Introducing a monthly tour of our home region, a journey of discovery
about what it means to live Scandinavian.


Summer houses are a regular feature of Scandinavian living, a precious escape into nature after a busy week in the city, a month-long retreat in the countryside during the longest days of summer. Almost every Scandinavian I know has access to some kind of summer house, whether its a small garden allotment on the fringes of the city, a tumble-down wooden cabin deep in the forest, or a larger spread lost in the archipelago. Summer houses get passed on through generations, the regular gatherings of friends and family in the sanctity of nature reflect their respect for the environment that surrounds them and helps form their unique outlook on life.



Each time I reach the ferry berth, I get an immediate sense of tranquility; I breathe more freely, and my mind seems clearer. Blame it on the light that in early spring will cast a supernatural, pink haze over the treetops on the other side of the narrow stretch of water separating the island from the mainland. Or the fact that most often I greet this stunning scenery on a late Friday afternoon, exhausted from a week’s work and longing for a welcome respite from the turbulence of the city. Life slows down at Orø, magically starting with the mere expectation of it while waiting for the ferry to arrive to bring us to our weekend cottage.

Skandinavisk Voices Journal Marie Graunbøl

It has not always been like that. When my husband and I bought the cottage, it was the run-down holiday retreat of an elderly couple who had never bothered to tend to the garden or mend the roof. The very foundations of the house were rotting away, and the first couple of summer vacations were spent en route between what was supposed to be our very own paradise on Earth and the local builder’s merchant on the mainland. We had to replace everything inside the tiny A-shaped structure of the building, and, though I hated every minute of our endless arguments about the maintenance of the gutters or how we would get the water pump to work, I know now that it has tied us closer to the place. Gradually, we made the house and the surrounding garden our own. We came to know all the little signs of the changing seasons, the loud, terrifying noises of the pines swaying dangerously in the storm, and the true bliss of entering the house to the warmth of the wood-burning stove mingling with the smell of newly brewed coffee.

Skandinavisk Voices Journal Island Life

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