September 18, 2010 in SWEDEN | Comments (0)

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13 September – daytrip from Stockholm

Trosa. One of the prettiest towns in Sweden. It came as a bright surprise one rainy day. Like being given a present between birthdays. The contrasts of that day were part of the wonder.

We were to visit an old friend, Paula and I. I took the circular tramway from Gullmarsplan (Tvärbanan) through undistinguished suburbs to Liljeholmen, which is distinguished (for its Ugly Urban Usch). It is one of those so-called “centrum” that revolve around Stockholm. Like an undigested lump – an accidental coagulation of grey apartment blocks, T-bana station, predictable McDonalds and COOP (the saddest part is someone planned it).

The best part is getting out of there on comfy TROSABUSSEN. Only 100 sek for an hour ride to Trosa (toilet on board).

It was raining, clammy, wet and grey. I took snapshots awkwardly from under my umbrella. Regardless of the input from the heavens, the little town of Trosa warmed us with its colours, food and charm.

It’s just a teeny town but has 10 restaurants, among which is picturesque Antons Krog, where we ate excellent lunch for only 85 sek. With a rainbow of brightly painted wooden houses, Trosa  spreads along two sides of a running river, which becomes a canal and then flows out into the Baltic. The banks are lined with boats of every size and shape. Each house has a boat tied up in front. Here is my friend Erry’s pride and joy – an undoubtedly picturesque rowing boat.

Trosa has a yacht marina. It is a popular excursion for Stockholm yachters and has also been well-rated by the international yachting fraternity.  Even by rowing, you are within easy reach of sheltered waters between the islands of the Trosa archipelago – the southern reaches of the multitude of offshore islands along the coast north and south of Stockholm.

Summer is when Trosa blooms to full life. With music and markets, dining in gardens, cappuccino under the apple trees. Boats coming and going. “And,” adds Erry, “busloads of German tourists.”

“You know that Germans like Sweden,” she said. But now many more are coming to Trosa in tours following in the footsteps of Inga Lindström. This popular German TV series is filmed in Sweden’s Sörmland county, many scenes in little Trosa.

Though the cast is German, the language German and the writer German (Inga Lindström is her pseudonym) – the impression is given that these are Swedes talking Swedish with dubbed sound. The Inga Lindström series creates eternal green summer, an idyll of beautiful scenery and beautiful (Swedish) people. In this setting there are fairy-tale like endings when love triumphs. “The Germans think that Sweden is a little nicer, a little cleaner and more honest, and the films owe their popularity due to a longing for better times,” she adds lightly.

The series continues – new episodes were being filmed this week (16 September 2010) in nearby Nyköping. showed a film clip.

But back to Trosa.

It is 13 September. We are walking under umbrellas. Garden cafes are wet and deserted.

It’s not cold but…Summer is almost over. It came to Sweden like a dream. Like an enchantment, and now you wake without the kiss of a prince…

The crowds have fled from Trosa. Many restaurants and B&Bs are closed.  The apple trees that so frothily fill the gardens are now dotted with red. The maple leaves are turning with a triumphant blaze. They do it in a way that says “we wanted our last fling while still young and sappy in mid-September”. Other leaves hang on green and hopeful till mid-October when they bleach, crumple and fall, giving in to barrenness. The conifers never cared for summer anyway…

Erry is resigned to autumn. Descended from fisher folk in the arctic areas of Norway, she breathes its first dews and wisps of melancholy with Scandinavia’s harmonious resignation and belonging.

We walk back from our delicious meal at Anton’s Krog, where Anton from Switzerland started a restaurant in an old fire station 30 years ago (the dish Paula ordered as an extra was best – chanterelle soup – unimaginably delicious). We walk in a circle (I believe) past the bookshop (“a real bookshop” Erry says. Past stadshotell – a hotel with a literary history (hence a real bookshop).

Along the river past the angled roofs of quaint bright houses, red, green, blue, terracotta, walls with wooden trimmings in contrasting colours. Boats all along the way – you maybe have a car at the back, but a boat in front.

“That white house used to belong to Benny of Abba,” she points out. “I don’t think he ever lived there but he has an island nearby. I like him – he comes to town like an ordinary guy … in gumboots.”

We cross an arched wooden bridge to her house. Very sweet house with the typically glassed in veranda (lots of smaller panes creating a traditional yet light area  – not floor to ceiling glass which might cause your neighbours a heart attack).

They have a platform in the garden extending to the water’s edge swirling by under the willows – too wet for coffee there. So we go in to enjoy her version of cafe latte (with heated cream) in her cosy renovated house. She has just had a kitchen made brand new in fifties style (when Sweden was still making Utopia in more solid fashion than the 60s and 70s).

The jade green “kakelugn” (tile heater) is the centrepiece of the room where we drink our cafe crème. “Interesting that you have so many small rooms – no temptation to follow modern fashion and pull down walls to make open spaces,” I say. “No – awful. I like it cosy,” Erry says.

Upstairs under the sloping eaves we meet her cat with new kittens. This kitty is a very typical Trosa cat. It catches fish in the river. Paw trails in the water, and suddenly up comes shining fish, swept against kitty mouth. This year kitty brought in fish after fish, into the kitchen – the way other kitties bring mice. She does not get tempted to eat them. A present for the house…

Trosa was given city privileges in the middle ages. It became a leading Swedish bathing resort in the late 1900s after the first steamboat came, and the scene of important meetings, balls and masquerades. Stadshotellet is known as a literary hotel, associated with The “Five Young People” group which met there from time to time in the 1930s.  Erik Asklund, Josef Kjellgren and Gustav Sandgren wrote books about Trosa; Artur Lundkvist and Harry Martinsson became members of the Swedish Academy (Nobel prize fame); and Martinsson won the very prize. Another Academy member had a cottage near Trosa and often visited the hotel, occasionally writing poems on table napkins.

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