...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tranås, a city between two counties

Picture added on July 3, 2008

So we bought a 60-day commuter card that allows us to use all the buses and trains in Östergötland county for the summer. It's a convenient little thing that has offered us a lot of freedom of movement so far. Grocery stores in the far ends of the city are now only a bus stop away, we can do spontaneous forest walks in areas where it would take much time even just to walk to, and tourist spots like the Löfstad castle become so much more attractive, now that we can actually go to them. We've also been making use of the commuter train a lot to travel between Norrköping and Linköping. The card was worth it and I'm sure we've broken even by now with the number of times we have been using it. But even better, the card packs a little extra too: the commuter train goes as far as to border of the province of Småland, to a little community called Tranås that lies conveniently between two counties. Since the train is operated by Östgötatrafiken, it wouldn't cost us anything to go there. Everybody who knew we had summer commuter cards commented that we should go to Tranås just because we can, so we just had to check the city out.

Despite Tranås' small size it seems to have a lot to offer, not least if you love nature and trekking. There are two nature reserves within the vicinity and a large lake, the Sommen, where you can swim, fish, or take a tour by steamboat. Sweden's longest shopping street, called Storgatan (literally "The big street") is also to be found here in case you'd like to stick to civilization. In fact, Tranås feels like a world in miniature form, where everything from city shopping to summer house is within walking distance. I really do mean walking distance, even if that means a longish walk for most sedentary folk. From the city center to Sommen, we walked (briskly) for about 30 minutes.

Marcus and Petri at the Sommen

We didn't walk all the way to the actual camping / swimming area since that would have taken us more time. We didn't have swimwear with us anyway, and all we wanted to do was see the water and wade. Unfortunately, the parts of the lake bank where we got to were all privatized and the pathways to the beach fenced by it's owners. We had to be content with the small rocky areas that the mansion owners – surely not by any act of selflessness – had left alone.

The water's not as warm as it looks

We walked a good bit into the forest and on some farmland to gain access to the banks. We weren't exactly dressed for trekking – Marcus and I were walking on Islander flip-flops and there wasn't any forest path to speak of – but it was a good adventure nonetheless. The best part of it all was when we unexpectedly found smultron, or wild strawberries ahead of us. We literally stopped in our tracks.

Smultron, or wild strawberries

It was my first time to see wild strawberries, but you would stop in your tracks too even if you've already seen such things before. They look and taste almost exactly like ordinary strawberries but are just as small a pinky fingernail. They usually grow in woodland edges, which is why they're also known as woodland strawberries. In Swedish, a smultronställe – which literally means a place where wild strawberries grow – means a haunt, i.e. your favorite spot. It reinforces my belief that any Swede would stop in his tracks if he saw these tiny fruit during his forest walk, despite seeing them before. The term smultronställe is also precise: we only saw about three square meters of scattered smultron, but I remember that best of all the places in Tranås.


Blogger Petri said...

I notice you left out pictures of the olfactory offenses committed by two anonymous persons...

12:58 AM

Anonymous Esther Garvi said...

Smultron!!!! Aw, my grandparents had those in their cosy little garden! I miss that!

11:31 AM


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