After my days in Gothenburg and the archipelago it was time for me to travel towards the countryside. After one hour I reach the locallity Hyssna. Here it pretty much looks like the Sweden everybody imagines who suffers from bullerbysyndrome. Postcard motives everywhere. Red cottages, large lakes and old forests.
The old mill of Hyssna is by now a guesthouse with café and a little store and is called Kvarnen i Hyssna. This is the place where I will spend to additional nights in Sweden with my overly friendly hosts Hans and Catherine. For generations has Hans’ family carried and expanded the mill. His grandfather also won two olympic gold medailles in wrestling for his country. The official document is proudly presented to me by his grandson now. To honour his achievements the little road is called after him since 2012 – Claes Johannsons Väg.
All these information I am told while Hans is showing me around, before I finally get to see my room in the old blacksmith house. I’m honestly impressed by what Hans and Catherine have made out of all the old buildings. It’s a charming mix of modern and traditional and they kept the culture and history of this place very well. You feel welcome immediately. Especially because of their hospitableness. Something you are likely to enjoy everywhere in Sweden quite a lot.
After the delicious dinner I am going for a little walk besides the mill’s little river. Hans told me just to follow the path with the yellow marks. It is still pleasantly warm outside, the green landscape is illuminated with the soft evening light and even mosquitos are just not there. In this perfect conditions I explore the neighbourhood. I stroll through small forests, discover old but pretty farms and even prettier churches. After an hour or so I return to my home base and go directly to bed, already thrilled for what is coming the next day.
The next morning it’s finally time to get serious. With my huge lunch package, which was made with much love by Catherine, and a kajak in the back we drive towards Stora Hålsjön where Hans releases me into the wild. He shows me his two new cottages alongside the lakes shore on the map and then he is off. I paddle gently into the already warming morning sun. On the shore I can spot a tent and somewhere on the lake is another boat. That’s it. No more people. I have this whole wonderful piece of nature just for myself.
First I go under some trees and through shallow water into a little branch of the lake. The I work my way alongside the shore, getting into my used rhythm. The first cottages appear and you immediately get a bit jealous. Lucky owners. After a while Hans’ cottages appear as well. I pass the landing stage cause there is now way I can get out of the kajak there without drowning myself. But just around the corner is a very flat spot where I can leave the kajak easily. Perfect.
I enjoy the sun for a few hours in my little bay, go swimming in the lake a bit and eat most of my lunch. Furthermore I have a look at the two cottages. The are rather simple, no water or electricity, but this is the idea behind it. A completely different holiday experience without the constant buzz of mobile device. Just you and mother nature. Whoever would like to do this kind of vacation can get it here. Just call Hans and Catherine.
When the sun is beyond its zenith I pack my few things and paddle out on the lake again. I check out some tiny island where people live temporarily for a weekend or so and I can’t deny that I am wondering a lot about how this kind of a swedish summer vacation must be. I carry on towards the shore where the lake flows into a canal. More and more cottages appear but I can’t spot any other person.
Suddenly clouds are rolling in, carrying rain and thunder. The wind gets worse and so do the waves. I decide to turn around because there is still some way to go back. And paddling against the waves isn’t that much fun. For motivation issues I play the Vikings theme a few times and start to feel like a real northman a bit. The water on the left is dark grey while it’s deep blue on the right. Thor hasn’t deciced yet if he wants to let Ragnarök down on me.
Without any rain I reach the shore where Hans has left me. The tent is gone. I eat some bread before I start part 2 of my adventure. As agreed I just leave the kajak behind, for the next couple of hours I will only have to use my feet. I start walking the hyssnaleden which follows the shore of Stora Hålsjön for a while. In whole it’s 42 km long, so exactly marathon distance. But my goal for today are just 8 of them.
Already after a short period of time I realise that this whole thing might be a bit more challenging that I thought. Even more because I only wear nikes and boardshorts. Not really the equipment for wandering through a just slightly hilly but at some points really ambitious terrain. And my stamina has seen better days as well.
Later Hans will tell me that I walk in fact the most challenging part of the hyssnaleden. Lucky boy I am. But only once I will swear heavily, after a few hours I slip and nearly explode my shoulder. The rest of the path is very idyllic alongside the lake, through forests and fields. All the time tiny red cottages appear in the landscape and you meet one or two humans and some animals. But usually you are just on your own with your thoughts. Personal tip: Set your smartphone on flight mode and just enjoy.
At the end I can’t even tell how long I was underway. Everything hurts, I’m sweating and got sunburned. But I am also extremely happy about the way I connected with nature in all these hour and also about all the beautiful pictures I was able to take. I need to use my last energy to reach the main road and pass the sign that says “Welcome to Hyssna”. I just sit down in the shadow of the only tree around and call Hans so he can pick me up.
In the meantime appears the owner of the house that belongs to the grass that I sit in. She walks from her car towards me. Half sceptical, half curious about the stranger in her front yard. But the scepticism disappears from her face as soon as I tell her who is gonna pick me up here. So we talk about the swedish summer, the commonalities of our countries and the demolished car by the edge of the forest. Between all these topics Hans arrives and after a short good bye we are heading back to the mill.
My last evening in Sweden is celebrated with delicious selfmade burgers made out of fresh ingridients from the area, directly served on my terrace by Hans. I sit outside and talk to my finnish friend on the phone until the sun sets and it gets too cold. Yes, the sun sets in Sweden, even though midsummer is just one week away. I crawl into my bed and my last thoughts are how much do I love this country and its people.