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|07/27||Sweden, Markaryd to Savsjo
I was reminded by my brother that I sometimes forget to indicate prices in $ equivalents. To help anyone interested, the equivalencies for Scandinavia are:
Today was our driving day so we had free rein on what we do. We chose to run instead of ride.
We found a four mile route we could take from our hostel. It took us along bike paths, small paved and unpaved roads, and dirt trails. It went over a dam and through the woods as it took us around a very pretty lake.
We talked to one local who was walking his dog. He took our picture.
We talked to another local who only spoke Swedish. He was able to give us directions to follow our chosen route.
After we showered, we headed down the biking route in the car. We stopped at the first larger town (of two for the day) for lunch and to do some shopping. Before we could do anything though, it started pouring. We decided to drive on and find L&J so they could have the option of sagging and getting out of the rain. By the time we found them, the rain had stopped. They chose to keep riding, so we went on to the next town to get something for lunch.
After lunch it was raining again so we went looking for L&J again. We found them after about an hour. Joan hopped in the car. Larry wanted to finish the route.
The route today was very remote. We passed through only two sizable towns. ("Sizable" means a couple of places to eat, a gas station, and a few misc. shops.) We went through many forests and much farm land. Though not particularly scenic it was nice cycling because the roads were either wide shouldered or had very little traffic.
TK&A stayed at a municipal sporting facility (read soccer fields and a gymnasium) tonight. (But actually better than it may sound, because people are able to "camp" indoors and get out of the rain.) We stayed in a hostel about 2 Km's away. Lisa and I had a very nice, large room for four. It had a double bed, a bunk bed and a small table. Since it was on a corner, two windows gave lots of light and ventilation.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/28||Sweden, Savsjo to Kisa
We heard some bad news at breakfast this morning. Jim, the guy who lost a leg yesterday, also has a broken arm and is in danger of loosing his other foot.
Another rider, Phil, fell yesterday and reopened a cyst on his hip from an old injury that had not yet healed. It was very painful, but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Reopening the old cyst may help it heal.
Everyone is wishing everyone else a safe ride -- and WE, at least, are practicing it.
Today was a riding day for us, but we looked out the window at breakfast and saw it was pouring down rain -- so we opted not to ride in the morning. We started our day by driving to Vetland, the next large town, and did some shopping. Then we drove to Ingatorp where the midday checkpoint was. We bought some lunch, ate, and moved on.
The route today was very remote. It followed narrow, mountainous highways through remote forestland, much of which was in the midst of selective harvesting. It was a very long, monotonous ride. Tomorrow promises to be even more remote and more hilly, but on busier highways.
No Swedish moose yet. We expect to see some tonight or tomorrow though, since we will continue to be in very remote country. We're told the moose here are much smaller than they are in the US. They only get to about 600 kilograms (about 1300 lb.) for the large bulls.
We arrived at our cabin in the woods at the Pinnarp Holiday Village campground about 3. (A nice time to get in. I wish we could do it every day.) It's a really nice campground. It's on a lake, has a slide into the water, a beach, a sauna, and basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, and miniature golf on-site.
The weather had turned clear and sunny -- a beautiful day.
We checked in and got our cabin key and sheets. There was a large bedroom and a small one. Both had bunk beds. Joan chose the larger room for them. We were fine in the smaller one.
Then Lisa and I hopped on our bikes and rode into Kisa. (Pronounced "cheesa" like Lisa with a ch as in cheese. There's no "k as in kite" sound in Swedish.) We poked around the stores, found a bike shop, talked to a reporter from the local newspaper, and had coffee and tea and a cookie in a tiny cafe.
At the cafe we chatted with Michael (from Piedmont) about the trip. He is, like us, making adjustments to make the trip more enjoyable. In fact, rather then ride another day like this, he is taking the train into Stockholm tomorrow.
We started the ride back from town on a bikepath through a wooded, residential area. The path was quiet and narrow. At one section it became quite steep going up. We stood, as is our usual thing, but it was REALLY steep. We came almost to a standstill, but we held our balance as we crept through a very narrow gate at the top. Whew!
We rode the highway the rest of the way back. It was still bright, clear and sunny into the evening. The sun finally set about 9. (It's getting earlier.)
It was SO nice to have some leisure time today. We had time to read. Lisa got a massage. We watched CNN News. We watched the sun set over the mountain lake we were next to. And we read some more. Wish we could have more days like this.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/29||Sweden, Kisa to Nykoping
Today's ride was a wonderful just-plain-riding day. We rode for hours and hours on secluded mountain roads. We passed many, many beautiful lakes, thousands and thousands of trees, quite a few meadows and just a few cars.
Homes are very few and far between. Most are 2 or 3 stories. Most look like homes in suburban America. All nice but none unique.
We stopped at a cafe along the way. The DRG had noted that there was a place with great homemade waffles, but it seemed impossible in that remote area. Sure enough, out in the middle of nowhere we spotted a hand-lettered sign that said Cafe with an arrow pointing into the woods, beneath which was the word "parkering" - which means parking.
We followed the muddy dirt road about 50 yards into the woods to a wide spot (the "parkering"). There was another sign saying Cafe pointing to a trail through the woods.
We followed the trail across a small wood bridge over a rushing stream to a clearing. From the clearing we could look up a hill to a large house that had the word Cafe painted on the side.
So, up the hill to the house. There was a small patio with two tables and some chairs in front. We went through the small doorway into the basement cafe. It was small and dark, and it was full of an eclectic collection of old tables and chairs, and it was mostly lit by candles.
What a charming place!
We had the special of the day -- and every day -- homemade waffles with jam and either cream or ice cream. We had one of each. They were DELICIOUS!!!
We had a nice chat there with Bill Bliss (SJ), Susan (Britt-Simone's friend) and Diane. Bill has a goal of riding 20,000 miles this year. (He's done EFM+ so far.) He told us his average bicycle mileage per year was 10,000.
After the waffle snack, we hopped back on our bike and headed up the road. The scenery was more of the same -- narrow, hilly, roads through thick woods -- for the rest of the day.
Larry was right on time with our pickup. He had ridden about 50 Km's in the morning. He said that while he was riding, two women at the campground worked for two hours to find lodging for tonight for us. Almost everything was full but they managed to get us a room in a "Choice Hotel" at a pretty good rate. Then came out on the road to pick us up.
We got in to the Tessingkolan College grounds (TK&A is camping on the sport fields) about 4. After fussing around there for awhile, we got to our hotel about 5.
The hotel looked great. We told Larry "great job" -- but Joan said wait a minute. She had to check the room.
The room is a huge double that they put two cots into so it could sleep four. Joan thought that wouldn't work because she didn't like the cots. We did not want to spend an hour looking for something else so we took the cots. We thought the room was very adequate.
Dinner was at the college. Basic but good. The mayor welcomed us and wished us well on the rest of our journey. (We learned from the mayor that Nykoping is pronounced ny-cho-ping.)
Two local musicians sang for us. They even sang "Even a Gray Day" (by one of our favorite folk singers, Tom Paxton) -- in Swedish! It was a nice evening.
After dinner we walked along a section of the river that ran behind our hotel. It was only a block long, but it was lined with restaurants, each having live music. We sat for awhile in the pleasant evening air and listened to a singer. Then we walked back to the hotel.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|07/30||Sweden, Nykoping to Stockholm
Yesterday we expressed to L&J that we'd like to get into Stockholm early so we could see more of the town. They expressed similar desires -- maybe. Joan hadn't decided yet. Since it was our driving day, we suggested either they could stop early, or it could be declared a non-riding day and we could all drive in together.
Late last night Joan told us they would get up early and ride, on-route, into Stockholm. We could go ahead and take the car. We agreed to leave it at check-in for them to use when they arrived.
We slept in this morning. When we got up at 7, Joan was still getting stuff together -- they overslept. I offered to drive her to camp but she declined.
We got up and went for a run along the river behind the hotel. We jogged up the river, then through town. It was a really interesting-looking, small, downtown, but, being Sunday, EVERYTHING was closed.
We jogged back to the river, then down and around an old, building that looked like a well preserved, medieval fort. We explored and found that the old building had been converted to an open-air, Shakespearian-type theater. We found out that the night before was the end of a run of performances of "Hair."
We went back to the hotel, showered, packed, and headed for Stockholm. We arrived by noon, parked, and walked through the old town area called "Gamla Stan."
The Gamla Stan is an area of narrow, windy, cobblestone streets filled with quaint, quirky, and touristy shops. It also contains the Swedish Parliament building where the coronation of Kings is always done.
We headed to camp at the Backpackers Hostel where we checked in and found our room. The hostel is an old middle school, complete with textbooks in the cabinets and maps in the walls. We're staying in a very large classroom with seven sets of bunkbeds. The bathroom is down the hall. The showers are in the gymnasium building across the campus. Lisa says, "It's kind of fun -- like being at summer camp." I think it's a little too much like being in the army. (Of course David has never actually experienced army barracks, whereas Lisa HAS been to camp...(-: )
Later in the afternoon we headed for the subway to go into the downtown and continue our exploring. We stopped to ask a local where the stop was. It turned out he had grown up in Brooklyn and spent 10 years in San Francisco before coming here 5 years ago. He says this is his home now.
He did show us the subway stop (we were right next to it but didn't recognize it). When we told him where we were going, he told us any stores that were open would be closing in 40 minutes. So we changed our plans and decided to check out the movies. He told us to take the #1 bus (from the bus stop right there) and showed us on our map the street where all the movie theaters were located.
Great! We bought a 10-ride transit ticket and hopped on the #1 bus. It took to the plaza next to the Konsert Huset (Concert Hall) in the center of town. There was a Sunday afternoon flea market in the plaza along with hundreds of people -- mostly young adults (college age + or -) -- milling around, sitting in the steps, the fountain and the base of the statue. Of course, we poked around a bit, too.
Then we checked out the many movie theaters. There were many duplicate movies showing. We found one, "Magnolias," that we may try to take in tomorrow afternoon.
We had a coffee, a tea, and a pastry at a little sidewalk cafe on another nice pedestrian-only street called, "Bibliotekgatan" or Library Street. Then we walked to the subway station and caught the train back to our hostel for dinner, conversation and bed.
Love to all, David and Lisa
On this layover day we lingered in our summer-camp bunkhouse until 9. We marveled at how quiet our group of 14 people were last night (no snorers) and this morning (everyone was up and out before Lisa woke up.)
We had breakfast, made our plans for the day and set out. Our first stop was a post office to mail some things back to our families. The post office was in a shopping center, AND it was combined with a wine store. Strange!!!
One thing about post offices here. When you enter, you take a number that is fed out of an electronic machine. There are several TV's and readerboards that show the customer number that is being served and at which window number. That way, you don't have to wait in line. You can read, write postcards, relax, or whatever until your number comes up.
Well, when I entered this combination post office and wine store, I got a number. It was only after talking with some people that I realized I had a number to be served in the wine shop -- not the post office. My dumb mistake. NO big problem though. I got the right number (and it was lower :-) and enjoyed the conversation with others there.
The post office was in a mall. Lisa was looking for a bathroom. The only one available, it seemed, was in a McDonalds. She went there and was amazed to find that SHE HAD TO PAY to get into the bathroom. Though it was not much money, (only 5 SKR which is about $0.40 US), it was the principle! . . . so she held it.
We walked from there down into the center of town. We checked a couple sport shops and bike shops for some clothing items we needed. (Swedish printed bike shirts, Goretex vest, socks, quick-dry running bra, support stockings.) Our only success was with the running bra.
We heard about a really compete bike store on the edge of town. We took a subway out there, but to no avail.
We did enjoy the subway though. It is spacious, clean, frequent and fast. It's a spider-web type system with lines emanating out from the center of town in all directions -- much like Washington's Metro or London's Tube.
We took the subway back in to town and then to the Gamla Stan area. We walked to the Jerusalem Kebab & Cafe, a place we had spotted a yesterday, for lunch. It's in a small, cobblestone alley just off the main, pedestrian, shopping street in the old town.
After a delicious lunch, we decided we didn't want to go to a movie on this last day in Stockholm. Because the weather was so beautiful, (By the way, many Swedes thanked us for bringing them this good weather. These were the first two sunny days they've had this year, they said.) we decided to tour around a bit more. Lisa checked out a few more shops.
From the Gamla Stan we took a ferry over to the Skansen, another island in the city (another by the way, Stockholm is a city that includes 14 islands and 27 bridges). This island was recommended in our Europe book as worth a visit.
The short ferry ride brought us to the Grona Lunds Tivoli, Stockholm's amusement park. We waved at the riders as we walked by on our way to the Vasamuseet. Now that was a sight.
The Vasamuseet is a building that was constructed to house the Vasa, a huge galleon-type, 1600's warship that was salvaged in 1961 and has been refurbished to it's original 1628 glory.
The Vasa has quite a story behind it. It was constructed in three years for King Gustaav Adolphus of Sweden. It was to be the King's ship -- the largest, grandest, most beautiful and most powerful warship afloat.
It was constructed from Black Oak. It had more than 500 sculptures and carvings on it's exterior surfaces. Each was painted in bright colors and/or was gilded. These were meant to impress onlookers with the wealth of the owner (the King).
It had 2 gun decks -- unusual for those times -- with 64 cannon. Forty-eight of them were the very large 24 pound cannon. Obviously these were meant to impress any enemies.
Unfortunately, shipbuilding was more of an art than a science in those days. So when the King insisted on the second gun deck and the very high tail, the shipbuilder did not adjust accordingly.
So, the ship sunk on it's maiden voyage in 1628, right in the Stockholm Harbor. It sailed for about 20 minutes, covering about 4,000 feet, when a breeze caught the sails and it heeled right over. The lower gun ports started taking on water and the ship sunk immediately.
Most of the cannon were salvaged at the time and the ship was forgotten about. It wasn't until 1958 that an archeologist realized that the brackish water of the Baltic Sea meant there would be no ship-worms to eat the wood, therefore the ship may be still well preserved in the mud at the bottom of the harbor.
The ship was salvaged in 1961 -- 333 years after it sunk. And it was in amazingly good shape.
What an interesting visit that was!
From-there we walked back to the hostel for dinner and a TK&A meeting. At the meeting we got a new itinerary and more info about Helsinki, Russia and Berlin.
Bottom-line? Japan is back in, some of the riding days are a little shorter, the time in Australia is a little sorter, and date and time of the flight to Australia has been firmed up. The general concensus was quite positive.
Whoops! Time for lights out in the dorm.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|08/01||Stockholm, Sweden to Turco, Finland
Today is a travel day. The Silja Ferry to Finland takes 11 hours.
Larry and I drove up to the check-in window to pay for our car on the ferry. The young lady, Minna, was so helpful. She worked the fares out so we ended up paying less than half the price we had expected from our phone reservation.
The ferry, the Silja Europa, is a HUGE, oceangoing ship. It has 12 levels, 8 of which are cabins. It has two levels of restaurants and stores. The food is almost gourmet.
Unfortunately, I spent most of the morning (starting in the dorm) running to various bathrooms. I hit the dorm head three times before we left. I barely made it to the hotel at the ferry dock as we waited to board. I had to run from the car to a head onboard before we finished parking on the car deck. And I had to make two trips in the first few hours on the cruise.
My first food on the ferry was Blackberry Tea and a Danish. After a run to the head, I followed that with a large coke and a banana. That seemed to set better.
The cruise went for hours through an archipego of hundreds -- no, thousands -- of large and small islands. The ones with any size had houses on them and boats at a dock.
The scenery was spectacularly beautiful. As we wound through island after island, we were followed by sail boats, water-skiing boats, and private boats just cruising and, undoubtedly, enjoying the warm sun and beautiful sights. Lisa and I sat on the Sun Deck for hours
In the afternoon we watched a movie in the onboard theater. It was Erin Brokovich. We both really enjoyed it.
We docked on time at 8:15 Finland time -- 10 hours earlier than California time. Our night's lodging was on mattresses in a youth hostel . . . kinda. It is the Tuorlan School and Hostel -- a school during the winter, a hostel during the summer.
The school/hostel served gourmet food for us, including baked salmon, Swedish meatballs, cauliflower both cooked and baked with cheese, roast beef and gravy, cooked carrots, roast potatoes, vegetable patties, stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini, smoked salmon rolled with cream cheese, Greek salad, tomato-onion-basil-&-olive oil salad, butter lettuce and tomato salad, homemade ale, juice, milk, coffee and tea, all topped off with a coconut mousse with tart berries.
Love, David and Lisa
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