I recently watched a film called Sunes Sommar. It’s a film from 1993 about a Swedish family going on their summer vacation. Sune is the middle boy in this family, probably about 12 years old. Most of the film is spent in a typical Swedish summer town filled with RVs and campers. The family sets up their “husvagn” (towable caravan) in the campsite. The rest of the movie is about what the family does while they’re on their vacation: play tennis, lie on the beach, play card games with the family, etc. The dad is a goof so there’s a lot of slapstick humor about the stupid things he gets himself into. They also manage to squeeze some romance into the film, focusing on Sune’s love interest.
After watching this film, I understood immediately that the movie depicted a truly Swedish summer. Spending time with family and friends out in nature doing, well, nothing, really. Yes, some families might travel around the world or go to Spain, Greece, or Italy for a week or two, but when they’re not doing that, they spend their summers pretty much like what I saw in the movie.
I just had a chance to experience the same thing. My friend invited me to spend the weekend in Falkenberg. It’s a small town of about 19,000 inhabitants on the west coast of Sweden, just south of Göteborg. I stayed at a friend’s “sommarstuga” (summer cottage). The cottage was fully equipped – bathroom, electricity, hot water, stove, oven, four beds… it was quite efficient for 45 square meters, if a bit cramped. The best part about this cottage? It’s about 300 meters from the beach. The water is the Kattegat, a small sea bordering Denmark and the west coast of Sweden (sort of a bay of the North Sea).
On the way to the beach, you pass a section of little homes, all about 15-20 square meters in size. From what I understand, they don’t have bathrooms, so you have to use a communal bathroom for the toilet and shower. Families opt to stay in these tiny homes all summer long since it’s so close to the beach. On one of the neighboring streets, there was a RV camping site full of RVs and tow-around caravans. It was packed with people.
All we did was lay out in the sun, BBQ, enjoy a cold beer, take a dip in the (cold) water, and go out into the town. Our last night was spent watching local bands play at the motorcycle club tucked away in the forest. I had a fantastic time just relaxing. Now I know why Swedes take 4 or more weeks off every year to go out to their sommarstuga. There is something magical about leaving town, going out into nature, and enjoying the company of good friends. Thanks Johannes!
Most everyone is going back to work tomorrow. I technically still have another week of vacation, but I’m still deciding whether I want to cut it short and go back (a soft start)… but regardless, I am happy that I was able to experience a tiny bit of a truly Swedish summer. Everyone should be so lucky!