Ferry Ride to Vaxholm
If you want to enjoy a summer day in Sweden, we were told the best way is to hop on a ferry and go to an island. It doesn’t have to be far, twenty-five minutes was all it took for us to get from Gashaga port in Lidingo to Vaxholm.
Here’s how it works:
You stand waiting for the ferry. You get into a queue. (Swedes are excellent queuers; foreigners, not so much.) The ferry docks. You shuffle aboard. (No walking, just shuffling.) You take an elbow or two to the ribs, but it’s all for a good cause, remember, you want to hurry to get a seat up top, outside, with a view. Everyone does, but not everyone will. You will, if you’re quick.
Now, once you’re semi-comfortably seated on a bench with a low back, you have a choice: keep your seat and enjoy the scenery, or go inside and get lunch. There’s a full service cafe on board. A Coke might be worth it. But I say, wait. (They’ll be food on the island and you’ll be there in twenty-five minutes or less.)
When it’s time to disembark, you’ll have to buy a ticket at the ticket booth on the ferry. People will tell you this, but you’ll soon figure out that no one actually works in the ticket booth on the ferry. So don’t be fooled and miss your stop (like we almost did.) Get off. A guy with windblown hair will be there to take your money. I promise. The ride isn’t free. We paid $80 for a family of six one-way.
Once you’re on Vaxholm, just follow the road into town. (There’s only one.) A five minute walk and you’ll see a couple of brick buildings surrounding a square with an ice-cream stand. Go inside the largest brick building. It’s the tourist office. You can pick up a map and if you’re lucky, a nice elderly lady will take a good chunk of your time drawing a circle on the route you would have taken anyway. (Bless her heart, she was sweet.)
After that, you can buy ice-cream then follow her blue ink trail north to a small fishing cottage. The cottage was quaint, just like the tourist pamphlet promised. And not a bad walk from town either, just another five minutes.
Next, we headed south to what was described to us as The Sculpture Garden. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this….
There were only two sculptures and let’s just say, I took a photograph of the better one. (The other one you can see in the background.) At least it was only a five-minute walk and we had ice-cream. There was a gallery too, but no one was brave enough to go inside except me. On display was the work of two artists, both colorful and unique.
Our tour completed, we headed back to port, past the private boat dock, past cafes and past shops. Okay, almost past the shops. I needed to browse. I went inside a few boutiques that were selling breezy island attire–gauzy cotton blouses dyed in natural colors like: sky blue, sunrise yellow and sea-foam green. They were dreamy frocks that said, I live the island life. I thought about buying one, but price wise, I figured an island might be cheaper, so I passed.
By now everyone was hungry (you know you’re hungry when the hotdog stand looks appetizing), so we stopped at a cafe with a view and relaxed for a while. Soon after that the kids let us know they were ready to go home. We walked back to the dock where we’d started and checked the ferry times. They were confusing. While we were waiting for a ferry to Gashaga, you guessed it, the one we were supposed to get on came and went. The next ferry didn’t come for another hour!
The shops were closed, the cafes were shutting down, it was cold and getting colder. The only place open was an ice cream shop and we’d already had ice-cream. But who cares, we had time to kill so figured, might as well eat a cone. You can better believe we were watching closely for this last ferry.
When it got to port, there was a mass of people and their luggage waiting to board too. It looked like the whole island was evacuating. No queue this time, just mass shuffling, every man, child and woman, for themselves. I lost Cooper and the boys in the madness, but found them later, upstairs, where I would have preferred not to be, on the deck outside with a view. Brrrr…it was cold and windy. Maggie was exhausted. Two minutes out of port and she was zonked on my lap. With less than 25 minutes for a nap, moms, you can do the math:
Get to Gashaga port + Daddy carries screaming child + trying to get off ferry + stepping over luggage and around strollers + boat rocks = OHHH NOOO! Cooper falling with Maggie in his arms, bracing his fall onto a cat carrier. NOT THE CAT!
Oh my living stars!! It all happened in slow motion so fast. There was nothing any of us could do to stop it. People staring, wondering if the cat was okay. Was it okay??? (It was a heavy duty cat carrier, nothing collapsed, don’t worry, we didn’t hear any yelps.) Cooper was up, Maggie was fine, we left with the heard of tourists and Swedes on holiday. But it was a blur, a blur I tell you. Not to mention I couldn’t find my boys. I was calling them on their phones, texting, “Get off,” when suddenly here they come. They’d gotten sidetracked asking a woman if she was the actress in Prince of Persia. Really??? OK. Apparently she wasn’t but gets that all the time.
What I can say is that I’ve had my ferry experience for this summer and I think I’m good now.