Travel

A Road Trip to Northern Sweden · Part 2

Piteå, that was almost our final destination (Kiruna). But we did not want to drive all the way up yet, so we stayed in a place called Farön Stugby. It was nice and almost too quiet. We tried to make every part of the road trip around 3-4 hours, and that worked out perfectly. We were even one day early, so we stayed in Piteå for two days and not just one. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this journey, check it out here.

(The biggest benefit of just driving a few hours each day—apart from being able to see the country—is that my kid’s back didn’t hurt so much. If I had been alone, I could have driven up there in 2-3 days, but that’s a 12-14 hour drive per day and it’s not doable with a small kid.)

View from the pier in Fårö

Visiting Piteå and staying in a cute »lost town« kind of camping village

Piteå was one of the more important stops on the road for us, because it is one of the »bigger« coastal cities in Sweden, and an important holiday destination of the north. I was told that in the past many people from Finland came here to party. Reason for that being that—for a long time–the Finnish currency was stronger than the Swedish Crown. So spending your vacation in Sweden was a bit more affordable for Finns.

The quite protected shoreline around Piteå, drawn back in the ragged border of the Swedish coast with its many little isles and small bays, is quite unique. It is not super windy, and it is rather warm–compared to average Swedish/Nordic conditions, and I guess, it’s not »North Finland« aka »next-level-cold«.

For German dimensions, Piteå is a very small town. Just to give you a visual comparison, it is about the same size as the area of the Munich airport. (I am actually really surprised that our dumb airport is that big… And I’d much rather live in Piteå than in Munich, cause ocean trumps mountains any time and there are mountains close enough to Piteå too.)

It was not easy to get Flauschi to sleep when it was still light outside. Dark curtains don’t seem common, not even in this area of Sweden where it stays light in summer almost all day. And I like it that way. I think it is a precious thing to have that beautiful light. And it just takes some time to adapt and find sleep. You just sleep when you are tired.

Fårön Stugby

So we stayed in this trailer/cabin village called Fårön Stugby, which was really close to the coast on a little offshore island. We booked two nights, because we wanted to see Piteå, and also rest a bit, as well as anxiously double-check all of our gear, and that simply takes time.

This camping village itself was really interesting. It was almost totally empty, a bit like a lost town… There were several cabins, some renovated, others had seen better days. A lot of old things lying around, locked up bigger houses with piles of furniture and curtains inside (I should have filmed it, but it seemed silly to me), and many »90s vibes« kinda vacation facilities, like the stereotypical mini-golf range or the cyan-painted pool with a wire-mesh fence around it, so your toddler wouldn’t drown…. Yeah. My »toddler« had a blast in that pool. She had a little cold still and we wanted her to be fit again in 2 days for the race, so yeah, Flauschi, please, no, the pool is not a good idea. 5 seconds laytor… in the pool. She loved it though. And her cold was gone in time anyway.

I was also feeling a bit tired, still on my stupid period and looking forward to a warm shower. Which did not work for some reason (or I was too dumb/tired to put the coins in, anyway, it didn’t work, so I just washed my bloody butt at the sink (pun intended) and went to bed).

Can you find Flauschi in this Picture from Fårön Stugby?

Our cabin at a glance without all of our stuff already on the floor. It took us half the day to go through all of our hiking gear again, but then we finally felt ready.

Didn’t find a plastic-free beanie and moved on

About half a day went by just obsessing about my gear and searching for my knitted head-band. I made that thing (it is like that one DIY item that just works!) and I wanted to have it, especially because I forgot my beanie. A beanie is actually mandatory for the Fjällräven Classic. They have this must-have gear list and they check on you occasionally (at least they say so, to scare people I guess, cause I don’t really think they check anybody, at least I didn’t see anybody get checked—but I also had a buff, so I could wear this if I really needed to, and additionally my jacket had a hood, which was also mandatory).

Fun fact: In the Fjällräven Classic 2021 a beanie hat was mandatory (here is proof), but a face mask wasn’t (only the items with a * are). And one German couple (not us!) were the only two people who wore one on that bus, lol. That’s the spirit. Everyone was very respectful. I can’t tell you how good it felt to be far far away from that madhouse called Munich…

I have a thing for sustainable hiking gear, so here is a mini rant (if you can even call it that) on this…

Anyway, we went into town, looking for a beanie, but didn’t find anything. If you don’t know, I try to avoid polyester. Don’t want it on my head, especially when hiking, shedding microplastics all over the planet and so on. I make exceptions, e.g. using the G-1000 material in a lot of my Fjällräven clothes (but many of those use recycled polymers at least). And of course when it comes to water-resistant membranes, shoes etc. You simply can’t avoid polymers there, I mean, unless you want to wear a lanolin-waterproofed wool jacket or something archaic like that. I tell you right now: No thank you.

However, with a beanie, I just don’t see why not 100% of hats on this planet are made out of wool (and cost accordingly). Yeah, I am a minimalist, but tell me one reason why you need more than 1-3 beanies and how you can not afford to pay a price that makes it fair for the humans and animals for that, huh? Don’t BS me. There is no such thing. The wool costs like 10 bucks and you can also buy it 2nd hand and make it yourself. No excuses here. Therefore, I try to be really strict with my material choices wherever I find that it is the option and where polymers are just completely avoidable. But since Piteå is small and basically has like 3 shops where you can find a beanie that looks nice, there was none that fulfilled both my snobbish aesthetic needs and my eco-fascist requirements. So I moved on without one. Also, I found my headband. It was in the backpack, where it was supposed to be. (Things are always in places where I do not look for them…)

I like to put flowers on the table wherever I am (yes, I use my eco-warrior hands to rip those precious flowers out of the ground and put them in water for just one day, and then I eat vegan butter wrapped in polymer foil, muahahaha. Okay, that butter part was a lie, didn’t have time for it. Do buy it occasionally though.)

Why was the lost camping village »lost« (and was it really though)?

In the beginning I said that the stugby looked like a lost town and it really did. Majorly because it was empty. Begin of August is either not the Finnish/Swedish holiday season, or I don’t know… I also didn’t want to ask, cause, c’mon, I can’t walk up to the owner and be like: Hej hej, you mind telling me why we and this one other family are the only people staying in this huge compound and what exactly happened, cause this is soooo weird… 😀 Yeah, I prefered to just make up stories in my head and theoreize about it with my husband.

This looked so much more epic in reallife. It was like this single window with nobody behind it, nothing to see, just a curtain, and all other cabins dark. The sky was getting darker and the mosquitoes and knots were trying to have their fun with me while I was taking this picture…

His working theory was that the coast must have risen due to tectonic activity, which has not been that uncommon over the last decades even in this area. And in fact, we found a map that showed a nice beach where there clearly wasn’t a beach anymore. Only a huge pier (watch the video to see that one) with boat-access to the water but not really family-bathing friendly, as in »my small kid can just walk in there«.

The beach was overgrown and not accessible unless you wanted to do a head-dive into the water (and I am not sure how deep it is at this point). We didn’t try. Too bloody tired (bloody, and tired). I do think that it is really sad though that they didn’t make the beach accessible again. Maybe the resources aren’t there. But I am sure this stugby lived from its beach. The view from there is beautiful and it is really the only thing missing to make it the perfect holiday village.

The beach is gone and we have no idea why

But apart from that, I really enjoyed it there. I liked that creepy solitude. Also I adore not having to wait in front of the shower or being afraid of cars driving around the camp site up and down day and night like in Germany or France. This is always so stressful. Not here. Fårön Stugby was super quiet and calm. And there are so many odd things about it, amazing! It would make for an incredible art film, I think.

One of the service buildings, I assume, or maybe for meetings? It was really big. I love this kind of house, it is so pretty! But there wasn’t anything to explore, I could not eaven take a peek inside. The weird thing is that August is in season for the area, it was not off-season at all I believe… but still we and one other family were the only people there (using a cabin, and there were 2 or 3 other people on the compound in their trailers, I think… check it out on Google Maps to see how big it is, then you understand why that’s not a lot for such a big place…)

We had so many silly theories about this place…

All this space, like trailers over trailers, most of them empty, parked there permanently (obviously…?). Some were inhabited by elderly people, having like whole pot plant gardens in front of their space. Others were empty and no flowers or pots there, and the porches starting to rot a bit. – Who will come back to those? Do they belong to someone? Did the owners just die and the stugby just kept the trailer? So many weird theories in my head…

Anyway, this is all in good fun. If you can’t visit a place and have space for fantasy in your head, that’s just very boring, I think. Having questions and ideas should be part of the journey for me, even though I can never find out everything. I always wonder what happened in a place before I visited it and why it is the way it is today. But there isn’t always a good opportunity to find the right answers. Wondering about it is still a beautiful thing.

The only think I regret is that I didn’t capture the ghost-town-like atmosphere better. Because it doesn’t come across in the video as much as I would have wanted it to. It was really just so quiet there. And the most beautiful thing was the light. It still gets dark at night, like around midnight, a bit. But it is never really dark.

The light is so soft. And it is something that you can not really capture on video or in a photo. Because of the softness of the light, the dynamic range is insane. It makes many details in nature just so more visible, but on the same side, it makes everything more beautiful, like your skin or the colors of clothes, because the contrast isn’t that harsh, if that makes sense…?

At some point I really think that if I lived there, having the time to film, eventually it would just be impossible not to shoot the most stunning videos. It’s really hard to f_ck that up I’d say. I was really thinking a lot about this when I was there. Like how many of these cottage core YouTubers just make beautiful content because they are surrounded by beauty and how easy that actually is. And how much I would like to do that too. Just relocate to a beautiful spot and just film up and down my house all day, totally unbothered.

No, I did not miss Munich, not a single day of my whole time in Sweden, not even for a second

Filming in Munich is always a chore. Waiting for people to get out of the way (cause it’s rude to ask and I don’t want to be that dumb influencer chick that claims a spot for their film hobby). Waiting for the right weather (cause whenever it is not sunny, I have to work or study or my kid is sick and I’m stuck at home). Or basically having to pay to get out of this depressing town into the mountains to take five nice photos and be back in the messy puzzle of cars, humans and ugly shops the next day. I didn’t miss Munich for one day when I was in Sweden. Not even one second. I was happy 100% of the time not to be in Germany. I missed no place in that country whatsoever, not even Cologne, and I loved Cologne. But Munich, oh boy, not even in the top 100 of my favorite German cities list. Not even close.

(It’s not because of the architecture or look of the city, but mainly because of the crappy infrastructure, the insane rents and the constantly grumpy 3rd generation inhabitants with their widely accepted subtle everyday »nobody asked« conservative voter comments, which they can’t seem to keep to them-f_cking-selves in public, while double-standardly asking you to »be quiet« if you have the audacity to take a phone call on a train platform, I kid you not…)

Yeah, no, didn’t miss any of that entitled people bullsh_t from this inappropriately expensive town that thrives on people having the means to further cultivate their entitlement at the expense of everybody who doesn’t. No thanks. I prefer to be somewhere where people don’t even look at you and where you don’t have to look at them. Where there are no weird »Do I have to greet you?« situations ever. Oh, beloved Sweden!

My spiritual theory is that I was born in Germany only to appreciate basically all the other amazing countries in Europe. Thank you, universe, ehm, hard work and savings I mean, for three amazing months of not having to say Hello to anybody and be considered rude for it—except of course people I knew or was buying something from. Just adding that in here for the one miserable prat that assumes I wouldn’t say hello to the cashier—although I strongly believe they wouldn’t even take any offense in it and some didn’t greet me anyway, and I took no offense either. It was prefect!

Wish I could stay longer and see everything

Okay, so that were my messy thoughts on Sweden, on Germany and on how it feels to be in either country (remember, it’s not my first rodeo and I have lived in maaaaany cities in Germany, the country I was born in and that I will judge how I please and roast as much and for how long I feel like it). If you’re interested, check out my road trip video, there are some really beautiful shots in there and I am also showing you around in our cabin. If you feel as uncomfortable in Germany as I do, you are sooo welcome to share it! If you don’t, I am also fine with that, although—like most people–I prefer wallowing in my social awkwardness and discomfort that’s 50% about me and 50% about me living in a country that is not a good fit for me much more than hearing different opinions… But we’re chill (do kids still say that?) here, so comment away and let me know your take on Munich, Sweden, Germany or »creepy« villages.

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