A Winter Wonderland

For the past few summers Mark and I have traveled to Scandinavia to teach classes in the Nordic countries. We’ve witnessed people sunbathing on warm rocks, kids dressed in shorts and tank tops enjoying ice cream on park benches and have chatted with friends during barbecues long into sunlit nights. We’ve heard stories about winter in Sweden, how the sea transforms into an ice field, kayaks are replaced by ice skates and how the rock gardens that we usually paddle around become passages only accessible by foot.

When Pelle and Carina of Nynas Kajaks invited us to visit, Mark and I were thrilled to go. We had a very busy 2013 and decided that a vacation with friends during the “off-season” for kayak instructors was just what we needed, and experiencing a Nordic winter sounded like a blast.

As luck would have it, Sweden was having an unusually warm winter, with rain and fog replacing the usual ice and snow. It was still good to be there though, and Pelle, Carina, Mark and I took advantage of the chance to explore both the land and the water.

A foggy day on the water.

A foggy day on the water.

A very impressive ship called the Vasa, which sank during its maiden voyage in  1628.

A very impressive ship called the Vasa, which sank during its maiden voyage in 1628.

One morning we awoke to winter. The transformation was amazing, and where there had been grass the night before, there was now a thick layer of snow.

A snowy hike in Nynashamn.

A snowy hike in Nynashamn.

A winter wonderland.

A winter wonderland.

A day in the snow brings out the playful nature in everyone.

A day in the snow brings out the playful nature in everyone.

My very own icicle!

My very own icicle!

Snow and kayaks are a great combination.

Snow and kayaks are a great combination.

Warm clothes were necessary for a day on the water.

Warm clothes are necessary for a day on the water.

Paddling around snow and ice covered rocks was a magical experience.

Paddling around snow and ice covered rocks was a magical experience.

We built a fire on the beach to cook lunch over.

We built a fire on the beach to cook lunch over.

Mark and I enjoying the day.

Mark and I enjoying the day.

Pelle and Carina were awesome hosts!

Pelle and Carina were awesome hosts!

S'mores were a fun after lunch treat.

S’mores were a fun treat.

Icy air and wind chill contributed to frozen kayaks and gear.

Icy air and wind chill contributed to frozen kayaks and gear.

After one paddle, Mark and I headed to a spa to sit in hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms while enjoying the icy view.

After one paddle, Mark and I headed to a spa to sit in hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms while enjoying the icy view.

Another way to warm up was by eating one of Sweden's tasty desserts.

Eating a semla is another way to warm up.

Stockholm has a fantastic Viking restaurant called Aifur.

We enjoyed an evening in Stockholm at a fantastic Viking restaurant called Aifur.

Mark and I spent our last afternoon in Sweden building a snowman, complete with a kayak, a paddle and a norsaq.

Mark and I spent our last afternoon in Sweden building a snowman, complete with a kayak, a paddle and a norsaq.

We’re now on our way to Denmark, for the DGI Sea Kayak Winter Festival. Thanks Pelle and Carina for a great vacation!

Pictures by Pelle Hammarstrom, Mark and Helen.

One Response to “A Winter Wonderland”

  • Looks fabulous! Do we have any winter paddling festivities here in the USA? Can’t think of any myself. It could be a lot of fun! Drysuit fashion show, medicinal use of spirits, lots of snuggling…

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