Life lessons in Sweden

12 Apr 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | 52 people are reading

Life lessons in Sweden

© Lonely Planet Life lessons in Sweden

We have all had remarkable experiences when traveling - places or events that gave us a different perspective on the world. Travel journalist Duncan Craig learned a life lesson in Sweden

"It feels like you're flying," the excited guide had told me the previous evening while enjoying a bottle of Swedish spirits. I had hidden my cynicism with a smile. I honestly didn't even know what I was doing here. Ice skating? Wasn't that something about spangles and Boléro

, mulled wine and festive stuff? Apparently not. The next morning I raced over a lake surface that was so smooth and clear that I hardly dared to step on it. About 10 meters below me, drenched in the bright winter sun, every pebble and reed stem roamed the ground in high definition. They call this "glass ice," a short-lived phenomenon caused by crystal clear water and ideal conditions. For outdoor skaters this is the pinnacle, as Center Court on the opening day of Wimbledon. Our beginner group found it on Lake Vättern, the largest of the approximately 100,000 lakes in Sweden, and we definitely started using it. After a few awkward strokes with my bottom skates on the virgin surface I stuck forward as usual (it was a very pleasant relationship between effort and speed). I sucked my lungs full of ice-cold air and took in the view: a huge, shimmering lake surrounded by snow-covered forest. I left my group far behind, giving my body and mind all the space. The only sound, a kind of whip when a new crack came into the ice, pointed out to me that - contrary to what all my senses told me - I didn't actually fly.

The lesson of life

This experience impressed me on the immense extent of nature and how our artificial imitations do not come close; artificial ice rinks are never the same for me again. It was also a demonstration of the refreshingly mature approach to risk and reward of our Scandinavian brothers, an embrace of an old-fashioned concept - personal responsibility.

Opening image: Lena Granefelt