Thursday 25 July 2013

Cycling Scandinavia: Stockholm

Cycling into Stockhol
Finding accommodation in Stockholm had been a bit of a problem: Youth hostels are very expensive and the cheap rooms are usually booked well in advance. Free camping did not seem feasible as the Stockholm metropolitan area is quite big. And although I had some contacts in Stockholm, everyone was either on holiday or living in such a tiny apartment that I could not impose myself on them. I did not even try couchsurfing as my experience last year on my hike through Europe has been really bad when it comes to big cities. Hosts are just overrun with requests. That only left warmshowers but unfortunately there were not many hosts there for Stockholm. I sent out one request and struck gold. Although it seemed first that the person could not host me, he recommended a nature reserve in the neighborhood for legal free camping. Great! This solved all my problems and I did not have to be stressed out with sending out more request. It got even better when he came back to me a couple of days later and told me that he could indeed host me in his garden.
So Sunday evening I set out to see Colin and Gemma in a suburb of Stockholm which unfortunately turned into a 2 hour quest on my bike. Next day I took the commuter train and did the same distance in 15 minutes.... Colin and Gemma had both cycled a lot themselves which led to bike examinations, trip reports and generally a lot of good talk. I slept like a baby on the lawn in their garden and set off for more sightseeing the next morning - by train!

Stockholm Historika Museet
Compared to Copenhagen Stockholm has one big drawback: The big national museums are not free! On the contrary: Every tiny little museum still charges 100 SEK which is a lot of money if your average daily budget is just 240 SEK.... Therefore I had to make choices and decided to go for the most museum for my money: The Nordiska Museet, a huge museum about Swedish history and lifestyle. This turned out to be a great choice as I easily spent four hours in it. Next was the photography museum with an interesting Helmut Newton exhibition. But more important was a logistical achievement. I went to a large travel bookstore and found a great bike guide for my planned route through Finland. And while browsing through their marine maps I also got a lot of inspiration for future paddling trips.

After another night on Colin and Gemma's lawn and a rather disappointing visit to the Nobel Museum I embarked onto another adventure: an island in the Stockholm archipelago. Of course there is a long story behind this: Before I had embarked on this bike trip I had asked around if anyone knew anyone along my route who would like meeting or even hosting me.

And my friend Nano immediately came up with Jonas, the organiser of the Swedish C2C hike she had attended earlier this year. After all her enthusiastic reports of this hike I was eager to meet Jonas. Again, first it did not look like a meeting would work out due to his holiday schedule but finally it turned out that he was staying on an island in the Stockholm archipelago. He immediately invited me to stay with him and as everyone told me that a stay on one of these tiny island is a quintessential Swedish experience I decided to go. It was a two hour ferry ride to get there and I was made fun a lot on the ferry boat when it was discovered that I was taking a bicycle to the tiny island of Aspö where there no roads at all. I later learned that it is actually forbidden to ride a bike on the island....  So as soon as I had arrived the bike was put into the shed and I was introduced to the very laid back island life style.

That includes a lot of barbecues, a lot of quick dips into the ice cold Baltic Sea water,  a lot of sun bathing on the jetty and two kayak trips! I enjoyed the island life so much that I am now staying two days instead of one but this is one of the best places on earth for a rest day on a long bike trip - especially with picture perfect Swedish sommer weather and a host that enjoys outdoor talk as much as I do. I learnt a lot about the Swedish Coast to Coast walk, that I have missed this year but I wish them all them all the best for their next hikes.


Jonas Hållén said...

So nice to have you, Christine. I miss our outdoor talk

Agnes said...

Sounds great Christine!
Hope you really enjoyed your time in and around Stockholm.
I love Fotografiska and the Nordiska Museet as well! Nobelmuseet is a bit depending on the current exhibition.
All the best for your next stations during this trip!!!