When we lived in Miami, Florida, we sailed or motored a few times to Sands Key, an uninhabited island in Biscayne Bay at the far north end of the Florida Keys. A couple days ago, we took the ferry to the Swedish equivalent, Sandön (“Sand Island”), which lies 30 miles east of Stockholm on the eastern edge of the 24,000 island Swedish Archipelago. Sandön is more commonly referred to here as Sandhamn, the name of the village that was settled there, which home to about 100 full-time residents, 3,000 seasonal summer residents and 100,000 annual visitors.
It was a 2 1/2 hour ride on the ferry, Cinderella II, and it was a glorious day to be on the water, clear sky, warm and sunny day, powering into a stiff breeze out of the east.
I didn’t take many photos on the ride out to Sandhamn because we were totally absorbed in conversation for the whole trip with a delightful Swedish woman of Finnish descent that we sat down next to on the ferry. All the Swedes we have met during our time here have been exceedingly friendly and helpful, but the first prize award goes to our new friend, Eila, who also joined us for lunch at the hotel restaurant:
After lunch, we walked across the island to the beach on the southern shore. Many of the buildings in the islands and throughout the countryside are painted “falun red,” like the hotel and restaurant and the house and its outbuildings, shown below. The color supposedly results from the use of tailings from the Falun copper mines in Dalarna, in northern Sweden, which contain iron oxides, copper and zinc (we visited the Falun mine in 2002). The copper also helps preserve the wood from rot.
The piney woods of Sandhamn were quite peaceful and a joy to walk through, even though we were on a gravel track most of the time (no cars are allowed on the island, but some of the residents get around on ATVs).
It was very picturesque on the south side of the island, reminding us of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound that we flew over after taking off from Bellingham, Washington, at the start of our trip about two weeks ago.
In the photo, above, you can see two pilot boats in the background; that’s one of the main activities here, but Sandhamn is primarily known as a sailor’s haven, hosting a popular regatta out in the Baltic Sea every July.
I think I read that the stucco covered building, above, was the old customs house, built in the 1700s. This side of the harbor really reminded me of the Abacos in the Bahama Islands, but a little bit colder, of course. Same vintage, different vineyard.