What a week!
From Monday to Monday I cycled from Copenhagen to Stockholm, totalling 752km in eight days. This was a target before, but now that I have actually done it, it feels awesome. Can barely believe I made it this far so easily. I have had my worries and troubles (remember the knees?), but looking back at the past three weeks I can be nothing but happy.
In total I have traveled 1722km by bike and 200km by train. I’m almost exactly halfway to the North Cape right now. Everything – knock on wood – is going really well.
Day 15 (April 15): Copenhagen, Denmark – Helsingborg, Sweden
19.15h. Today’s ride was short and sunny. Bought a map of southern Sweden in Copenhagen and left at noon. The road ran along the beach almost all day long. Doesn’t a breeze coming from the sea smell fantastic?
Just went to buy some groceries. Eating spaghetti in my tent now. It’s really windy and it took forever to boil the water. This is the first time I’ll be sleeping in my tent and it’s cold already, but definitely cozy!
The tent is already a mess. I’ve got so many bags…
Day 16 (April 16): Helsingborg – Markaryd, Sweden
21.15h. Very difficult start to a great day. Zigzagged for about 20km before I figured out a way to get out of Helsingborg. A new country and new roads always take a day or two to get used to. I didn’t sleep very well in the tent either, cold and uncomfortable. I’m back in a tent tonight though. Found a great spot next to a beautiful lake.
Misty in the morning, but turned into a warm and sunny day. It’s still quite warm, I’m sitting outside. Just went to the supermarket again. I’m trying to cook more. Spaghetti dinner again, sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.
Forest and woods. Amazing. Kept my eyes peeled for wildlife, but didn’t see any.
Day 17 (April 17): Markaryd – Värnamo, Sweden
19.44h. The perfect day. Tailwind, constant 15°C, sunshine, blue skies, lakes, forests, villages and fields.
Great and fast roads too. 20.5km/h average. It was cold in my tent again last night, nice to be back in a bed. Staying in a B&B, with a Swedish family. I love it.
Probably the greatest day so far. Sweden is so beautiful!
Day 18 (April 18): Värnamo – Huskvarna, Sweden
22.15h. Got soaking wet this morning. I tried to find shelter under a couple of pine trees, but after ten minutes it was clear that that was pointless. So I moved on in the rain.
Found an awesome gas station/restaurant in Klevshult. Timing was perfect, I really needed to get warm, dry and eat. Enormous buffet. Had pasta, a big plate of salad and a chocolate muffin. Although I dried up and the rain had stopped, I felt drowsy on the bike afterwards. Think I overate.
Sunny and windy afternoon on really fast roads again. From now on I’ll have to cycle to Stockholm without a proper map. The one I bought in Copenhagen only shows the area south of Jönköping.
Getting worried about my finances. Can’t keep on sleeping in B&B or even hostels. Seriously considering wild camping this weekend.
This was the second day I cycled in shorts. My legs feel so much better. They really do feel amazing right now.
Day 19 (April 19): Huskvarna – Mjölby, Sweden
17.03h. An extremely long descent into Jönköping yesterday meant that I had to climb out of it today. Definitely a rough start to the day, but an amazing tailwind after that. It dragged me over the many hills in the Swedish region of Småland. I was flying! Really fast day. I left at 9.40h and arrived very early at 15.30h. Cold though and strong winds. Front wheel was shaking pretty heavily when going downhill.
Because I was going so fast, I decided it was permitted to make a short detour. First one this trip! I went to see the Rök Runestone. It’s the oldest piece of Swedish literature and it has the longest inscription of runes in stone. Stuff like this fascinates me tremendously.
Awesome hostel in an old open air museum. Eating pasta (again) downstairs now, used to be a place where they would make potato schnapps. So cool! Wonderful hosts too. I totally recommend this place.
I’ve got lots of time to do stuff now, which is fantastic. Legs feel really good again. Those shorts definitely make a difference. Need to do laundry soon.
21.30h. Went grocery shopping. Found out they have free fruit and vegetable samples at the supermarket. Good to know. Nice salad bar as well. Picked up second dinner!
Day 20 (April 20): Mjölby – Kolmården, Sweden
19.02h. Such a frustrating day. It was really difficult to get through cities like Linköping and Norrköping. While the quality of the bike paths in Sweden is generally quite good, the signposting could be done a lot better. Got confused and lost a couple of times today. Most trouble finding the right direction since I’ve left home. Denmark and Germany were pretty easy to navigate through. And the network of bike paths in the Netherlands is just world class. They don’t allow bikes on trains in Sweden either. It must be the only country in Europe where that’s illegal. Anyway, I was annoyed today. Some gas stations provide free city maps and those were pretty useful.
Fantastic weather though. Between 10 and 15°C and sunny all afternoon. Last 10km were totally amazing, along the coastline. Hills and pine trees on my left side and the sea, rocky beaches and cottages on my right. Thankfully a nice end to a crazy day.
I’m camping now. Clear sky, so it’s going to be a cold night. Going to cook some rice in a while; that’ll be a pleasant change after several days of pasta. There’s a sauna at the camping as well. Definitely will take advantage of that later this evening.
Day 21 (April 21): Kolmården – Hörningsholm, Sweden
20.11h. Absolutely freezing cold night yesterday. Probably the coldest one I’ve ever experienced. I got out to pee in the middle of the night and the ground was frozen solid. My feet and toes were a real concern, rest was fine. Nose was pretty cold too though!
I got an awesome knife and a can of soup from an older Finnish couple at the camping last night. Totally love that knife.
Had leftover rice and some crackers for breakfast. Didn’t see a single grocery store during the first 50km and was seriously hungry. First thing I saw was a McDonald’s, so had lunch there. All the five girls behind the counter looked like Barbies, young, pretty, tall and blond. I’m in Sweden I guess!
Hilly but very sunny day, with lots of climbing and blue skies. Got sunburned I think. Some rather boring stretches too, like the last two days actually. The last part was through beautiful pine and birch forests again. I liked that a lot.
I’m camping wild tonight, at a strange and apparently abandoned old camping. Will have to make sure to leave early though. Expect a very cold night once again.
Day 22 (April 22): Hörningsholm – Stockholm, Sweden
15.52h. Went to bed at 9 last night and I wasn’t that cold during the night; I was wearing two pairs of socks, my cycling shorts, cycling pants, regular pants, a thermic long sleeve shirt, a fleece sweater, gloves and a hat. Woke up at 5 and saw the most amazing sunrise when I peeked out of my tent. Got out to look at it, but quickly got extremely cold. Crawled back into my sleeping bag, ate some breakfast and started packing. Was on the road a little after 7. So cold during the first two hours on the road…
It soon occurred to me that I could make it to Stockholm before noon. That would mean I’d cycled from Copenhagen to Stockholm in exactly one week (I left Copenhagen at noon last Monday) and it instantly became my target for the day.
After some serious climbs I did roll into Stockholm before noon, which was totally awesome! Took me a while again to get my bearings and find the right way to the hostel though. Such confusing signs and bike paths.
Ate like a hobbit today: breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch and tea. So far. There will probably be a lot more food today.
Got a pretty bad sunburn on my hands, legs and in my face too. Looks kind of ridiculous. Especially because it’s been a cold and grey day.
I will be in Stockholm for three nights and two days, exploring another new and seriously exciting city and planning the rest of my journey up north.
PS: I sincerely apologize for not having posted a Photo of the Week last week. I just didn’t have the time, but I promise I’ll make it up to you by posting two photos this week!