When I think of a really bad Nordic summer I remember endless rain and a often hopeless chase for every glimpse of sun in the weather forecast. Summers where my bikini was the only thing that was constantly dry. Where desperation sat a spell on every economic logic of mine and made me buy one week in any other semi cool hotel in some tourist mecka for a ruthless amount of money. Just to get some of that sweet summer feeling.
Usually I managed to choose the only week where it was actually sunny in Sweden and I came back from my vacation skinned of my savings but not a single bit more tanned than any of my friends. Summer in Sweden was like playing Russian Roulette, and the stakes where sky high. Cause if the summer was bad you had a whole year of darkness to long for the next opportunity. I tell this story in imperfect because I recently started to feel very different about the Nordic coolness. I´ve started to appreciate the wind, the unsteady weather and the over optimistic weather forecasts. Living abroad does that to you, I guess. Or at least to me.
So therefore I will dedicate this blog to the Nordic summer. However it may have or have not turned out. These are my five best reasons to go north in the summer:
1. Northerners always walk on the sunny side
There´s probably no other place in the world where you grill outside with 10 degrees and pouring rain. Being a northerner you learn to appreciate what you have and take advantage of it. When the sun is shining on the other side of the street you automatically cross the road. On the first sunny day of summer people are crowding the beach at 9 am, even if it´s hardly 20 degrees. When it´s summer, it´s summer. And then people are usually their best selves. They stop and talk to their neighbors that they haven´t seen (or talked to) all winter. They smile at each other and agree in mutual delight that life is pretty awesome. In the north summer is the absolute highlight of the year and the northerners are not about to miss a thing of it.
2. No pushy parasol sales men as far as the eye can reach
There´s a lot of coastline wrapped around the nordic countries. Endless beaches that are stretching themselves like a carpet. Here you don´t have to look for an empty spot, you have to look for people. Sure there are always places that are packed. But if you prefer to have your beach day to yourself there are always opportunities. No sales people that want to sell you fake watches or an overprized sun chair, or god forbid tell you that the sun chairs and parasol spots are all sold out for today. Northern beaches are some of the most beautiful spots I know. Sitting in the sand, watching the sunset at ten o clock in the evening while the waves are rolling in is pure magic. Sure, we are not spoilt with these perfect summer days but when they arrive, they are indeed magical.
3. The colors will hug your soul rather than knock you out
A thousand nuances of green and blue mixed up with some earthy colors and one or two discreet flowers. The colors of the north are not blowing your mind in a firework explosion. Instead it is slowly approaching you, gently rubbing itself towards your soul until you open your heart to it. Whenever I went abroad as a kid and young adult I were always seduced by the richness of the Spanish and Italian gardens. The colors were amazing and very much fitted to the mentality of the people. Open, loud, expressive. In the same way the nordic nature is reflecting itself in it´s people: gentle, subtile with a touch of roughness. I´ve learned to love it, to appreciate the rich bright green of the spring, the wild meadow flowers that together create the perfect symphony. It´s not the single flower itself but the gathering of united beauty that makes the picture perfect.
4. Light, light and light – did I say light?
Well, this is my absolute favorite part of the Nordic summer. It´s bright around 20 hours a day in the part of Sweden where I grew up. The funny part is that no one has really light resisting blinds. Not like in other parts of Europe where thick blinds are keeping away all light. When I go to sleep in my home in Switzerland it is pitch dark. Pitch dark until I open the blinds again in the morning. In my home in Sweden my face got gently painted with mild sunlight already around 4 am in the morning. I got used to it. Light is everything to me. I remember summer nights as a child where we were playing outside until 11 pm. The sky was still deep blue. No one was ready to go to sleep. Our parents had given up to the chaos and let us play until we couldn´t see in front of ourselves anymore. We even have a special tradition to celebrate the light of summer. Midsummer it´s called. And this is a whole blog on it´s own. I won´t get into it here. If you never heard of it, google it.
5. Nordic degrees are perfect for active vacation
Every summer for the past years there has been abnormal temperature measurements all over the world. This summer the central and southern parts of Europe have had temperatures over 40 degrees for a longer period of time. In the end of June I was sweating on our balcony in Switzerland with 30 degrees at twelve o clock in the evening. This might not have been so bad if it wasn´t for the fact that during the days we had around 38 degrees and no wind. It was like a heat lid lying over the city that never disappeared. Not even during the night. I complained on my instagram. Whereas one of my friends back in Sweden said: ”Move back, here we have wonderful 28 degrees during the day”.
There is a point where the heat is not pleasant anymore. Where you long for breeze and even cloudy weather. Where people start looking north. I love being active during summer – to walk, run, hike and discover. Sure, sitting in a sun chair is nice. But when all you can do is lie like a vegetable in an over crowded public bath I start to get itchy for fresh air.
So these are my big fives of summer 2019. A summer where home served as away for the very first time. I loved to go back and hang out in my hoods, to meet friends and family and spend time doing all the things that is so familiar to me. But when July was over and we turned the wheels down south again I did´t feel the usual job stress anymore. The hesitation of going back to a life of routines and daily chores. Instead I felt excitement in my chest. In front of us lies a fall of opportunities and new projects to dig into. Eddie start school again and Olivia is starting Kindergarten. After a chaotic spring that a was about finding ourselves in our new surroundings we now do good with a little bit of daily stability. More from Basel in our next blog.
If you are about to enter your daily lives after vacation just as we are, I wish you a great start!