As Theresa alluded to in the last post, the first island we went to was Moja. It also happened to be the largest, furthest away from Stockholm, and most populated island we went to (though certainly not any of the above for the entire Swedish archipelago). It was a combination of these three things that made it my favorite of the trio of islands we visited.
The island was large enough to contain three freshwater lakes, which were advertised to us as “warm, you can swim for at least 10-15 minutes in it” a notion we found laughable after touching the water with our hands. But what appealed to me most was the sense that this was a small community. In fact, it was many small communities, with collections of 20-30 houses in villages dotting the island. There were no roads to some, only a path through the woods to a different harbor, a different jetty. Where there were gravel roads, ATVs or bicycles were the vehicles of choice, we saw only two cars and our host at the hostel lamented they were becoming more common.
Around 300 people lived there year round; there was a school (up to the 9th grade). A local youth group showed movies and hosted dances at the dance hall and and converted their youth center into the hostel that we stayed at. At church that was built in the 17th century on the south end of the island, the cemetery contained the graves of several generations of Moja residents.
While fishing was once a primary industry in the archipelago (and likely for many of those whose graves we passed), today, only one man makes his living fishing professionally out of the whole of 30,000 islands. He lives on Moja and his family runs Wikstroms Fisk restuarant. The menu changes every day based upon what Mr. Wikstrom is able to catch. We dined there and while simply prepared, the fish was delicious, fresh as can be.
All of these things really culminated in a very pleasant experience. The rain and the dreary conditions even seemed to add to the atmosphere, the idea that islands like this are supposed to have weather like this. All in all, I’m glad we spent the most time on Moja as it really had the most to offer.