Sunday, 14 July 2013

Cycling Scandinavia: Karlskrona to Oland

Cupola of Karlskrona church
So July 10th, the day after my birthday was going to be my long awaited rest day in Karlskrona. It did not start well. I woke up in the hostel and discovered that my smartphone had not recharged. It had shown similar hiccups recently and despite several experiments I had not been able to define the cause of the problem. The USB cable? The battery? The charger? Or worst of all: the phone itself? My smartphone is my camera, Mp3 player, internet.... almost everything. What would I do without it? I therefore decided to go to an electronics shop first and try to solve the problem. To cut a long story short: it took two trips to the store, the purchase of a cable and a charger and a whole day in mental panic to fix the problem. Now the phone is charging again and life is good!

Maritime Museum Karlskrona
But I saw more of Karlskrona than the electronics shop (although I saw a lot of the latter). I visited all the churches (free of charge which is why I visit all the places of worship), two museums (not free of charge and actually very expensive which is why I ended up unintentionally sneaking into one) and a nice city in the sunshine. I must admit that despite Karlskrona being World Heritage I enjoyed two things best: the library where I had endless free internet access with my temporary library card and a very cheap AYCE Thai lunch buffet, a recommendation of the visitor centre volunteers. For 85 SEK I had plenty of great Thai dishes plus Sushi. This would have been a good deal even in Germany and for Sweden this was fabulous!

But alas in the evening I had to leave town to find a campsite. I overcame my fear of camping close to civilisation and set up my tent between some summer houses outside Karlskrona, actually right next to their water tank - which turned out to be a very fortunate coincidence. Because when I woke up the next morning I discovered a small camping catastrophe. My newly acquired Lidl 1 litre olive oil bottle had leaked and there was oil in my whole "food" pannier. Yuck! Almost everything was covered or soaked with oil and I had to clean up the mess as good as I could with the help of a bar of soap and the water tap nearby. My cleaning worked surprisingly well and I fished an empty coke bottle out of the next garbage can to refill my olive oil.

Kalmar Castle
Next goal was Kalmar with another Lidl supermarket and a fairy tale castle. The fairy tale castle turned out to be very romantic from outside but rather empty inside. The staff was running around in period costumes and they had jousts for kids. After stocking up on food I went for the ferry to Oland. There is a road bridge connecting Kalmar with Oland but it is closed for cyclists. The guidebooks mention a bike bus, but that has ceased existence years ago - which just proves that guidebook writers copy from each other without checking the facts.... But there is a cheap ferry that runs almost hourly and this is what I took.

Drywall on Oland
My restday in Karlskrona had turned out to be a busy sightseeing and town chore day and I did not feel rested at all. I had therefore sent out a CS request for Oland because I thought there would not be much distraction here. I needed to rest and plan the rest of my biked route. And my request had been accepted at once, but only for the next day. I went to the Southern part of the island first which is Unesco World Heritage again. It is a unique limestone plain landscape that has been continually cultivated for thousands of years. Burial mounds and stone age forts abound and I  started my sightseeing tour with a Runic stone. And really, once I left the busy harbour town with its hundreds of tourists Oland became very peaceful and quiet - especially after I left the costal road and crossed the limestone plain on a former railroad track. No traffic at all!

Picnic area on Oland
The landscape was fascinating and I enjoyed the endless stone walls and the heath lands. But where would I camp? There is only a very thin layer of soil on top of the lime stone and the rain water cannot seep into the ground leaving puddles everywhere. And the dry ground was used for cattle grazing. Optimistically I cycled on and really struck gold soon. There was a designated rest area half way and I almost felt like back in Denmark! Shelters, picnic tables, fire rings and even a garbage can - and no sign that said you are not allowed to camp. I pitched my tent on perfectly flat grounds and freshly mowed grass. I  cooked dinner at a table and ate it sitting civilly on a bench. Only the mosquitoes did not act civilly and bit me.... No one disturbed me until I got up. In beautiful sunshine I cycled north again to my CS host visiting a small open air museum on the way. And now, eventually I am having a full restday with no cycling whatsoever.

1 comment:

Mattias (Vandringsman) said...

Interesting to read about your adventures. I hope you enjoy Sweden.