I was recently invited by Visit Sweden and the West Sweden Tourism Board to come to Bohuslän and take part in the Outdoor Academy, an annual event which teaches visitors about the types of adventurous activities available in Sweden.
I’ve always wanted to go to Scandinavia but have always been put off by the expense, and seduced by sunnier climes in the Med. This was the perfect opportunity to try something new.
This year, the activity was sea kayaking. Eek! Visions of a capsizing Sparky amused everyone in the My Destination office, and I have to admit I was nervous. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
Flying from Heathrow Terminal 5 brought back some serious RTW-trip memories; I had a flashback to August 2011, standing with my rucksack as I scanned the board looking for the check-in desk for San Francisco. I had the taste of travel in my mouth and I was hungry for more. Smiling, I boarded the flight to Gothenburg. And suddenly remembered that I am scared of flying. Funny how I always manage to forget that one.
I’m not sure what I expected from Sweden, but what I found was not surprising; the air was crisp and clean - so refreshing compared to the smog I inhale on a daily basis in London - and the quaint fishermen’s houses were just as cute as I’d imagined them to be. And, just as I had suspected, it was cold. Five layers of clothing and I’m still cold kind of cold. Nevertheless, it was brilliant, and much to my colleagues’ disappointment, I didn’t fall in!
Five tips for sea kayaking in West Sweden
1) Take your sense of humour. Neoprene leggings and wooly hats suit no one. Well, except me: I’m clearly rocking the look.
2) Conserve your energy by learning a decent paddling technique. I ruined my arms on the first day by paddling incorrectly; luckily my lovely instructor clocked this the next day when I was lagging behind and sorted me out. Paddling correctly saves you energy!
3) Take snacks. You will be hungry, and there are no vending machines on the outer archipelago.
4) Buy a waterproof case for your iPhone or camera if you want to take pictures. Just trust me on that one.
5) Remember to take regular intervals; stop paddling, and just breathe it all in. Beautiful.