My Scandinavian Home Travel: The Hardanger Fruit Trail, Norway

It's not often you follow your nose on a trip but that's exactly what happened when I was invited to accompany Skandinavisk founder Shaun Russell and French perfumer Stéphane, on a scent discovery tour. The destination: Lofthus in the municipality of Ullensvang in the spectacular Hardanger region, a few hours east of Bergen, West Norway.  Known as the 'fruit basket' of Norway, the area boasts over 600,000 fruit trees which run in great lines from the lower slopes of the mountain plains with their crashing waterfalls and coniferous forests to the gentle, shimmering shores of the Søfjord below. The region inspired Skandinavisk's best-selling Fjord collection which is infused with  "joyous notes of woods and ripening orchards, wild berries, blackcurrants and raspberry flowers" and we were back to see if other fragrances might be born out of the area. I hope these pictures might also inspire you to 'check-in and breathe out' at Hotel Ullensvang and treasure a few days looking out over the blossoming fruit trees, Hardangervidda mountain plain and the magnificent Folgefonna glacier - it's a sight to behold.

"Fjordland is one of nature's greatest spectacles, a place where the mountains, the forests, the water, and the flora all come together, so as a source of inspiration it is hard to match." 
Shaun Russell. 

"We want to create the most authentic fragrance interpretations of the Nordic region. Only by visiting and experiencing it for oneself, can we recreate these natural moments." 
Shaun Russell.

Imagine getting married here?! Parts of Ullensvang Church date back to between 1250-1300! 

Our original Fjord fragrance was inspired by fjordland and the little-known fact that Hardanger is the 'fruit basket' of Norway, but there is always more than one way to interpret a region, so we want to explore further and see what else we could find."
Shaun Russell
We borrowed a wooden rowing boat from the hotel and took to the water. it got pretty hot out there - luckily there was a cool beer waiting at the hotel! I thought it was fascinating just how much the orchards looked like vineyards! 

In case you're feeling inspired to take in the wonderful scenery of the Hardanger region first hand, here are some tips I picked up along the way:

A Guide To Visiting The Hardanger Fruit Trail

When to go:
This part of the world is spectacular all year round but if you'd like to experience the fruit trails in blossom aim to be there around the last two weeks of May (this might vary).

How to get there:
  • Nearest airport - Bergen (149 km / 2.5 hours drive
  • Public transport: Bus from Bergen to Norheimsund and boat 'Teisten' to Lofthus (summer season only). Or Train from Bergen to Voss and then bus to Lofthus.
Where to stay:
Hotel Ullensvang

Things to do:
What to wear: 
- The temperature can fluctuate between baking hot and freezing cold within minutes, so layering is key! In spring / summer I would advise on taking jeans (or other hiking trousers), t-shirts, sweaters, hiking boots / trainers, shorts, sun hat, sunglasses, warm hat, fleece and a rain jacket.

Not ready to pack your bags just yet, but still inspired? You can pick up lush items from the Fjord Collection online.

Who knows? Perhaps there's a new fragrance just around the corner too. "We are already developing several ideas directly inspired by the visit while the memory is still fresh," Shaun tells me.

Watch this space!

I hope you enjoyed this Scandi-land travel post - a bit of a first on My Scandinavian Home! I'm curious to know if you think it would be interesting to see more posts like this in the future? As always, I'd love to hear your tips on places you've visited in Scandinavia and would love to recommend to others!


*This trip was paid for by Skandinavisk, all words and pictures are my own. 

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My Day At A Charming Danish Cottage By The Sea

Collaboration* What does the sea mean to you? As an avid sailor and living by the sea in Malmö, Sweden, it's difficult to emphasise how much the sea means to me. The sound, the shapes, the light, the gentle saltiness. To gaze out to the horizon is to instantly unwind. Unlike the tumultuous waters of England's south coast where I spent much of my childhood, there's something disarming about Scandinavian waters due to the lack of tides and the beautiful blue-grey water lapping at whitish sands. It's incredibly grounding. I was inspired to discover Danish brand Skandinavisk has captured the impression of the Nordic coastline in a beautiful collection called HAV (meaning sea) - Distant Shores. On a recent visit to their atelier in Copenhagen, the team asked me what the sea meant to me and I felt it was easier to encapsulate in pictures rather than words. Here are some snapshots from my relaxing day in the pretty coastal village of Hornbæk, North Zealand, North East Denmark!

I was fortunate enough to hang out in this pretty cottage for the day belonging to Pernille Grønkjær Taatø's parents - Elisabeth and Per Grønkjær. The 1930's delightful cottage owes its charm to the blend of antiques, vintage finds, classic Danish design pieces and subtle treasures found on the nearby beach. 

The cottage was dotted with simple displays like this delightfully understated glass jar with pebbles and flora. 

Feeling instantly relaxed on this daybed - do you think they'd notice if I stayed all weekend, I would be as quiet as a mouse!

I felt my pulse lowering the moment I stepped in the door (not an easy feat right now with so much going on!). The soft grey-blue and white tones felt so calming! 

HAV scented candle (wonderfully subtle - and a new favourite!). 

The white washed wood cladded open ceiling gave the cottage a light and airy feel even on a fairly grey day! 

The HAV scent diffuser (seen on the shelf in. the entrance) is part of the Skandinavisk collection: "a new impression of the vast Nordic coastline - a meeting place where the cold Baltic and Atlantic waters touch the peninsula and the fresh wind and sea spray carry the resilient scents of the rugosa rose and hawthorn. from the shoreline." It set the scene for my afternoon by the water.

I love the beach in winter when it's at its most rugged. And although 'fresh', the local beach in Hornbæk on the shores of the Öresund sea proved to be the best spa afternoon I could have asked for.

It's not unusual to see Scandinavian people wondering down to the water in a robe. I wrapped up in a limited edition TEKLA x SKANDINAVISK bath robe "inspired by Scandinavian bathing culture - in all weathers" (softest thing E.V.E.R and a much needed hood to buffet the wind!).  

Cannot tell you how beautiful it was on this deserted beach. 

HAV hand cream - with extract of rockweed, designed to nourish and protect your skin from harsh climates (give me a load of that!). 

The beach was speckled with little white shells, a few of which recognised from Elisabeth and Per's cottage, larger rocks and kelp. 

I actually used to be terrified of seaweed as a child (I remember my sister chasing me around with it!) - did you?! These days I see it in a more favourable light as I read that scientific studies have shown that seaweed bathing helps to lower stress and relieve muscle ache and join stiffness. Isn't that cool?! On the Swedish west coast there's a place where you can go for special seaweed baths and they actually massage you with the seaweed! 

What a wonderful day!

I wish I could have stayed for the entire weekend!

If you haven't had the pleasure of visiting the Nordic coastline, you must come and visit us in Scandinavia soon. In the meantime, the divine Skandinavisk HAV - distant shores collection will immediately transport you to the Scandinavian coast and is available online here.

I'd love to hear more about your relationship with the sea / ocean - do you find it relaxing too?

Have a wonderful weekend friends - may your lie-ins be long, and your coffee be strong!


PS Win the complete HAV hand and body range over on my instagram this weekend!

PPS Thank you so much to Pernille Grønkjær Taatø (who's home featured in 15 coastal living ideas to steal from a breathtaking Danish home) and Elisabeth and Per Grønkjær for generously lending me their beautiful cottage for the day. Thanks also to my dear friend Anna Häggström who helped me document the daybed the sea (I've known Anna since I was five and we both felt so inspired by the location) - and of course Skandinavisk for capturing my love for the nordic coastline in a fragrance!

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with my wonderful partner Skandinavisk. However, all words and photos are my own and I only ever work with brands I truly love and think you will too!

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A Local Guide to Malmö, Sweden

I've lived in Sweden's third largest city of Malmö for over fourteen years. And the truth is, not only do I love it, but I'm also super proud of this town too. It's laid-back, buzzing with creativity and you can cycle everywhere in under 30 minutes (beach, parks, cafés, bars, musuems, art galleries, you name it!). So many fabulous places have popped up since my last guide to hip places to eat, drink and shop in Malmö that I thought it was about time for a new guide. So I put on my thinking cap, sourced a wonderful sponsor (thank you Malmö Turism) and chatted to all my Malmö friends to bring you a true, bang up to date local's guide to 24 hours in Malmö!

Where to stay
Oh Boy Hotel - located in Västra hamnen (Western harbour), Oh Boy is a short hop to the swimming bridges,10 minutes walk to the central station and comes with two bicycles (and a bicycle taxi service)!

It also comes with a skateboard (handy when you live opposite the skateboard park

Other places to stay:
Mäster Johans
Story Hotel Studio

(also see 20 instagrammable places to stay in Sweden) 

Great places for an aperitif
Gustavino Wine Bar - on the corner of Stortorget ('the large square')in a beautiful old building - these guys do the best Aperol Spritz in town (and of course, many decent wines!)! 

Lilla Torg (outdoor heated area lined with bars in the 'little square')
Möllevångstorget ( drinks on me if you're able to pronounce this outdoor heated area in the area of Möllevång)

Malmö Opera House
Västra Hamnen, Sundspromenaden - grab a bottle from Systembolaget (the off license) and enjoy a cool one looking out over the Öresund at sunset. In the summer you might even be treated to salsa, live music and other events as part of Malmö Sommarscene (check out what's happening this summer here).

Where to eat

A relaxed local hang-out near St Knuts torg packed with vintage finds. Enjoy organic wine, great beer and yummy food - inside or out.

Riket - a relaxed neighbourhood hangout with great food just off beautiful Davidhallstorg.

Bastard - this place always has a great atmosphere - start with a cocktail! Need to book in advance.
Saltimporten (where the media folk hang out on weekdays lunchtime)

First thing to do when you wake-up

Morning Dip
Nothing nurses a hang-over and gets you ready for the day better than a 'morgondopp'! Do as the locals do, don a dressing gown, walk / cycle down to the nearest swimming place and brace yourself!

Followed by breakfast or a long old brunch....

Breakfast / brunch hangouts

The Raw Food House 

The Raw Food House is on a street that's also great for antiques and vintage finds and right next door is Malört tattoo, which my friend (and fellow local) Sofie says uses "only vegan inks, William Morris wallpaper, and a small selection of naughty books for sale." She does actually have a tattoo from this place and it's beautiful (and I'm not even really into tattoos) - if you're tempted, you'll need to book well in advance! 

Other Brunch places:
Lotta Love Superfoodbar
Jord Malmö 

Although it's tempting to sit around eating and drinking all day, soaking up the atmosphere - there are some activities that should definitely not be missed:

Kalbadhus - my friends visiting from England insist on calling this place the 'naked sauna' which amuses my Swedish husband no end. Located on the end of a pier off Ribbersborg, this place is well worth a visit, if only just for the relaxed cafe / restaurant. I'd totally recommend going for a sauna and cold bath too!

Matkaravan food tour - foodies will love this guided food tour of Malmö (book in advance!).

Boating around the canal - pack a picnic and hire your own motorboat to putter around Malmö's canals - it's a great way to see the city centre!

Folketspark - take a stroll around the boho 'People's Park' (especially if you're with children as it's a bit of a kids paradise). Don't miss Far i Hatten for wood-fired pizzas in the little old cottage and beer garden! 

Museums: I love Moderna Museet & Konsthallen for modern art (they both have great gift shops  too!) and Malmöhus for a spot of history. My kids love Tekniska & Sjöfartens hus  (Science and maritime museum) it's totally interactive and you can leap in and out of a submarine, cars etc and do other science-y stuff.

If you really want to enjoy Malmö like a local it's essential to enjoy a 'fika' (coffee break with something sweet) every half hour or so. In the summer I like cycling through the many parks and stopping at Slottsträdgårdens Cafe or enjoying a take-away coffee on a blanket in the park.

Other great places to fika
Söderberg & Sara on St knuts Torg is a wonderfully hipster café selling stone baked bread and the most divine cinnamon buns.

If you'd like combine your fika with shopping (err, hello!) you're in for a treat...

Great places in Malmö to Shop for Clothes and Interior

AB Småland - a café and eco butique rolled into one. Bonus: you can even buy the furniture you sit on to eat.

Grandpa Store - conveniently (or should I say dangerously?!) placed next door to AB Småland on the main walking street- this is a great little shop for clothes, interior items and some of Sweden's coolest bags, shoes etc.

Miloii - great for things for the home and clothes! I once featured the owner's home here (as an indication of her great taste!).

Geijersgatan 53 - fairly new on the scene, this wonderful café and shop is 15 minutes cycle from the town centre (just along the beach) and well worth a visit.

Meloa - always worth nipping into this little shop for clothes, jewellery, bags etc!

 Hathyllan - and just next door is this fab hat shop!

8 Great Shops in Malmö for Design:
One of my fortes as you can imagine! I'm so grateful for all of these wonderful interior design shops - do not miss a single one of them if you'd like to pick something up for your home!

Olsson & Gerthel

Malmö Modern
Form Design Centre
Design Torget
En Familj  

And while in shopping mode, here are:

5 fab things made by local designers to pick up on your spree:

1.  Torso Chair by Lisa Hilland

2. Big darling and Little Darling lamps by Swedish Ninja

 3. Dressed in Clay candlestick by Kajsa Willner and Straight Ceramic pots by Pernilla Norrman

4. Modern art by Maria Leinonen

5. Beyond Local Collection by Anna Gudmundsdottir

And last but no means least, I never leave town without stopping to say hi to Sophie and her Cocker Spaniel Farfar on my way home to pick up some fresh flowers...


I think that might be it. I've no doubt left out a ton of amazing places - feel free to add your favourite Malmö haunts in the comment section below or on instagram using the hash tag #makeitmalmo.


PS You can also visit Malmö Town for more tips!

All photography ©Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home unless specified.

This post was made possible thanks to Malmö Turism, who kindly supported my endeavour with a hotel and expenses. All words and opinions are absolutely my own (and that of other locals!).

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