10 weeks 6 days and 7946 miles on the road.
On Sunday we drove on to Göteborg, after a very inconvenient wet strike. The campsite at Örebro was one of the best equipped we have stayed at- (they even had a dog washing room!) but a wet tent is the last thing you want if you are not aiming to use it for a couple of days. We packed it loosely into a large black sack and hoped that it would not go mouldy.
The drive from Örebro to Göteborg was ‘nice’ with an awful lot of trees and farmland. The rain started to come down with determination and the ‘entertainment’ was provided by the nuttier Swedish drivers overtaking in unsuitable places; ‘Brow of a hill coming up? no problem. Solid white line? Pah!!! Rain so torrential that there is danger of aquaplaning, just let me past’, or something like that.
We found the hotel in Göteborg with minimal trouble and went out to grab a beer in the local bar. We met up with a great couple of guys from northern England, who have both been working in Sweden for years and were watching the match between Man United and Leicester, together with a local who is a firm Man U supporter and a bloke from Russia. Great fun!
Monday was Tim’s birthday and we spent it wandering around town. Göteborg is a city where you can shop till you drop. It has more designer stores than you can shake a stick at, I saw one shop selling fountain pens for thousands of pounds and another two that only sold baseball caps. There were some nice old buildings and I really liked the market, where they sold a fantastic range of produce. We did not warm to it as much as Stockholm, however.
We found an English-style pub that had the most fantastic array of whiskeys, over 300 varieties, apparently. We resisted working our way through them as we didn’t want to take out a second mortgage and it was a little far from the hotel to roll back.
The Arena Hotel was a pleasant surprise; the room was of a very reasonable size, there WERE fluffy white towels, it served a good breakfast and it was only a ten minute walk from the city centre. The only problem was that, after sleeping in a tent for so long, the room felt desperately hot, even with all the windows open. It was lovely, however, to be able to walk around with bare feet and not having to balance on one foot to put your socks on in the shower.
We went out to dinner at an hotel in the centre of the city, where they only sold wine by the glass and they offered you a taste before they poured it. I’ve never had that before! They served some delicious and interesting food, based on local ingredients like venison, berries and herring (not all together!). The city really starts to sparkle at night and it started to feel much more welcoming.
Tuesday we drove on to the southernmost part of Sweden
It was free to enter and park at and very modest, by comparison to Nordkapp. The sun was shining and the sea was sparkling fetchingly but it really STANK. The harbour and surroundings stank in several different ways, from something that would not have gone amiss near an Icelandic volcano to something that smelt like escaping gas. Just be glad these photos do not have smellovision!
One interesting point; the statue of a flighty young woman enjoying the breeze is reputed to be Uma Thurman’s granny.
We managed to find a campsite that was a) still open and b) felt welcoming and spent a restful couple of days, walking along the beach getting sandblasted due to 35mph winds, making dams on a stream and repitching the tent to stop it taking off. I can’t think why there are so few other tents here. There is a Dutch couple just across the way from us and they are valiantly coping with the chill, wrapped up in sheepskins, hats gloves and blankets, while we were swanning about in just an extra layer or two. This must be the result of Icelandic training.
We had hoped to visit the local Viking Reserve- yes there are places where they allow Vikings to roam free, but like many attractions in Sweden, it shut two weeks into September. The website is worth a look (www.fotevikenmuseu.se) as it tells you how to become a Viking. Something tells me it is time to head back south before everything shuts. It was interesting to see local boats parked along the beach with their outboard motors still attached.
On Thursday we did yet another wet strike (yeh!) and headed off to Denmark over the bridge/tunnel combination that joins Sweden and Denmark, just south of Malmo. It cost almost £40 to cross this way, but there was over 10km of bridge followed by about 3 km of undersea tunnel and it saves you paying for a ferry, so it wasn’t such bad value.
We found a great campsite about 7 km from the centre of Copenhagen, with excellent facilities and just a stones throw from the city defences- apparently built in 1896, weirdly recent for such, ‘moat and rampart’ defences, medieval design, using relatively modern materials.
So now we are about to leave Sweden, it has been a lovely couple of weeks, helped, I am sure, by some brilliant sunshine, now sadly gone. Everywhere we have stopped has been most enjoyable, felt safe and the people have been welcoming, if not quite as pleased to see us as the Norwegians seemed to be. We have driven 1500 miles since we left Norway and I thought I would write a bit about driving and camping here, just in case you are thinking of coming.
Driving in Sweden: The roads are well maintained and straight, with many roads providing passing places. The speed limits vary between 13 mph in built up areas to 70mph on the motorways. There are LOADS of speed cameras, especially on non motorways and near towns and you get very little warning that they are there, although there always seemed to be a camera sign just before the camera (unlike Norway, where there was so long before you came to the camera, that you almost forgot they had warned you). There are no tolls on most roads, although there are some if you drive into the cities. The tolls there are electronic and we are waiting to see if they send us a bill. Diesel costs a bit less than the UK (about £1.25 a litre). It is, however, REALLY dull, especially in the north.
Camping in Sweden: The campsites here have been very well equipped, with good shower facilities, washing machines and kitchens. The cost per night has been between £10 and £30, with facilities at the top end usually being fantastic. I felt like borrowing a dog so I could wash it in one place! Make sure you have a supply of 5 and 10Kr pieces to use the showers (they were free in about 2/3 of the campsites). Many of the campsites are either already shut or about to close by this time of year, but we always managed to find somewhere to stay.