A Perfect Day Sailing Gothenburg’s Archipelago: Björkö, Marstrand, & Grötö
Long weekends are magic. They lack the pressure of a real trip, of taking too much precious PTO. People always underestimate what you can really accomplish in a long weekend.
I’ve already said that this trip was one of my top five best decisions ever, and this particular day probably ranks in my top ten days ever. Sheer perfection.
How did we end up here? Well, my penchant for accidentally finding epic travel experiences came in handy and we found a sailboat (complete with captain) for rent on Airbnb. We’d already grabbed cheap airfare to Gothenburg without knowing what to do there, so we were sold—you can read all about how we got here and our first day of sailing in my first post!
We had docked in Björkö for the night and I woke up in our tiny little sailboat bunk quite early. Even though it was cold, I couldn’t resist heading out to watch the sunrise over the island. Of course that meant I had to try to quietly sneak off the boat without waking people up—way harder than it sounds! As I walked up the dock, I looked back and thought our little boat (above) was picture-perfect.
Bundled up a bit in the chilly September morning air, I hiked up a hill to get a view of the harbor at sunrise, then walked down to explore the waterfront. The colors reflecting off the still water were absolutely breathtaking.
There wasn’t another soul in sight and it was completely still and quiet as I snapped away.
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The light kept creeping up as I ran into Ryan, one of my travel companions. We kept exploring together, crossing little spits of land and man-made bridges.
And then we happened to be in EXACTLY the right place at the right time, on a narrow strip of land running parallel to the harbor. It was a moment that literally took my breath away. I probably took 100 pictures just of the sun coming over the houses.
When we got back to the boat I made coffee and our other companions were up. We ate the rest of our pastries and enjoyed the quiet Saturday morning, as we watched heads start to peek over the sides of the other boats around us.
Finally we weighed anchor and headed into the bright blue morning! We couldn’t have asked for a prettier day as we headed toward the island of Marstrand, one of the livelier ones in the Gothenburg archipelago as the tourist season was winding down.
One of the identifying marks of Marstrand is the 17th-century fortress (called Carlsten, after King Carl X Gustav of Sweden), looming over the harbor. The colorful houses were super fun, a slight break from the reds you see so often in Sweden.
First order of business was getting a shower (there are public showers at the harbor) and then getting some hot food! We found a pretty patio to sit on (I think it was Marstrands Wärdshus but am not positive) and I ordered a delicious white fish with mustard sauce and a rich white wine. The day was gorgeous and the people-watching quality.
Happy and full, it was back to the boat. I was the “first mate” the whole trip, jumping over the side onto the dock to haul us in and tie us up when we arrived. We didn’t have a specific plan or route for the day, just sailed and drank delicious beers and ciders and enjoyed a gorgeous day.
I took advantage of some slower times and pulled my Kindle out, but also took the wheel for a while.
As the afternoon wore on, we docked in Grötö for the night. It’s a super small island with only about 100 residents and no cars, so very tranquil. Our host, Patrik, led us across the island (which isn’t very far, it’s super tiny) to the other side where we were greeted with an absolutely beautiful sunset.
We drank wine and ate potato chips (all the food we had left) and just enjoyed being the only people in sight.
When it finally got dark we headed back to the boat, where some other sailors were setting off fireworks. We enjoyed another yummy dinner on board the ship and headed to bed early so we could enjoy our last day in Sweden.
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