Swimming and swinging

In the past few days, I’ve done two things I never expected to do in Sweden: I went swimming in the ocean, and I went swing dancing!

Apparently the Gulf Stream reaches the west coast of Sweden, warming the water enough for swimming in the summer. On Sunday, I met up with one of my contacts here in Sweden, the lovely Lisa. We explored the Southern Archipelago of Göteborg, a string of islands reachable by ferry. We decided to go to Vrångö, along with tons of other people – it was a hot day, and the ferry was packed.

The ferry Lisa and I took, docking at Vrångö.

After walking around a bit, Lisa and I stopped for lunch at a fish stand by the water. I had a flatbread wrap with fresh, smoky salmon and roe spread, and it was delicious. I finally realized that this is what Swedes do on summer weekends – they go to islands, and they eat fish!


We kept walking until we found a little bay for swimming. A ton of people were in the water, and we joined them. Swimming in the ocean, in actual saltwater in a Scandinavian country, is not what I thought I would be doing this year. I’m so happy I decided to pack a swimsuit! It was glorious.

After swimming, we went to a cute ice cream shop. Lisa told me that it was a classically Swedish place and that ice cream is very popular here. I had seen ice cream (“glass”) shops everywhere but wasn’t sure if it was a big deal. I suppose ice cream is popular everywhere, especially on a hot day! At the shop we went to, they had flavors like “blueberry-vanilla swirl,” “licorice,” and “egg liquor.”

I played it safe with coffee ice cream and mango sorbet. People started boarding the ferry home as we were trying to finish our melting ice cream.
Storefront of the ice cream shop. This is the first building you see when arriving at Vrångö.

Next, the swing-dancing group in Göteborg! Through some Googling, I found a group called the “West Coast Jitterbugs” that has social dances every Monday night. I did some swing-dancing in college, so I considered going yesterday and figured out the 30-minute tram ride that would get me there. But I didn’t know anyone there, and I didn’t even know if you had to pay, and a big part of me wanted to stay home and watch a movie. That’s how I knew I had to check it out; if finding a dance that I loved here in Sweden meant going out of my comfort zone, well then, that’s what this year is all about.

I took the train out to an area of town I had never been to before and walked along a quiet street for 10 minutes. Eventually, I was surprised by a square filled with shops and restaurants. I found the West Coast Jitterbugs building, walked up to the door, and it was locked. I turned around to go straight home and get back on the tram, but I had come so far that I didn’t want to give up. I went back to knock on the door, and someone let me in and showed me the passcode for next time.

A fountain in the “Doktor Fries torg” area – not what I expected to see after a long tram ride in the opposite direction of the city center.

Long story short, I was swing-dancing in there for over an hour! It was a blast. I think I danced with 6 or 7 different people, and they were all lovely. They were surprisingly good dancers – who knew the Lindy Hop would be so popular in Sweden? I was a bit rusty, and they kindly gave me tips. I even made a connection for my project by dancing with someone who works on medical technology as a chemist. Next Monday I’ll be in Malmö, but I hope to go to one of their social dances again.

Hello from Vrångö! (taken by Lisa)