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Bicycle Tour with three children in Sweden (3)

Karl Brodowsky, cycled 1997-07-04 to 1997-08-10, written in German 1998, translated to English 1998

Part 3

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The temperature in the lake was warm enough and the lake was deep enough. But anyway we preferred cycling over swimming for the next quarter of the lake, because we did not have such a nice steam boat in our luggage. Not so long before Karlsborg the highway N 195 merged with N 49 from Skövde. On this day I had to go back for some kilometer or so, because Heidrun had casted out some of the sand toys and Ulrich was so unhappy about it. I really did manage to find them, although I had realized this much later. In Karlsborg we had quite a traffic jam. The Göta-Canal goes through town and has a bridge which opens once in a while for the boats. This was quite fun, but we had to wait for the whole queue to disappear before we could cross the highway for the camp ground.

The camp ground was great, we could camp between tall trees near a small lake. This was excellent for swimming and Heidrun started to enjoy that, especially since the water was quite warm, warmer than some of the public swimming pools. We considered going on a boat trip or on a canoe trip, because there was so much water around. When I went on a small walk with Bernhard, we even saw a small passenger ship that does trips on the lakes, rivers and canals.

Eventually we decided to look around in Karlsborg on the next day. For a change we walked and left our cycles in the camp ground. The castle of Karlsborg was quite new and quite big and anyway almost useless, when it had been finished. But fortunately it was never really necessary to try this out.

When we continued on the next day, we found many nice places for resting, one of them even good for swimming in a beautiful bay of lake Vättern, that looked like a small lake, especially because of the water temperature.

The next break was needed for shopping, forcing us to go into a long dead end. The highway N 49 became very small until we reached the spot where it merges with highway N 50 that follows the eastern side of the lake, which we used on our previous bicycle tour (1994). So we took three years for our Vätternrundan instead of one day. But we did it!

From this location it was not so long to go till we arrived on the campground. Only the last kilometer was a little bit tough, since it was a badly maintained dust road and we had to walk. Anyway this was worth the effort, since we found a nice spot under some trees with direct access to the water. So we took advantage of this in the next morning, which was quite convenient, since we could hire a canoe on the camp ground. Maybe the boat did not sink, because we left our luggage and our bicycles outside, since this was only a one hour trip. Anyway this made it more difficult to keep the balance. On the opposite side of the lake is this town Askersund, where we went by bicycle after having finished the canoe trip and where we saw a farm house museum.

Bernhard and I wanted to see the new bridge across Hammersund, that was being built when we passed that area on our previous trip. So I attached the trailer bike to my bicycle and Karin got the trailer with Heidrun and Ulrich, when we passed the dead end dust road to the camp ground. Heidrun, Ulrich and Karin were quite tired. Actually this became Bernhard's event of the trip, because we rushed down the bridge with 40 km/h, our maximum speed of the whole vacation. From the bridge we had a great view to lake Vättern with its many small islands and to the channel that connects to other lakes. We continued to the place where this new highway N 50 meets the old highway and went back to the camp ground. Instead of the unfortunate habit of making the new highway a motorway and leaving the old one to bicyclist, the old highway had been removed leaving only a small section to a village. The new highway felt much safer and more comfortable for cycling and the great view from the bridge was no way exclusive for motorists.

The following day, presumably Friday, we had to consider the fact that our vacation had a limited length and there was a certain day in that very year where our reservation for the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel was applicable. So we had to consider orienting ourselves a little bit more to the south. What we had found out was the fact that the parallel minor highway had been paved recently. A few kilometers on highway N 205 to the west brought us there. And sure enough we had a well paved, but hilly road to Tived. With our load the steep uphill sections were not so easy, but Bernhard started to learn how to help Karin uphill.

We had our lunch rest, as usual almost afternoon, near a very wide branching dust road. We went on a walk and found a small lake. This was the beginning of the Tiveden National Park. The village of Tived is really a small village, but it has a good shop ("lanthandel") and even quite a nice camp ground a few kilometers outside. This camp ground was indeed quite nice, not the first one about which I would say this. At least it was situated nicely near lake Unden. But this one must be something special, maybe it is listed in some Dutch travel guide as the best camp ground in Scandinavia or so, because apart from the obvious fact that we met many German tourists there were really many Dutch people, so that they had even bothered writing signs in Dutch.

Anyway, I don't know what the travel guides in the Netherlands write, but the sunset was really great. Near the lake we built a fire for grilling. For the real tough guys there was even a small wooden booth with a fire place inside. With the warm weather we were enjoying these days this would have been good for grilling ourselves as well. Only cooking without open fire was not so easy, because the kitchen of the camp ground had only one cooking plate. Anyway most people have cooking devices their luggage, so we got a chance to use the kitchen anyway. Our own esbit cooking device was only good for milk and coffee, we had enough luggage anyway. A Dutch family was thankful for taking over the fire from us, after we had finished grilling, since it is not so easy to find a place for doing something like this in the Netherlands.

The famous Tiveden National Park was worth another visit on the following day. We cycled back some kilometers into the direction of Askersund and followed a branching road into the forest. This was supposed to be paved, but the pavement ended near some big restaurant. At least they sold us some ice cream and we continued walking. We came through a deep valley. Off course we did some grilling and some swimming in the evening.

Following the Unden lake through many forests and a little bit of agricultural land, but especially again over many steep hills, we cycled to Undenäs, from where we continued on national highway N 202. This was quite a small and hilly and curvy road, which was paved, but not very busy with cars. We came to the next lake, which is called Viken. There we found a funny place for swimming. An old wooden bridge reached some dozen meters into the water and on this bridge there was a huge wooden room. Some boats were attached to the bridge, which was serving as a small harbor, but there was also a ton marking a wreck in the water. As I found out later, in the good old days a ship line was operating on this lake and probably beyond that. So this was the place to board ships of this service. So this wooden room was for the people waiting for the ship to arrive or for storing freight, who knows? The wreck may well be disappointing to those who are searching for old ships with diamonds and gold on board, possibly it is just part of the former harbor. So it was not so easy to get into the water, even though I respected our plans to continue our trip on the same day by avoiding a risky jump into the unknown water. Getting out of the water was not as easy, but I could just as well swim to the beach and step out there. Off course Heidrun wanted to go into the water as well. Bernhard and Ulrich were not so keen on this, but finally they enjoyed it as well. This warm summer was kind of looking like a one time chance for this, because of the high water temperatures.

We stayed with the water. So when we arrived on a branch, where the right hand road is N 202 to Töreboda we went to the left. Coming through many woods and some agricultural areas we reached Göta Canal. Right besides the canal we found a camp ground. This was basically a boat harbor, mostly guest harbor for all the hobbyists who were taking there boats through Göta Canal. Because of this that place happened to have almost all the infrastructure needed for a camp ground anyway and enough space for our tent was available as well. Near the bridge there was a small tunnel way beyond the canal level. I don't know if this was the outlet for surplus water or a small creek that is tunneled across the canal. At least I could go swimming without a major currency pulling me down. In the evening Ulrich wanted to try the trailer bike as well. So I started cycling a little tour with him and thereafter off course Bernhard wanted something like that as well, and this had to be longer. We were actually in a densely populated area, and there were many paved roads and alleys between the fields.

[continue with part 4]

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