IntroductionSo far north that the sun shining in a flat angle creates a bizzare and brillinat picture of the environment.
Sweden with the largest extention of 1500km and only 8 millions people has and average population density of 19 people per square km. It is Europe 's only remaining wilderness and situated at a longitude from 56° to 67° about is partly located above the the arctic circle where it night all winter and daylight all summer. Actually it is only about six weeks light or night.
Around eighth Swedish Krons (SEK) make one Euro (EUR) witch is around one USD.
On country ways you are allowed to drive 90 km/h and the four lane freeways 110 km/h. Speeding is e.g unlike Denmark not very common since serve penalty are in place. Prices of regular products are more expensive then to other European countries. And did you know that they count distances in miles. Actually a Swedish mile is exactly 10 km or appr. 6.2 US-miles.
You can buy something called lättöl (light beer) in supermarkets, gas stations and everywhere else which contains between 3.5 and 2.2 percent of alcohol. Everything higher can be board in in special state owned stores, the System Bolaget that are only open weekdays till 18:00. Proces go by the pecentage of alchool in it. Beer containing 2.2 percent alchohol cost usually 13 SEK per liter, 3.5 percent 20 SEK, 5 percent 35 SEK and 7 percent 60 SEK per liter. In a bar you pay 40 til 50 for a beer. A ex-fellow worker was some years ago in Sweden and ordered a double whiskey. He needed the whiskey after he heard the price: 35 USD. Everybody will tell you that the lättöl does not contain alcohol. The system has actually an advantage. Since it is the only one System Bolaget selling alchohol it has a great selecttio of bear all over the world. You can by bear from China, Taiwan, Namibia, Southafrica, Austratlia, U.S.A, Kanada, Netherland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Chechslowakia, Spain, Italy and France.
Opening times are also conservative. Stores are open from 10:00h to 18:00 weekdays and governmental Pharmacies called Apoteket are open till 22:00h.
One other legend they love to tell you that all Swedish people speak well English because they learn it very early in school and have subtitled TV. Also allot of people speak excellent average language ability is like in every other western country where English is a foreign language. And when you need it - like you stuck in the elevator - they don't.
ArrivalSu 15-05-2000 Week 19
The impressive Örsund Bridge opens at first of July and will connect Sweden continental Europe, to Denmark exactly speaking. I chose for the ferry at Helsingborg to enter Sweden. It is so far the shortest water distance to overcome. The ferry goes every twenty minutes and the crossing takes 20 minutes as well and costs 109 DKX one way. I chose this way to avoids Putgarden which I did not know how long the crossing takes.
Skånes Baltic Sea CostWeekend 19
The yellow crop fields and the bizarre light attract tourist to this wonderful area. I took the route from Trelleborg to Kristianstad via Ystad Sweden's most southly located town.
Göteborg is Sweden second largest city with a population 0.8 Million and located at a longitude of 58° just 8° below arctic circle. It has 40000 students attending the university. People tell me that it is rather a liberal city in contrast to other cities in Sweden. With bike paths everywhere it is the bicycle friendliest city I know. I have never encountered a situation where a car has not stopped for a bicycle rider, which I have never seen on any place before.
With a visit of 12000 ship it's harbor is the Scandinavians largest, and the Göteborg Landvetter International Airport is with 80000 flight and 3.7 million passenger annual a smaller one. Nevertheless Göteborg is a pleasant city to stay in with a lot of green and many bicycle paths and beautiful architecture.
Göteborg Utkiken is the 86 m high Skansa Skyscraper, painted red and white, the emblem of the city. It has cafe at the top witch suppose to offers a great view of the city. I enjoy to have braekfast on weekends there.
Slottsskogen is a recreation park in the south of Göteborg which is used for sport like inline skating and beach ball and hag a free zoo the offers native animals like the famous moose.
Trägårdsföreningen park in the center of Götebord Constructed in 1842. The Palm-house was build in 1878, it is build as a copy of London's Crystal Palasts. Entre` 15 SEK.
At the harbor there is one Hotel build on a nicely redecorated ship from the "Good Morning Hotels" chain. You can stay there for 665 SEK per night including breakfast not matter if you ask for a one two or tree bed room.
Every thing is very expensive I and was told that people don't go out very much in summer and not at all in winter. Helen showed me one affordable restaurant which is the Greek restaurant, serving delicious food, near Domkrykan church. Even supermarkets are expensive like you pay 16 SEK for a liter orange juice as well as 15 SEK for a bread.
Ericsson is a large worldwide operating company and one major field of operation are mobile networks. Like all Swedish companies it is well organized and has even "Guest Support", someone taking care of all issued Ericssons guest. Cosy Ikea Style Offices.
Göteborgs Maritima CentrumRight in Göteborgs downtown port there is Göteborgs Maritima Centrum claimed world's largest ship museum. It exhibits fifteen vessels the warship Småland, the lightship Fladen and cargo ship Fryken, the U-boat Nordkaparen, Herkules. I spend and hour following the path through the ships. A ticket is 50 SEK and it is open til 18:00.
Harbour and Elfborgs FortressSome interesting trips can be made at the harbor. The Cruises start at Lila Bommen next to the Opera and Utkiken building. Before you depart should visit the Utkiken cafe on to of the building at 86m height, which gives you a marvelous view on the harbor and the city. Trips to Vinga Island (100 SEK) go first to Elfborgs Fortress (75 SEK) where you have to change ships. The half-hour trip to Elfborgs Fortress is guided. It at the other side you have the Banana-port where all bananas for Scandinavia arrive. We pass old shipyard at the right which buildings have been converted to an residential purpose. At the left we came along the tower with a woman stature which have been build 1933 for the victims of World war 1 ships crews, then at the right the 84 m high shipyard cran witch today serves as outlook platform and you can also make a budgie jump from there. After passing the Älfsborgs bridge build in 1966 and the old oil port founded in 1931 we finally reach the Elfborgs Fortress.
Elfborgs Fortress has been build in the 17th century as defense against the Danish. At the time this was Swedens only access to the north sea oceans. The Danish captured the harbor and in response the the Swedes build the Fortress on this island. After making peace with Dänemark this fortress served as prison. The guide, which is included in the transfer price, explains that the prisoner had it relatively good live, got fresh food grown at the island and there work was making made wooden shoes for the army and keeping sheep on an other island.
To go to Vinga island takes one more hour. I picked a windy day and behind the Elfborgs Fortress the sea got rather rough so cups fall from the table. On Vinga island you can visit the Taube museum and a guided visit to the light house and the signal house.
One of the two idylic islands Tjörn Orust with lots of boat habours. Also the two briges connecting the island are an impressive piece of architeture. I took a bycicle ride from the Kungsviken. Roads are good and most are paved but it appears to be very hilly.
Lake Vänren, Lake Vättern and Göta ChannelWeekend 20
Göta Channel is Sweden's scenic channel going from Göteborg to Stockholm. The waterway, also called Blue Band, was finished in 1832 by Navy Officer Baltazar Platen. Is economic and military significance has dismissed since then.
You could go by boat there in almost 4 days. The Trip crosses also Lake Vären, Lake Vättern.
The large lake Vären with xxxx square kilometers as beg as lake Ontario, but only 90m deep.
I take the country road 44 Trollhätten continuing to Lidöping. From there I drive the on the side road. The area is still somewhat populated haven a farm every other kilometer or so. The drawback is that you have only signs aside the excellent roads pointing to the next settlement or village not to the major city. So checking direction with a compass is helpful to a avoid getting lost. Also there is noting so exiting to see on this part.
The road 202 leads me from Mariestad to Töreboda where I encounter the Göta Channel. I took a half hour bike ride on the bike paths next to the Göta Channel also you better have a good tour bike or better a mounten bike.
Along the Viken lake the route takes me down to Karlsborg and the E20 back to Göteborg. Around 60km from Göteborg on the E20 there nature resort, which mainly consist of a prepared walk path, marked with red dots on the trees, through the nature.
On a fairly sunny June day I went to Stockholm. From Stockholm Alanda airport there is a shuttel bus to the downtown which takes 25 min for the 40km and costs 60 SEK.
It is Called Veniza of the north, build on forteen hills has many bridges.
The old city with its yellow painted houses and its churches of, the channels and make up its special spephere.
I take the fairy for 20 SEK to .... and visit the Vasa museum. The size of this ship is pretty impessive, and you ask yourself how a ship this high and narrow should ever swim. I walked back and had a rest in the parks. My camras batery compartment opened when I took a photo on a bridge so one battery fall on the higway down.
In the early 17th century, Sweden was busy building an empire around the Baltic Sea in northern Europe. A strong navy was essential. During the 1620s Sweden was at war with Poland. In 1625 the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus ordered new warships. Among them the Vasa.
The Vasa was built at the Stockholm shipyard by Henrik Hybertsson - an experienced Dutch shipbuilder. His experience was much needed as the Vasa was to be the mightiest warship in the world, armed with 64 guns on two gundecks.
However, the inquiries showed that no one could really be blamed for the disaster. The main reason being the insufficient theoretical know-how of the period. The Vasa was something new - a military experiment. After the Vasa, many successful ships were built with two, three and even four gundecks. The shipbuilders learned from the mistakes with the Vasa and improved their designs.
Hiking in above the Artic CircleWeekend 22
We arrive at a quarter to midnight local time and it was blue sky an the sun was shining. I went outside the terminal to look for the bus, I read about in travel reports, but nothing was there, I met Marie an she didn't know either how to get to Kiruna also she lives near Kiruna. She is a web designer and lives in Paksuniemi near Kiruna. So she called her Friends but nobody was home. Also she found the 6°C pretty cold, it is much warmer at home she said. Nevertheless some friend picked us up and Ed joint, who say there used to be a bus last year at least at 1300. We stay at the excellent Yellow hotel in rooms for 2/3 for 120 + 50SEK for linen.
It is a strange feeling if it is all night light. Nature is one month behind south Sweden, I was told. Distances mean often hundred km to people here. A family with a child are going to Narvik in Norway. Here it is still in intermediate season, they say and trees will get green in tree weeks. The large Tornetr"sk lake has already melted, and hikers told me it was all ice two days ago - it just melted yesterday - at least for the visible part.
At station Riksgrenze (border) there is still snow and people are skiing. Unlike the Swedish side there is already vegetation in the fjords because of the gulf stream.
From the train you can see two sunken German World-War-Two cruisers in the fjords. It was a sunny and 20C warm day. On the way back to Abisko they don't accept Norwegian coins even in Norway.
I meet someone who came from Göteborg with the train which takes 21 hours just to stay four hours in Narvik and return. In the evening suddenly dark clouds appear.
I arrived at Abisko Turist Station at 18:45. Abisko Turist Station has two meanings: first the train station and secondly the Youth Hostel. The reception was already closed but I was lucky an got on spare room. The charge polar prices here, 280 SEK for a bed (not a room) 130 SEK for linen and 145 for regular dinner as well as 145 SEK breakfast. Here (I guess like everywhere in the north) they have envelops prepared with room keys and prices on it for unexpected visitors and you can just pick one and pay next morning.
I walked down the Kungsleden (kings path) down to the hut at lake ... .
My sister said at this early period it is not really possible to walk cross country because snow is still melting and everything turn to into mud.
She is right but Kungsleden is prepared with wooden plank. The path was dry and excellent till the first resting place on this cloudy day. Then it started to get wet, muddy, and 20% were covered by snow fields. Every then and now I med the two English guys which walked in the same pace. Nature changes every day and green vegetation starts to appear. The wooden planks kept you over water and mud most of the time but we were getting wet feet anyway. After 4:15h we crosse a suspension bridge for hikers and reached the hut at the south of the were one could stay. every thing is there including dishes. That was really a good pace for the conditions. After four hours.
still clouds but the weather gets nicer and they are not this dark.
I made a reservation in Camp Abisko and the owner told me where to find it and - strangely - where my room was and his son Thomas was there. When I arrived. They had no reception and at one of the houses guest where staying but have not seen this guy either. So I just occupied the bed he described me. You can't get a meal here but it is ok and affordable. You have a kitchen with dishes but everything else , including toilet paper, you have to bring yourself. I woke up and turned my watch an was not sure if it was 9:00 or 3:00h but it turned out to be 3:00 in the night.
Two ladies with suit cases arrived at Abisko Östra with the train at 20:00h, with no reservations and where looking for the youth hostel, which appeared to be the two km distant Abisko Turist Station. Don't do that. There is no way of transportation beside walking, and the reception closes at 18:00.
I met Bruce and Clara again. she is from Portugal and works in Stockholm and says living standard is much better in Sweden. Bruce is from the States.
Midsommar in ÖlandWeekend 25
Imagine a sunny summer day and you are riding slowly through the most beautiful landscape you can imagine on empty roads of a island in the Baltic sea - of Öland. Sweden's island Öland is 140 km long and only 6 to 10 km wide. Today it major income is tourism but in earlier times it was farming and the 1800 windmills, from which appr. 350 are remaining, ensured wealth. I entered the island from across the 6km long bridge build in 1972 from Kalmar.
I arrive at 22:15 in Kalmar and cross the 6km long bridge to Öland, heading north to Borgholm, the largest town on Öland. As I had no hotel reservation I thought I just figure it out, but those approaches tend to be expensive. I found a room in the Strand hotel for a breath taking price of 950 SEK. 20000 people live on the island. It is Midsommar ( midsummer) holiday which is here celebrated in the traditional way which means dancing around a Midsommar tree and lots of drinking.
Everybody tells me that Swedes get ridicules drunken at Midsommar celebration. In Öland that happens mostly on the west coast where the east cost is more peaceful (its just 6km to 10km from east to west coast). After all it was not this bad and indeed rather fun.
A typical Midsommar meal is different kinds of fish is Solomon is the typical Midsommar meal.
The west coast ist packed and the to teh west it gets calm. Öland is ideal for bicycling and you could even long distance inline skating on selected roads. I did 70km on my Brompton folding bike on which was allot of fun on Friday.
Öland has tons of attractions although every inseresting looking rock is declared and attraction. I just followed the one major road with the number 136 down the east coast and up the west coast.