After spending three days in Stockholm in July, it was time to head south to the countryside of Skane to visit our friends who had moved back to Sweden after living in New York City for a year. Normally, they live in Uppsala, which is less than an hour drive from Stockholm. But for most of the summer, they were staying in their country house in Skane, which is a six hours away from Stockholm. Skane is actually much closer to Copenhagen, which would be our third and final destination.
We were a little wary of doing a six-hour drive with our extremely active toddler, but it really was the best transportation option for our little family with way too much luggage. Carrentals.co.uk supplied us with a sporty yet spacious Volvo XC70 wagon, which helped us fit right in with the locals as we zoomed down the E-4 highway to our first stop-off, Granna.
I had chosen Granna somewhat arbitrarily, but there really weren’t that many options.We wanted to make the most of this long drive by seeing some sights along the way, but there wasn’t that much to see in this stretch of central Sweden aside from lots of tall Evergreen trees. But there was Lake Vattern, the second largest lake in Sweden. Granna, a resort town on Lake Vattern was directly on our route to Skane, and about two-and-a-half hours away from Stockholm. It seemed like it would be the perfect place to have lunch and let our toddler run around.
Granna has earned its place in the history books and the guide books because it’s where polkagris was invented in the 1800′s, and several stores claim they are the original polkagris maker. While polkagris may sound exotic, it’s actually fairly common. Here in the US, we call it a candy cane or a peppermint stick. The Brits call it “rock” (not to be confused with the American “rock candy” which is pure sugar and looks like rock crystals).
When we exited the highway, we saw the lake, we saw some houses and we just kept driving around hoping for more. A few streets above the lake, we saw a some polkagris shops and decided to get out there. We ventured inside the one that said “#1 Polkagris.” We hung out there for a bit and watched them make the candy.
There were a few restaurants in this area, but we really wanted to enjoy the lake. After a few more minutes of driving around we found the Granna Hamn. This is the harbor, which has a marina, a sandy beach and several restaurants that are basically the same.
Lake Vattern was beautiful — it seemed so perfect and pristine, just as I would imagine a Swedish lake would be. It was a warm July day, but it wasn’t very crowded. It could have been the Lakeville Lake in Connecticut, but on a much larger scale and with some Scandinavian flair. Or it could have been Lake Byers in Alaska but with a raft and food. I wouldn’t call Granna a must-see destination, but just a very nice, authentic place. From the path by the boats to the small sandy beach, there was plenty of opportunity for our toddler to burn off his seemingly endless supply of energy. And yes, he did end up going into the lake despite our best efforts. The water wasn’t freezing, but I think it would have helped to be Swedish to enjoy that temperature.
We had lunch right by the beach, which was perfect. All of the restaurants seemed to have the same menu of Swedish food and pizza, so we chose the one with the best outdoor seating. And guess what we had? Pizza. It’s our toddler’s favorite food, and we had a lot of it on this trip. In our defense, a lot of the Swedish diners were having pizza too. And it wasn’t bad pizza.
Before we knew it, our little stop-off had been longer than two hours. We had to tear ourselves away from the idyllic lake to get back into our Volvo and head onward. We still had more than three hours to drive to our friend’s house in Skane, and we had to get there in time for our toddler to eat dinner.
As we were looking for the highway, we stumbled on the true town of Granna, a picturesque strip with more upscale restaurants and countless polkagris shops. We didn’t have time to get out of the car though because we wanted to make sure that we’d have time to get to our second stop-off before Skane…
Comped But Never Compromised: We received a rental car from Carrentals.co.uk, but we’re free to write whatever we want.