After leaving Norway headed south for about 500 km straight down the west coast of Sweden before turning west into Denmark. On the first day all the run was on motorway type road and I ended up thinking what a boring looking country Sweden was. But I wasn’t really doing it justice because the next day when, in frustration, I turned off the highway onto the minor roads I found lovely gentle rolling roads passing through neat and tidy farming communities – all of which I then forgot to photograph. The only one I have is the one below which does tend to more support my initial view – a seriously over-tidy village without a leaf out of place.
One of the joys of Europe is the bits of history just lying around the place, almost unnoticed and unloved. Here on a back road with no warning or marking of any kind I came across this marker. No idea of its significance – but a lot must of passed it by since its erection in 1666.
Just before the border with denmark was the little city of Lund. In many ways it is nothing particularly special now, just a university and rural town of quite small size – but in the 1200′s it was a bit more important; the largest “Bishopric” in Europe with a cathedral to match. Now the cathedral, whilst impressive enough, doesn’t have the size and majesty to compare with some of the later ones in Europe but it was still worth a side trip to see.
As I mentioned earlier Lund is now primarily a university city and the buzz of students everywhere combined with a lot of old buildings and streets gave it a lovely feel. Definitely my favourite Swedish town (albeit out of a very small sample).
A minor repair to the bike was required just before i left Sweden.
From Sweden, after a nights camping near the border it was a quick run through Denmark to get to Germany. in fact the run was so quick it was a case of breakfast in Sweden, lunch in Denmark and afternoon tea in Germany. The ride wasn’t without interest though – for a start the crossing between the two countries is a 16 km long bridge (with a $30 toll – ouch), then continuing the theme there was a 23 km bridge (with a similar toll) between the first part of Denmark and the next.
So on into Germany where my first target was Berlin, about 500 km from the border. Why Berlin? Well really because it and East Germany were one of two European communist country I didn’t get to when I hitch-hiked towards Australia in ’83. Also because it is so wrapped up with the Soviet communist era history that I’ve been intrigued by over the last few months.
First stop on the way into Berlin was the town of Oranienburg, not that noteworthy in its own right but just outside it was located one of the first of the Nazi concentration camps – in fact their one which became the model for all future camps. I walked around it for a few hours and there’s not much I can say other than as I read the text on some of the museum pieces and looked at the photographs I was as near to be physically sick as I’ve been in a long time. The ability of man to murder, torture and exterminate fellow man and justify it by demonising groups is truly frightening. Germany is at least facing this part of its history in a way I think future other nations have attempted.
When I got to Be.rlin I also went to the Holocaust memorial and the Jewish Museum which obviously both deal with the same issues and tell similar stories. Both are impressive pieces of modern architecture; but for me I worry they are too clever for their content, overwhelming it with their feeling of being an event in their own right and from both I went away from them with more memory of the building rather than the events they are meant to be illuminating.
Among the other places I wanted to visit in Berlin was obviously part of the infamous wall itself – although now only a few short sections remain of the 161km structure.
The other must visit for me was “Checkpoint Charlie” – the crossing between West and East Berlin in the American sector. If you’ve ever read any John LeCarre novels its a place that seeps into your memory. Its now a cheesily commercial re-enactment of the immediate post war crossing point but it good fun – and for a small fee they even use the original tools to stamp your passport. i also quite like the fact that McDonalds have taken the prime East Berlin real estate just behind the post.
One interesting fact thats apparent around Berlin is there is a degree of nostalgia for the artefacts of the East. This is known as “Ostalgia” as East Germans were “Ossies” (Ost = East) and the hostel i’m staying in plays on this theme;
Well that is probably enough about Berlin. Hope you enjoyed it. Tomorrow I’m off to ?. Actually I haven’t quite decided. I’d like to go briefly in to Poland but the weather forecasts suggest this might not be a wise idea since they are predicting a high of 2 degrees for the next few days so you’ll have to wait and find out whether I brave this or turn west again.
PS – Its late and I’m feeling too tired to proof read this – so you are getting it as written. Please excuse spelling and grammer mistakes etc.