I am back in Sweden for Midsommar, a beautiful time to visit. After meeting my sister in Copenhagen, we took the very short train ride to Malmo, Sweden and picked up a rental car. Sweden is an easy country for touring, with good road signs, driving on the right, and everyone speaks English.
We had reserved one of the three rooms at Monika’s B&B Hagebo. Hagebo is out in the countryside along the southern coast of Sweden. It was just what we were looking for, quiet and close to the Ales Stones. http://www.hagebo.nu/
It was an easy and scenic drive from Malmo, through flat countryside dotted with modern windmills. We stopped in Ystad for dinner on the waterfront.
Crashing at 8 pm on the first night, we were wide awake by 0500 the next day. Midsommar time in southern Sweden it stays light until 11 pm and the sun rises again around 4 am. On our first morning we took a little bicycle ride at 0600 from the B&B to the beach and around the country roads. We saw crops of beets, potatoes, and wheat, and fields with cattle.
One of the reasons we chose Hagebo was its close proximity to Ale’s Stenar. The standing stone ring is the oldest of its kind in Sweden.
After our early morning bike ride and breakfast, we drove the short distance to the Ale’s Stones, 59 boulders in the form of a ship, dating from 500 – 1000 CE. The ancient monument sits on a bluff above the old fishing village of Kaseberga. They were used as a landmark on a coastal chart dated 1684, and first described in a text dated 1624 by parish priest Niels Ipsen. It was refreshing to see an ancient monument without graffiti or fences or warnings. The stones are out in a field with a great view of the Baltic Sea.
From the stones we made our way to what is billed as Sweden’s nicest beach, Sandhammaren. The sand was very fine and white, but the water was quite cold. Many families had gathered to enjoy the beach and kids were in the water, but it was windy as seems usual here on the southern coast.
The area is quite scenic for driving. We passed big farms with huge old red barns, horses, cattle and windmills old and new. The wind blew nonstop, so the windmills seem to make a lot of sense. We had read about a Swedish winery and were intrigued, so we loaded the address into the GPS in the rental car and made our way to Simrishamn.
The Nordic Sea Winery is a Swedish winery, sort of. They don’t grow their own wine grapes yet (the vines out front are ornamental), you can’t buy a bottle of wine there, and tastings are scheduled in advance only on certain days, but we did have a wonderful lunch accompanied by a glass of one of the wines. Nordic Sea Winery buys the wine from many countries, and then ages it at the Nordic Sea Winery. I give them points for giving it a try, as buying alcohol in Sweden is harder than in the US. It is not in the grocery stores, but only sold in a few locations. The facility was impressive and they are definitely giving it a good try. The salmon lunch was quite tasty, and reasonably priced too.
The little town of Simrishamn is known for its streets of pretty houses. We followed a walking tour of the old town and stopped to buy some textiles. One of the only two stores in the area to buy wine was in the town, so we stopped there too.
The second full day of our vacation still found us wide awake at 0400. It also happened to be the Summer Solstice, June 21. So what do you do when you can’t sleep at 0400 on the Summer Solstice? We drove back up to the Ale’s Stenar to see the early morning sun come up over the ancient stones. We were the only tourists there at 0500. The following pictures are from 0500 on the Solstice.
Southern Sweden is home to quite a few castles and old estates. We visited two, but only toured the interior of one. Our first stop was Kronovall Castle (also a hotel), where we had planned to have lunch. We had read that the estate serves lunch beginning Midsommar, but it really didn’t start until the next Saturday, the day all Swedes celebrate Midsommar, not the actual Summer Solstice date.
We walked the grounds then headed to Svaneholm Castle. Not only was Svaneholm open, but they also had a special exhibit of dresses called In The Style Of Downton Abbey. It was a collection of dresses, hats, and shoes worn by previous castle owners during the same time period as the PBS show Downton Abbey. The castle was also full of antiques. It was a nice tour and afterwards we enjoyed coffee and fika on the grounds before driving back into Malmo to drop off our rental car and take a train up to Almhult to meet with family and celebrate Midsommar.