It`s the Saturday before Midsummer. The sun is shining and the sky is
blue. I am traveling on the m/s Sjöbris through Stockholm's archipelago,
toward Arholma, the northern most island in the archipelago.
I have bought a boat pass and have just begun a ten-day odyssey through
this land of islands, using different hostels as fixed places for lodging.
The trip begins in the middle of Stockholm, at the Nybrokajen dock, right
next to the bustling traffic of Strandvägen The route goes through
Vaxholm, where the archipelago steamboats of Waxholmsbolaget have made
a name for the city throughout the country. Then past the island of Ljusterö,
which was famous even in the days of the Vikings. It is one of the largest
islands in Roslagen.
In the guidebook, I read that the island was very important in providing
Stockholm with food in the 18th century. Nearly half of all fish sold
in the capital came from Ljusterö fishermen.
The Sjöbris then heads through Blidösund, later passing Kappelskär.
I sit on deck and enjoy the panorama. Down by the docks, red-painted cabins
mingle with summer pavilions and magnificent houses with lovely verandas
once owned by Stockholm's prominent businessmen. The bays and the sound
are filled with white sails and high up in the sky, seagulls cry. Can
there be more of a Swedish idyll than this? The steamboat dock at Tjockö
is a stop on the journey. The artist Jenny Nyström-Stoopendal worked
here off and on. In a gray house with ornate gables trimmed in blue, she
painted elves by the score.
The fairy-tale painter John Bauer also spent time on the island in the
beginning of the century, painting one of his most famous paintings, "Sagoprinsessan"
(The Fairy Princess), there.
East of Tjockö is the island of Fejan, which was a quarantine station
for the east coast a hundred years ago. The last time Stockholm was threatened
by cholera was in 1894. At that time there were almost 200 ships at Fejan
with five thousand people on board. The red buildings by the dock on the
east side of the island served as a hospital. A large brick building in
the middle of the island was built as a quarantine hospital in 1906, but
the great threat of infection was over by then.
In the middle of the 20th century, the Skärgårdsstiftelsen
(Archipelago Foundation) took over the facility and there is now a hostel
with a cafe and restaurant located there.