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Bicycle Tour with three children in Sweden (5)

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

Part 5

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On Sunday we went via Vargön and between Hunneberg and Halleberg on the old highway N 44 towards Vänersnäs. The two mountains are supposed to have the highest population density of moose in Europe, probably worth a visit. But on this day we thought of a swimming day. We did find a nice beach with a lot of sand. And we found a place of the lake shore that I had been looking for some years ago. I once saw a portion of the coast of lake Vänern that consists of use rock columns. Having cycled all the way around this lake, if I consider several bicycle tours combined, I still had not encountered this spot. Here we had it and it was indeed a nice sight.

Because we enjoyed this place so much we decided to go there once more on Monday. We had dinner somewhere in Vänersborg, where we had discovered a possibility to eat Arabic-Italian-Swedish Pizza.

Tuesday was meant to bring us quite close to Gothenburg. The actual place that we wanted to reach was not fixed at all, though. We knew that we would not make it all the way to Gothenburg. And we knew that there is no suitable camp ground between Vänersborg and Gothenburg. First we had to go to Trollhättan. Having understood the highway network of that area and avoiding bicycle paths this was at least possible. The central spot of that area is the roundabout Båberg, to the west of Götaälv and between Vänersborg and Trollhättan. To northeast you come to Vänersborg, to the northwest as N 44 to Uddevalla and as N 45 to Karlstad (bypassing Vänersborg), to the southwest to a southbound back road parallel to the western bank of Götaälv, and to the southeast on N 45 to Trollhättan and Gothenburg.

In Trollhättan we found a nice playground between all these waterways, that were partly feeders for the different power plants and partly shipping canals. I stayed there with the children while Karin took the trailer and went shopping. Probably Bernhard and Ulrich did not remember this playground, but we had been there on the previous bicycle tour.

Somehow we managed to find our way through Trollhättan and we left this area on the N 45. Officially bicyclists are supposed to use bicycle paths, but we knew that they don't fit for trailers and trailer bikes. After having left the vicinity of the town with its rush hour traffic jam, it became more quiet. This highway had wide shoulders and it was good cycling. In Lilla Edet we had another rest on a big highway station. After this we started looking for a nice place to put our tent, especially for these branching dust roads. Off course there were none, even though this highway went mostly through huge woods. So we took some usual road to the left, hoping that this dust road would be found there. Sure enough this was true. But we had to walk quite a bit, to pass some house in order to be not too close to it for the night. But following this house there was a curve and hidden behind this curve the next house appeared. So it became quite a walk until we finally found an excellent quiet place to pitch our tent.

On the next morning we had to go only a few more kilometers to the south until the highway lighting of Gothenburg started. From there it was still another 35 km to the center of the city and another 20 km to its beginning. The valley of Götaälv became quite narrow, at least on this eastern side. 20 km before Gothenburg (center) the highway had four lanes, soon shoulders began but the traffic was still quite low. This did change in Gothenburg itself, where N 45 merged with two other four lane highways. During rush hour this six lane highway was quite a bit busier than on the first day of this bicycle tour. Exits became rare and intersections did not at all occur. But soon we were in the center of the city and somehow we made it to the camp ground.

Off course this camp ground was quite crowded, but fortunately we could stay there and have our tent close to the service house. This saved us some effort for finding the kitchen whenever we needed it. Admitted, the camp grounds we had seen on this tour were very well equipped, mini golf, stove, washing machine, showers were self evident, microwave becomes common, which is useful for the warm milk that the children like to have every night and every morning. But I was always missing an industrial dish washer, that cleans the dishes in a minute or two, so we did hand work for this. But here in Gothenburg they had it. We did not even have to wait in a line, because almost everyone else still preferred to wash the dishes conventionally.

Far more important than this detail was the vicinity of the camp ground. We understood that there was supposed to be a nice little lake and we decided to walk there. It was not really a short walk, but we enjoyed it, because it was a nice hilly landscape with woods rather than houses. Heidrun was very happy about the lake and she was not the only one. It was situated so nicely that one would not have thought it is in the middle of a big city, but off course many people had decided to like this lake.

We wanted to see a little bit of the city as well, and we were staying for two nights. On Thursday we had a nice boat trip on the canals that cover quite a part of the city. Hamburg and Berlin happen to have more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice, probably also more than Gothenburg, but it was nice anyway. In the afternoon we had a look at a naval museum. They did not just shop paper models, but we could see real ships that were floating in real water. Actually there were so many of them that we could no way consider seeing all of them. Maybe something has to be left for the next visit.

The next day, maybe a Friday of some week, we could still spend in Gothenburg. We had a look at the zoo. It is situated in a huge park on top of a hill. It was too steep for us to cycle up, so we left our bikes at the bottom. At least we could cycle all the way to the hill and we were lucky that nobody added a bicycle to the ones we had locked while being in the zoo or otherwise did some change to the number of bicycles standing there. We would not have been able to take the additional bike with us. We had another last break near the harbor and finally it was good time to cycle on board.

The ship passage is off course part of the vacation, at least for the children. They had a small playground on board, that looks like a small ship with a whole lot of small bowls as water. We did still find some time to sleep. In Kiel we were much faster for the few kilometers and we had a real day of rest. In the evening our train to Hamburg left and from there we took a night train to Stuttgart. Karin and the kids got in the sleeping car on one end of the train. She also had all the luggage. Meanwhile I took the bicycle into the train and walked through the whole train to meet Karin and the kids. In the morning we arrived in Stuttgart and from there it was two more trains and almost routine to return to Schaffhausen, where we had another day's rest, before school and work started again.

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