The ferry trip Tallinn – Stockholm was (fortunately) uneventful.
After Moscow, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Riga I really didn’t want to spend much time in another big city for awhile – but I did give Stockholm one day as I wanted to go and see the Vasa museum. The Vasa was the pride of the Swedish fleet when built in the 1620′s, their first warship with two gundecks; unfortunately she lasted less than an hour on her maiden voyage when in gentle breezes she heeled over and sank in Stockholm harbour. She was raised in a remarkably preserved condition in the early1960′s and now sits conserved in a museum here.
I was looking for a cheap room for the night in Stockholm and ended up in a jail.
I was uncertain whether to turn north or south from Stockholm but chats with the locals assured me they were having the mildest autumn on record so I decided to head north with a vague plan to head up to the ski centres in the middle of Sweden and then to cross over to Norway and try and see some fjord scenery. This was going to be mostly camping as Scandanavian prices are as high as you have heard ($12 for the one and only beer I have bought here, nearly $3 litre for petrol, hotels start at $150 a night etc).
As I got further north and reached the ski-ing areas around the Swedish – Norwegian borders you could sense how late the snows are arriving this year. All the towns are set up ready for the ski-ing, some of the pre-booked holiday makers are obviously there and there is zero snow at the resorts.
After I crossed into Norway and headed to the west I started to get higher and did start to see some snow on distant peaks.
And the buildings changed quite a bit. The Swedes had been very neat and tidy with very little variation in the buildings; the Norwegians somehow seem to throw a lot more character into theirs.
After a day the snow on the peaks got closer:
I ended up finding myself driving through packed slushy snow with drifts one or two feet deep on either side of the road and minimal visibility. I hoped that this was just the top of the pass and I’d be quickly through it – but after 5k it was getting no better so I took the cowards way and (very gingerly) turned around and rode back down the hill. A couple of hikers I met just after I got back below the snowline told me there was about 20km of snow in total and it got no worse than I had seen, in fact they seemed to think it was hardly worthy of note; but I did note their car had snow tyres (which have steel studs on them) and of course it was a car not a bike. They did however tell me of some other roads slightly further north I could use with no problems.
The recommended route led down to the head of a fjord. Just after the above photo was taken I found the turn off and a pair of signs, one that said 1:10 hill for 14 km(!), and the other that it was a narrow winding road.
I’ve stayed one night at a hotel here at the fjord (at a price I don’t want to dwell on) to do my washing, have a shower, buy one beer and do this blogging- but later today I tackle that road out the other side.
More on Scandinavia soon.
PS: If you don’t understand the title of this post you obviously haven’t read “Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy’ by Douglas Adams. Just ask the nearest teenager to explain.