Sweden

29.05.2018 (Day 11-Karesuando-Vittangi):

During the night, the wind picked up and accompanied us until the afternoon. Naturally, the wind was blasting straight in our faces and tested our fitness level once again. Today’s journey took us along beautiful lakes and wild forests.

Since we arrived in Sweden, we have not seen any reindeers, except the many roadkill on the edge of the road. In the afternoon, a man on a far too small bicycle crossed us with a petrol canister on the pannier rack. First, we did not realize what this meant, but after a while, we realized that he was the owner of the campervan, which was in the middle of the street a few kilometers before. This implied that he cycled over 60 km to get petrol from the closest village.

As we arrived at a magnificent spot besides a lake, we quickly noticed that we were not the only ones to choose this location for the night. A Swiss couple from “Thurgau” in a caravan was already there and made our day by giving us Swiss chocolate, a couple of beers and some awesome tips for the journey further south. Thanks to Erwin and we wish you a pleasant journey! A bit later, the guy with the stranded camper arrived at the same spot to rest from his exhausting journey.

30.05.2018 (Day 12-Vittangi-Gällivare):

After two days in Sweden, we can already approve of the description of Sweden as the country of lakes and forests. We like the vast expanse of the landscapes and roads, which seem to be endless. The further we travel south, the denser are the forests and the bigger the trees.

Today, we witnessed the systematic forest management for the first time in Scandinavia. A huge truck was loaded with logs in the middle of the road. Time after time, we passed deforested parts of the forest, which were victims of the timber industry. On the crossroad where one can turn to either Kiruna or Luleå, we spotted our first iron mine. The mined ore is transported to Narvik with trucks, melted and then shipped to the rest of the World. Accordingly, the traffic increased on this road towards Luleå and a couple of heavy loaded trucks passed us along the way. On the repeated quest of finding drinking water, we stopped near a house with two cars. The loudly barking dog caught the attention of an old man, which walked out of a sauna completely naked and waved at us. We symbolized him that we need fresh drinking water and he slowly got dressed and filled our water bottles in the house. Finally, we found a camping spot in a part of the forest, which was cleared.

31.05.2018 (Day 13-Gällivare-Skaddje):

After a few kilometers, we reached Gällivare, the self-proclaimed mining capital of Europe. The city has a populated of more than 10’000 and each family is somehow connected to the largest iron mining company LKAB. The mining companies resettled parts of Gällivare because of mining activities, since the houses would collapse otherwise. Everywhere in the city are construction sites for new buildings for all those people who have to move. In the information center, we good some information about the region and visited an exhibition about the region Laponia, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage.

In Porjus, we met a German touring cyclist, who was cycling from Paderborn in the direction of the North Cape. We spoke our journeys and gave each other tips for the next few days. During a descent, we had our first crash! We all cycled next to each other and Joel hooked his handle bar on Fabians bag and fell sideways on the tarmac because of that. Luckily, Joel escaped the accident with several abrasions and we could continue cycling. Additionally, Fabian had his second spoke broken, probably from the previous entanglement. Approximately 11km away from the national road E45, we camped next to the entrance of the Muddus national park and a few mosquitos welcomed us when cooking and pitching our tents.

1.6.2018 (Day 14-Skaddje-Tårajaur):

In the morning, we hiked through a beautiful coniferous forest to a waterfall in the Muddus national park, which was 7km from where we camped. The impressive waterfall drops over two cascades down to a pool, where the river continuous. The Muddus national park belongs, besides a few other parks, to the region of Laponia.

After the mastering of the gravel road back to the main road (E45), we enjoyed the perfect sunshine and the useful tailwind. After Jokkmokk, there was a “road construction” for about 20 km, which contained tedious gravel road in some parts and the road did not seem to under way.

Suddenly, next to a campground, we saw a sign, which signalized the polar circle. Thus, we crossed the latitude at which the sun does not set on the days of the solstice. Shortly before we stopped for the day, we asked an older woman in Tårajaur if she can fill up our water bottles. After a short conversation, we got water and she added ice-tea powder, which made us very happy. In the evening, we enjoyed our 1000 km anniversary beer.

2.6.2018 (Day 15-Tårajaur-Arvidsjaur):

Highly motivated and with tailwind, we started in the sunny-warm day. In a small village called Kåbdalis we bought us some delicious Swedish cinnamon pastry and chocolate milk. The vendor told us how lucky we were with the weather this summer. Last summer it was cold and rained often in this area. After a new distance record of 125 km, we threated ourselves with a campsite, to shower once again and wash our clothes.

3.6.2018 (Day 16-Arvidsjaur-Rönnliden):

Before leaving the campground, we checked the route for the next days, since we left the national road E45. The following days we expected even less traffic and settlements, therefore we had to plan the food shopping accordingly. To increase the level of adventure, we tried to find a shortcut with the help of an App. What seemed to be a good idea first, turned out to be less fortunate later. The first few kilometers we cycled on a gravel road, which suddenly ended and only snow mobile tracks were available. The trails were interesting and exciting to cycle even with the entire luggage and the countless muddy parts of it. In some places, we had to push the bikes through swampy landscapes, which cost us lots of energy. After 40km and back on the asphalt road, we found a beautiful spot for the night and warmed our wet and cold feet in the warm sleeping bags.

4.6.2018 (Day 17-Rönnliden-Husbondliden)

The windy night left its traces, not only on our campground, but on our bodies too. After 1.5 litres of Pepsi, 3 energy drinks and 6 pieces of sweet pastry (a lot of sugar), the world was different and our travel speed changed a lot. In a forest after Malå, we saw on the first sight what we thought was one of many dead reindeers on the side of the street. After a short moment of reflection, we realized that it had to be a moose, since the animal was much bigger. The already present ranger told us that it was a two-year old moose, which was killed by a crash with a car in the morning. We asked what happened to the parents and we were informed that they only stay with the elders until they reach the age of one and then they live on their own.

In the early evening, we found a perfect camping spot with protected park benches, a toilet and a calm meadow with access to a stream.

5.6.2018 (Day 18-Husbondliden-Åsele):

In Lycksele, the most modern town so far, we found the first sports shop with a bicycle department. In front of the store, we met a funny local, which told us stories from his youth and bought us a valve piece for our bikes as a present to pump the tires at fuel stations. In addition, we bought new spokes and nipples for further damages. Adi cycled to a car mechanic to well part of his leather saddle to be able to screw it tighter again. An enthusiastic employee of the sports shop gave us the location of a local bakery, which was founded 60 years ago by a Swiss expat. The still active and proud bakery master told us about his life in Sweden. Meanwhile we fueled up with delicious sweets. On the way to Åsele we helped a truck driver which lost an oil barrel in the middle of the street and tried to load back to the truck. After a short snowstorm, we found an uninhabited house in the forest and camped on a nice spot next to it.

6.6.2018- 8.6.2018 (Day 19-21 Åsele-Garelehöjden-Östergraninge-Sundsvall)

The temperature sank significantly in the last three days and we cycled with warm clothes again. Therefore, we had to prove our resistance against the weather once more. The vegetation changed steadily anyway and on the roadside were increased number of flowers and luscious, green meadows.

In contrast to Norway, besides the Swedish flags, there was not many traditional activities going on today. In Hällaström, we found a bakery that was managed by a German expat. We made our lunch break at the bakery and warmed our bodies in the heated café. Shortly before our cycling day was finished, we met a German touring cyclist, which is biking around 200 km every day, and his objective is to visit a film festival in the north of Finland.

We reached Sundsvall, the biggest city so far, after cycling another 70km down the seaside. Before the city itself, we passed several industrial complexes until we reached the city centre and afterwards the camping ground. There, we met Colin and Patrick (friends from our hometown), which travel from Hamburg to North Cape and back with a minibus. We prepared a couple of pieces of meat for the first time on a one-way grill and celebrated our reunion with some cold beers.

9.6.2018 (Day 22-Break Day: Sundsvall):

After an extensive brunch and the farewell of Patrick and Colin, we updated our website, cleaned our bicycles and visited Sundsvall with the bus as a new mode of transport. In the city centre there is a gothic church and many small restaurant and bars. Many nicely dressed Swedish people enjoyed themselves in the inner city.

10.6.2018 (Day 23-Sundsvall-Iggesund):

With strong sunshine and summer-like temperatures, we left the campground and cycled further south. On the highway “E4” it is partly allowed to cycle, however, we decided to use an alternative route, since the highway is narrow and there is a lot of heavy traffic. The implementation of this plan was relatively difficult, since our navigation device led us through bumpy, steep gravel roads in the forest.

Later, we reached an asphalt street again and could cover more distance quicker. In the following countryside, we saw many farmers with grazing cows and it felt like we would cross Switzerland. In Hudiksvall, we bought new supplies and searched for a convenient overnight place. The large number of mosquitos welcomed us and made the arrival rather difficult.

11.6.2018 (Day 24-Iggesund-Hamrångerfjärdenä):

Today, we had permanent rain from the morning until the evening and we were therefore extremely wet. After three weeks on tour, we could hardly complain about our first rainy day so far. A hobby of the Swedish people seems to be the collection of vintage cars of different brands. Of course, they use them for daily business and joyrides as well. Almost every bigger house has one of them standing in their yard. Furthermore, we realized that “Loppis” means antique store. In most little villages we spotted a sign which lead to one of those shops.

In the forest next to a lake, we searched for a camping spot and were attacked by thousands of mosquitos. After an (extremely) short discussion, we decided to sleep all in one tent to reduce the exposition time. No less than 20 bites later (probably more), we were all safe in the tent and were happy for not having to out in the danger zone again.

12.6.2018 (Day 25-Hamrångerfjärdenä-Uppsala):

The sun motivated us to escape the forest with its huge population of mosquitos to the direction of Uppsala. With temporary tailwind and flat roads, we made a good effort and learnt to appreciate the sunny, dry weather again. Over lunch, we dried all our wet equipment (tents, clothes) in a village square in Söderfors. While sitting in the saddle, we discovered many signposts with the word “Snickeri”, which means carpentry.

Already in the early evening, we reached the calm city of Uppsala after strenuous 136km (new record). With an average speed of over 24 km/h, we cycled faster than ever before on this journey.

13.6.2018 (Day 26-Break Day: Uppsala):

The university town of Uppsala offers, besides the car-free old town with many nice restaurants and bars, the largest church in Scandinavia. In addition, they build the second university in Scandinavia in 1477 here as well. After visiting the less spectacular castle, we walked through the beautiful botanical garden with the manifold exotic plants. Ben, an Australian backpacker, helped us in the evening to optimize our website and told us about his first Europe trip.

14.6.2018 (Day 27-Uppsala-Stockholm):

The plan was to cycle almost 80km on mostly flat roads until Stockholm, which means it was supposed to be an “easy” day. Quickly, we realized that it would be more exhausting than expected, since we encountered strong headwind, which slowed us down immensely.

After about half the distance, we left the countryside and cycled towards the more densely populated areas of the suburbs of Stockholm. Since the traffic increased significantly, we changed from cycling on the road to the cycling lane to get to the centre. This was unusual and challenging for us and tested our navigation skills and nerves once more. A few kilometers later (it felt like 100), we reached the hostel and we were happy to stop cycling for the day. We looked the bicycles outside to a bicycle stand with our two looks, since there was apparently not enough space inside the hostel.

15.6.2018 (Day 28-Break Day: Stockholm):

When we noticed the sunny weather outside, we took the metro to the city centre to check out the old town. The beautiful old town was full of tourists from all around the world and we fought our way through the crowd. In the afternoon, we visited the impressive Vasa museum. In the main exhibition hall there is a battleship from the 17th century, which was recovered after laying 300 years on the bottom of the Stockholm harbor.

Back in the hostel (or let us call it bunker), we met our new roommate. The German touring cyclist is on his way north, so we exchanged our experiences and gave each other tips for the following days.

16.6.2018 (Day 29-Break Day: Stockholm):

“Hey guys, I do not know how to tell you this…” with those words, we were taken out of our dreams by the German cyclist from our room. This meant nothing good. “Two of your bicycles are not there anymore”. Depressed from the news, we checked out the crime scene and realized that Adrian and Fabian’s bikes were gone. The locks were opened with a side cutter and were the only trace of the bicycles. Joel’s bike was probably still there, because he had an additional, integrated rear wheel lock.

What a start into the new day…. During breakfast, we discussed how to proceed with this new, unfortunate situation. First, we contacted our insurances, our bicycle provider from Switzerland and other relevant parties. Instead of sightseeing, we went bicycle shopping to continue the trip as planned on Monday. The salesperson in the first shop was not surprised about the stolen bikes and told us that it is very common in Stockholm. After some clarifications with other branches of the company, we were informed that there are no suitable bicycles available in the next days. In another shop, we found bikes with a very sporty appearance. The eager vendor told us that the bicycles were available in another location. After some more discussions, we decided to make a reservation for the bikes until the next day to sleep over this important decision.

After some time, we found the police station and reported the robbery to get the necessary documents for the insurance.

To distract ourselves from the shock, we went to a pub-crawl with other travelers in the city centre. While drinking many beers, we had interesting conversations and made new friendships.

17.6.2018 (Day 30-Break Day: Stockholm):

After some well-deserved sleep to digest the pub-crawl, we went to the bike shop where we reserved the bicycles until 2pm. In the shop, the extremely competent sales clerk told us that the guy from yesterday gave us misinformation and we can get those bicycles earliest on Monday. Disappointed and frustrated about this additional setback, we asked if there is any alternative available in the assortment of the current shop. While looking at some other models, we found an even better option, which has a maximal load on the back pannier exceeding the previous bicycle. In another shop on the other side of the city, they had another bike with the same size and we told them to prepare it for us until noon on the next day. The new bicycles had to be equipped with mudguards, panniers, bottle holders and other pedals. Additionally, we bought a steel lock, bells and new holders for the handlebar bags. After the successful bicycle search, we enjoyed dinner in the hostel and watched the first game of the Swiss team of the World cup in Russia.

18.6.2018 (Day 31-Break Day: Stockholm):

When we arrived at the bicycle shop, the next shock hit us! The credit card, which we got from the Raiffeisen bank, had a card limit of 3’000 CHF. Since we had to buy two bicycles and already used some money in the current month, this amount was far off from what we needed. The Maestro-cards did not work as well, so we had no possibility to pay the bill. After several phone calls with the Viseca-hotline and the Raiffeisen bank itself, they explained us that it is not an emergency and it would take a while to increase the card limit. Extremely frustrated, we waited in the bike shop for the call, which would confirm that we could access our money on the account via credit card. (Somehow weird, right?!)

Several hours and some helpless phone calls later, the card limit was increased and we could buy the new bicycles in the two different locations. Happy over the new rides, we cycled back to the hostel to test the bikes in the city traffic. Due to the delay, we stayed an extra night in Stockholm since it was not worth to cycle out of town anymore.

19.6.2018 (Day 32-Stockholm-Nyköping):

We were looking forward to inaugurate our new bicycles and to cycle onwards after four days off the saddle. After about an hour, it started to rain strongly and we put all available rain gear on. Shortly after we were fully equipped, the rain stopped and the sun started to shine upon us and we removed everything again.

For the first time we had to use the ferry to get to the other side of a peninsula. On the free ferry, we talked to an emigrated Iranian which told us that someone broke into his car last night. We exchanged our crime-stories and talked about similarities between Swedish and Swiss people. In the afternoon, we overtook two Swedish girls, who were on their way to a summer house to celebrate the midsummer.

The new bikes from Trek were comfortable to ride, even though we need some days to get used to them. For the saddles, the situation is different. After one day, we already missed our leather saddles and our butts were suffering most of the day.

20.6.2018 (Day 33- Nyköping-Linköping):

We left the beautiful and calm camping spot from last night with strong wind, as if we had the day before. During the lunch break besides a huge shopping mall, the wind was exchanged by rain and we got wet in the afternoon. At least we made better progress without the wind.

In the late evening, we found a sheep enclosure next to the main road and we decided to sleep there. For protecting the tents from the sheep, we built a fence with rope and elastic cord.

21.6.2018 (Day 34-Linköping-Mjölby):

Our self-made fence did not maintain its position against the wind and rain in the night. However, the sheep left our tents alone. In Linköping, we met David via “couchsurfing” and he invited us to his place. We talked about travelling, ate breakfast (for the second time) and left our luggage there, while exploring the city. The impressive open-air museum “Gamla Linköping” presents relocated houses from the old inner town, which partly were older than 250 years.

From a touring cyclist we got a map which shows various shelters all around Sweden. Since a couple of days, we checked the map at the end of the day for possible camping spots nearby. Today, we found a wooden shelter in the middle of the forest were we could sleep only with the air mattresses and the sleeping bags.

22.6.2018 (Day 35-Mjölby-Jönköping)

Before noon, we reached Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden and the sixth largest lake in Europe. This lake is a bit larger than the canton of Zurich and home to a recreational bicycle ride held every year in June. The participants ride up to 300km around the lake. In Gränna, we did our lunch break and treated ourselves with some polkagris (polka pigs), which is a Swedish specialty and traditionally produced here. The stick candy is red, white with stripes, and purchased in various flavors.

All hostels in Jönköping were either fully booked or closed, because of the midsummer festivities. We found a camping ground a few kilometers from the centre and watched the second game of the Swiss team in the football World Cup.

23.6.2018 (Day 36-Break Day: Jönköping):

Supported by sunshine, we relaxed at the campground until the afternoon, before we walked to the city. The path along the lake led us passed the city beach were many people enjoyed the day off in the recreational area. In contrary, the city centre was extremely empty and all the shops were closed because of the midsummer festivities. In the cultural centre, there was a public viewing of the football game between Sweden and Germany and we joined the Swedish fans.

24.6.2018 (Day 37-Jönköping-Borås):

We left the campground before lunch and quickly reached rural areas of southern Sweden again. The hilly road led us to the city of Borås, which surprised us with its size and beauty. At the planned overnight location, including a shelter and a fireplace, we met three young Swedish guys who spent the evening there as well. We had funny and interesting conversations, learnt some new Swedish words, and exchanged stories at the campfire.

25.6.2018 (Day 38- Borås-Göteborg):

On the hottest day so far, we tackled the last 70km to Göteborg. We enjoyed the lunch break at a small lake and went swimming for the first time. After the cool down, we ate lunch, had a siesta and continued cycling to the west. The journey to the second biggest city of Sweden was much more convenient laid-back than to Stockholm. The GPS led us through a magnificent recreational area of the city.

26.6.2018 (Day 39-Break Day: Göteborg):

While exploring the city centre, we did some shopping and did a longer break in one of many city parks.

27.6.2018 (Day 40-Break Day: Göteborg):

On the second day in Gothenburg, we met Colin and Patrik again and discovered the nearby islands together by boat. On the shore of the calm sea, we relaxed in the sun and observed the many boats which passed by. In the evening, we found a sports bar after a long hunt, to watch the last group game of the Swiss football team in the World Cup.

28.6.2018 (Day 41- Göteborg-Falkenberg):

Yesterday, we could finally buy Brooks leather saddles and inaugurated them today. With great anticipation, we installed the saddles and cycled out of Gothenburg. The brilliant sunshine and the sporadic tailwind made us enjoy the day a lot. The beautiful coastal landscape provided long-desired variety to the many lakes and forests from the last weeks. On a sand beach after Falkenberg, we cooled down our overheated bodies in the sea, set up camp and witnessed the first sun set on this trip.

29.6.2018 (Day 42- Falkenberg-Ängelholm):

The sun accompanied us today as well and let us sweat from time to time. The lunch break we spent at a small beach with lots of local people and we cleaned our sweaty bodies and cooled down. Directly after Ängelholm, we found another beach with toilets and put our tents in the forest nearby.

30.6.2018 (Day 43- Ängelholm-Kopenhagen):

Based on recommendations from other touring cyclists and locals, we decided to change our route. Instead of cycling along the Swedish coast to Malmö, we crossed over from Helsingborg to Helsingör by ferry and then cycled to Copenhagen.

In Helsingborg, we explored the city in about an hour, before we took the ferry to the forth country so far. On the Danish side, we cycled through Helsingör and admired the impressive castle of Kronborg from outside. This castle was accepted as an UNESCO World heritage side in 2000. The castle is colloquially known as the castle of Hamlet, since Shakespeare had this castle in mind for his famous play Hamlet.

Afterwards, we cycled along the coastal road down to Copenhagen. We passed many beautiful beaches and houses. The second camping ground, south of the city, had enough space for our two tents and we decided to stay there for the night.

1.7.2018 (Day 44-Break Day: Malmö)

We could only visit Malmö by train from Copenhagen, since we spontaneously changed our route. Since we expected visitors from Switzerland, we did not want to explore Copenhagen, so we used the opportunity to travel back to Sweden and visit Malmö. The train transported us over the almost 8km long Öresund-bridge, which connects Sweden with Denmark. Malmö impressed us with its relaxed atmosphere and we witnessed a Swedish opera inside the “Malmöhus”, an old castle in the city centre.