If you were as surprised as I was to hear that Denmark is comprised of hundreds of islands, hold onto your lattes. Sweden is comprised of 30,000 islands. Yes, that's the right amount of zeros. Now granted, what qualifies as "island" ranges from those that are H&M-ridden suburbs to small, rocky land masses you could practically jump over. But hey, an island's an island here in Sweden and who am I to contest it. So naturally I had to put in some time in this massive archipelago given its importance to the country's identity.
I chose to go to the island of Grinda. About an hour and a half boat ride from Stockholm, rural Grinda has a tiny population, can be walked from one end to the other in 40 minutes, has one tavern/hotel and is popular in summertime for hiking, relaxing in green meadows, and weekend getaways. But per usual, since it's Fall and after peak season, it was pretty much me and a bunch of inquisitive sheep. The perpetually looming dark clouds. The traditional red houses that dot Sweden's landscape. Meandering the gently rolling gravel trails. Chuckling at the absurd-sounding bleating of the sheep in the distance. Mistaking the faint sound of breeze-blown leaves of the trees for someone walking behind me. I relished the feeling of being "out there" in the archipelago and was reminded of one of my favorite lines from the movie Singles: "Being alone. There's a certain dignity to it." A perfect sentiment as I perched on the rocky shoreline and gazed toward the thousands of other islands out there along Sweden's coast.
While a map of this country resembles a jigsaw puzzle, the active, island-hopping, maritime life around the archipelago is a piece of Sweden's culture that is truly special.
The rural pastures of Grinda in Sweden's archipelago
Not a soul around on the rocky shore of Grinda
Red houses abound in Sweden which historically stems from a sign of wealth. Today, agents used to make the local paint red help protect against wet weather.
More red houses around the islands