Route (for part 2): Gothenberg – Halmstad – Helsingborg – Copenhagen – Malmo – Trelleborg – Pritzwalk – Berlin – (not cycled – Amsterdam – Newcastle – Edinburgh – Hawick).
Date: August and September 2017
Distance: 1350 miles or 2018 kilometres (parts 1 and 2 combined)
Days: 58 (parts 1 and 2 combined)
We arrived into Gothenburg on a beautiful sunny day. It was the perfect introduction to Sweden, a country I came to fall in love with.
We headed to the nearest cafe for breakfast and were greeted by this sight…
We stopped at the tourist information office and discovered that by happy accident, our planned route to Copenhagen was covered exactly, point-to-point by Sweden’s first long distance cycle route. Here is Joe at the start of it, with only the small matter of 372 km to reach Helsingborg from where we could catch a ferry across the Kattegatt to Denmark.
The cycle path was excellent, though it was shared with slightly unusual forms of transport…
We stopped at a beach for a swim but in spite of the hot day, the water was numbingly cold. Here is my boy, sitting on a dock of a bay in the sunshine.
We bought picnic food and ate our evening meal on another jetty, this time at a magically still bay.
I couldn’t afford the campsites, so we wild-camped everywhere in Sweden. Everybody was very relaxed about it, I have since discovered that it is perfectly legal to wild-camp in Sweden, as it is in Scotland.
This was my only beer in Sweden – at £7.50 a glass I couldn’t afford more than one!
I went to Willy’s and got myself a footlong 😀 Food from the supermarkets was more expensive than in Scotland, but not by a huge amount.
We had this excellent but mysterious baked thing for breakfast one morning – I think it was meant to feed a family of seven, but we made short work of it. There was custard inside and it was delicious.
The beaches were sandy, unspoilt and there were miles and miles of them. Here Joe is eating breakfast watching kite surfers do their thing.
Both the traditional and modern architecture were each beautiful in their own way.
The coast was never far on our journey.
We found a village of these tiny self-built holiday chalets in the dunes behind the beach. They were all very simply made and lit by candles at night, which was beautifully atmospheric. I wish we could make it possible for ordinary people to do something like this in Scotland. It must be so good for your mental health to have a little shack by the sea to go to for holidays or weekends.
We met a young fox who played peek-a-boo with us for a couple of miles…
and visited an impressive bronze age burial ground, with some slightly large standing stones. Somebody must have been overcompensating….
Wild camping by the sea at a picnic area….
When the path did deviate from the coast it was still a pleasure to ride – here passing through the forest where we apparently just missed sighting some elk.
Back to the coast again we met the local wildlife and had a mini beach holiday of sorts.
The town of Bastad completely failed to live up to its name and was lovely. Here you can see the sauna at the end of the pier.
One night we failed to find a wild-camping spot as all the fields were home to cows or horses. A nice man called Sven (that really was his name, I am not making this up) let us pitch up in his garden instead.
All too soon we arrived at Helsingborg and embarked the ferry for the short ride across the Kattegatt to Denmark.
We had a city- break in Copenhagen, the highlight of which must be the day we spend cycling locating Thomas Danbo’s Friendly Giant sculptures in the countryside surrounding the city. Here is Joe with all six of them (you are encouraged to climb on them by the way). The statues were one of the reasons I wanted to visit Copenhagen and they didn’t disappoint at all. They are built of scrap wood and it would be impossible not to be moved by them. Joe loved them too.
We also visited the colourful ‘freetown’ commune of Cristiania,
…and visited the street food stalls at Paper Island.
…where Joe found a ‘wishing tree’ art exhibit by Yoko Ono. This is his wish…
and now here are some touristy shots of Copenhagen….
…and of course we visited the Lego shop…
We wanted to cycle to Sweden over the Oresund bridge, but found out that it is for trains only. So we took the train and disembarked in Malmo, cycling our way to Trelleborg, to catch the ferry to Rostock in northern Germany, where we found this racoon lying dead on the path in front of us. I had no idea that this non-native species had spread across Europe until we found this one. Apparently Germany is over-run with them.
A couple of days later we met up with our German friends again and attended our third festival of the summer with them – Schulfrei festival near Pritzwalk. Joe had a blast and spent most of his time building dens in the forest with the other kids.
After Schulfrei festival we got back on our bikes again and rode to Berlin. Its a place I have always wanted to visit and when friends invited us to stay it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
We cycled past the Brandenburg gate…
and the Berlin wall at Potsdammer Platz…
Walking to school with our friends. Everyone, from workmen to school kids, start their day very early in Germany.
We took the opportunity to learn about the Berlin wall.
…and watched as a wild thunderstorm hit the city, leaving a stunning rainbow behind…
Obligatory Trabant shot..
After Berlin we decided that we had had enough of cycling for one holiday and took the train back to Amsterdam, from where we boarded the overnight ferry to Newcastle. Arriving into Newcastle next morning, we cycled along Hadrian’s cycleway to the train station and so on to our home in the Borders.