Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cycling Scandinavia: Southern Sweden


Sweden did not feel very welcoming. I arrived in Helsingborg late in the afternoon on a very windy day. The city felt big and confusing and left as quickly as possible after I had stocked up on maps in the visitor information. Now I needed a camp site. Theoretically this is supposed to be much easier here in Sweden than in Denmark. Contrary to its neighbor Denmark Sweden has the everyman's right which means you can legally camp anywhere as long as you are not on farmland or on someone's house and garden. Still, Southern Sweden is extensively farmed and all I could see was houses and fields. Every little side track just led to another house and I did not dare to camp anywhere. The map showed some forest about 20 km away and forest always is a safe bet. Unfortunately the wind was totally against me. I felt very frustrated and exhausted when I finally arrived at a patch of forest where I could pitch my tent. And what looked totally deserted turned out to be local hunting ground as five minutes later a hunter showed up. He did not see me but after only 10 minutes I heard a shot and shortly after the lucky hunter left already. Peace and quiet? No, 15 minutes later a jogger showed up but did not spot me either. And the wind blew all the traffic noise directly to my tent.... not to mention the ticks that I was still picking off my tent three days later. Next morning the world looked better.

Lund cathedral
The wind had calmed down and I cycled to Lund to visit the gloomy Romanic cathedral  - and find some wifi. Camping was easier that night and tick-free. My first shopping experience in Sweden came as a shock as well. I went to a local IGA supermarket and things seemed to be even more expensive than Denmark! But then I luckily discovered Lidl (there is no Aldi in Sweden) and things look much brighter now. Apparently chocolate is not as highly taxed here as in Denmark and sweets are affordable again. I was so relieved I immediately bought a huge stock of chocolate and gummi bears. I guess the trick is to avoid the small local supermarkets that are naturally more expensive than the big chains. I am a Lidl junkie anyways....

I must mention that summer seems to have finally arrived. Glorious sunshine almost all day long and therefore I decided to cylce along the coast. Trelleborg was my next stop with a nice library to update my blog and a local viking festival of some sorts. Trelleborg has a reconstructed Viking fort and this weekend a party was going on there. Several locals had dressed up as vikings and were queuing to get into the fort. I could even see them everywhere in town. The westerly wind made cycling along the coast a blast. I passed the most Southerly point in Sweden and several other long-distance cyclists. Everyone seems to be on holiday now. Swedish and Norwegian campervans are everywhere, but this does not come as a surprise: July is the main holiday season. Now the plan is to follow the ooastline up to Kalmar on the coast path. Hopefully the weather stays nice and the winds in my favour.

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