This is SOOO Sweden…

Somewhere in Hälsingland.

… these were the first words to pass Stina’s lips on our second day as we cycled out of Uppsala heading North-West across flat, open fields. Quaint Falu-red-painted farm buildings sat perfectly in meticulously tidy farmyards with an impressive collection of old-school American muscle cars decorating the driveways.

Getting ever deeper into the Swedish heartland – “Mellanmjökensland” – these words have been repeated endlessly, particularly when picking, and eating, wild strawberries (affectionately named “Smultron” by the Swedes) along the sides of the roads.

Picking ”Smultron” in the forests near Gysinge, South of Gävle.

We have done well to avoid the major roads so far and have been blessed with calm, quiet, almost traffic-free roads. We have passed over rivers, along picture-perfect lakeshores and of course through lots of forest, but the beauty of this land is in its tranquillity. The pace of life out in the countryside is slowed to an amble and one would be mad to rush through it, so at every opportunity we stop to talk to locals walking their dogs, mowing their laws and having a swim at the many beautiful lakeside spots. Yes, the mosquitoes are a bit of a menace, but light up a few “Myggspiraler” around your camp and it’s fine.

Farms in Ljungadalen – viewed from Getberget.

We’re now in Härnösand about to explore the High Coast (Högakusten) where we hope to find some idyllic little camping spots down on the sea under giant cliffs that continue to rise out of the gulf of Bothnia at an awesome rate of 1cm per year.

The real highlight so far though has been resting our weary legs for two nights and a day with Aaron and Sandra, two very dear friends from Stockholm, after completing our first 500km in just four days. They have been on holiday, like everyone in Sweden it seems, in the family’s summerhouse in the country – a beautiful little red and white 19th century farmhouse in the Ljunga valley, close to Sundsvall. On the menu: waffles with cream and jam, “Gubbröra” and of course a massive hunk of Elk meat from the grill – thanks guys.

//Andrew

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