Top 5 Reasons to Visit Catherine & Graham in Sweden!
Guest Post by Erica McArthur, a Canadian visitor to Tullinge
Photos by Author
I know Catherine & Graham through the world of canoe kayak. Catherine and I started at rival clubs, Catherine paddling out of Ridge Canoe Kayak Club, and myself out of Burnaby. In University we became teammates, both training out of Burnaby due to its proximity to Simon Fraser University. This was the start of a long friendship and racing career together, as we progressed from K2 partners into local outrigger races and eventually international dragon boat racing. The trio of us were roommates for many international competitions, and besides bringing home many racing medals, we always won for best home cooked meals in hotel rooms. It’s amazing what you can create in a rice cooker, although our clothes always smelled like garlic or curry for the entire competition.
I always felt I’d missed out when I didn’t get the chance to visit C & G during their first stint in Sweden. I did make the shorter trip from YVR to Saskatoon during one spring break. That year the snow melted early which meant no skiing, the river was still partly frozen which meant little paddling, and it was Saskatoon so there wasn’t much else to do…so I jumped at the chance to finally visit the pair in Sweden as soon as work schedules and pandemic restrictions allowed. Thank-you Catherine & Graham for a memorable trip, for always feeding me and being so easy to hang out with while up for any adventure.
According to this Canadian, here are the TOP 5 Reasons to visit C & G in Sweden.
I was pleasantly surprised to find so many gardens growing all kinds of deliciously edible fruits and vegetables. Many Stockholm restaurants have their own farm on site. One hot day, we trekked across Stockholm to a hidden gem on Djurgarden recommended by locals. C & G had high recommendations about this place and said it was a little out of the way to the general tourist. Liters of sweat later and after passing many very nice looking restaurants with outdoor patios and shade umbrellas taunting me, we arrived at Rosendals. We entered through its vast gardens where workers were tending the herbs and vegetables. I finally understood why we made the trek overbridges, uphill and past many other lovely places, this was an edible oasis. With menu items inspired by the on-site gardens, we chose our dishes – cold soup for C, hummus for G, and some protein for me. We ate under an apple tree amongst the bees and subdued crowds. Worth the walk and wait. Back inside to choose our desserts and browse in the gift shop, this time we relaxed by the bee hives and enjoyed the sweet tastes of summer.
Rosendals culinary experience was only topped by Vaxholms Hembygdsgårds Cafe (photo) where we ate our brie, and seafood platters by the ocean under umbrellas and amongst the birds looking for handouts. Even though we were full, we couldn’t pass up dessert because there is always room for cake.
Tegnérs bakery is a favorite in Tullinge. The sweet cardamom bread is a must. I ate more bread in my 2 weeks in Sweden than I have all year in Canada. Yay for friends who love food and gluten as much as I do!
I had to take home some Swedish cooking and found this cookbook at the airport. It excellently describes the culture around Swedish culinary arts and has many recipes I can’t wait to try.
The C & G hotel gets 5 stars in this traveler’s review. From airport pick up service with snacks and sweet treats, to phone cards arranged ahead of time, they look after all your needs. The accommodations are comfortable and cool. The breeze of the summer nights erases jet lag and the late summer sun is blocked by floor to ceiling blinds. There was even a toothbrush awaiting me in my room should I have forgotten mine. I didn’t bother with any adapters and charging cables were supplied. Thank-you!
With my savvy tour guides, Stockholm was experienced in a day. From home it is a quick walk to the train station, a calm and sophisticated train ride, nothing at all like skytrain, and we were in the throngs of downtown Stockholm deserted on a summer’s day. Old buildings, small alleys, tourist shops, it was just like many other European cities – one day was enough for me. Hot tip – take good walking shoes! We got in at least 20 000 steps.
This is where Sweden excels. The forest is welcoming and friendly. In British Columbia there are cliffs, bears, and many ways to get lost. In Sweden the forest is a little more sparse and if you walk long enough in any direction you will end up on a ski/running trail or at a town. It’s the perfect place to do some orienteering (see photo of Graham taking a photo of the marker). Each year the local Orienteering club publishes a map showing the locations of tags all throughout the village and surrounding areas. We spent a day finding as many as we could on our way to Lida.
Lida is a park on a small lake with a cute lodge. Vancouverites – picture the Cypress Hollyburn Hut but on a larger scale and at lake level. Lida was a lovely day trip from Tullinge, highlighted with a lovely lake dip. The swimming lanes set up in the lake had me over the moon in love with the outdoor active lifestyle. I swam amongst ladies of all ages getting in their exercise. I believe my bathing suit still smells green from the lake. On site is also a conference center, ski hill, high ropes course, church and of course, bastu. For more on Lida see Catherine’s previous post.
While C & G are human machines of exercise, you can’t walk long in any forest before losing them. Look down and you will find them picking the most delicious wild berries. The tiny strawberries give the swedish berry candy its namesake. Blueberries are everywhere and there is a special container for raking the small bushes and collecting the little berries. If you visit at the right season, you will also find mushrooms of various kinds growing all around. Before going, download the app Naturkartan and you can find all kinds of outdoor activities for all interests.
Food gets two top 5 mentions. C & G’s home cooking needs special mention. Anyone who has dined with them knows what I am talking about. I was welcomed on my first night to a traditional swedish cheese pie prepared by Graham. On another day, after biking around the local area checking out century old viking stones, Catherine and I arrived home to Graham’s signature homemade curry sauce with rice and tonnes of vegetables to top it off. Homemade Kombucha is also on the menu. After a tutorial I am now ready to brew my own.
Catherine takes command of the camping meals. Many meals were already dehydrated and ready to pack into our kayaks for our 3 day adventure on lake Malaren. Food is always key to a good trip and happy paddlers. Once we arrived at our destinations Catherine was in the outdoor kitchen before her spray skirt was off (see photo of Catherine in her element). Lake Malaren by kayak is a great way to see Stockholm and the surrounding area. With many camping spots and grillplats ready for public use, the infrastructure makes camping comfortable and easy! Graham’s route planning can accommodate paddling adventures with views of the city and historical viking sites.
IT’S NOT SASKATOON! Sorry Saskatoon’ers reading this blog. While the photo looks like it could be in the Canadian prairies, it was taken within walking distance to Tullinge.
I booked my ticket to Sweden with no expectations and no agenda. I had never been to Scandinavia. My intent was to visit good friends, spend time in nature, and experience a little bit of Swedish culture. Eagerly I boarded my flight and with a brief stop over to experience the heatwave in London, I arrived at the pleasant welcoming climate of Stockholm.
On day 2 of my trip, 32 degrees was the hottest day of the year so far in Sweden and we took to the water like all other Stockholmers as a way to escape the heat and cool down. The sights are stunning and nature is always close by. I enjoyed paddling past the ‘ski hill’ turned bike park/beach in the summer months.
The Stockholm archipelago puts Vancouver’s Gulf Islands to shame. A 3 hour ferry ride still left us short of the outermost islands. We passed countless summer cottages, each island dotted with private cabins complete with dock, boats and bastu (sauna). Our destination was Finhamn, and it was here I finally found the Swedish crowds. Each family arrives either by ferry or boat (photo right) looking for their slice of dock space. See photo of Catherine’s finds in the self-serve farm stand on Finham.
Admittedly as much as I love to travel and explore new places, I can get home sick at times, but not the case on this trip. Everything was familiar, as if I was in Coquitlam’s IKEA. After a trip to the motherland, the Swedish store now makes total sense to me. I understand the outdoor living spaces, efficient kitchen and bathroom spaces, and the cafeteria dining experience. In fact, within a week of being home, I was at IKEA longing to dip back into everything Swedish.
Everyone I encountered in Sweden seemed so relaxed. Six weeks of vacation a year must have something to do with it. I definitely recommend a visit in the summer months. Although I am interested in experiencing the cross country ski season and endless twilight of the winter months north of 60 degrees. When you go, make sure to take good walking shoes, your appetite and sense of adventure.
Bonus photos. Sweet treats, Graham on an obstacle course, the view from Catherine’s dock yoga class at the canoe club.