Kia ora from Sweden!

I’m in Europe! Starting with Sweden!

I cut down on flying except for family back in 2018 due to climate change, so I never thought I’d make it to Europe. The original impetus for my visit is not a happy one, but I’m making joy out of tragedy. I’m also making the most out of the long flight across the world, and getting a nice detailed look at four spots in four countries as long as I’m here.

First stop: Sweden! The wonderful Elisa of Isis Wardrobe (I learned on this trip that Isis is a childhood nickname because a young relative struggled to pronounce Elisa, and has nothing to do with the Egyptian goddess in her case) offered to host me in Stockholm.

I’ve known Elisa through the historical costuming internet for at least 15 years now – back in the days when the community was based on message boards! We really got to know each other when she helped moderate the Historical Sew Fortnightly FB group for a couple of years.

I’ve always admired Elisa’s detailed research and her approach to costuming. It’s thoughtful and thorough, based on documented examples but always open and willing to accept new evidence and finds. Much of Elisa’s 18thc costuming is based on Swedish examples. It’s wonderful to see costuming of this era done in a style other than French, British, and the Americas. She also does amazing hair and makeup research, and beautiful early 20th century costuming, and great vintage everyday clothes.

Through Elisa I was introduced to the fantastic Swedish costume collections and picked up a smattering of Swedish costuming terms by painstakingly working my way through museum databases with the help of google translate (which has gotten a lot better but was pretty rough in the early days).

Seeing any of the things in person seemed entirely implausible, but here I am!

Costuming things will come later: we started out the trip with a deliciously restful stop in a summer house out in the archipelago of islands east of Stockholm. We walked along the coast, wandered through the woods, and went swimming in the delightful brackish waters of the Baltic Sea. I’m going to dream of swimming in that sea on every hot day for years to come…


I was extremely excited to see a red squirrel (people from Hawai’i and New Zealand are obsessed with squirrels, and I’d only seen grey American ones) running along the traditional Swedish fence (pictured below, sadly without a squirrel on it) and hurling itself through the air to pull down a hanging branch of a wild rasberry bush so it could eat the berries, and to find moose tracks (with a calf!) going right past the summer house.

I was equally delighted to discover you can just walk into the woods in any direction and the ground will be covered in low blueberry bushes. It’s like a fairytale!

And that the Swedish name for these attractive but inedible berries is ‘Troll Elderberries’:

We went to see the archipelago museum (that will get a whole post) and to Djuro island (redundant in Swedish because O means island!) to see a beautiful wooden 17th century church.

Djuro Kyrka Sweden 2023

The church is the oldest building on the island, and was, up until that point, the oldest building I’d ever seen. All the other buildings on the island were burned by the Russians in the early 18th century during one of the wars between Sweden and Russia, but the church was spared.

You’ll notice two ships hanging from the ceiling.  Kyrka near the sea in Sweden always have them: gifts from the local fishing community to ensure safety on the sea.

Near the church was the bell tower, under restoration:

And a folly, also under restoration.  Notice the bat house on the tree.

Djuro Kyrka Sweden 2023

I love little bits of history like Djuro Kyrka. It’s not on any list of the must-do things on a trip to Sweden, but it’s a beautiful look into local history.

I also learned that the island is all pine forest now, but before the 18th century it was oak.  The oak trees were cut down to build warships.

Sweden 2023

And mentioning Swedish warships probably nicely foreshadows what my next Sweden post will be about…

Djuro Kyrka Sweden 2023



  1. Theresa Winters says

    Love the small little places that aren’t in any tourist guide, but show you real life so well!

  2. Zip Zip says

    Thank you for sharing your rare and special trip with us, especially as the reason for it was difficult.

    I’ve a dear friend from Sweden and when she describes sailing near her little town, and the meadows and deep-red buildings, I imagine scenes like yours, but the colors! So much more vivid and lively than my mind could make them…what wonders…

    Very best,
    Natalie in Kentucky, USA

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