southern sweden

We only had three days in Stockholm. I wish we’d had more time; it’s a gorgeous city, and there was so much more to see. Someday.

My mother’s grandparents emigrated from Sweden to Minnesota. It was only after I did a little internet research on the family that I learned of the great emigration of Swedes to America during the late 1800’s. One-fifth of the population emigrated to America, many to Minnesota (like my great-grandparents–and the American Girl doll, Kirsten!) Most of those emigrants were from an area in the south central part of Sweden called Smaland.

Most of my ancestors came from Smaland, from small towns near Växjö. These days in Växjö, there’s a museum and research center called Utvandrarnas Hus (House of Emigrants) which focuses on the Swedes who left for America. Unfortunately, it looks like the museum will be closing after this year. We were lucky to find it still open, and stopped by on our way down south.

emigrant house, växjö, sweden(Remember how I wrote about white balance in photos a few posts back? Well, the white balance is really off in this photo, which makes it look like a bad Polaroid. But I don’t have access to my photo editing software here, so it will have to do.)

The museum was interesting. You can get a sense of what sort of information they cover on their website. They had a nice area on the renowned Swedish writer Vilhem Moberg–you can also read about him on the museum website. Moberg wrote a series of four novels about the Swedish emigration to America. I’m reading a translation of the first book, The Emigrants; I started it hoping that it would be informative, and didn’t anticipate how much I’d enjoy it. The books were made into a Swedish film with Liv Ullman. It doesn’t seem easy to find, but I’m hoping to see it after I read the book.

We stayed on an island off the coast of mainland Sweden on the Baltic Sea, called Ölund. The king and queen of Sweden have a vacation home there, and there are windmills everywhere.

Ölund windmill

We stayed at a hostel and working organic farm called Solberga Gård, which means sunny hill farm.

It was beautiful.

solberga gard

I just wanted to take photos the whole time. The main house:

the main house

A second guest house, below. The barns and houses in the Swedish countryside are almost all this shade of red. Apparently the original red paint pigment was a byproduct of the mining industry in Sweden. You can read a little about it, and see some other examples on the charming blog

another guest building

Lulu especially loved the swing.

she loved the swing

The Swedes and Danes love their bikes. There are bike riders everywhere, even in the big cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen.

the swedes love their bikes love those blue chairs flowering fence

I found more Swedish beehives.

more swedish beehives

There were organic seedlings for sale.

seedlings for sale

And purple and white lilac bloomed all over the island. So utterly fragrant–it made me think of what a Swedish grandmother must smell like.

lilacs blooming everywhere

We also visited some fantastic castle ruins on Ölund called Borgholms Slott. There’s a great aerial photo of the castle if you click that link. It was fun to explore the ruins, and there were beautiful views of the Baltic Sea.

the benefits of losing your roof in the courtyard window after window after window

looking out at the balticI’ve still been struggling to get internet, so I’m behind. Next stop: Copenhagen!

7 comments… add one
  • Debbie Jun 25, 2010 @ 17:34

    Gorgeous scenery. I especially love the photo’s of the castles. Can’t wait to see more. Glad you and your family are enjoying yourselves. -Debbie

    • patricia Jun 27, 2010 @ 14:23

      The internet is better where we are now, so I’ll try to post more photos. Thanks, Debbie!

  • susan Jun 27, 2010 @ 13:43

    I love the windows upon windows shot. And what is it about those blue chairs? I just want to step into that picture.

    • patricia Jun 27, 2010 @ 14:23

      I don’t know why the chairs are blue, but I love how they look with the red of the building. They make me think of the Swedish flag. Not quite the same color blue, but still. And that lone one over to the left? It sort of kills me. Too much beauty.

      • susan Jun 27, 2010 @ 14:40

        Yes–who would have thought that a blue chair could be so right.

  • Kristin Jun 29, 2010 @ 8:51

    Isn’t it ironic that that house you stayed in was almost the same yellow as your own? And the bee hives–you have those too. It must feel reaffirming to discover that your lifestyle isn’t that different from your “roots” in Sweden. This trip was “meant to be” and looks like a wonderful adventure. Keep sharing.

    • patricia Jun 29, 2010 @ 9:46

      I hadn’t thought about the color of the house. But I do feel a real draw to Sweden. I’ve enjoyed Denmark and Germany too, but there’s something special about Sweden. I don’t know if it’s my roots–or just that I love their lifestyle and their fabulous sense of style. I bought a couple of Swedish home and garden magazines (which I surely can’t read) just so I can linger over the photos. I also bought myself a bottle of elderflower cordial so I can keep enjoying elderflower sodas, although I think I may be able to buy it at Ikea…you’ll have to come over and try one when we’re back!

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