I told you my first camping experience was in Gotland but technically speaking my first night in a tent in my life was on the 15th of May in the Swedish archipelago.
So that’s the thing. It was the beginning of May and coincidently my birthday and I really wanted to go camping. May seems like the perfect time to go to the archipelago. It’s almost June, it’s supposed to be warm and we could even go swimming.
Which island to chose in the archipelago? In fact, there are dozens and dozens of islands. So we just decided to go to the one our friend told us about.
It happened to be the island called Utö: far enough to say we went to the real archipelago, close enough to Stockholm to go just for one night.
As I had never NEVER camped nor slept in a tent before (not in the backyard, not at a festival, not in a forest), the first thing to do was to pack. As my professional camper friend advised: all you need is a sleeping bag, a spare pair of socks and something in case you get upset (if the tent gets wet, or the weather is bad, or you forget the matches…), so I brought some chocolate.
The whole trip to Utö takes more than one hour and a half. First you have to take the community train (pendeltåg) from the central station towards Nynäshamn and get off at Västerhaninge, then you take the bus 846 from Västerhaninge station towards Årsta and get off at Årsta brygga and only then a ferry from Årsta brygga towards Utö.
The weather was perfect: it was sunny and warm and we were really excited about the whole trip.
Utö is quite big. There’s a little “center” of the island, with grocery shops, a café and a really nice bakery. There are a lot of cottages all around the island and even a hostel. But then there’s also a whole part of the island that is covered only by pine trees, rocks and beaches.
We wanted to have a walk but with our backpacks, tents, fishing rods, food, first we had to find a place to leave all this stuff and build the tents.
We found a really nice beach, almost empty, with huge rocks and a place for a fire. We ate a bit, climbed on the rocks, chilled in the sun. It was agreeable to be in silence and to hear only the seagulls talking to each other.
Thing was one of our friends was supposed to join us a little later. But the ferry to Utö stops at several different parts of the island and unfortunately he went off not at the one we did, so he was lost. Three of us, including me, decided to go to find him and two others stayed to build the tents.
At the same time the weather started to become worse and the wind started to blow.
The weather changed from this:
We had to take the ferry once again, going back this time, to pick our friend. He was.. mad. And we knew there were no more ferries so we had to walk, and it would take us at least one hours. Crazy enough, we tried to hitchhike (on an island!) and surprisingly we got picked up by a truck driver!
When we finally got back, we discovered that our friends set up the tents in the forest, meters away from the fire place. An argue started between those who thought that it would be better to move the tents and those who thought it was a bad idea. Finally, the three tents were moved closer to the fire that was already burning. We started to grill some sausages but before the dinner we went for a swim. The water was incredibly cold!! And with the sunset the air got quite freezing too. So after getting out of the water we had to put all our clothes on, trying to warm up around the fire.
It was really nice to have hot sausages with skangenröra and bread and potatoes and melted marshmallows later on. When we were about to got to sleep and extinguished the fire it was crazy to be so suddenly in a complete darkness. I had never thought about it before, but in the city we’re never in pitch black, there are always street lamps, neon signs, car lights, but in real nature… jeeze, it’s really dark at night!
I think I was never as cold as that night. I couldn’t feel my feet, I was sleeping with all my clothes on and my head entirely hidden in my sleeping bag.
(Only later I discovered that you’re supposed to sleep with as little clothes as possible to let the sleeping bag warm you up…)
The next morning it was raining and we were really cold so we hurried up to take the first boat… but we missed it!
We had more that two hours to wait.. but fortunately, there were saunas! The island was empty and the guy from the shop was quite nice, so we rented a sauna for half-price and could finally be warm and hot and sweaty. We were running between the sauna and the sea, jumping into it and running back… it was amazingly refreshing and reminded me about the trip to Lapland.
We got back to Stockholm around 5 p.m. hurrying to get under a warm shower.
Even if this first night of camping wasn’t as we expected it to be, we all had a great time together.
What I remembered for the campings to come?
* Always have warm clothes
* Sleep in a sleeping bag with as little clothes as possible
* The best way to sleep is to fix two sleeping bags together (if they’re about the same size), so it results in one massive sleeping bag and it’s always warmer with someone next to you
* Always bring something to cheer you up (CHOCOLATE!)
* Always bring some water