© Anna Hållams

The Småland Experience

Sara Kroezen, a copywriter based in Amsterdam, has shared her experiences from a recent holiday in Småland. In the summer of 2019, she travelled with her family, husband Tom and daughters Emma and Mia, to discover Småland like a local – a summer holiday in a typical Swedish cottage in Vimmerby.

“Mum, are moose able to sneeze?”

I look with surprise at my daughter and barely manage to keep a straight face. “I’m not sure darling, but I guess they are used to all the nature around them”. Mia sniffs her freshly picked flowers, sneezes, but seems satisfied with my answer and skips on to her sister. Emma and Mia have already spent the whole morning searching for the most beautiful flowers around our cottage. Sneezing moose? I think about Mia’s question and can no longer suppress my laughter. From the array of freshly-picked flowers, we build summery wreaths, while making plans for the afternoon. It is time for some action. And there is more than enough to do in Småland!

A dream come true

We are on holiday in Småland, a dream come true for me. Other than the time we’ve spent relaxing and spending time playing endless card games in our gorgeous cottage, we really haven’t sat still. Here, nature begins at the front door and we are thoroughly enjoying that. The girls are turning out to be true nature lovers and, during our hikes and bike rides, they are continuously searching for the abundant treasures from nature. As for me, I’m certainly happy with the breaks in between, especially when we take part in the Swedish tradition of “Fika”. It’s a tradition deeply embedded in Swedish culture that mostly involves eating pastries, drinking coffee and making time for a chat. The Swedish pastries belonging to this tradition are dangerously delicious. And Tom? He has rediscovered an old passion: his mountain bike… Biking the zigzagging paths in the forest is certainly not for me, but I’m happy for him to wear himself out enjoying this muddy hobby.

My Småland is amazing

Tom comes outside with two mugs of coffee and carefully sits down next to me. His hair still wet from the morning swim, he turns to me and says: “You were right! “Your” Sweden really is amazing!” That Sweden is mine is a slight exaggeration, I think, smiling. My mother’s family has roots here, so, it was only logical for us to travel here for holidays sometimes while I was growing up. While this was many years ago, the memories of the wonderful Swedish summers have remained strong in my mind. This is exactly what I wanted Tom and the girls to experience. That’s why we are sitting here on a sunny summer’s day in Småland. The decision to choose Småland as a destination was an easy one. It is nearby by car from the Netherlands and the region offers everything we desire: The beautiful archipelago with idyllic islands on the east coast, the big lakes and the richness of green forests, hills, the typical red houses and above all… enough to do. I instantly fell in love, when I came across our cute little red wooden cottage, called a stuga in Swedish.

A stone’s throw away

Tom was not difficult to convince, and we found ourselves mapping out our route the very same evening: A short ferry crossing between Germany and Denmark – making the kids happy – and, after driving across the impressive Öresund Bridge, a beautiful route through southern Sweden. Now, here we are. My bare feet are happily playing with the lush grass and I take a deep breath of the fresh air… Abruptly, I’m awakened from my daydream by a towel brushing over my face. “Muuuum, come on!” Emma shouts, as she races past me straight into the glittering
lake. Alright, time for the second swim of the day!

© Anna Hållams

Hi Emil!

Our cottage is located close to the village of Vimmerby. And this just happens to be the cradle of all my childhood idols: Pippi Longstocking and Emil of Lönneberga. The characters from the books, written by Astrid Lindgren, literally come to life in Astrid Lindgren's World, the large themepark. Who didn’t grow up with her books? I totally devoured them in my childhood and now Emma and Mia have followed in my footsteps. They especially love the adventures of Emil. Mia can’t help but scream out loud when we enter the park and she spots his character: “Mum, look! It’s really him!” We walk across the farm of Lönneberga, which has been fully reconstructed here. Emma and Mia are so excited, Tom and I struggle to keep up on our way through the park; admiring the castle of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter and laughing at Pippi’s mischief.

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© Anna Hållams

Swishing through the treetops

I have to steady myself with a really deep breath, but I’ve never been as close to the sensation of truly flying as I am right now. My hair is blowing out from beneath the helmet and I swish quickly downwards. Only ten seconds ago, I had my feet firmly on the ground … now I am standing on a narrow platform in a tree! The view over the treetops is fantastic, and what an amazing experience! Little Rock Lake Zipline in Klavreström is the largest zipline course in Europe with 4 km of ziplining set up. And I can now say, “I did it!”. Emma, it turns out, is much braver than I am, as she screeches with joy when it’s her turn. The set-up truly is ideal, as Mia can ride the zipline in tandem with a guide. Emma, clearly comfortable alone, happily chats to our Dutch guide “how fast can we actually go?”.

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© Anna Hållams

Candy in Gränna

“Hurry up!!” Mia is calling us impatiently, ten metres in front. We are in the idyllic town of Gränna, gorgeously situated on the great lake Vättern. Tom and I are happily strolling along the charming streets with wooden houses and small shops. But this daytrip is high on the children’s wishlist for a very special reason. In Gränna the traditional Swedish candy, the Polkagris, is still produced by hand and according to a recipe from 1859. Not only can we watch it being made, but we have booked an appointment to make it ourselves. Finally, we arrive. The girls rush into the store. Within minutes, we find ourselves dressed up as candy chefs. Emma is fascinated by the process and really gives it her best effort… Mia’s comment “it looks like a giant snot” has both girls in fits of laughter… Kids! Half an hour later, happily savouring our self-made polkagris, we stroll down the hill to lake Vättern. In the distance, I see the island Visingsö. Next time we must go there!

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