Vinterviken Park, StockholmJune 10, 2017 in Sweden
When getting ready to fit the new spokes to the bike wheel, Will found that the spindle around which the wheel rotated was bent. Even with new spokes the wheel wouldn't run straight so we decided the best course of action was to get a new wheel with a spindle and cog se, as the okd cog set was also badly worn. Luckily there was a large Decathlon store near Stockholm and armed with all the measurements, Will was able to pick out the right parts.
We'd hoped to stay at a car park about 7km outside of Sweden's capital city but when we arrived there was a 6 hour time limit for parking. It was lunch time and we were by a park so we took the blanket and had a picnic under a tall Oak. We didn't want to expose Poppy to too much temptation while we were eating, but she came out and joined us afterwards as we lay back and chilled out in the afternoon warmth.
We found Vintervikens Park even closer to Stockholm and were able to stay the night in its car park. Will found fitting the new wheel and cog set surprisingly easy and after some testing and adjustment it seemed ready to go!
The following morning we took the amazing cycle tracks into the city centre. There were a few ups and downs but the lanes were sensibly designed with their own traffic lights and we had priority when crossing side roads. The bike was so much easier to ride and it felt great to whizz along the roads under our own steam. We even found an advertising board with an air pump incase we'd needed to inflate the tyres!
Stockholm was a city of bridges (57 in total!) and 14 islands. All buildings in the centre were tall and the majority were sleek, modern looking and in excellent condition. However, after crossing the bridge to Gamla Stan (the old town) the walls were made of stone and many were painted warm colours of tumeric and paprika with minimal and tasteful decoration that invited you to seek it out instead of jumping in your face and competing with its neighbours for your attention.
We passed by a bayonet wielding guard in a royal blue uniform to peek in the huge Royal Palace where mass was taking place in the Royal Chapel. Streets were busy in places but nothing like the crush we'd experienced in Italian cities. Stockholm has a large number of museums but we had decided just to wander and take in the atmosphere. There were a few feature buildings such as the skeletal gothic tower atop a brick built church and a domed roof displaying shining golden starbursts.
Taking some time out, we found an empty flight of steps leading down to the river where we sat and ate our packed lunch before returning to the tourist strip to peruse the souvenir shops. There was a theme of brightly painted wooden horses and the normal 'tourist tat' was very good quality with a price tag to match. As something practical, small and light weight, we've been collecting tourist tea towels on our travels but the ones here were too classy and at £10 we decided not to. Many shops also sold reindeer skin rugs and knitted gloves, reminding us of the other end of Sweden's year when so much is covered in snow.
Buying some maple syrup and pecan nut pastries and an apple slice from the Cooperative supermarket we found a free table outside a closed down café to eat them. There were plenty of bins around, many of them overflowing in this busy area. We've noticed in countries that have deposits on drinks containers, people will search bins for them to return and earn the deposit. We also noted that we hadn't encountered anyone begging here, although the two observations aren't necessarily linked.
We really enjoyed both Gothenburg and Stockholm, but the latter didn't have the same sense of life and freedom as Gothenburg, nor the same provision of public parks and seating. Because of the tall buildings it sometimes felt cramped and was also a lot more serious and business like. The traffic was noisy in many places and so were the large groups of tourists who had been flown, bussed or shipped in on the towering cruise ships docked by the high rise hotels. One thing we especially liked about Stockholm was its relaxed attitude towards gay people. We'd seen several couples walking around naturally and as part of a display outside a civic building there was a photo of two men in suits celebrating something with a kiss. Gothenburg was gearing up to celebrate Pride with rainbow flags flying high. While we support Pride and like to see people celebrating their love, we really appreciate them not feeling a need to mark it out, because it is accepted as normal.
We arrived back at the van after another great cycle ride - well done to Will for fixing the new wheel; it worked a treat! Families and friends were gathered in groups playing and relaxing on the park field so we went and joined them with Poppy, feeling very grateful for days like these!Read more