Where Stockholm has its Dalarö, Gothenburg its Marstrand and Helsingborg its Viken, Umeå in Åheden has its very own refuge for city dwellers who want to breathe the cleanest air and live the simplest life.
When you pass an oversized cheese slicer along the E4 in Västerbotten’s coastal land, you know that you’ve ended up right. There is only one place on earth where the Västerbotten cheese can be made. Right here, in Burträsk.
Over 400 years after they were first built by farmers who needed somewhere to spend the night in connection with Sunday’s church visit, 405 cottages still remain. Since 1996, Gammelstad Church Town in Luleå has enjoyed a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
In Standard Swedish, the word ”fara” is used solely when someone makes an extended trip. You can, for example, ”fara” to Australia. In the north, however, you use ”fara” for any kind of trip, whether it’s to the mountains, to the office or your next-door neighbor.
It was not until the seventies that the high-lying coastline between Härnösand and Örnsköldsvik began to be called the High Coast. Today, it is well deservedly one of Sweden’s fastest growing tourist destinations.
The best thing about Norrland is the unpredictability. Like when fine culture moves into a sheep house. In the small village of Holmnäs outside Umeå, a well-attended opera performance is held once a year in the sheep house where the acoustics send a libretto echoing far over the meadows in the bright summer night.
People of the North generally do not care all the much whether the grammar is one hundred percent adequate or whether the one you’re in dialogue with is slightly offended. If you don’t feel like doing something, you let them now by bluntly saying so: ”jag ids int” (I cannot be bothered).
One of the great mysteries of life is how something that looks so beautiful and sounds at least as beautiful (Lily of the Valley, taste the word) can be so toxic? The sweet obviously needs to come with some salt.
A mitten, knitted with yarn and with a significant cross pattern, was all it took for a small village far north of the Arctic Circle to make a name for itself in wide circles. But then again, those mittens are something else.
The big lake outside Vilhelmina, where every year someone seems to be breaking the biggest char-record, has a name that sounds very much like a Swedish toddler trying to speak English.
Nalta means little. In Vänsterbotten, there is a proverb laconically clarifying how nalta is best used: Harta borti harta jer brano, harta borti he, he jer nalta. (You may want to Google it, or better still, ask someone from Västerbotten).
Who doesn’t want to check in at a ”kurort” (health resort) at any time in their lives? This beautiful Swedish word that rings so much more holistic well-being than the more contemporary spa. The outlet of the island Nordanskär in the Kalix River was already in the 19th century Sweden’s, and perhaps the world’s most northerly kurort.
We’ll eat, you’ll cook. So it goes, the chant (ramsa, in Swedish) that is taught to Swedish children in school to remember the names and order of rivers in Halland. To remember the name of the dark water that forms a tributary to the Umeå River, no need to chant. It’s called, in short, Ramsan (”The Chant”).