily routine has absorbed me again, here finally is the last part of my summer travel retrospective. Additionally I’ve dedicated a pinterest board to our travelling through Sweden with our favourite places to stay, eat, visit plus some other inspiration.
For our stay at the west coast of Sweden we had rented one of the studios of the “Nordiska Akvarellmuseet” in Skärhamn on the island of Tjörn. They are intended to host artist but can also be rented by non-artist. Nestled to the cliffs, the sea right under with a stunning view on the scattered islands of the archipelago and the museum – a dreamlike place to just be.
And when rain, seawater and wind collide with the studios and you can sense the vibrations of the waves, hear the rushing of the wind and the sea, you are in the midst of nature – while drinking a nice cup of tea! I guess I could have stayed here forever.
The “Nordiska Akvarellmuseet” itself is a place worth to visit as well. The changing exhibitions aim to show the spectrum of water colour painting – and the current exhibitions with works of the swedish artist Lars Lerin was quite impressive and turned my picture of water colour painting upside down – both by his technique and his motifs.
The adjacent restaurant “Vatten” lives up to its name – it’s right on the water and its menu is clearly based on the sea and its products. Sadly we couldn’t eat there during our stay. On one evening there was hold a wedding dinner, the other days it was closed (off-season already…).
And although I’m not particularly keen on cooking while travelling, this gives you the chance to visit local supermarkets and markets – and that is something I really do enjoy. I am convinced that you learn so much about the people, their every day life and the culinary culture of a country:
The variety of seafood – wow! (coming from a landlocked region)
Metres of shelfing dedicated to knäckebröd – as an outsider difficult to make out the differences
A lot of products obviously catering to classic camping cooking like all sorts of processed cheese – f.ex. shrimp flavour – in tubes, jumbo packs of bread, köttbullar (see picture above 😉 ) … by the way: Did you know that 1 836 000 IKEA köttbullar are eaten each day?
Crossing impressive bridges that link some of the islands of the archipelago we headed towards the far north of Bohuslän to the commune of Tanum, which is famous for the hällristningar (stone carvings) that can be found here and that are declared to be UNESCO World Heritage in 1994.
Before we had a look at the carvings that can be visited at different sites – the biggest ones are Fossum, Vitlycke, Aspeberget and Litsleby – we made a visit at the “Underslös Museum”, which is first of all a scientific research and documentation centre for this prehistoric rock art. It’s held by the “Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art” and is financed solely by donations, membership fees and voluntary work!
In a personal guided tour one of the sciencists gave us not only insights in the history and possible interpretations of the carvings that originate from the Bronze Age, but also in the BIG problems of documentation and especially conservation! The fact is, to make it short, that there is close to no money and governmental ambition to preserve the carvings. They are in close to no way protected neither from weather nor from humans – as you can see on the pictures. This means that in 5 to 20 years – depending on the individual conditions of the sites – this prehistoric human heritage will be gone!
As fascinated as we were by the often cryptic messages of early humans, the more we were shocked about the (non-)conservation and the restricted possibilities of the scientist – who are basically condemned to clean the rocks from moss each year and document what soon won’t be there anymore! This nearly made me cry!
If you want to learn more about the possible meanings of the carvings – the “Underslös museum” and the publications of the “Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art” are the right place. They can help you to understand at least a bit the world view of those ancestors that was at the same time simple and so true (see f.ex. the explanations on the importance of the sun and the image of its journey through the sky).
A last note about the red colour: This is in no way proved to be original – it’s solely made for the tourists by the “Vitlycke Museum” (the carvings are dissapearing, you know).
After visiting the prehistoric sites our stop at the famous fishing village/island Smögen was quite a contrast, entering a different world. But the fishing village of Smögen – famous for its smögenräkör (a special kind of shrimps) and most important for Swedish fishing industry – is only one part of the story. The other one is that Smögen – at least during the summer months – is becoming “the “Monte Carlo of Sweden” – so its more restaurants, souvenir and maritime clothing shops than boat and fishing huts, more yachts than fishing boats.
But only the shrimp sandwich was totally worth the trip to this island. 😉
This wasn’t some kind of tourist boat tour, but a regular scheduled ferry (line 361) that brought the daily mail to the islanders of Dyrön and Åstol, the islanders to Tjörn to do their grocery shopping.
The tourists on board didn’t really bother the locals. While they sat downstairs in the cabin of the boat, the tourists – us included of course – could be easily spotted by heading straight to the upstairs railing braving the elements (heavy wind) and enjoying the scenic view.
Difficult for me to imagine how you can just get used to such an amazing landscape … but on the other hand, to be honest, difficult to imagine as well, how to live such an isolated life for more than a holiday season.
We enjoyed the impressive landscape not only from the sea but also explored the skärs around our studio by climbing them up. The panorama: breathtaking – me: speechless, trying to absorb all the impressions, to take pictures that can express the experience…