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Family Bike Tour in Sweden and Norway

Karl Brodowsky, cycled 1994, written 1994, translated 1998

Part 5

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After this day of rest we continued southbound on highway N 50. The weather was not so good when we started, but it improved soon. We followed the eastern shore of lake Vänern but as usual we did not see the lake very often, but is was a nice hilly and rocky area that we were passing through. During lunch time or maybe a little bit later than that, we had a long break on a playground in Motala. From there we decided to stay with the lake and continued on the N 50. Soon we passed through an agricultural area. Somewhere quite far away we could see Takern lake, which is quite large, but far smaller than Vättern lake. But it is well known for being home of many birds. In front of us we saw same small mountain range called Omberg that looked quite high in comparison to the surrounding flat land. Funny enough the highway seemed to turn more and more to the left, finally being almost parallel to the Omberg so that we had the feeling of moving away from Vättern lake. We took a nice rest near a Romanic church before passing Omberg and heading for Ödeshög. This was the first time we needed the lights of our bicycle and of the trailer during the whole trip.

We did not see much of Ödeshög because it was already quite dark when we arrived and because we continued southbound on the bundled highways N 50/E 4 on the next day. The weather was very nice again. In Gränna we had a rest for having lunch and for swimming in the lake. In Jönköping which seemed to be quite car oriented, it proved to be difficult to find a bicycle shop in order to get a small repair done. After that we left Vättern lake and went to Lovsjö to a small camp ground which was off course situated near a lake. The 12 km from Jönköping to Lovsjö took us especially long, because we tried to use the legal way which was hard to find. The national highways that carry the bicycle traffic of highway E 4 do not have any signs to find them, if they exist at all.

After swimming in the lake on the next morning we took highway E 4/N 30 till the splitting point and then highway N 30 heading for Växjö. The area was much flatter again, at most a little bit hilly, so that I could ride little bit faster than Karin again in spite of the trailer. We had nice woods and lakes but also some rain and some aggressive car drivers, reminding us of Jönköping. In the evening we found ourselves near a camp ground in Lammhult where highway N 30 crosses the railroad line from Stockholm to Malmö and Helsingborg, so that we decided to stay there for one night. We had to check in in a nearby swimming pool and then we followed a small drive down to the camp ground where we met many other people from Germany who were staying there as well. Washing of clothes cost only one SKr and drying was even for free. In the kitchen we could also eat and sit and see how the others spent their vacation.

The camp ground was somehow situated much below the highway, but we did not take the time to find out about the surroundings. The drive from there to the highway was so steep that I could not cycle it up. Where it became flatter again I tried to start, but this broke my cycle. I could turn my pedals, but they where no longer connected to the front sprockets. Repairing in Lammhult did not seem possible. The owner of the only bicycle shop was on vacation and nobody else was able to repair aluminum. No trains stopped in Lammhult. We were told that the next place where any train stops is in Alvesta, 40 km to the south where it should have been possible to find a bicycle shop.

We figured out that it was no longer possible to wait till the day when the owner of the bicycle shop would return. The end of our vacation was coming closer and after having waited for the repair we would have been forced to take the train for part of the distance that we originally intended to cycle ourselves anyway. We found out that it would be desirable to take a train from Alvesta to Malmö short time before eleven on the following day which happened to be a Sunday. By lowering the seat as much as possible and removing the pedals I was able to use the bike at least for portions that were flat or downhill. We met nice people who were Germans from the Baltic states and who had a cottage in this area. They even invited us to their house, but we did not have much time left.

Karin got the trailer and the heaviest luggage and she went shopping while I started for the first 10 km. After 1 1/2 hours we met again during a break, which was much longer for Karin who had off course overtaken me long before. The next break was after another 14 km and then we where already only 12 km from Alvesta and it was still good afternoon time. For the rest of the day Karin went slow enough to let me follow her and we were hoping to find a good place for the night pretty close to Alvesta.

As was typical on this tour we did find a very nice place to stay over night by pitching up our tent in an appropriate place in the woods. This time it was even between the northern bypass of Alvesta and the town itself. On the next morning we were able to start very much earlier than usual and at around 10 in the morning we had already made it for the remaining 2 kilometers to the train station. The hour that we had before departure was spent for buying tickets, removing all the luggage from our bicycles, and for checking the bicycles for Trelleborg. We could even find out where the family car of the train would stop. The luggage was stored as much as possible in the trailer, which we took into the train as a stroller, even though it was now totally occupied by our luggage. In the train we had to store everything somewhere and take the trailer apart.

In Malmö we had some hours time till the departure of the connecting train to Trelleborg. We stored most of the luggage in lockers and went on a small walk through the city. We saw some museum in which we saw many stuffed animals, but even some live animals, especially bats, fish and night active animals from warmer areas. This museum was especially fun for the children. The naval museum was interesting for them as well because they had a pirate ship as a playground inside the building, but we could only enjoy that for a few minutes before we had to return to the station.

The bicycles had off course not arrived in Trelleborg, when we came there. In order to get to the camp ground we took a big taxi that is good for taking wheel chairs and that could take our trailer just as well. Thus we were able to get to the camp ground with one trip, instead of using two or even more trips with a conventional taxi. Looks as if it would not have been so easy to take all the luggage if we had gone on a car trip, at least not with a conventional car.

On the camp ground Bernhard met a boy from Berlin who was just a little bit older than he. It did not take long until we met the parents and found out that they were going on a bicycle trip as well. Their child already rode his own bike and they spent their vacation for some weeks on a small tour in the vicinity of Trelleborg. Now they were kind of spending the last few days until they had to take the ferry back to Germany.

On the next morning we walked from the harbor to the railroad station where we got back our bicycles in a state that was as good as possible. But my bicycle had off course not been repaired. The first bicycle shop wanted to do that for 450 SKr till 16:000, but the second one was willing to get it done till 14:00 for 300 SKr. That seemed to be the better offer and it was really done. After the lunch break I had only six gears left because we wanted the repair to be simple. But I could cycle again. What a great feeling. We where now heading for some peninsula in the far south west of Sweden. The landscape was interesting and unusual. The number of cars was unusual as well. Even though this highway was a dead end road, the number of cars per hour was about as much as on a busy national highway (Bundesstraße) in Germany. But the highway was so wide that we had no problems with this. The break was spent on the beach near the end of the dead end highway.

In the evening it was getting dark. Not so unusual, because Trelleborg is the southernmost community in Sweden. The time of the year and the location far south of the arctic circle were quite obvious. But even the landscape was different from what we had seen on the trip before. It was more similar to Denmark and Germany than to what we had seen in other parts of Sweden. Off course we could see palms on both sides of the highway when we entered Trelleborg. But I do not know if they are around all year. We cycled through the whole city to the camp ground that was situated on the other side. Thus we had a nice day with the repaired cycle.

The language spoken in Trelleborg is a dialect of Swedish that sounds quite different than other Swedish, a little bit more like Danish. Just the opposite of Norwegian, which has a spelling more similar to Danish than to Swedish, but a pronunciation more similar to Swedish. Anyway I was able to understand the people in Trelleborg which I would not have said to the same extent in Denmark.

The next day should take us back to our home country. We could have taken three different ferries from Trelleborg to Germany, which where heading for Saßnitz (Rügen), Rostock or Travemünde (Lübeck). Without long hesitation we took the ferry to Saßnitz. This gave us a chance to see a little bit of Rügen and to extend the time in the night train that we would have to take in order to get ourselves and the bicycles back to Germany. The family from Berlin was on board the ship as well, but they wanted to take the train from Saßnitz to Berlin immediately after arrival of the ship.

We bought tickets and even reservations for the night train in Saßnitz. After having bought them we took a road which followed the northern coast of Rügen, which was very nice to ride and not very busy. Only in the villages it was not so good because of the bad and rough stones that formed the pavement. In these places we sometimes had to push our bicycles with reduced speed of 2 km/h. In a small village near the coast we bought excellent ice cream which we ate having a nice view of the Baltic Sea. After that we followed the road across an isthmus to Altenkirchen, where we went to the camp ground. Being a typical German camp ground it did not have a self service kitchen like a Swedish camp ground but rather a booth where a nice guy was selling some warm food for a good price. He could even warm up milk for our children in his micro wave oven. When the children slept we went across the dunes in front of our tent and had a look at the sea. It was really nice with the moonlight reflected from the small waves.

From Altenkirchen we should have been able to continue on some special road for bicyclists, at least the map that we had bought on the ship seemed to suggest this. This road could really be found after moving through a small village. The promise was still that we avoided another village. Anyway we had to return to the normal road very soon because the alternate was not yet finished. In spite of all this we arrived at the ferry of Wittow without much detouring.

The next place after having taken the ferry and having passed Wittow had a major advantage. There was a public tree full of plums. We could eat as much as we wanted and take quite an amount along. The road was getting busier while we were approaching Bergen. Probably it was not even half the number of cars per hour that we had on our trip from Trelleborg, but it bothered us more because the road was so narrow. Cars could not overtake us while others where coming from the opposite direction and it was always quite a long line of cars that overtook us once nobody was coming from the opposite side. Because of the wind we decided to go to Bergen and not to continue to Binz. In Bergen we ate the best chicken of the whole vacation which we bought from a booth on the parking lot of a supermarket. Then we had a look at the old church of Bergen, at least from outside. But we were even at the station quite a time before the arrival of the train. This enabled us to remove all of the luggage from our bikes and to prepare everything for the train. In the train we could store everything well, even the trailer.

Milk was warmed up by the conductor of a sleeping car somewhere in the train. He had children himself and knew exactly which temperature was required. When the train stopped in Rostock the children were already sleeping and we could step out of the train for a few minutes during the long stop. On the next morning we arrived in Heidelberg, when it was still dark. We fixed everything together, attached all the luggage to our bikes and rode home. A normal working day began.

Let's see with how many persons we go on the next bicycle tour.

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