June 2016
  • Day396

    Chilling...

    July 5, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Last night it did seem that we got a nocturnal visit - Peter heard the twigs snapping and then some grass munching and satisfied breathing which sounded like a funny horse. Maybe it was an elk!

    We had a lucky escape with chasing rain today. Big black clouds and a storm rolled in as soon as we had finished brunch. Thankfully there was a small shelter hut at the right place at the right time for us to be able to wait it out. It sounds a bit feeble avoiding rain, but even a "100% waterproof" jacket won't help against an hour-long Swedish down pour. Rain also makes road visibility worse and we've found its just better to play the game!

    Despite the rain we managed around 50km and found a place to camp after. A hill location but in a village with a quarry, goods-train line and elks....

    It was 15 degrees in the sun following this evening's close rain shower. With the wind you can safely take off a few degrees more. Heading south every day now!!
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  • Day395

    Wasser

    July 4, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Das war heute das Thema des Tages. Auf der Fahrt zum Frühstücksladen kamen wir als erstes an einer alten Grabstätte vorbei, die wir unter die Lupe nahmen.

    Nach einem ausgiebigem Brunch machten wir uns auf die heutige Tour. Die Flaschen so gut wie leer (zur Erinnerung, 1,5 l Wasser sind nicht unter 90 Cent zu haben) kehrten wir gegen Nachmittag wieder bei einem Friedhof ein. Da er recht einsam gelegen war, bot sich auch gleich eine größere Wäsche an, um einen kommerziellen Campingplatz zu vermeiden. Die Stunde der faltbaren Gießkannendusche hatte wieder geschlagen. Wir ließen uns Zeit, da der Himmel am Horizont gefährlich schwarz aussah, ausgerechnet in Richtung unserer weiteren Route. Ein Blick auf das Wetterradar offenbarte, dass es knapp werden könnte, das Unwetter aber vorbei zieht. Wir blieben trocken und haben uns heute nur selbst nass gemacht :-)

    Im weiteren Verlauf fuhren wir durch Falköping, wo es nur Riesen gibt. Das sieht man an den Tischen und Bänken die dort stehen ;-)

    Um nicht wieder so lang wie gestern unterwegs zu sein, haben wir uns heute für die erst Stelle entschieden, die sich uns bot. Sie liegt in einem Waldstück mit vielen Tierpfaden. Beim Schreiben dieser Zeilen sind schon die ersten Bewohner des Waldes hörbar. Mal sehen, wer uns heute Nacht alles besucht.
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  • Day394

    3 Season Sweden

    July 3, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    A delicious 9+ hour sleep was a sign we were back to our preferred accommodation type, wild camping! Following our Sweden precedent of "steep small hill on the forest edge" we found a hill with a secluded circle of grass which had an even better hidden camp-sized space behind...and with wild strawberries.

    We made a morning tea and packed up, ready to head to the next "ICA" to buy breakfast. As we were nearly packed, three huge hares ran up towards us stopping a few meters away. They looked at us, and we looked at them, probably in equal measure surprised at the presence of the other. They then broke the pause and turned around and ran off where they'd come from. I've never seen hares so big before- like small dogs!

    We cycled towards the large town of Skövde, filled up water for free at a church en route (we noticed that all church yards have watering cans hanging so figured there would be water too!), had a mid-afternoon nap in a field- and ate dinner as well as breakfast on the road.

    Dinner was an absolute feast. Crackerbread, olives, tomatoes, paprika, carrots, tofu, AND the most delicious food find of the Sweden chapter "Bean Mole"...which is like British Branston pickle, but far nicer and more edible in large amounts, made of kidney beans, spices and even a small amount of chocolate. Certainly something to attempt to re-create at home.

    It was the trickiest day so far finding a wild camp. The inhabitant density had increased to farms a consistant few hundred meters away from each other as well as almost every bit of land being fenced off. The forest disappeared for a few kms leaving us with only open and more publically visible spots, which isn't necessarily a problem in itself but we prefer to be hidden for a more relaxed camp.

    Patience paid off and at around 10pm (still totally light) we found a perfect spot on a public picnic area which led up a hill to another picnic area with a patch of forest.

    The name of the post reflects our experience of Swedish summer so far. Mornings- fresh and full of promise of a warm day but with a nudge of winter in the air. Midday - if you find a totally secluded spot its warm (borderline hot!). Evening - get the long trousers, jackets and gloves out. Winter is coming!
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  • Day393

    Wieder in Fahrt

    July 2, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    Nach unserem Kurzurlaub in Askersund verlief der erste Tag aalglatt. Mit Kurs Südwest ging es heute durch den Tivedens Nationalpark - tolle Landschaften, leider wieder keine Elche. Wir haben sie aber in den Wäldern rufen hören wie neulich nachts auch.

    Verwöhnt von langen Öffnungszeiten die ganze Woche über, standen wir heute auf einmal vor verschlossender Türe. Blöd, da es das einzig erreichbare Lebensmittelgeschäft war. Verhungert sind wir trotzdem nicht. Das Café nebenan bereitete uns einen leckeren vegetarischen Burger mit Pommes.

    Nach 75 km fanden wir wieder einen schönen, hoch gelegenen Biwak-Platz im Wald. Die sind die besten.
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  • Day392

    Prohibition in Askersund!

    July 1, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    10am breakfast out on the veranda of our little wooden house and it feels like Barcelona!!! Hot hot hot and no wind. Summer in Sweden has arrived!

    No...wait... step off the veranda and the wind sends a fresh reminder that this is Scandinavia and we jusy have a VERY fortunate location 😁

    Today was an ideal day for a napping, drinking chai and coffee, washing, watching the water from the lake lap on the little beach and taking a stroll to Askersund.

    It would have been a perfect evening for a glass of wine or a beer to accompany our meal but we've discovered rhe Swedish phenomenon of "dry" supermarkets. The entire wine section of the supermarkets are alcohol free.. yep. Alcohol free red wine exists.. not something I want to ever spend my money on!🙈🙊.

    All the beer, cider, porter etc is 3.5%. And you can't buy spirits. You have to go to the town's state-controlled alcohol market, be over 20, and shop before 3pm on a Saturday to get your hands on the real stuff. As we didn't realise this, I have a very disappointed Peter in my company who was not impressed with the Pilsener urquell with extra free water included in the price. ;)

    The rest of the day was spent admiring boats and the most shocking tattoos we'd ever seen on a young woman. This trip is certainly an eye-openeer on many levels!

    My hands are feeling good enough to get on the bike again tomorrow (conveniently still covered in plasters this morning excusing myself from the weekly (or should that be fortnightly;)?) washing.

    In other news, we hit the 4000km mark of our trip on Thursday. Happy cycling!

    Photos:
    Oat milk chai - THE BEST vegan chai flavour outside of india.
    Our little wooden house.
    The standard brown redcolour paint of 99% Swedish houses.
    The view across the bay.
    Seedish playgrounds have Elk toys, of course.
    Blue smurf hand.
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  • Day391

    Vom Winde verweht...

    June 30, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    ...wurden wir letzte Nacht beinahe. Der Zeltplatz dieses Campingplatzes liegt leider an der windigsten Ecke. Bei 50 km/h Windgeschwindigkeit und Böen bis 85 km/h war die Nacht recht kurz. Das Tarp als Schutzschild hat gehalten, meine Angst, dass es reißen könnte auch die halbe Nacht. Die andere Hälfte war es einfach nur zu laut. Immerhin, die Vorhersage für Regen wurde korrigiert.

    In den Nachmittagsstunden erinnerte man sich dann doch noch an meinen gestrigen Wunsch, eine Hütte mieten zu wollen, die leider alle reserviert ware. Eine Stornierung verschaffte uns dann glücklicherweise doch noch ein ruhiges, gemütliches Dach über dem Kopf.

    Ein Spaziergang durch die Stadt war unser workout für diesen Tag. Sightseeing ist morgen dran.

    Ein 5-Gänge-Menü rundete den Tag ab. Mit Käse als Vorspeise, einem Curry als Hauptgericht und 3 Sorten Schokolade als Dessert lässt es sich leben. Jetzt hilft nur noch ein Pfefferminztee und stabile Seitenlage.
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  • Day390

    Ps. RENAME

    June 29, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    As we decided we didn't want to play "Russian Roulette with 5 bullets"** we have re-named our blog to reflect the current route, which has been to cut out Estonia to Russia.
    **as described by a survivor of the Narva-St Petersburg route by bike.

    Despite having Russian Visas, we decided that this trip is more about the overall journey (and surviving!!) than merely just ego and "getting to Russia" at any cost, for the sake of a turning point destination.

    We had such an arduous trip through Poland, stressful back-to-back days sharing roads with heavy traffic through Latvia and Lithuania (despite being the internationally recognised Eurovelo route)...and then we were robbed in Latvia. It got to the point where we were ready for change and wanted to enjoy ourselves again, to be able to sleep without having to watch every shadow.

    We also met people who have cycled Russia-Narva and said that it was 150km of their lives that they never want to repeat. Highways of agressive lorry drivers or side streets with packs of dogs. Not two passtimes that we like too much!

    We were very happy to get on the boat at Riga and are loving Sweden, despite the challenging weather. ;)

    Its all about the journey and we've had great experiences throughout our trip. Onwards we go!
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  • Day390

    Night-time elk visit?!

    June 29, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Ok, so last night's blog missed out a little of the day's events because we didn't know if this morning was going to mean a trip to the Doctor's. Eeek... and people worry etc. But we're all fine, so its safe to read on!

    Yesterday's ride ended with a Sarah-shaped impression on the stoney road. It had all the ingredients of a classic slide; descent, corner, adverse camber, loose stones, perhaps a little too much speed, combined with a heavy bike and a reflex use of the brakes = ouch.

    Somehow my hands took the full weight of the fall and the air was a little blue with colourful words. The right hand swelled up pretty quickly and the left one had a small chunk of skin missing. Thankfully nothing serious, but it still hurt like crazy and I couldn't ride anymore. Changing gear, using the brakes... even pushing wasn't really great so we set up camp in the forest adjacent to the track. It was a very convenient find, classic hilltop location looking very "jurassic park" with its ferns and pine trees. No ant infestations but instead swarms of mini biting evening flies!

    Peter had the fun task of snipping off the loose bits of skin, cleaning my feet (my shoes were somehow full of stones ?) applying plasters and eating chocolate. What a hero. 🙊

    We made plan A, B, C and D for the morning and went to sleep praying that my right hand was only bruised and that the swelling would go down overnight. Thankfully it did! It was just a nice shade of blue and a little bit fat, but at least I could grip things and get back on the bike with the help of some plaster /bandages to take the pressure of the handlebars of the palms.

    In the early hours of the morning we heard what sounded like a deep cough a few times, then the sound of heavy hooves which got nearer and then faded away again. We guess this may have been an elk?! It was certainly too heavy for a wild boar and I don't think deer make such sounds.... who knows! I don't want to leave Sweden until we've seen an elk!

    We're now in Ankersund and "battening down the hatches" as they would say at sea, the weather report for the next 3 days looks vile. Wind. Rain. Rainwind. Due to Sweden 's sparse population density, supermarkets only tend to pop up on route around 1x per day, shelter is also very hard to find if it rains. As such, we've decided to make it easier for ourselves by finding a reasonably-priced campsite as a base. This should let us bypass the bad weather in a little more comfort and should allow my hands to heal a little before carrying on to Gothenburg.

    We will certainly miss the beauty and peace of the forest as we play the weather game on the shores of one of Swedens largest lakes.
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  • Day389

    Frühstück am See

    June 28, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Auf unserem Campingplatz waren wir neben unsern einheimschen Nachbarn in Wohnwagen die einzigen mit Zelt. Entsprechend ruhig war die Nacht. Die Sonne trieb uns früh aus dem Bett. Der Campingplatz hatte Zugang zum See. So hatten wir ein tolles Frühstück auf dem Steg. Für ein Bad war jedoch zu kalt. Ein paar Gespräche brachten zu Tage, dass im Moment die beste Jahreszeit in Schweden ist, jedoch seit 2 Wochen starker Wind weht.

    Die heutige Route führte ausschließlich über Nebenstraßen. Es gab wieder viel Abwechslung in der Landschaft und super Wetter, Sonnenschein und kein Wind. Zur Mittagszeit kamen wir durch einen Ort, wo uns auch gleich eine Gaststätte mit der Aufschrift 'Pizza' ins Auge fiel. Da das Preisniveau hier höher ist, wagte ich erst einen kurzen Blick in die Karte, die nur am Tresen verfügbar war. 75 Kronen (ca. 7,50 €) für eine vegetarische Pizza, das war ok. Zur Überraschung war das inklusive eines Salates vom Buffet, eines Kaltgetränks und eines Kaffes bzw. Tees danach. Wow! Und alles war auch noch sehr lecker.

    Wir sind heute wieder in einem Waldstück zur Ruhe gekommen. Morgen soll es nochmal schönes Wetter geben, wir hoffen darauf.
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  • Day388

    Still no Elks!

    June 27, 2017 in Sweden ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Summer in Sweden = waking up in the night with ice cold feet (despite socks, sleeping bag liner AND a 3-4 season sleeping bag!) followed by waking up at 8am cooking slowly in a greenhouse-tent 🙊

    After 3 days of constant rain showers it was a huge surprise to open the tent door to a blue cloudless sky. Eating breakfast of fruit, muesli and turkish yogurt sat outside on our hill camp, looking over to the treetops was a small piece of heaven this morning. Just in case anyone was getting too jealous reading the first bit, I must have been bitten on the toes and feet 10 x by large ants whilst doing "morning paperwork" . Certainly not a paradise experience! Peter didn't get bitten once.

    To save us the daily discussion about how terrible biting ants are, they are now named: SCHARMEISEN or SHANTS, owing to the affectionate adjective we use in conjuction with their existance.

    Today's route reminded me of my childhood experiences at the funfair /seaside when riding the giant slides or helter-skelter. You climb up (what feels like) 1000s of stairs and then you enjoy the ride down, beofre having to repeat repeat repeat. Lots of work for a good blast of fun. The route was full of little bumpy hills and sweet, winding descents past more of the stereotypical Swedish scenery, pine forest, quaint farms, red-brown wooden houses and volvos!

    As we had wild camped for 2 nights, a shower and some clothes washing (as well as electronics charging) were needed so we decided to cycle to a campsite. The first on the map was a red-herring. Private campsite for long-term caravans only. The next, 8km away, tuned out to be the same. After asking one of the residents if there was somewhere we could stay we were told there was a guest price and we could camp on the field next to the lake. Happy days! Luckily I'd kept 200 krona in cash to be able to pay, this place certainly wouldn't have done cards!

    The facilities are simple but every detail has been thought of with a single shower and an open air kitchen. A lady offered us some nice seats (with cushions!!!) to eat our meal from when we went to the communal table to eat. The small gestures from strangers make such a nice impression.

    (Ps. Yesterday's photos have been added)

    Today we have - Peter and his Marabou chocolate addiction. Its the Swedish equivalent of Ritter sport only on bigger packs.
    The hill we had to take our bikes up for oir awesome wild camp.
    A windmill
    A mini house at the side of the big road, bo idea why it was there because only cyclists would be slow enough to really see it, and there was no footpath for pedestrians.
    A zebra.
    Swedish cycling view!
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