If you yearn for the different, the soulful, a stay at Nyrups Naturhotell is the answer. Deep in the birch and beech forests of Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost province, near the town of Höör, this experience brings the essence of living in communion with nature to the post-modern, complicated world. No glitzy fanfare, no need to travel to remote corners or to bring anything special beyond an open mind. The secret sauce is the simple power of nature. As it turns out, that’s pretty potent.
I traveled solo, thinking I’d join a community of fellow-minded adventurers for two days, and looking forward to the prospect of high-end camping with proper beds and linens (a must for this adventurer), some hiking and even the novelty of living “off the grid” without running water or electricity for a few days.
I prepared to live out of a backpack for 2 days, requiring some serious paring down. The cool Scandinavian autumn was welcome after a blistering summer and luckily, no rain.
Thus armed, I walked the path to the campsite, careful to follow the direction to turn right at the blazes hanging from the trees.
And there it was – a magical village of Mongolian yurts creating a sensibility that was fairytale, part “Hole in the Wall Gang” but definitely a world apart.
I got the welcome tour:
– provisioning, cooking, drinking/washing water, sanitary routine (state-of-the-art latrine, cleaner and fresher than many public restrooms we’ve all tiptoed through)
– safety (LED flashlights, oil lamps, emergency cell phone, fire extinguishers).
And then it was time to start the adventure. Did I feel a bit like Matt Damon in “The Martian” – left on a strange planet? Maybe, but “Earth” was only a 15-minute walk away.
Nyrups provides locally sourced food, all cooking supplies, and menus for dinner and breakfast. Cooking is done on an open campfire. In inclement weather, there is ample room in the large communal space, complete with a welcoming cast iron stove.
My fellow campers, Anna and Göran, returned and we set to work to build the campfires and prepare dinner. Wild boar patties, beautiful vegetables for grilling, with ingredients for a fancy dessert we didn’t bother with. We toasted Anna’s birthday and with early darkness, retreated to our sleeping quarters.
A word about the darkness: in an ever-illuminated world, the first world city-dweller doesn’t know womb-like darkness. Not scary, just different. Peaceful. Like the world has gone to sleep and will deal with the problems in the morning. No 24/7 news cycle here. If only…..
But wait – in the morning Anna and Göran are leaving? I’m to be truly solo? I nearly withdrew – not out of discomfort, but what about the communal experience, the fun that comes with meeting fellow wanderers. What fun will it be to build a campfire alone?
This was the challenge, and, it turned out, the self-discovery that only travel and new experiences can bring.
Lunch was a delicious beet soup: the only requirements were to heat and then enjoy – easy!
I then set out on the hike: turn right at the path, follow the tree blazes…
At the dead tree, turn right again, and continue to follow the blazes…
….until you see the Frostavallen trail, a hiker’s dream with clear markings….
I found my way around the 5 Km. route, across the stream, and back to the path with the blazes leading to the “dead tree” marker.
Not hard, just different. Did I feel accomplished? You bet!!
On returning, I realized I had fallen under nature’s restorative magic by merely surrendering to the diurnal rhythm; to just “be”: cooking/keeping fires going, managing my forest “home,” planning the day, enjoying the beauty of early autumn.
In “real” life we plan our days, cook and clean up in our urban worlds. How odd, to use the same essential skills in a different way (less the fire-keeping, of course). I had no idea how curative that would be. What an ingenious mix.
It was windy when I returned, and the late afternoon light was fading. Dinner prepared over the cast iron stove. But first, the stove needed a fire. Ha! … done in a blink.
The menu was Swedish oats, meant to have a consistency similar to risotto, topped with a rich mushroom sauce. The mushrooms were aromatic, musty, woodsy. How perfect for a forest dining adventure. With notes in hand, I dined in peaceful solitude. The next day, reinvigorated, I had a new spring in my step and a very refreshed psyche.
Does a stay like this align with other travel plans? Is it worth folding into a larger itinerary, especially traveling from afar?
My answer is an unqualified yes. I paired this stay with a wonderful traditional spa, also in Skåne, Ystad Saltsjöbad, also chronicled on this blog. They were complementary experiences: one about physical rejuvenation, the other another revitalizing the spirit and soul.
Beyond a backpack, there is no special equipment required; good sneakers will work.
It bears noting that I left the forest for lunch at the Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel Berlin Krog in Skåne-Tranås, about an hour away. A more sophisticated setting in the conventional sense, but the care in the preparation of dishes demonstrates the respect Mr. Berlin has for this gift of nature. I think I was more appreciative of dining there for having spent time in close touch with nature. Otherwise, it might have been just another “nice meal”. More to come shortly on the Daniel Berlin experience!
Let us know your thoughts… we all may need this now more than ever.
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