Having reached Skagen and then Grenen, riding through a grey gloomy morning and finally I reached the tip of Denmark. There were only a few other people milling about. The coffee shops weren’t open until 10am, so I went back to a Lidl, bought some pasties, brewed a coffee and then I rode South to Frederikshavn where I could catch a ferry to Sweden.
I had booked the ferry online with Stena and had a sailing time of 13:50, but with the previous nights mosquitos and midges, I was up really early and on the road.
As I pulled up to the ferry, a quick show of the passport and booking number and I was instructed to go to line 0, where all the motorbikes and bicycles were. I was an hour early so spent the time sat at the picnic bench provided next to lane 0 and chatted with some Swedish motor bikers who had been riding round Denmark for a week.
When the time came to board, they first allowed one lorry on, and then instructed the motorbikes only and then the bicycles. The bicycles being loaded onto the same deck as the lorries. I had made a list of what I wanted to take upstairs, change of clothes, water, solar panel, electric sockets, money, and bar bag etc. Quickly sorted out my stuff and made my way up top. During the booking process, for just €28 I could be in the lounge where there were electric sockets. I opted to not go with that and went upstairs to the tropical bar. With its trees, sun loungers and glass ceiling, the sun was streaming through, so my solar panel worked well and I was able to write the previous blog entry.
I did try a beer though, 65KR (It was Swedish – £4.78). They didn’t say whether that was Danish or Swedish. For some years the currencies were roughly equal, but in more recent times the Swedish Krone has lost strength and its now 1.57 Swedish Krone to a Danish Krone.
The ferry takes you right into Gothenburg, past bridges and lots of small pleasure boats, which the ferry dwarfed. One of the main bridges, the Älvsborgsbron was 45 metre clearance, the radar and Funnels, only just went under.
As we docked, one lorry was allowed off, then the bicycles. Once all bicycles were in the cycle lane, the rest of the lorries streamed off by the side of us. What would DFDS think in Portmsouth who wont allow a bicycle onto the Le Havre boat because its too unsafe for a bicycle to be near a lorry?
A quick ride of under two miles saw me at the hotel. I booked into a Best Western hotel, using the UK best western hotel website, prices were horrendous. I chose to look at the Swedish website and found prices were approximately a third of the UK website prices. I booked through the Swedish website with the aid of Google Translate and paid 999 SEK about £73.40 for a single room.
One thing I had forgotten from my time in Sweden, was Fika.
Which translates as Coffee. But also tends to mean coffee and cake. It’s an important part of Swedish culture. I’d learned this through working in Sweden. The hotel had free coffee and cake at all times! I took advantage…
I haven’t had a day off yet and was hoping to have an extra day in Gothenburg. I could only book the one night. Bruce Springsteen is loved in Sweden and he was doing three nights.
This messed up the hotels. Trying to book another night was out. It was fully booked. I kept trying reception for cancellations and in the morning bingo. They’d had one. Before they started moving people around so I could keep my room, I asked the price. It had gone from 999SEK to 3,990SEK. I thanked the receptionist for looking and politely declined paying four times the normal price and decided I’d have to move on. She apologetically understood.
I did manage to take a quick look up and down the Main Street for the evening in I was there. Sampling such Swedish delights as McDonalds (which was much cheaper than in Denmark). I looked for a bar that sold the Mariestad beer, that I had drunk in the town of that name, when I was here previously. I came across an English Bar selling English beers. Each bar seemed to have security in a uniform, they were very friendly and helpful.
The city centre felt very modern, most buses in Sweden that I came across were Electric, not pumping out diesel fumes.
Everything washed and dried just in time, I reloaded the back and headed off into Sweden!
The city centre slowly changed to more industrial premises u til after a few miles I was out of the city. Travelling along good cycle paths adjacent to the railway. I came across a few houses and even came across a deer with two fawns happily chewing the grass and not paying much attention to me as I rode by. Rabbits were abundant in areas you definitely wouldn’t see them in the U.K.
I tried another hotel ten miles out of town, close enough to ride back in. Their prices were inflated as well. The lovely receptionist apologising that “there’s a big concert on”. Thanks Bruce! I guess I’m going to have to come back to Gothenburg another time.
Twenty miles out of town I came across a campsite. Damn, it was fully booked. I was hoping to find somewhere, the forecast was very heavy rain, with a weather warning for 4pm. Thunder and lightening, very, very rightening! Galileo!!
As I turned round a lady came running after me. I turned round again and she explained. “We always have room for cyclists”. She kindly showed me the best place
After getting the tent setup, the clouds started to darken, the air started to chill a little and then the heavens opened. I crawled into the tent and picked up the guitar to while away the time. The rain grew louder and the thunder started, I was unable to hear finger picking!
In the morning, the rain kept coming and going for a while, I decided to move sit in the toilet area where there was extra room to make a coffee. Shortly after I had brewed up, the owner came by and enquired as to why I wasn’t using the kitchen Area. Er.. because I didn’t hear that bit, while I was thinking of getting the tent setup before the rain. I felt a bit daft and then moved to the well laid out kitchen.
I’d seen another 3 cyclists had taken refuge after me. A German father and son and a guy from the Netherlands, Matthias, who was bikepacking. The German father told me about a cheese and shrimp past you could buy in Sweden, that didnt need refrigerating. This is ideal as all you need is fresh bread. He explained that they did other flavours, including bacon. I was sold and bought a tube the very next day!
Sweden has some very good cycling routes, well laid out and mostly good smooth tarmac. The German guy also told me about a route called Kattegattleden, that would take me to the south. It was very clearly signed and took in some fantastic scenery.
As I cycled South, the louds and rain were in front of me. Behind me, brighter clouds and the sun. I purposefully rode slower than I was able to keep the rain in front. As I made my way, I regularly rode through areas that had just had rain.
To give the rain clouds a headstart, I decided to stop at an intersting looking store, called the Dollar Store. It was like a pundland, but mahoosive!. There wasnt anything I really needed. The sweet section alone was about half the size of Devizes Poundland. There didnt appear to be many customers during the day, but plenty of young swedish employees filling the shelves, ready I presumed for business in the evening.
It seemed to sell everything, although I am not sure what a bad thermomenter is.
Route 1, Kattegattladen followed the coast a lot of the time, I took the opportunity to stop and take a look at the fantastic beaches the west coast had to offer.
I had seen there was a campsite in Ugglarp and pulled in late after a long day on the bike. There was an auto check in. I tried to book in a tent, but the price came up as 420SEK, about #30. Surely that couldnt be right for a tent space with no electricity. I thought I must have had it wrong and decided before paying that I would go and look at the tent pitches, to charge this amount they must be fantastic. Off I cycled, already with tired legs, up the steep hillside of the campsite and came across some pitches, with trees, mosquitos and no view of the sea. I opted to not camp there. The beaches nearby had signs on saying no camping. Before I left the campsite, I used the wash facilities and on leaving a man asked me about the bike. His name was Anders. I asked him about the price. He agreed it was exorbitant for what was basically a bit of grass and one shower. He explained that wild camping, is allowed (which I already knew), but he re-iterated away from the campsit, just pitchup. I went below the campsite and pitchedup.
After pitching late, packing up early, I was on the road early. The sun was shining by the coast, and a mist could be seen in land. It looked stunning.
As I had wild camped, I wanted to find another area to eat breakfast. It was only 5 miles down the road and another beach. Another cyclist was just packing up lazily after having wild camped. This beach had no signs saying that it was Förbjuden! There was a nice bench to sit at, ducks and ducklings were swimming in the sea, just in front and several elderly couples were taking an early morning dip in the sea. There no younger people, perhaps the sea here has some cocoonesque properties. As I sat there eating a 3 day old Pain Au Chocolat, and watching sea birds swooping and diving in the sea, it reminded me how fortunate I was to be able to do a tour like this.
The views were stunning and I could easily see why the people living nearby wanted to make the most of it by having an early morning dip.
At one point whilst wearing my rain cape, I started catching up a group of girls on bikes, as they turned right and I left, one shouted out, “It’s Superman!”, referring to my cape streaming out the back. I stopped and they asked me where I was from, explaining they couldn’t believe I had cycled from the UK until I showed them the map on my phone. I gave them each a piece of paper that had my website address on, my views went up that evening! They were all very polite and a pleasure to talk to briefly.
Camping wild is allowed as I mentioned earlier, one of the things I had noticed was that there are lots of really good quality public toilet facilities at national parks. These put the UK ones completely to shame. These are even heated, and are treated with respect by nearly everyone using them.
I was making my way to Trelleborg, to get a ferry back to Germany, and then heading further south. My route didn’t originally include Malmo, Swedens third largest city, so I took a detour. Looked for a park on the map and sat eating bread a biscuits. The local jackdaws were very interested and I nearly had them eating out of my hand.
As I was sat there, a man came up and asked me if I had come far. Explaining my route, he was intrigued. His name was Chris and he had also done a large tour to Tehran, but wanted to do some more. He asked whether I had eaten and offered to buy me lunch. I wasn’t overly hungry but accepted a coffee and cake (I always have room for coffee and cake). Chris led me to a restaurant in the middle of the city and park and I opted for a chocolate cake. We spent a long time talking about touring and life in general. I explained how I liked that everything was so clean and tidy and he explained that taxes were high but you got a lot for your money.As I finished my cake, he gave me another cake, a cinnamon bun an Swedish speciality. I saved it for the next day.
I felt very fortunate to have met Chris, he even took me on a guided tour of the coast through Malmo, highlighting the free saunas, the facilities put on for the summer holidays for the children and showing me the bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark. The Øresund Bridge. It spans about 8km and has a railway underneath and motorway on the top. Unfortunately you are not allowed to cycle over it.
Meeting Chris typifies one of the pleasures and a main highlight of touring, meeting people, especially kind ones. Chris was originally from New York, lived in the UK, London for 20 years and moved to Sweden with his Swedish wife to raise their son who was about to start Uni. The world is full of wonderful people we rarely meet unless we get up and go out there.
The afternoon had taken me off route and added 13 miles to my original route, but well worth the extra effort. I worked out another way to Trelleborg and set off.
Arriving at the ferry passenger terminal, a couple of bikes were already there. They explained the bikes were to be picked up by a bus. And we would be checked in 30 minutes before departure. This is highly unusual, normally bicycles go through the car check in. I had had both an SMS and an email confirming that I needed to check in at least 60 minutes before the ferry was due to leave. I was a little concerned and rang Stena helpline. After I was put on hold, the lady wasnt sure and said, go to the car check in and ask. As I cam off the phone a young German lady arrived on a bike. I enquired whether she had been to the car checkin, which she confirmed and had been instructed to come to the passenger check in.
Unfortunately the passenger check in had no toilets at all. There was a hotel next for that did have toilets, but they wanted 10SEK to use them! I enquired as to, if I buy a beer, does the charge still stand. The lady behind the bar said there would be no charge if I bought beer.
Great, I went to get my wash things as I wanted to be clean before boarding and bought a beer. Luckily I had been bought a beer by Paul, a cycling friend in Chippenham, he inadvertently also bought me somewhere to wash!
Things were running a little late the bus finally arrived as I was on the phone again to Stena and we were put onto a bus, only just enough room for the bikes and us. Emca (probably spelt wrong) and I squeezed ourselves in and tried to ensure the bikes were OK. We both agreed that we would liked to have ridden on. As we were picked up, this made us the last to board Usually bikes are one of the first alongside motorbikes. A lorry was blocking the area we were supposed to have put our bikes in, so using a strap I tied our bikes safely and upstairs we went. Neither of us had paid for a room or a seat, or a pod and were relying on using sleeping mats and sleeping bags and finding an area to put them in.
I have done this before, when you are first on, its easy. With us being late meant that the best spots had already been taken. Eventually I found an area near the crew quarters that was quieter with less footfall.
With a disjointed sleep of 3.5 hours, the ships alarm called at 5am to get everyone up. I turned over and ignored it for another 15 minutes. Eventually rising and packing up, heading bleary eyed to the cafe for a coffee and to eat the famous Cinnamon Bun. Damn it was good! It hit the spot.
I am now back in Germany, having cycled from Rostock south.. Next update due in a week or so..