Off the Beaten Track in Sweden: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

DIS Stockholm students Gabby, Ange, and Eva set out to explore slow travel in Sweden together. Read below to learn more about their experience slow travelling to the Bergs Gård farm, south of Stockholm.

Finding Joy in the Journey

Slow travel is about taking a step back from the hustle from home and letting yourself live sustainably in the present moment. With Stockholm being a smaller city and the three of us having only a semester to spend here, we were looking for an opportunity to learn more about variance in the culture and traditions throughout the country. Not every moment will be picture-perfect or high energy, but there’s beauty to be found everywhere in-between: watching the sun slowly rise as it filters through a bus window, pausing a book mid-passage to be mesmerized by the dancing of leaves, or squinting as sea salt wind sprays on your face. Slow travel is about observing how a new town differs from what you’ve seen and known, and taking the time to listen and learn from the people you meet along the way.

A bit about us:

Hej hej! My name is Gabby. I am a biology major from Colby College and at DIS I am in the Affective Neuroscience: Emotion, Cognition, and Behavior Core Course. In Sweden I have been loving embracing their culture by taking a fika and exploring the concepts of lagom, allemansrätten, and fredagsmys during my time here. 

Hej! I’m Ange. My Core Course at DIS Stockholm is World of the Vikings, but I’m about to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Health. I live in Chicago and study in Illinois, so I couldn’t be happier to be abroad learning Swedish and living like a local. I love spending my time in nature, writing poetry, and having fika with friends.

Hallå! My name is Eva, and I am a biology major at Denison University, currently in the Precision Medicine Core Course at DIS. I am a big advocate for people working on living sustainable lives, and I dedicate each day to try and work on this myself.

Our Trip to Trosa Hamn

Coordinating the transportation to Trosa Hamn was no easy feat. Given that the far-away farm that we had picked as our destination for this small adventure wasn’t accessible by public transportation, we had to get creative. Our plan was to take a train to Södertälje Syd, catch a bus to Trosa Hamn, and rent a bike to the Bergs Gård farm. We were only given one set of instructions: Do NOT miss the train! Unfortunately for us, there was no train.

The three of us arrived early enough, and what began as a calm coffee moment quickly turned into a frantic realization that our train was nowhere to be found. We walked up and down and back, and forth, until it sunk in that the train was just… gone. We eventually made it on another train and were so confident that our GPS was leading us in the correct direction. Thanks to our faulty phones, however, we stayed on the train one stop too long… which meant we were now headed a few hours in the wrong direction.

We put our heads together to assess our options. After talking through our situation, Eva arranged a new way to get to the farm, Ange stepped aside to look at the rolling plains, and Gabby struck up a conversation with the man next to us to distract herself from our unfortunate detour.

Mishap Turned to Memories

Given that the three of us were still getting to know each other, the extra time in the train gave us the chance to dig deeper into each other’s lives, uncovering multiple levels of similarities and differences in uninterrupted conversations. As we watched the sun create a glimmering round sun spot over the lake, Eva marveled, “I know for a fact I would have never seen these views in my life if we hadn’t had our mix up”.

Arriving in Trosa Hamn

We transferred from that final train to a bus in which we were the only passengers. It wasn’t until the driver was dropping us off that he struck up a conversation with us, eager to swap stories and share with us his time in the States. This man, hesitant to leave us for his next destination and eager for human connection, was a sharp juxtaposition to the bus drivers we had seen in Stockholm, always aiming to keep on their tight schedules. We said our goodbyes and stepped out onto the edge of a small boatyard. The air smelled of brine with a hint of pine. The sense of pride collectively coursing through our veins after our bumpy travel made our arrival all the more satisfying.

We were only able to pause for a moment before a van reminiscent of an ice cream truck zoomed ahead, turning into the curvature of the roundabout and unloading the bicycles in one swift motion. We would have to bike quickly to enjoy our farm-to-table meal, especially given our estimation of a 40-minute bike ride ahead of us. After brief instructions and buckling of our helmets, we were off. As much as we were looking forward to the delicious meal that awaited us, we were equally entranced by the living landscape painted with every color of autumn. Fields dotted with mustard yellow marigolds and cranberry red poppies, the wind itself wound your mouth into a smile. Onwards we went towards Bergs Gård farm.

Bergs Gård Kök & Café: Food Review

Aromas of freshly baked bread blended with the scent of roasted vegetables swirled in savory herbs led us to the kitchen. After our long morning that had exhausted us physically and mentally, we trudged up the final stretch towards alluring smells both sweet and savory. With how hungry and out of breath we all were, the cozy cabin radiating warmth ahead of us was like a grandmother’s gentle gesture inviting us in to share a meal. From the white linen table cloths embroidered with flowers to the different sets of plates stacked within a wooden armoire, you could tell it had been passed down for generations. We walked towards the register, meandering through mismatched loveseats, dining tables, and benches, our eyes following the adorable art prints of cows and farm animals around us. After ordering, we sat down at a white wooden table that hugged an open window, happy to be sitting closest to the food that was calling our names.

We loaded up our plates with the farm-to-table buffet: hearty Swedish meatballs, potatoes boiled and seasoned to perfection, tart lingonberries, light cabbage and cucumber salad, and warm fluffy bread that we slathered with a cream cheese spread of chive and dill. Eva’s gluten free option was a delicious alternative to Swedish meatballs. After those first few bites, she exclaimed aloud, “I love this, but I cannot pinpoint a single flavor”. The chef explained that they were sun-dried tomatoes and sunflower seeds pressed together with herbs. She still remembers the happiness radiating from her belly. We sipped on elderflower soda and beer from the local brewery as we slowly sank into our seats.

The Farm: Smiling Sheep

While Gabby and Ange perused the shop of local meats, cheeses, and homemade goods, Eva talked to sheep blankly staring back at her while they bathed in the sun. Walking around the back of the shop, we embraced our inner child and joined the kids playing on an in-ground trampoline.

Sweet Ride Home

As we pedaled downhill back towards Trosa Hamn, the sunset began its descent as well. The same route, with colors so bright they rivaled that of a painting, was now bathed in golden sunshine. We took advantage of Allemansrätten, the right to roam, following back roads along winding driveways. We marveled at the surrounding trees that waved hello, enveloping us in a kaleidoscope of orange, yellow, and green. We stood together overlooking the faraway rolling hills, contrasted by the flat farmlands to the right of the driveway, illuminated by the sun slowly slipping beyond the horizon.

Even with our little detours, we made it back with time to spare. After cycling through the town that felt as though we had stepped back in time, we returned our bikes and walked along the boardwalk for ice cream. Eva was especially excited to try the salted licorice flavor, one that is hated by some but loved by many. It’s fairly controversial among Swedes, much like how pineapple on pizza is viewed in America. We enjoyed the relaxing lull of the water crashing on the rocky shore, sitting among townsfolk in deep conversation and overlooking blue and yellow sailboats with a singular jib swaying in the harbor.

 We enjoyed the peaceful bus ride back, happy to not have to worry about our next mode of transportation. For a brief moment, we all looked out the same window to a big, bright, beautiful moon. It glowed so vividly yellow, it was as if a flashlight was being pressed behind it, and it proudly shone out beyond the dimly lit sky before disappearing deep within dense trees. That night, it felt as though the moon was guiding us home as our exploration came to an end.

Concluding Notes

It’s okay to “mess up” on your travels — it’s very common that life doesn’t always go to plan, and it doesn’t mean your trip is ruined because of it. Slow travel allows for mistakes, and our trip to the west when we meant to go south allowed us to experience so much more of Sweden that we never would have otherwise. Taking a moment to stop, whether to snap a quick picture or to take a mental photograph of our own, allowed us to pause and savor the moment. Reminding ourselves to stay mindful that there was no real rush to arrive at our destination. After all, it isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to see streaks of oranges, yellows, and greens rush past on a high-speed train through the Swedish countryside.

Learn more about sustainability at DIS

>> DIS Slow Traveler

>> A Weekend in Roskilde: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

>> How to Go Green in Stockholm

>> How to Go Green in Copenhagen

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