I woke up at 07.00 excited about getting down to Stockholm, my first major milestone after Nordkapp, and time for a day off, or maybe even two if the mood takes me. I also need some downtime to work out the route post Stockholm, down into Denmark; there are several options and I’m not sure which one to take yet, will probably just head South West and see what happens.
A bird had deposited a gift on my tent overnight, it must be good luck right? I cleaned it up, packed up and got underway after a meagre breakfast; I’d forgotten to buy bread and fruit yesterday, however the cheese and flapjack was more than sufficient for the miles ahead.
I pedalled through Uppsala following the river South in the sunshine along a cycle path. It very much felt like a lazy Sunday morning, with people out for a stroll, chatting idly or lounging in parks.
There were of course the obligatory Swedish fitness fanatics, either out running, rollerblading or cross-country skiing on wheels. As I cycled along I overheard the familiar accents of people from England; obviously someone who lives here showing his folks about, and talking about how high the river gets when it floods; must come up a fair way.
Leaving the river behind I took the 255 South, or the cycle path alongside it, down to Vassunda, then onwards winding through the Swedish countryside to Stockholm.
The traffic got steadily busier as I closed in on the capital, however as always the drivers were considerate to cyclists.
There were loads of cyclists out today, either individuals, small groups, or larger clubs. I passed a few pelotons steaming down the road, heading North, one of which must have had over 30 riders in it; Swedish drivers must be very patient as not easy to get past.
I arrived at the outskirts of Stockholm, after a stop at a Burger King for some lunch, with perhaps 25km to go; then the fun began. Trying to navigate to the city centre and the City Backpackers hostel, my destination for the next couple of nights, was a bit of a challenge. I needed to avoid the busy main roads and motorways, which I couldn’t cycle on, but which criss-crossed my intended route. Luckily I mostly just had to keep heading South, and the cycle path were pretty obliging. I stopped to ask directions from fellow cyclists or walkers a couple of times, and everyone was really helpful. One lady seemed to be in disbelief that I’d cycled from Nordkapp, whilst another gentleman got exited about what I was doing, having bicycle toured a lot in the 80’s. He remembered pedalling for days through Europe, having an adventure, camping down between big camper vans and life on the road, with a wistful look in his eyes. It’s amazing who you randomly bump into, and always gives me a boost.
Part of the route into Stockholm passed alongside a lake, with some lovely paths through the trees.
Then it was back onto tarmac for the remainder. It got a bit confusing when the cycle route signs disappeared, usually around building work, which there was a lot of. I soon picked up the trail again and got to within 500m of the hostel before I had to consult the map in detail; by zooming in on my Garmin, and using the location finder option to pin point the hostel, very handy.
I checked into the hostel and a 6 bed mixed dorm for the duration; could be interesting. It’s comfortable, clean, very convenient for the city centre, and much cheaper than a hotel. The staff are very friendly and helpful, pointing out places of interest to visit, and cheap bars and restaurants to get a beer or eat out. There’s an Aussie working behind reception at the moment, and he gave me a few tips. He’s waiting for his bike to be shipped over before embarking on his own mini-tour of southern Sweden, on a fixie (fixed gear) bike; luckily it’s pretty flat.
After chilling out in the ‘Yard’ common area, I took an initial wander around Stockholm centre, getting my bearings.
I walked through the large shopping district, keeping an eye out for potential places to eat, before getting to the bridge over the river to the Swedish Parliament House, and the Old Town. I stopped there, as I’d have time to explore further tomorrow and was hungry. Walking back I spotted the homeless fox sculpture, or ‘Rag and bone with a blanket’ as I think it’s titled. It represents the fact that there’s still more that can be done to improve the Swedish welfare system; the same could no doubt be said for most countries. As I’ve seen elsewhere in Sweden there are a lot of people begging on the streets in Stockholm, and living rough.
I settled on a restaurant not far from the hostel, at the cheaper end of the shopping area. The all American diner did me proud, with nachos, a huge steak (the Governor), and a couple of pints of Swedish Ale; Sleepy Bulldog, a very pleasant pint, especially after over 2000km on the road.
I realised earlier that I’d passed the 2000km mark at some point in the last few days, having cycled a total of 2116km since pedalling away from Nordkapp 19 days ago. That’s an average of 110km a day, which I’m pretty pleased about, and a reason to celebrate with a steak; need the protein for my muscles anyway.
I’m not entirely sure how far I have left to go to get to Tarifa, perhaps 3500 to 4000km, depending on the route I take. So another 40 days meaning I could get there by my birthday if I push it, but it’ll more likely be the middle of July as I originally envisaged. I guess it’ll depend on how many rest days I take, or if I get lost or want to divert somewhere interesting, both of which are always possibilities.
After dinner I retired to the hostel and caught up on the last episode of ‘The Island’ with Bear Grylls; if they can survive on an island for 6 weeks I can cycle to Tarifa I reckon, quite motivational. Then of course it’ll be on to Istanbul, but I’m not thinking about that at the moment.
Here’s the link to my route and stats for today’s ride – 82km in about 5 hours:
Tomorrow is all about being a tourist in Stockholm. Going to visit the Vasa museum and Old Town, and have a bit of a rest and feed. Need to plan the route to Copenhagen too.