Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer House in the Archipelago

I blogged about the Swedish summer last year but this year we were able to experience a proper Swedish summer when we stayed in a house in the archipelago.  Most people in Stockholm (and probably other parts of Sweden) have a summer house on an island in the archipelago.  It could belong them or someone in their family but they often go there in the summer for at least a week, although most people go for three or four weeks.  (Remember that it is typical for Swedes to take off at least 3 consecutive weeks of vacation in the summer but most people take a full month which is usually the month of July.  There is actually a law that states your employer has to allow you three weeks of consecutive leave if you ask for it. #whyarewemovingback?)

The Swedish summer is awesome especially when the weather cooperates.  We had great weather last summer which included several weeks of sunny days with highs between 65-75 degrees.  This summer it was pretty rainy in July which is when most Swedes were at their summer houses so when they got back in August they were cranky that summer didn't really show up.  I was figuring out life with a newborn the month of July so other than getting out for few short walks I didn't mind the cold, rainy days. Once August rolled around we had some really nice days and the week we went to "our" summer house the weather could not have been more perfect.  We had six straight days of sunny, perfect weather with highs between 65-75 degrees.  All of the Swedes back at work were not happy.

Before Linnea was born we decided to go to the archipelago with Jake's coworker Tim, his wife Mona and their 4 month old little boy Florian.  Mona did a lot of work looking for places to stay and planning things for our trip which was great because I didn't have the energy or mental capacity to even think about it.  Our main requirement was a house with an indoor toilet.  A lot of the houses on the islands have outhouses to avoid pipes freezing during the winter and because water is expensive out there.  We found a house we liked but when we first spoke to them they said they had an indoor toilet but you could only go #2 in there.  If you just had to pee they wanted you to do that around the backside of the house . . . in the grass.  Mona and I were not okay with that.  Since we are both nursing and drinking lots of water we often have to use the restroom in the middle of the night after feeding the baby and neither of us wanted to go outside to use the bathroom.  Thankfully they got a new toilet for the house before we arrived and we could do all our business inside!  #itisthelittlethings  The toilet was a composting toilet which we were all curious about (would it smell like a port-a-potty?) but we were just thankful we found a place to stay with an indoor toilet.

The boys took both strollers full of supplies to the boat on Sunday night.  The next morning they took a few more supplies, tried to fill up the boat with gas and then picked up the girls and babies around 10 am on Monday, August 17th.  We had about a 2-2.5 hour boat ride to the island we were staying and the babies did great during the trip.  We put Linnea in her life jacket the day before and she was NOT a fan so we were all really relieved when they didn't scream the whole way or at all actually.  Linnea slept during every boat ride.  Most of the time she was asleep before we even pulled away from the dock.
The little red thing in the picture second from the left on the bottom is a helicopter.  Some people must get to their summer house in style :).

Linnea slept pretty much the whole way and didn't cry. I was so thankful!  The water was pretty choppy because it was windy but it wasn't too bad.  We got gas at Vaxholm on our way and it took about 2.5 hours to get to the house on Stora Aspön.

Here is a tour of the house and surroundings:
Here is the dock and beach by the house.  One of the requirements when we were looking for a place to rent was that it had a place to park the boat and this one did.  It was about a 2 minute walk up a hill to the house.
The house was tucked up on a hill behind lots of trees.  The main house was at the top of the hill.  It had two bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, kitchen, and a wrap around deck.  We thought we would all stay in the big house because the small house didn't have a bathroom but Jake, Linnea and I ended up staying in the small house.  It was down about two flights of stairs from the main house so if I needed to use the restroom in the middle of the night I could walk up to the main house.  We could see the water from both houses.  I love that the house was close to water but also surrounded by trees so it was secluded.  If we ever had a summer house I would want it in a similar location on an island.
The top two pictures are the front deck.  We had breakfast out there the first morning and a few other mornings but there was a hornets' nest in the corner which made the breakfast a little more stressful than we would have liked.  The bottom three pictures are of the backyard.  They had a nice deck where we ate dinner every night as well as a play house for kids.
Breakfast the first morning before the discovery of the hornets nest.  Don't worry, I put up her sunshade after the picture.
The kitchen and living room were open to each other which was nice.  We planned meals and brought food and then took turns cooking (although it felt like Tim and Mona did more cooking that we did).  The boys did a great job packing the boat so we could get all the food to the house.  We made a changing station and a baby hangout area in the living room.  We bought foam from a fabric store to use as a play mat in the living room and a second for Linnea to sleep on in our room.

The bathroom was nice and it included a sauna but it was full of stuff and we didn't use it.  Most people will get in the sauna, naked, and then after getting all hot and sweaty they would jump into the water to cool off which should work because the water is COLD.  Like in the 60s cold.  It would be quite the trek to the water from the house and doing that naked just doesn't sound like fun.
When we arrived we had a little "how to use the toilet" meeting and read the directions on how to use it.  We had to set a thermostat according to the number of people using the toilet.  The toilet looked big and scary but it wasn't bad at all.  A few things about the toilet: it was big, it didn't flush, when you sat on the seat it opened slats underneath you and it was kind of warm in the toilet room but it didn't smell like an out-house which we were all thankful for.  There was a button that the toilet lid would touch that would signal the toilet to stir the contents when you were finished.  We, mostly the girls, were very happy with the toilet situation because we all know that can make or break a "camping" experience.  At the end of the week we had to pour some dirt in the toilet and then we were good to go.

The little house had a bedroom and a kitchen with bunk beds.  There wasn't any running water in the house so if I had to use the restroom in the middle of the night I had to go up to the main house which  I did once.  It was fine because at least it wasn't outside in the grass :).  We moved the bed over to have room on the floor next to my side to put a piece of foam down for Linnea to sleep on.  The first night we didn't prop the door next to her bed like it is in the picture below and I found her 90 degrees from where I put her with her head on the floor off the mat.  She was sound asleep when I found her but we decided that was not the best set up for her so we moved her up behind the door and stuck something under the door to keep it propped open.
I set up a place to nurse and change her clothes and diapers in the kitchen.  It worked really well.

Our daily schedule was get up and feed the babies, have breakfast, leave around 11:30 on the boat to go to another island which the babies napped through, eat lunch on the island and walk around a bit, feed the babies again, head back to the house, feed the babies, make dinner, put Florian in bed, eat dinner (Linnea usually hung out with us during dinner), put Linnea down on the play mat in the big house to sleep while we hung out and then we would go to bed around 10:30.  We would carry her down to the little house and she would usually wake up to eat again and go right back to sleep.  The daily routine worked really well.  Florian was on a good schedule and Linnea wasn't really so she adapted to his which helped that the feedings were around the same time instead of staggered.  
Here is a map of where we went.  The boys picked up the boat from the green balloon and then picked us up at the green star.  The purple balloon all the way at the top right hand part of the screen is where we stayed.  The yellow markers are where we stopped throughout the week.
Here is a close up view of the islands we visited.  The markers going from left to right are Grinda - which we didn't end up stopping at, Svartsö - we had ice cream and Linnea went swimming, Ingmarsö - we had lunch there on Tuesday and Finnhamn - we had lunch there on Friday.

On Monday we just hung around the house after arriving.  We got settled in, had grilled sandwiches for lunch and pizza for dinner.
Linnea definitely cashed in on the naps while Florian played a little more.

Tummy time is hard.
On Tuesday we went to Ingmarsö for lunch.  

 Most of the houses in the archipelago are red which looks really nice.

Linnea slept all the way to the island and through lunch which was nice so we could both eat without having to hold her.  Florian didn't get the "sleep during lunch" memo.
I had the sausage with vegetables in the top left hand corner and it was so good!

We picked up some groceries at the store on Ingmarsö before heading back to the house.  The store was little but it was full of all the necessities you would need.  I was impressed with how much they were able to fit into the store.
I love that Linnea's hand is on Florian's shoulder.  So cute! 
This happy girl played on the deck while the boys were grilling.  Her outfit is from Jake's boss 
 The boys grilled for us.  It was delicious!
 Notice Linnea's spot at the table. She was there every night during dinner.

Hanging out in the crack of the bench during dinner.
We both enjoyed spending the whole week with this guy!

During one of the middle of the night feedings I saw a beautiful sunrise.  I told Jake about it when I got back in bed and he decided to go out and take some pictures.  It was really gorgeous.

On Wednesday we went on a long boat ride trying to find an island to have a picnic.  There are 30,000 islands in the archipelago and you can legally go on to any of them.  We found an island where it was easy to park the boat and had a picnic.
Cuddling with dad during breakfast.  It was great spending so much time with Jake during the week.
Someone wakes up slow . . . good thing her dad has had practice being around people who are like that :).

 We ran across this Floating Restaurant Sea Palace but it wasn't open for business.
 Lunch on an island.
 Sleeping on dad is the best.  (I agree Linnea!)

 Checking out the sunset.
This was a 2 minute walk on the island where we were staying.

On Thursday we had lunch at home before heading to Svartsö for a walk around the island.  Once we got to the island we realized this was the same island we went to with my parents a year ago.  Last year we took a ferry and walked around the island for a few hours before catching the ferry back to Stockholm.
 A little tummy time.

All smiles from this happy girl!
 Watch your step . . . babies on board.
 Such a happy girl before her dad decided to put her in freezing cold water for her first swim.

Jake sliding into the water.
 She didn't scream the whole time . . . just most of it.

 Baby burrito to warm up after her swim.
The island we were staying on is on the main channel that the cruise ships take in and out of Stockholm.
On Friday we went to Finnhamn for lunch.  Finnhamn was the first outing Jake and I had after moving to Stockholm two years ago.  We camped for one night using just backpacks which was a big deal because we had only camped before with a car.

Here are a few pictures from our first trip to Finnhamn in October 2013 versus August 2015.  

Tim and Mona don't smile for pictures even though in real life they are both always smiling.  We tried to take a non-smiling picture.  I spent several minutes laughing before we got this one.

 It was so fun being back on Finnhamn and having Linnea with us!

The path to the guest dock was a little tricky with strollers but we made it work.
Back on our island.
Hanging out in the crack of the bench during dinner.

On Saturday we packed up and headed back to Stockholm.  We tried to stop at Grinda on the way home but it was packed so we stopped at Vaxholm instead and had some ice cream. 

There were so many boats out on the water on our way home.  It was hard to navigate through them.  The water was also really choppy so the trip home wasn't very peaceful but we made it back safely which is what matters most.

The boys dropped us off again before taking the boat back to the marina.

We had such a great time hanging out with Tim, Mona and Florian in the archipelago.  The weather was perfect, the babies were good and we enjoyed a proper Swedish summer for a week in the archipelago.

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