Cave Paddling In Historic Sweden

We took off in search of our own secret journey, scouting the backroads and trails for a drop site to begin the next leg of our paddling tour.  

We found a few spots above our destination in lake Vättern, but they proved too high to climb for with our heavy lake kayaks.  But, a wrong turn down what looked a private drive,  turned out to be a hidden entrance to the shoreline!

The Grange

The grange – a ruin of an old farm storehouse.

We parked our Jeep near another ruin that was not on the historic sites map.  (hmnn..)

What a find!  (if you are planning a visit – message me and I can give you an idea where it is).

Finding the perfect launch is an exciting part of the journey.  We eagerly slipped our boats into the breezy lake, looking to our left at the nearby harbour. We quickly realized that this part of Vättern was special. There is a mysterious feeling here, as if we were uncovering secrets for the first time on this non-touristy reconnoitre.




The cliffs were sharp, being carved by the glaciers long ago. We paddled by that charming gazebo at Ellen Keys Strand during our huik.  We looked at each other and smiled. Not everyone can follow this wanderlust as we do. We are grateful for the opportunities our home turf allows.


Vättern, Ellen Keyes Strand

Bayview of Ellen Keyes Strand


We paddled for 20 minutes or so and I was beginning to wonder if the caves here were too hidden or was the stuff of legends.  They recommended that we look further up around a corner and they seemed excited.




Sure enough, just nearby we came to an opening. Funny though – it takes a stubborn ambition to seek these out. My guy paddled right by, but I just had to stick my nose in. Low and behold..a magical cove!




So, this was Rödgavels Grotto.  I felt it pulling me in with curiosity.  I have never seen a cave in person before.

We tried to film, but due to the echo, absence of light, and a flashlight that decided not to work, we were not able to edit the film enough to post.

We are still beginners at using the action camera, so hopefully we do better on our next attempt. Fortunately, we were gifted a wonderful underwater camera from our friends as a wedding gift. I definitely made use of it!  




Being inside this cave is magical – since the sun was strong and there was a light wind, the waves lapped softly at the rock walls.  The colors were magnificent as they reflected off the water’s surface.

Legend has it that the Queen Omma can be heard crying here, for her giant who plummeted into the lake when his horse stepped through the cliff, causing this cave. The actual hole through the rocks is about 23 meters long with about 1.2 meters of headroom.


Rodgavels Grotto



Paddling till exhaustion, exploring each promising nook with wonder, we took pictures in every setting possible. There were many small caves, but only a few were large enough to paddle into – believe me, we tried!





Feeling the magic!


A large metal crane appeared on the cliff ahead and we knew we had made it to Stocklycke. This is the port where we parked our car above earlier, searching for an entry point. The old foresters would load their cargo here onto the vessels below for transport to industry across the lake.



From the water, the view of the lower cove was every swimmer’s dream – crevices and rocks to dive from and sunbathe on. Not to mention the breathtaking, clear blue water, that sparkled in the sunlight.


Swimming cove at Stocklycke.


We rested on a small beach, taking a swim and short fika, fueling up on granola bars and vitamin water.



Fika spot!


I finally saw a frog in Sweden!  Strange, but they hide well.  This one behaved as if he thought he was invisible.



Private beach friend


I have to say – this tour of Vättern’s extended beauty did not fail us. It was one of our favorite excursions so far. A few other people showed up when we were filming in the cave and they crowded us a bit, but they were as anxious as I was to see it. I wish they had been more patient, but that’s my only complaint. I recalled a moment from the movie, The Beach that reminded me that we all share this planet and it’s beauty.



Paddling back


We managed to find our way back to our private beach and I sat there looking back, mindfull of the amazing trip we just experienced.



Secret launching beach



So, as usual – if you decide to take this tour,here are some tips:

1. Check the weather first

2. Come early to beat the possible groups that might be touring.

3. Repect nature – leave no footprint.

4. Keep the peace – silence is golden.

5. Carry out what you carried in!



See you soon!  Please comment on what you like and don’t so I can create a better experience for next time.  I imagine you are all with me on my adventures!

Best Historic Hiking In Omberg

Here we are again, in search of another long weekend mini adventure, exploring the natural wonderland that is Sweden.

The rural country drive that took us through colonial age towns dating back as far as the 11th century, was much more scenic than the highway route. This area has a surprising amount of history that easily competes with a visit to Stockholm. Of course, the charm here is more of the country-esque relaxation those city folks are in search of when their apartments feel too small.

Yet another quaint and inexpensive place to park our lovely little house on wheels. Getingaryd Camping in Gränna, is an idyllic spot nestled here along the edge of Lake Vättern. Just 1 hr. from our home, so we were able to arrive early Friday afternoon.

Getingaryd Camping

Getingaryd Camping

The entrance is a long dirt drive through a farm, complete with a cute welcoming cottage. We made our reservations the day before, being as spontaneous as we can (this requires some planning), so we got to choose the best and least crowded side of the grounds. Parking under a tree is a welcoming spot in the summer, especially if you like to sleep in past 6 a.m. in the warming sunny mornings.

We spent the evening grilling and laughing, waving to the happy people that wandered around, checking out the adorable little rental cottages across from us.

I was excited to have a chance to bathe again in the lake, which has an entry down the ladder at the end of a long pier. The pebbly beach is small, but perfect for this small group of campers.


The road to Vättern – swimming dock at Getingaryd


View from the dock


The beach and dock were extra popular at night, due to the amazing sunsets.



View from the beach at Getingaryd Camping

After a quiet and deep sleep, I was anxious to get out on the water. But, we took our time packing and enjoying a breakfast feast of fresh ham, farm cheese and veggies.

We drove about 15 minutes down the road, following my online map.  My research turned up info on various sites here, some with interesting folklore amongst the hiking trails that wind through the old forests.




First stop, the Alvastra Monastery ruins. This amazing church and it’s sculpted grounds began in 1143.



Outer ruins of Alvastra Monastery


Alvastra Monastery cook’s kitchen and fire cookplace.

I placed my hands on the stone and shut my eyes, trying to imagine those monks walking through the gallant arches that reached above me.


Alvastra Monastery inner arches


Apparently the 1600’s ushered in a ‘Reformation’ dissolving the church and their religion. King Gustav Vasa confiscated the property, robbing it of large stones from the outer walls to build his own castle in nearby Vadstena. This sacred ground was sadly, never rebuilt. It was left standing here, as a naked reminder of bold Swedish opinions separating religion and state.



Inside of the church – a platform has been added for performing weddings.


We then drove deeper into Odeshög, to find another old stone building used as a crypt.

Church, burial place

The crypt church


Continuing down a short path, we came to Ellen Keys Strand – a stoic home built into the hillside for the famous author.


Historic home on Lake Vättern

The famous author’s house.

historic home, Ellen Key

Garden outside historic home of Ellen Key

A winding walkway alongside the garden and the house leads to a lakeside gazebo built on the water in place of a dock. I decided then and there that we needed to see this from another angle – from the middle of the bay.

historic home, Ellen Key

Gazebo at Ellen Key’s house




See you all soon for my next post on CAVE PADDLING!


The Best 5 Ways To Become An Anti-Tourist

Understandably, we focus a lot on recommendations and coveting thy neighbor’s amazing vacation pics. Picturing that perfect hotel on that perfect beach, with the perfect restaurant. Haven’t we been there, done that, already?

Many destination cities, such as Barcelona, Venice and Paris are becoming over-populated with tourists, making a sour impression with the people that live there.

orsa crowd

Not all holiday plans are down to the detail, but give it a try and leave the bucket list of tourist attractions in the dust bin.


Here are 5 ways to break the monotony


plan a different type of non-touristy fiesta.



1. Plan it yourself.

Social media is a wealth of information – why not use your facebook troll ‘ n stroll time to seek out others who also dream of that step off the beaten path:


Instagram is full of creative travelers that have quit their day jobs to entertain you full time. Whether they are photographers, tour guides, or extreme sports geeks, they can inspire and guide your trip down to that last amazing photo.

Hotels, cities and restaurants are also among the 20 million advertisers looking to capture your sudden attention with an enticing photo or ad.

  • Start searching those hashtags: #favoriteplace



For example:  We are planning a long weekend in a few months:  I searched for #amsterdam and found all kinds of things to do, just by clicking on each one and reading profiles and posts.



  • Follow that photo taken in #favoriteplace and use it to start your investigation.


  • Check out what the followers are saying or asking – is it right for you and your fellow travelers?


  • Don’t forget to check the estimated weather for the time you will be traveling – that deal might mean you are planning during a storm season, or that guided trips are seasonal.





2. Ask a local.

Lots of locals have travel sites or just love to boast about the benefits of visiting a certain area – you might be surprised where a simple conversation can lead.

Ask where the best food and drink are or where they go on the weekends.  See if there are any local travel publications, outdoor sites or special history that is interesting to seek out.  They are obvious experts, due to where they roam daily – from local coffee shops, hidden spots and over-crowded areas to avoid.




Don’t forget to get their contact information, so that you can meet them for coffee and repay the favor!




3. Try Something Old & Something New.

A great start to adventure is to do something you already feel comfortable with.  Hiking the national park  might be a great teaser to climbing the larger mountain with the skilled guide you found.

A lot of activities are related or lead to groups that offer more help or recommendations.  Renting a mountain bike from a rental center may lead to a 3 day excursion with a semi-experienced group.  Or just search for stories that detail first-hand experience in the new subject you want to learn.
bike rental  maps




4. Change Up Your Mode Of Transportation.

Now it’s time to think outside the box.  Check into what the most popular mode of getting around may be – it just may add a bit of spice to your travels.

I recently read an instagram post where a woman was commuting home from work by tubing down the Aare River in Bern, Switzerland close to her home.  She wraps up her bag and shoes in a dry bag and attaches it to an inner tube!   A bit wild if you don’t know the area, but if you ask a local, their answer may surprise you.


Tubing in N.C.

Try renting a moped in Greece, snowmobiles in Norway,  or just take the local cable car to see the sights.  This will show you an individual experience that is never the same.


Ferries are really popular here in Sweden and there are some private companies that will give you a ride across the city  for sightseeing, whether you are on foot, cycle or renting a car.





5.  Tell Your Own Story.

Speaking from experience, I can say that the best adventures are ones that you are focused on remembering.  Take the time to stamp the details in your mind, camera or note locations as they happen.  The results will shape your scrapbook or help you build an instagram page of your own!


tatt ö beer + wine

Drinks in Tattö




Visit my other posts for tips on camping,

with more adventures and ideas on the way…