8 Reasons To Totally Switch Off In Sweden
The idea of a holiday might be to relax, unwind and watch the world go by, but when was the last time your vacay didn’t involve hooking up to Wi-Fi and checking your Facebook to see what you’re missing?Yep, thought so and that’s all the more reason to make your escape a reason to unplug from the incessant buzz, buzz, buzzing of your phone and really make the most of simply being in the moment. Take it from me: it’s more than worth it – as 24 hours spent alone in a former loggers’ cabin on a remote Swedish island with absolutely no one for company proved once and for all.
Here’s eight reasons why it’s totally worth switching off in Sweden…
You’ll push yourself
Don’t get me wrong, the idea that I was about to be abandoned on a remote Swedish island with nothing but moose, fish and possibly bears for miles and miles around me was terrifying. As someone who was repeatedly pondered the question, ‘if no one likes my Instagram photos, do I even truly exist?’, could I survive 24 hours with no internet, limited phone signal and no electricity? Even worse, could I survive that with nothing but myself for company?
Arriving on the island made me realise what I’d let myself in for and while I was shit scared, it was also gloriously freeing. Paradise comes in many forms, but the island where Kabin, home for the night, is situated itself is stunning: a large terrace with 360 degree views of nothing but the stillest waters and greenest trees on nearby islands was all mine. Then there's the cottage, a simple but cosy and characterful cabin with plenty of traditional Swedish features including a log fire and oil lamps that provide the only light come nightfall.
Did I ever imagine I’d be exploring neighbouring islands in a wooden canoe, swimming in the lake or managing to light a fire pit without burning the entire island down? No – but I did it and felt pretty damn proud of myself too.
You’ll remember that being alone isn’t the same as being lonelyGoing in, the scariest thing about this was the idea of being all alone with nothing but myself for company. But with a forest to explore, a lake to dip in and the most incredible sunset to watch, there was no time to miss Netflix.
The beauty of this Swedish escape is that it’s all about silence, serenity and reflection. And even if you do decide to bring along some friends (Kabin sleeps six people very comfortably) being on an island surrounded by so many sights and sounds was in no way lonely: it was peaceful and a reminder that sometimes it’s good to switch off and be alone with nothing but your own thoughts.
You remember that your brain > google
The glory of technology is that you don’t have to be all that independent and if you have a problem, a quick google will generally sort you out.
After darkness hit I thought I’d be too afraid to come out from under the covers of my cosy little bed, but actually it was totally peaceful. It also meant there was no one to help me sort myself out: I alone had to work out how to keep the fire going, how to work the retro oil lamps and how to cook myself dinner on the gas hob with nothing but candlelight to guide my way.
Not only is it a major reminder of how over-complicated our lives are, but that we're way more capable of independence than we give ourselves credit for.
You’ll fall in love with the Swedish concept of sauna
Back on dry land, there’s also a lot to say for the Swedish way of life and one of the biggest things that’ll sway you is the emphasis on wellness. Take their tradition of sauna. There’s absolutely nothing like a day spent exploring your surroundings only to come home and rest your aching bones in a traditional wood-fired Jacuzzi or while away a couple of hours in a sauna.
None are better than the sauna experience at Stilleben, where their purpose-built sauna actually floats on the lake, so you can recharge and embrace the serenity in the gently bobbing structure, before flinging yourself straight into the icy waters to cool off.
It’s always an adventureThe scenery of middle Sweden is achingly beautiful - think Swedish crime drama without all that pesky murder - making it the perfect place to explore. Put it this way: you’ll be WAY too busy to even think about what’s going on back home or in your inbox.
From Stilleben I headed out on a bear or deer safari, where the incredibly knowledgeable local guide took me deep into the forest where there’s total silence apart from the occasional bird and the cracking of twigs under foot. Do the same and chances are you’ll see moose, animal tracks and, if you’re lucky, maybe even spot a bear resting between the trees.
You'll go places you never could on foot
One of the very best ways to get deeper into the forest than you ever could on foot is on horseback. Ride like the Vikings did on the traditional mount: an Icelandic pony. They might be small but they’re unrivalled in strength and agility, as you’ll see as you together pick your way through the mossy forest floors that look like something out of a fairytale.
On a two hour adventure through the woods I saw moose, deer and countless animal tracks, plus clear signs of wolves and bears.
It’s all about ditching the tourist mentality
If you want to feel like more like a local and less than a tourist then there’s no better way to experience and understand the traditions of the region than by escaping into the forest to cook your own dinner on the fire, just like Swedes do when they head out of the city to their summer cabins year after year.
Here it’s easy to see the benefit of taking a moment to see what you’re missing when you’re locked into your phone screen and if it’s a case of your spam folder vs. being the only ones around, watching the sun set and soaking up folk tales in the flickering firelight, I know which I’d pick.
You realise that actually, sustainable living isn’t just for hippiesWhen you’re locked into everyday life, it’s easy to shrug away those vague feelings of guilt as you shell out 5p for yet another plastic bag, so this type of a escape is a perfect reminder that actually, being good to the environment isn’t as hard as your subconscious might have you believe.
The emphasis at both Kabin and sister hotel Stilleben are on sustainable, low-impact living. From the simple yet delicious vegetarian meals created around permaculture design principles to the emphasis on using organic products that don’t upset the natural ecosystems of the island and village respectively, it’s all ideas you can take away into life back home through simple, responsible choices.MTV Traveled With... specialist tour operator to Scandinavia and the Nordics, Simply Sweden (01427 700115; www.simplysweden.co.uk). Escape – Swedish Style! costs from £1,350 per adult, £570 per child, for two nights in Kabin on a private island and two nights at Stilleben based on two sharing, including most meals, sauna and hot tub experience, return flights and train transfer or car hire. Available May to October.
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