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I didn’t want to just see the larger cities of Sweden, so thankfully, following TBEX in Stockholm, I had the opportunity to join a post-event press trip to the Västerbotten region of northern Sweden.
On the morning after TBEX, we took a taxi to Stockholm’s smaller Bromma Airport, where we took a flight to Umeå. We would return to Umeå the following day, but for the first night of our trip, we were heading to the country side of Västerbotten. Joining me were a few other travel bloggers (Synke from Synke Unterwegs, Sonja from SonjaSwissLife, Engin from enginEER Travel, and Michael from Accidental Travel Writer), as well as a couple of guides from Visit Umeå (Hanna & Sirpa).
There was a van waiting for us at the airport, which we then took for about 45 minutes to a secluded area southwest of the city. It was a drizzly afternoon, but eventually the skies began to clear for a while. Passing the old iron mill town of Olofsfors, we arrived at the Tjarn farmstead.
While Sirpa drove the van down to where we would be staying for the night, the rest of us took a walk through the forest & fields that are part of Tjarn.
The air here is so clean that you can smell every plant & flower, especially after some rain. Within a few minutes of arriving at Tjarn, we were all in love with the spot. The quiet of the Västerbotten countryside was broken only by us saying how quiet it was.
Once we reached the farmstead’s buildings, we were warmly greeted by owner Bengt-Erik Hesse. As we had fika, he told us the story of Tjarn.
Like much of the surrounding area, Tjarn was formerly owned by an iron mill company. It was a timber mill area as well, which is understandable once you see the un-ending forests of Sweden. The farmstead had been built in the 1800s, but as industry moved, it fell into disrepair. When Hesse first saw the place, nobody had lived at Tjarn since 1954.
Nowadays, he has turned Tjarn into a farm that is perfect for any getaway where you want to disconnect from the world, whether it’s a conference, retreat, wedding, or other social event. You can find more information about Tjarn here.
Tjarn is not connected to the outside grid, but solar cells do provide some power, while the on-site well provides water.
In the center of Tjarn, there is a firepit, as well as outside spots for sitting, eating, and chatting.
The entire property sleeps 30 people in an array of buildings. There is the main farmhouse, which has dining rooms and several bedrooms upstairs.
Another large building has a sauna & more communal spots to relax in. Since it was summer, much of the property was able to be kept open for fresh country air.
Since we were a smaller group, we were each able to select where we stayed for the night. I selected a small room in the old bakery house.
Following our fika, we went on a photo walk along the Lögde River, which winds along the southern edge of the farm.
We were able to take some nice photos, though we eventually turned back once the path turned a bit muddy from the earlier rain. We made it back to the farm just before the skies opened up again.
The nice thing about being at a retreat such as Tjarn is that you don’t feel the need to be doing anything. Sure, our outside time was cut short for the time being, but inside the warm farmhouse, Ben started giving us snacks and drinks while we watched the rain. I had a local beer called Höga Kusten, while we ate tunnbröd (flatbread) with a mix of butter and the lovely Västerbotten cheese, plus herring & sour cream.
Eventually, the rain stopped again, leaving us with this magnificent double rainbow.
After our appetizers, it was time for dinner, all excellently prepared by Bengt-Erik Hesse. He had made us an impressive feast that included salad with mushrooms picked from outside on the farm, beef with mushroom sauce, salmon, cloudberry & crème fraîche, and grilled asparagus.
While it had been a long day of traveling, we still had plenty of the evening ahead of us. In mid-July in this area of northern Sweden, there is even more daylight than in Stockholm. While Tjarn is south of the Arctic Circle, so it never sees any days of endless sunlight, it still seems an incredible amount of light this time of year.
As a result, we were able to relax for a little bit before Bengt-Erik took us on a glass-bottom boat ride along the river. The boat is solar-powered, and impressively, he built it himself. The guy can seriously do everything!
We started off by heading upstream passing a beaver dam, a duck & her ducklings, and other wildlife.
As we cruised up the river, we alternated between taking photos and having dessert. In case we hadn’t had enough food yet, we had vanilla ice cream with fresh blueberries, plus drinks. There was Macallan 12, which is one of my favorite whiskies, plus Flaggpunsch – a unique Swedish spirit made from arrack. It was sweet, and almost honey-like. Both that and the whisky went well with the ice cream.
On our way back, we were heading downstream, so we just floated back with the engine off. A light mist was rising over the water & the surrounding fields during the extended sunset.
By the time we made it back to Tjarn, it was around 11pm, but there was still plenty of light in the sky. Some people went to the sauna & then the river, but I just stayed at the fire pit talking with everyone until it was bedtime.
After a good night’s sleep, it was time for breakfast by the fire in the morning. Ben had once again prepared a nice spread for us. I decided to innovate by making a Swedish breakfast burrito that consisted of smoked ham, Västerbotten cheese, and butter, all wrapped in soft tunnbröd.
Following breakfast, we had a bit of time to walk around the farmstead one last time before we headed off to begin our second day’s adventures & head to Umeå.
Our visit to Tjarn was lovely. It’s a beautiful property that has everything you could ask for while still letting you get away from it all. Bengt-Erik Hesse is an excellent host, and he has truly poured his heart into making Tjarn a wonderful place. After being in Stockholm & Gothenburg for the previous couple of weeks, it was great to go out to the countryside and relax.
Disclosure: My visit to Umeå/Vasterbotten was a TBEX press trip sponsored by Visit Umeå & Visit Sweden. All opinions are 100% my own.
Traveler. Writer. Photographer. Terrible dancer. 40+ countries & major territories so far, slowly working his way through the rest. Related interests: craft beer, street food, cocktails, culture, sporting events, history, value travel, credit card bonuses, hiking, visiting non-touristy places, bacon, seafood, & cheese