We went on a train trip yesterday to a small seaside town in Sweden an hour by train outside Umeå towards Stockholm. The train dropped us off right at a beautiful scenic port with a scattering of buildings along the shore.
Having done a quick wikipedia search on the history of the town, i thought it quite humorous to hear that the city is regarded as relatively young - being founded as a market town in 1894. (coming from Australia, that sounds pretty old to me). Nestled on the coast, you can just about see one the head office of one of my favourite brands Fjallräven, the manufacturer of wilderness equipment and of course the globally known Kankan backpack.
Two other important industries from the area include logging and paper and pulp making. In fact i think pulp and paper industries are big in general in the north of Sweden.
Judging by the rows of bicycles outside the train station, like many Swedish towns, cycling is a key mode of transport for all ages.
Here is a close up of Otto with his graphite mini backpack, and his Pippy Long Stocking's jumper on. Its apparently the staple clothing item for all Swedish kids.
There was something so serene about walking along the shore. You get this feeling that the town is all about recreation first and work second.
Just when i thought that the whole town was deserted we came upon the main road up a hill. The town centre featured small chains of shops that you can also find in Umeå as well as national chains like Åhlens and the Swedish version of Starbucks called Waynes. I have found since traveling to Sweden a lot that they like their Names as brands to businesses. Some of my favourite include Fanny, Waynes and Mia's.
As we wandered through the town past some of the independent boutiques, i got the feeling that time stood still somewhere around the 1980s. However the monochrome trend did make it through as you can see in the window display above.
Kids can run free a lot in Sweden, it would be quite difficult to get hit by a car in Örnsköldsvik even if you tried. I always make Otto wear his backpack because then i don't have to carry about his stuff. The front chest clip ensures that even when swinging upside down from trees, the backpack remains firmly in place.
Scary looking clown logos continue to advertise ice-cream stands to kids in Sweden. GB glace, as its called in Sweden is meant to stand for Great Britain, strange becuase i did not know that the UK was particularly known for their quality ice cream. Anyhow i thought this scary clown was pretty cool.
Giant green slugs that were just that little bit too slippery for kids to climb on provided a good challenge for Otto and Alli. It kept them busy for about 10 minutes whilst everyone else looked around at the fashionable window displays.
We went to visit a very interesting museum which seems like it was a private collection of an eccentric millionaire. Later i found out that the curator got fired for throwing caution to the wind budget wise and caused the museum to almost go bankrupt three times.
Sweden in general, in my own personal observation, has a high percentage of hair salons per capita compared with other cities. I'm not sure whether its because of the lovely Swedish thick hair, or the fact that as a country, despite being so forward in areas such as fast fashion, flat pack furniture and maternity leave, seems a little backward in window displays and their disproportionate number of average looking hair salons. I also think it could be that Swedish people seem to have a high percentage of recreation time compared with other cities where working hours are much longer.
I hope you readers do not think i'm being racist against the Swedes. I do actually love them and are very fascinated by the culture. My son Otto (pictured above) is half swedish as my partner Mia (below in orange coat) is Swedish, but lives (with me) in the UK. She defends Sweden agressively when things go wrong in the UK but when a Swede slams a door in her face she swears that Swedish people are very rude.
I'm not sure i will visit Örnsköldsvik again any time soon. Not because it wasn't a great day out, especially for the kids, but mainly because there are so many other strange Swedish towns on my list of places to visit. Thanks Örnsköldsvik for a having us!