2019/07/30-08/5: 400 km
We are not lost and nothing bad has happened to us. We’re just getting older and our energies have gone toward breaking into road mode as we begin the journey. And as far as photography goes, we have had some camera difficulties that have meant the few photos we’ve taken look a bit foggy. Here in Lund, Sweden, we think we have corrected this problem.
We set out from a most hospitable “base camp” just SW of Oslo, the home of our Norwegian co-grandparents, rode to the city centre to meet our daughter for coffee and pastries, then set off southward. We treated ourselves to an elegant lunch in celebration of starting the journey, but as evening came and a kebab joint refused to accept foreign bank cards, we moved into camping-in-the-woods mode. This works well in most Nordic countries, where Every Man’s Right allows us liberties that are very useful to touring cyclists.
Our final night in Norway was at an ideal-for-cyclists walk-in campsite on the island of Hvaler, in a National Park. In the morning, it was a hop to the harbour where we took a passenger boat to Strömstad. As we lined up to board, we observed that most of our fellow passengers hauled empty shopping trolleys. It sank in that this was a cross border shopping excursion for “sin” products which Norway taxes far more heavily than does Sweden. A friendly fellow named Lief joined us to chat, and insisted on buying us coffee and waffles. He seemed very pleased when we gave him our ticket stubs to buy additional quotas of chewing tobacco, and we suspect his insistence on buying us coffee and waffles was not entirely altruistic. Tobacco is a third the price in Sweden of what it is in Norway. The difference is similar for alcohol and sugary soft drinks.
In Strömstad, we laid hands on a detailed map for cyclists, which guided us southward, sometimes along the coast and sometimes further inland. The prevailing winds were not favourable, so inland routes were sometimes easier. After another night in the woods, we treated our weary selves to a hotel night in Steningsund, where we pulled a few ticks out of arms and legs, and Chris managed to take a bruising fall in the tiled shower.
We were in touch with a Warmshowers contact in Göteborg (Gothenburg), and he’d suggested an island hopping route southward, using causeways and ferries, that took us to Marstrand with its impressive fortress. We met a solo touring cyclist at the campsite. Michelle from Germany was near the end of her loop tour, and seemed to be in need of company, so we walked round the fortress together and later cooked a two pot dinner with her at the campsite. We rode together to Göteborg the next day, and parted at the ferry terminal where she boarded her boat to Kiel.
From the harbour for big boats, we rode to a small ferry terminal where a passenger vessel took us to the island of Brännö in the archipelago just offshore. Our host, who’d stayed with us in Vancouver seven years ago, met us as we disembarked on the island. He led us by bicycle (no cars allowed on Brännö) to his family’s summer cottage. The toddler whom we’d met in Vancouver was now a sturdy eight year old, and the family had expanded with the arrival of twins, now four years old. We had a quiet following day on Brännö, pedalling, parking bikes, and strolling around low-lying, windswept Galtero, an adjacent island.