SWEDEN!

16 Aug

 

One month on from our first attempt at this trip we are back on the road again. Things being more settled at home we felt we could resume our quest to reach North Cape (Nordkapp) and eastern Europe.

Leaving 4 weeks later has meant a rethink of our route. The original plan was to wander through the fjords of Norway up to NorthCape (Nordkapp) the northern most point in the world we can ride Bertie but now, given we’re setting off later than planned, that would mean arriving as the weather was getting colder. The rethink of the plan is ride up through Sweden to get to Nordkapp faster, and then wander south through Norway and its fjords, back toward the better weather.

Then Bertie decided to throw a wobbly. 2 days before departure he wouldn’t start, then he would, then he wouldn’t. Don’t you just hate an intermittent fault. Jim isolated the problem to the ring antennae on the bikes immobiliser and getting a replacement on 24 hour delivery duly cable tied it next to the original. It started. Problem solved till the morning we left. Bike half packed, quick check of the ignition, nothing. Reconnect old antennae, bike starts. Problem obviously not ring antennae. We decide to go anyway and hope for the best. Anyway, first stop is Germany, home of BMW.

Returning to Hamburg the owner of the campsite greeted us for the third time in a month and we practiced pitching our tent in our usual spot. Next morning we find a super helpful BMW garage (BMW Sohl of Jork with their young mechanic Timo) who kindly check out the fault. They say it is the ring antennae. They have one in stock and after discussion move other work aside for us. 2 hours of drinking coffee and 235 euros later Bertie is fixed. Or not! Five minutes later Bertie fails to start again – no-one can say what the problem is but second time he starts so again we decide to wing it and head off anyway; any problems along the way, we’ll deal with them along the way.

We decided to get the ferry from Puttgarten across to Rodbyhavn Denmark (home of the largest duty free shop in europe – 3 floors of alcohol and one floor of sweets so we stocked up on essentials- chocolate, nuts & crisps!) then a quick whizz across Denmark to the Ostersund bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo Sweden.

Oresund Bridge. Starts as a tunnel, then becomes a bridge

It felt like a milestone reaching Sweden. Half of Europe seemed to think it would be good to have the same milestone as they all joined us on the motorway in the rain. Adventure travel did not feel like an adventure after 4 days on the motorway. Time for a serious discussion. Jim kindly sat there while I not so calmly explained I could not travel like this continually being buffeted from the wind while large expensive cars thundered past us. And I was cold!!! Bless him, he came up with options. Bin Nordkapp, cross straight to Stockholm and catch a ferry to Estonia then south to the sun or continue North but get off the motorways – so North it is.

The secondary roads in Sweden are lovely, lakes and woods and hardly any traffic.

An ‘orange’ secondary road in Sweden – marvellous riding

Campsites everywhere and over the last few days we have become very adept at pitching and tearing down our camp. We started on the red roads on the map, okay let’s try the orange ones, still good. We venture onto the white roads that don’t even warrant a number or tarmac. Hooray, unmade roads that remind us of travel in Canada and Alaska on a smaller scale. There are even signposts warning of Elks although after 4 days of keeping our eyes peeled we think they must have a token elk and he is on holiday. Finding little lanes leading to the edge of lakes makes for excellent coffee and lunch stops because what disappeared along with the motorways seems to be all the roadside cafes. Easily solved, make flask for coffee and ensure plenty of biscuits, crisps and chocolate are on board and supplement them with bread rolls from campsites.

A typical lunch stop

We make good progress and after 7 days and 2664 km we are in the Lappland part of Sweden. According to an ad hoc sign at the side of a road yesterday we were 1210 km from North Cape, so at least we are going in the right direction – to Lycksele to be exact. To celebrate we’ve taken a day off the bike in a ‘cabin’ with a solid roof over our heads and a proper bed and no half mile walk to the shower; bliss.

Our temporary ‘home sweet home’

Tomorrow is another day, another road to ride north and we are itching to get going (although another day in this cabin would also be nice).

Sweden is the 3rd largest country in the EU by area (over 450,000 square kilometres) but with a population of about 10 million it has a density of 22 people per square kilometre. Contrast that to the UK which has a density of over 10x that at 271 people per square kilometre. In Sweden only 15% of that small population live in the rural areas we are riding through which would explain why we’ve seen so few people and vehicles in the last few days.

Ferry leaving Puttgarden for Rodbyhavn Denmark

On the road in Denmark

Sweden

In Lycksele Sweden

3 Replies to “SWEDEN!

  1. Excellent reading again. Thanks. How’s the intermittent ‘electrical’ fault treating you? Adds to the excitement I guess?
    You both did very well in your discussion re motorways. Well worked out. If you have no good reason to use motorways, don’t use motorways!
    Enjoy and I look forward to the next chapter.

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