You don’t set out solo for Båstad Sweden because of a glossy travel brochure. 

“She was standing with the sun glowing round her head, the North Sea behind her. Dark glasses. It was the last photo of her. They looked for hints in the reflection of glass but there were none. She disappeared in that place. And really, who could blame her?” This was the only thing I wrote in the stumbled upon place of Båstad Sweden. Unless you’re a California transplant, in Oklahoma we don’t often use the term “existential crisis”.  But the one I’ve been experiencing crescendoed on that coast. 

Flying Lufthansa to Germany I knew of two things I planned to take from Båstad – inspiration from a writer’s workshop, and a weaving. I knew these things before I embarked on this first trip to Scandinavia.  But that first evening as the North Sea lapped at my toes in the dark while the bathhouse lights rose as if by queued stage production, strange tears came as my self came to an abrupt halt, so quiet and still I was aware of my held breath; a surprising and unexpected standstill as my senses locked onto the place.  

Two days later I’m enjoying a massage when Charlotte asks what I think about Båstad. She specifically uses the word energy. Charlotte is quiet and unobtrusive in her query but internally I’m disturbed.  Disturbed at her perceptiveness, disturbed at the notion of energy so pronounced that someone else has noticed, disturbed at my recollection of the evening when I collided with that energy, disturbed at my truthful response. I tell her it’s dark.  She chuckles and suggests “it’s strong”.  And then recommends I take a dip in the North Sea the next morning and spend the day at the bathhouse. So I did. 

A nude plunge into the open, frigid sea, a large warm outdoor caldron-I-mean-tub with steam fighting for air space with the glorious February sun, a plush white robe covering me inside near a fireplace with nothing but glass separating the indoor refinement from the prodigious contrasts on the other side… repeat.  The existential crisis didn’t end, but I learned a lot that day about dark energy vs strong energy.  Thank you Lotta. 

People travel for a lot of reasons.  Yes I go to see, but mostly I pursue a discovery of place that leaves a mark as indelible as the tattoo I continually threaten. I want a place to unexpectedly hurt. In all the best ways. 

North Sea bathhouse

Energy

North Sea bathhouse in the morning

Bathhouse på morgonen

 
a map of Båstad Sweden

Båstad Sweden, Earth

Swedish flag flying over coast of North Sea

Swedish Coast of North Sea

Black and White photo of Båstad Sweden after dark

First night walk about town

 
Båstad and the North Sea from a restaurant window at the blue hour

Båstad and the North Sea from a restaurant window

 

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