Country Archives: Sweden

"Don't argue with me, I'm a female!" (Stockholm - Göteborg - Frederikshavn)

The nice thing about traveling by ferry with a bike is that usually I am the first to board and the first to leave.

So I had solid Swedish soil under my tyres and sped to the train station. I got a ticket for the last available seat on the X2000 to Malmö, took the bike apart (Hello Belarus!), and left Stockholm less than an hour after arriving there.

Then I had the chance to re-rank both Sweden and Belarus in terms of bike-friendliness and conductress-friendliness: The conductress, upon entering the car to check the tickets, got quite upset about the bike.

She said bikes were forbidden to be taken on board, unless taken apart and wrapped. I had asked in Stockholm when buying the ticket and had received an OK. She said that by buying a ticket I had agreed to SJ’s (the train company) terms of service, which state the wrapping is required. That is not entirely correct, because nobody had even shown me their terms of service, of course. She cut me off mid-sentence. She said that the bike was a safety hazard in case we had an accident. I pointed out that neither did I want to be hit by any of my fellow travelers’ hard-top cases. Tucking the bike in some corner or locking it to a spare table (for wheelchair users; none aboard) wasn’t an option for her either.

Conductress: “My highest priority is safety, safety, safety, safety. Next is that the train is on time. Service is very very low.”
Her words.

“Yes, I noticed.”

Then the discussion took a most unpleasant turn:

Conductress: “Would you argue with somebody else?”
“Err, yes, of course.”
“Would you argue with a police officer?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Or are you arguing with me because I am a female?”

Dafuq???

“Are you making it more difficult for me because I’m a foreigner?” Unfortunately, I didn’t say this.

To make it clear again, I was ‘arguing’ because I had paid 750 Swedish kronor (~80 Euros) for a valid ticket, and I had checked in Stockholm whether taking the bike like this was ok. Now she tells me I have to leave the train and buy a new ticket if I manage to wrap the bike and take the next train. So I am losing both time and money. Instead of killing the conversation with such a ridiculous kill-all question she could have offered a solution. Because, is that really the standard we have reached in society? Do I have to obey every female now simply because they’re a female? This is a stupid and dangerous development.

Well, I had to leave the train at Norrköping, somewhere between the middle of nowhere and the end of the world (i.e., not far from Stockholm). When I was about to disembark, people came forward and apologized for the hassle. One suggested I throw the bike away to be able to continue traveling. Yes, thank you, I see you fully understood the problem.

What is wrong with this country? There are numerous cycle tourists traveling in Sweden every year, and it is impossible to quickly take a bike on a train??? Even a proper folding bicycle has to be wrapped in a ‘protective case’, whatever that is and whoever or whatever it is supposed to protect. And what’s with the weird attitude?

I was unable to find a suitable cardboard box in the sleepy town of Norrköping at 8.30 in the morning. It is also impossible to take bikes on SJ’s regional trains. So the only option was the bus. This is how I got to Göteborg, fortunately a port city with frequent ferry connections to Denmark. The original plan had been to be home tonight. I scratched that.

Well, I apologize to Belarus and all Belarusians for previously calling their country the most bike-unfriendly one. Sweden just took over that title with flying colors. And it is also the first country where I have been confronted with this new social mis-development of weirdly misguided feminism, even though I am sure society is just as f*cked up in other places as well.

I did get a full refund of the train ticket in Göteborg thanks to SJ’s unfriendly but fair José. However, that still leaves me with an additional ferry crossing and hotel to pay for, an additional day of traveling, and a lot of annoyance.

I feel like avoiding Sweden in the future, I am so fed up. But I guess that will go away after a good night’s sleep. I’ll avoid SJ for sure, though.

Göteborg is nice nonetheless.

I’ve crossed the Kattegat already and am in Frederikshavn, northern Denmark, now.

Trip: Bouldering to the North | Country: , | Comments Off on "Don't argue with me, I'm a female!" (Stockholm - Göteborg - Frederikshavn)

10km SE of Hallstavik - Island of Långholm

I got up later than planned (7am instead of 6) and found everything infested with slugs, which took some time to get rid of. I left at ten past 8 and rushed down to Grislehamn at the Baltic Sea coast, 34km from camp, to finish the Swedish leg of the trip. The ferry to the Åland Islands left at 10am and I touched base at the ticket booth at exactly 9.30. Not too shabby.

The Ålands are an autonomous (and demilitarized) region of Finland. (And apparently a tax-free shopping haven.) They allegedly consist of ~6000 islands, skerries, and rocks.

I hadn’t had any plans for how to cross the islands, just a bunch of ferry schedules, but seeing that the winds are still perfect for travelling in a northeasterly direction, and seeing the grim faces of the cyclists going in the opposite direction, I decided to cut the visit short and not go any further south (than absolutely necessary). No visit to Mariehamn, no postcards from the Ålands, sorry. I crossed the main island and hopped on another ferry at Hummelvik. I got off at Torsholma and cycled north, towards the last ferry that will bring me to mainland Finland tomorrow.

I pitched tent on a sheltered rock facing the water. When going for a swim I found out that the slopes were so slippery that I almost didn’t get back out of the water. Imagine the headline… :)

Cycled: 115km

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Västerås - 10km SW of Hallstavik

It started to rain at night, and it still rained at 11am when I decided to leave nonetheless. I cycled less than 10km and stopped at a pizza place for lunch (still in Västerås), and to weather off the worst of the rain.

The weather later improved and the riding was helped by the well-known and loved tail winds.
I waited out another rain shower in a bus stop outside Uppsala while having dinner there as well. My tent is now pitched in the middle of nowhere, on private land not far from a house and a big lake, but the owners are not here. I used their access to the lake for a quick bath.

The Swedes still have that affinity for old US-American cars and Hot Rods. There are some pretty cool vehicles driving around here. They also (probably a different fraction of ‘The Swedes’, though) like to build good cycle paths inside and outside their cities. I was pleasantly surprised by the approaches to Uppsala, Västerås, Göteborg, and many smaller towns in between. Also, the cross-country ‘Sverigeleden’, a cycle path network, is pretty cool, with some of the tracks being far away from any roads and of high quality.

Cycled: 141km

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Fjugesta - Västerås

I woke up at 6am, and left at 7.30. The winds were still favourable and quarter past 10 I had cycled more than 50km already.

The terrain was flatter again and I could do 30, 35, or even 40kph over long stretches with little effort.

In Västerås I found out that I’d need Internet (and electricity) tonight, and the only camp sites on my route are either here (Västerås) or in Uppsala (70+ km further). I wasn’t really tired yet, but another 70 km would have been quite a stretch if I wanted to write proper emails afterwards. So I’m staying in a cabin, only to realize that my netbook’s trackpad doesn’t work (rendering it useless for what I need to do).

At least my paper maps can dry.

Cycled: 137km

Trip: To the North | Country: | Comments Off on Fjugesta - Västerås

Near Lycke-Lilla Höjen nature reserve - Fjugesta

It rained through the night and until 9.30am. I packed up slowly and started at 11.

Quite a good day with strong tail winds, I hope they’ll keep on blowing for the next two days while I’m still in Sweden.
The countryside became more hilly, so the average speed is ‘only’ a bit over 23kph.

You’ll have noticed there are (almost) no pictures in these recent posts. The thing is, I didn’t feel like taking (m)any. I’m not sure why.

I’m in Fjugesta, on a proper (but pretty much empty) camp site, with a proper shower.

Cycled: 148km

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Vedum + 5km - near Lycke-Lilla Höjen nature reserve

I started the day quite slowly and eventually left at quarter past 3pm. Yepp…

So far the weather had been hot and starting so late had the advantage of skipping the hottest hours of the day.
Later it started to drizzle and then poured down properly, and I sought shelter in a bus stop for a few minutes.

Then I kept riding on lovely quiet backroads (as I do pretty much all the time). Unfortunately, there were farms after farms next to the road and everything was either fenced in or nature reserve (no camping allowed) and it was difficult to find a place for the tent. Though eventually I found a spot on a field behind some bushes, just next to the road.

Cycled: 66km

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Near Angered - Vedum + 5km

From 6am the first golfers drove their balls across the course in front of my tent. Luckily it was snuggly hidden behind some bushes and I slept on till 20 past 7.

The first half of the day was marvellous riding through beautiful Swedish countryside, including a short swim in a very cold lake at the road side.

At 2pm I pulled into Vedum, slightly exausted by sun and high temperatures (peaked at 33 degrees). I had a long break in the shade of the local supermarket before I continued for another 5km to a little forest, where I pitched tent.

Cycled: 92km

Trip: To the North | Country: | Comments Off on Near Angered - Vedum + 5km

Bremen - near Angered

I’m on my way to the far north of Finland, to visit friends.

The first leg, to Göteborg/Gothenburg is by train and ferry, from there I’ll travel the remainder by bike.

I missed the ferry in Frederikshavn, Denmark, due to a missing reservation for one of the trains, but eventually made it across the Kattegat to Sweden.

I left Göteborg at almost midnight and pitched tent well outside the city on the edge of a golf course, around 1am.

Cycled: ~25km

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Lund – Roskilde

Left the Train Hostel at quarter past ten, got breakfast from a supermarket, and cycled towards Helsingborg where I wanted to cross the Øresund to Denmark.

There is a new bridge (well, opened in 2000) across the sund that connects Malmö and Copenhagen, but cyclists are not allowed there. So I’m forced to make a detour of 100+ km. Well, I don’t mind the detour, of course. That way I get so see Zealand’s north.

South-western Sweden is nice, if a tad boring. After crossing the sund (a ferry ride of 20 minutes), the countryside gets a wee bit hillier and more interesting.

I tried to avoid the main roads were possible (and sensible) and found myself on narrow backroads running through lovely landscape.

I’m couchsurfing near Roskilde with Eugenija, who is a coach and coordinator for a group of volunteers, and works (and lives) at a school for kids with special needs.

Trip: Going Home via Denmark | Country: , | Comments Off on Lund – Roskilde

Lund

Spent the day in Lund with my cousin and a friend of hers who’s visiting. Lund is a lovely town with loads of students, hanging out in parks and cafés. Also, there’s many old buildings and the atmosphere is very relaxed.

Trip: Going Home via Denmark | Country: | Comments Off on Lund

Rostock – Lund

Once again I’m traveling, if only for a few days. After a trip to the Netherlands had to be canceled twice for various reasons, I’m now setting out to see Denmark. A cousin of mine studies in Lund, Sweden and I’m using a visit to her and that town as an excuse to go back home via Denmark.

What’s special about this ride? First, I’ll be riding the singlespeed, and second, since I won’t be able to take much luggage, I’ll be couchsurfing all the time along the way.

Got dropped of at Rostock’s port to take the ferry to Trelleborg at 8am. When unpacking the bike I noticed the front wheel was flat. Inflated it by hand, bought a ticket and boarded the ferry. 6 hours of boredom followed. Disembarked shortly after 2pm and cycled around Trelleborg looking for a supermarket to get some lunch. Left town at quarter past 3pm.

The weather was lovely, the road to Lund was mostly flat and I arrived there at quarter to 5pm. Checked into a pretty cool hostel – it’s housed in an old train (from 1936) and the original sleeper compartments are all still there.

Met up with my cousin and we spent the evening in the town center.

Trip: Going Home via Denmark | Country: , | Comments Off on Rostock – Lund

Tärnaby - Mo i Rana

Last day in Sweden. The weather was still ok, if a bit chilly. A few rain-laden clouds passed by in the south but I was lucky and didn’t get wet. The road was quite flat again even though I’d expected a few steep climbs at the Norwegian-Swedish border.

Shortly after the border a new tunnel made the journey easier at the only pass — for cars only. Cyclists have to use the old road across the pass. And how lucky us cyclists can feel about that privilege! The old and deteriorated road leads across a beautiful fell!

Arrived in Mo i Rana about 40km later — after 126km in total. The local campsite was close to the noisy iron and steel mill and the hut I checked in was freaking expensive. The lack of a tent didn’t leave me with many choices, though. Asked at reception about shops that might sell tents. Got a few addresses but when I got there there were no shops there at all.

Trip: Northern Europe | Country: , | Comments Off on Tärnaby - Mo i Rana

Storuman – Tärnaby

An easy 130km ride in fine weather on the blå vägen (”blue highway”). The hills became higher today and the first peaks were covered in snow.

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Lycksele - Storuman

Checked with the local shops about tents or repair kits. Nothing. Continued on the E12.

Stopped after 111km in Storuman and checked into a cabin. I’m still south of the Arctic Circle, so there is no real midnight sun, but it doesn’t really get dark at midnight either. The picture below doesn’t quite show that properly.

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Umeå - Lycksele

Set out on the E12 in a northwestish direction towards Lycksele. Crossed into Swedish Lappland around 5pm.

No cabins available at Lycksele’s campsite, so I taped the tent poles and pitched the tent anyway. Looked crappy…

Trip: Northern Europe | Country: | Comments Off on Umeå - Lycksele