Through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany & Denmark to Sweden
Friday 2nd June 2017 Not an easy start! 154 miles
Saturday 3rd June Frustrating hold ups on the Belgian motorway 168miles
We made our way to a massive Carrefour, which was probably a mistake. Adrian had trouble in getting a trolley, which we didn't need anyway, as they had pull-along baskets. Then, as usual, I needed the loo, which was miles away!
Stocked up with fresh salad, vegetables and fish, we made our way to a wine superstore where Adrian got a supply of booze. It was 11.00 when we headed off onto the motorway system, having had our little taster of France for this time.
Three quarters of an hour later, we crossed into Belgium. We were listening to more of our travels in SW USA 2003, which we had recently updated for the website.
At a rest area we topped up with LPG before having lunch, sitting on our seats outside, looking out to grass and trees. It was really pleasant, apart from the litter! A worker came to collect it up, but missed the little bit by us!
We left here at 2.00pm, and very soon came into a traffic jam for roadworks many miles further on. Hence the next couple of hours were spent in edging slowly forward! We finally came to a long stretch of single lane, as the rest was all barricaded off for road resurfacing. Very frustrating! It was after 4 o'clock when we were finally were clear of it. A bit further on, we came to another long stretch of roadworks, but this time there was luckily no hold-up.
Adrian was pretty exhausted by now, so we soon turned off to an overnighting area at Arendock, just past Antwerp. We were almost into Holland, and it all seemed very Dutch. After finding our parking spot, we were soon off wandering into this delightful little town, with its tall church and neat red geraniums. Many people were sitting at outside cafes on this pleasant evening. We wandered back through the woodland behind us, which was strewn with footpaths. Some of it was on a boardwalk, with a large patch of yellow irises, and lots of ducks. Nearby was a large children's play area. All very nice!
We ate a good prawn meal.
Aspects of Calais
Sunday 4th June A motorway day through Holland and into Germany 273 miles
It had rained in the night, but it was a pleasant day, although we were in deep shade from all the trees.
We were distressed to hear of another terrorist attack in London – in such contrast to our peaceful setting, with the church bells chiming as people cycled through the park on their upright bikes.
We managed to send an email to 'our 4', although we hadn't got much of a connection. We almost immediately heard back from Nicky that they were home from their holiday in Yorkshire.
We left just after 9.00am, and were soon back on the motorway. It had been a lovely stop.
It wasn't long before we were in Holland where in all the parking areas lorries were tightly parked up as they couldn't drive on motorways on Sundays. This meant that driving was more pleasant for us.
We drove past Eindhoven, where six motorways converge, but we were unaware of the large city.
We pulled off into an unkempt rest area for coffee, with all the lorries lined up behind us.
At midday we crossed into Germany and pulled into a rest area soon afterwards. It was quiet, with just a few lorries. It appeared more looked after than the ones in Holland. We sat at a picnic table to eat our lunch in the sunshine, leaving at 1.30.
We finished listening to the recordings of our 2003 trip to SW USA, which we'd really enjoyed. We'd had to turn it off when our route had become complicated!
The thing we noticed in Germany was that there were lots of simple parking areas to pull off into. We stopped at one for Adrian to look at our onward route.
Today's long stretch of roadworks didn't cause us any delay, and at 3.30 we turned off to an overnighter at Ottersberg. While I made a cup of tea, Adrian booked tomorrow's ferry to Denmark. He discovered that we have only internet connection on the tablet while away – 'Three' don't allow tethering to the computer abroad so he was very frustrated!!!
We set off on a circular walk into the small town. Beside the tall spired church, were two statues of otters. When we returned, we found that there was a place to dump by the sports centre opposite, so made our way there, and decided that this was the real overnighting place, so parked there.
Adrian was really pleased to get the internet working on the computer.
We looked up our trips in this area in 1988 and 1991, when we'd had far bigger problems!!
Otters by the church, Ottersberg, Germany
Monday 5th June On to Denmark 212 miles
When we reached Denmark we descended carefully, especially as a lady nearby had fallen heavily.
Back in the Ixi, we disembarked at 3.45 – our actual ferry booking time.
It was a 'free for all' as we left the boat. We followed a route to a viewpoint, so that we could stop for our cup of tea. This was right beside the water, and we could look back and see our ferry leave again. We ascended a viewpoint 'tower' with information on a proposed 18km tunnel crossing from here back to Germany.
The ferry from Puttgarten, Germany to Rodby, Denmark
Now we took the motorway towards Copenhagen, which we plan to visit tomorrow.
We crossed a beautiful long bridge, and pulled into a parking area beside it on Bogo Island at 5.00.
It was a top spot, with views back to the photogenic Farøbroerne bridge. Lorries were parked up behind us waiting for the 'off', but our view was out of this world, with the clear blue sky.
While I washed my hair, Adrian got chatting to Alan next door, and later I joined them. He was a
'fulltimer' – the first English full timer we have met - and had travelled extensively, as well as being a tour guide . We shared many travelling experiences before coming in to eat a nice veggie stir-fry.
We had a short walk by the water, then prepared for Copenhagen tomorrow before reading some of our diary of Denmark in 1988.
Viewpoint at the start of the proposed tunnel, looking back to our ferry returning, Denmark
Farøbroerne bridge, Denmark
Tuesday 6th June Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen 64 miles
We were heading first for the Little Mermaid. We had seen it before in 1988, (and me in 1964), but Adrian was keen to go again., even though there is a more recent statue of The Little Mermaid a bit further on. After another false start, we 'followed the crowds', and soon got there.
Off for a day in Copenhagen
We took our turn of 'photographing fore & aft' before making our way through the castle grounds. Here we ate the wrap lunch we had made, sitting on a seat in a large square between the castle houses.
The Little Mermaid 1964 (with Angela)
1988 (Simon, Adrian, Tom)
On walking back to the main sights, we passed the large anchor, where I have a photo of me taken in 1964. We had to repeat this!
Views around Copenhagen
By the WW2 commemorative anchor - 1964 and 2017
We wandered along the attractive streets, with many fine buildings and churches. We saw the Round Tower and the University Library. Everywhere was busy with people. A 'one man band' was attracting much attention – guitar, drum, tambourine under his arm, kazoo, and singing – great fun. He deserved the coin that we threw in. Very many of the signs on shops and cafes were written in English only. We purchased a large icecream between us, and ate it sitting on steps in the square.
I want to ride my bicycle!
The Round Tower
We proceeded to the huge City Hall, which we peeped into, wondering who would want such a vast building. Nearby was the statue of Hans Christian Anderson, opposite the Tivoli Gardens, which we had decided not to bother with this time.
Ruben, the One man band
The vast City Hall
Now 3.30, we made our way back to the harbour to catch the waterbus back. We arrived at the stop at 3.50, but had to wait almost half an hour for the boat. It was a different boat from this morning's, and we weren't asked to pay, so a free ride!
We made the long walk back to our 'RV park', having had a good day in Copenhagen.
We phoned Paul to offer our thoughts and best wishes to them.
Later it rained. We looked up my 1964 trip to Scandinavia.
Hans Christian Anderson
Wednesday 7th June Across the Oresund Bridge to a Swedish idyll 28 miles
It rained all night, but the day was a mixture of cloud, occasional sun, a few showers and wind. It was the day for a lie in, after the past hectic days (and weeks!)
The Oresund bridge
Not quite sure what to expect, we reached Klagshamn, which had lots of parking beside a white sandy beach, looking across to the bridge. It was a magical view with the green/dark grey water contrasting with the light grey sky. In the distance was the bridge, and the nearby white swans were lit up when the sun shone.
This must be a weekend recreation spot for the people of Malmo, but today was very quiet. We pulled in, with our exquisite view, and ate lunch. We had already decided to stay here tonight, as it was one of Adrian's 'overnighters'. We both needed a 'lazy day' after so much recent activity, but as always, time just slipped away.
We had a short walk along the beach in both directions. We had been surprised by a sudden loud noise and then a voice over a loudspeaker, but then saw that there was a loudspeaker on the beach, near a simple children's play area and a boarded swimming area.
Looking back to the Oresund Bridge from our ‘overnighter’
Lovely waterside spot!
We ate excellent sushi for supper, from Lidl, so a really easy day!
A good opportunity to start editing the website as the rain returned.
Thursday 8th June A wonderful Viking Village 92 miles
It had rained into the night, so that there was a small 'lake' behind us. The storms in England must have reached us!
By the time we left at 9.00am, the sun had come out.
We drove through the 'breadbasket' of Sweden with its fields of cabbages, to Skanor.
We were parked at top left - there’s even a duck on the ‘puddle’!
We now drove through the small town, with its rows of small, neat houses with a line of trees in front, to the imposing church. It was white, and quite simple. We parked by the unremarkable Town Hall, beside a grassy town square.
Elevenses on a beautiful beach
Behind this, we walked across a nature reserve full of wild flowers, particularly thrift, to the site of an ancient castle. It was surrounded by a moat, from which we could hear the croak of frogs and we actually saw two leap into the water. From this elevation, we looked out to a lot of flat, agricultural land and across still to the Oresund Bridge.
We now made our way to the Viking village of Foteviken. It was nearing midday, so we had our lunch first, sitting in the van, before going in to pay our €9 each seniors rate.
It was a superb place – a village set up and run by people who like to live as Vikings. They dress in Viking style clothes dyed natural colours, and carry out Viking style activities. It was very atmospheric. A noisy party of schoolchildren were there when we arrived, but things calmed down. We climbed right up the watch tower – quite a feat for me, but the chap in front of us was blind, with a guide dog! We could look down on the many houses. In one, the young man had a fire under a tripod, and was making 'tea'. He gave us some – mint and lemon balm – it tasted good.
He lived here, but also in Malmo, he said, when not a Viking.
Skanor - the Town Hall and the church
After this great visit, we made our way to Ystad, following the unspoilt and undeveloped coast.
We came to a nice 'overnighter' just before Ystad. All the front pitches, overlooking the beach, were taken and the others looked rather wet and muddy.
We continued to a parking area right near the town. With difficulty, we paid for the carpark by card before walking into the centre. We could see the landmark of the tall St Mary's Church, so made our way there. It had boxed wooden pews. Outside the streets were made of rough cobbles and the houses were delightfully half timbered.
Images of Foteviken Viking Village
First we stopped at a 'hole in the wall' so that we could get some Swedish money (krone). It was outside a small but well stocked supermarket so we went in to see how expensive things were. We found that some things weren't too badly priced.
We then parked beside a lovely beach – actually a motorhome overnighter- where we had our tea/coffee and very good pecan pastry, sitting on the edge of the beach, while terns dived into the waves.
The sun was warm but there was a strong, cool breeze. In the adjacent town square however, it felt warm, so we shared a lemon flavoured icecream, sitting in the sun. A gentleman cycling past stumbled on the cobbles and fell down. Luckily people including Adrian came to help him.
We walked back to the van. We should have returned to the previous overnighter, but carried on to a place Adrian had a note of, but this turned out to be a large campsite – not what we wanted.
Then, of course, things got difficult! We drove on to Ales Stennar, which I had wanted to see, as it is a bit like Stonehenge. However, when we got there (after a false start), there was a 120 krone fee (nearly £12) overnighter and you could drive no further, so it would have been quite a walk.
As we drove on towards another parking area of Adrian's, we passed a carpark near to a campsite at Borrby. Adrian enquired of the one campervan here. They weren't staying overnight, but we decided to, as it was now 5.40. We watched a couple of hares leaping around. Strange creatures – a mixture of a rat and a kangaroo!
Ystad - the boxed pews in St Mary’s church and the half timbered houses
Friday 9th June Enjoying southern Sweden 70 miles
It was very quiet in the night but neither of us slept well. We then overslept, not waking until nearly 8 o'clock. We were still ready to leave by 9.15. We had no internet connection here, so didn't know the result of the general election.
It was a fine morning. We drove on down to Borrby Beach – the reason our 'overnighter car park was there. It was a completely undeveloped white sandy beach – wonderful! And deserted at this time of day.
We had decided to drive back the few miles to Hagestad Nature Reserve. We had noticed the bright red poppies often fringing the fields, and also the fragrant rugosa roses everywhere. Also, there were frequent patches of pastel coloured lupins.
We drove through the forested reserve, coming to Sandhammaren Beach, said to be the finest in Sweden. It was in fact a continuation of where we had been at Borrby. However, here you had to traverse miles of sand dunes to get to the beach, a bit like Woolacombe! The sun was now warm as we walked up to a viewing point. Tiny pansies were growing amongst the grass.
Beautiful, deserted Borrby Beach
Now we drove back to where we had stopped last night. We had noticed this morning a couple of standing stones opposite. We parked in the car park again, walking right round to avoid the long damp grass before crossing to view the stones. It made up for not seeing Ales Stennar yesterday!
Looking to Sandhammaren Beach
We left here at 10.10 and drove along the coast a bit, pulling in at Skillinge, an attractive waterside place with a small harbour and marina. In fact we could have overnighted here, as we knew. We pulled in, right beside the couple that Adrian had talked to yesterday at Ystad, when he’d asked them if they were staying there overnight. No, they'd stayed here! We were able to get an internet connection, and discovered that there is a 'hung parliament' in Britain.
Standing Stones at Borrby
We had our tea/coffee at a picnic table, while a pair of swallows swooped about nearby.
We continued northwards, near the coast, turning off to Stenshuvud National Park. This turned out to be a delight. We set off on a walk down to the coast, coming back a different way, making a total of just over a kilometre. We walked through forest and field to the exquisite white sandy beach. I even had a short paddle. We passed myriads of wild flowers, including orchids, and we heard birdsong. There was even a little stream. Just lovely!
The marina at Skillinge
It was now lunchtime, so we prepared our lunch, but had to walk quite a way to a picnic table by an oak tree, as two coachloads of noisy teenagers had just arrived!
When we left here at 1.30 to continue north, beside the road, fringing the fields, were masses of blue cornflowers.
At Kivik we turned off to drive right by the sea to have another look at the wonderfully unspoilt white sand. Tiny sweet peas were growing on the beach, making us think of the desert pea in Australia.
The land was more undulating now, and we had had a glimpse of the white coast stretching northwards. Beside the road, fruit trees were neatly growing.
Adrian had note of a place where we could 'dump', so with this accomplished, we continued to Kristianstad. They have a 'Tivoli park' here – an area of park and trees beside the river. I'd wanted to see that, so we headed for the centre of the town, and were able to park by the station - 60p for an hour.
We first walked across to the main square, which didn't impress us, particularly as it was partly a car park! Nearby was the gigantic church of the Holy Trinity, which was tall, light and airy. Again it had boxed pews, this time with 2 metre high pew ends, each one carved differently.
A walk through wild flower meadows to a beautiful beach at Stenshuvud National Park
Around the main square in Kristianstad
The station building
Back at the van, we phoned Nicky, and were really pleased to speak to her, and to all of them.
We also phoned Emma, who was still working, but we had a long chat to Ruby, which was nice.
Naturum Vattenriket nature reserve, Kristianstad
Saturday 10th June From Kristianstad to Karlskrone and Kalmar 133 miles
It was a fair morning, after a little rain in the night. We left at 9.30. We made our way to nearby Lidl for bread and milk, and found things not that expensive. Adrian had left his wallet in the van, so a long queue was forming at the checkout while he went to fetch it! The chap behind was not amused!
We'd really enjoyed this southern part of Sweden, but now took faster roads, some of it motorway, towards Karlskrone. Often the verges were bright with red poppies.
When we stopped for elevenses in a rest area at Aryd, it tried to rain. We continued to Karlskrone, and were able to park, using my Blue Badge, just off the main square.
The cobbled square was large, with car parking in it. There were market stalls, mostly flowers. There were two huge churches, Holy Trinity, which we looked into, with its vast attractive dome and simple boxed pews. The other bastion of a church was closed. We noticed that although there were a lot of cars, there were very few cycles in the town.
We had a look at the large wooden Admiralty church before driving down to the water's edge for lunch. We were in a motorhome overnighting place, but not free. We looked out to lots of low islands.
Kristianstad Town Hall Holy Trinity Church,
Now we made out way towards Kalmar, stopping in a picnic area to dump.
In Kalmar, we parked in the old part, near the impressive castle. Adrian had pulled in, wondering what the sign by it said, but it was for Blue Badge holders, so perfect!
There were a lot of people about, initially we thought for a wedding, but then we realised that it must have been a photo shoot of graduates. The girls wore long dresses, and young men were in smart suits. Times were written up by the castle for photos. It was an attractive setting, with the pleasant town gardens, full of rhododendrons, adjacent. We wandered through these, beside the water, before making our way past old painted wooden houses to an ancient churchyard. We had also wandered into a newer one, set under enormous trees. This town has a museum of a sunken ship, like the Mary Rose, but that would have taken a long time to visit.
Wooden Admiralty Church and the Tower
Kalmar castle and gardens
The 6 km bridge to the island of Oland
Sunday 11th June Lovely Oland, then north 154 miles
It was a fine but cloudy morning. We were able to get water here. While Adrian did that, I walked through a bit of forest to a beach area with a view back to the bridge. This had been a good stop, if a bit messy from bridge works.
We left at 9.30 to drive the 6 km across the bridge to the island of Oland. Despite traffic driving over it all night, we found the island very quiet and peaceful. Really delightful in fact. It is a long, narrow island, mostly flat. We soon pulled in, looking back to the bridge over channels of water where there were yellow iris, swans and a tufted duck.
We soon passed an old wooden windmill, and then we saw many more – there are apparently 400 on the island!
We stopped at Morbylanga beside one of the windmills, right by the beach. We parked in a little park, where a father came down with his two purposeful little girls who firstly played in the small but imaginative playground before making their way to the beach.
Yellow irises as we look back to Oland Bridge
We made for the eastern side of the island, passing 3 evocative windmills in a row.
We stopped in the centre of the island to explore an area of limestone pavement, known as alvaret, making us think of the Burren in Ireland. We walked out over the flat area, which, like it said in Kakadu NP, Australia, either had nothing, or everything, depending on how you saw it. The flowers were small and low lying, but there were many which normally grew in very different parts of the world, but had adapted to these conditions with almost no soil, and freezing winter temperatures. We saw bright yellow stone-crop, and tiny potentilla, apparently from the Arctic. Larks flew above, so a lovely stop.
Three windmills in a row
On the eastern side of the island, we came down to Blasinge Hamn, a delightful little old fashioned fishing harbour, making us think of Newfoundland with its little red painted huts. Swallows swooped around here. We ate our lunch in a motorhome overnighting area, where a little meadow full of cowslips led down to a sandy beach. A barefoot couple, clad in just swim suits, traversed the meadow to go down for a swim.
The alvaret limestone pavement, Oland
We continued northwards, passing a group of standing stones, until we reached the long bridge again. We crossed it, and continued our journey north on good roads. We were driving mostly through forests of tall pines, so didn't have much of a view. We pulled in to a pleasant rest area, where we could have overnighted, but decided to travel further. We sat outside to have a cup of tea, beneath the tall trees. There was a play area and even exercise machines here.
We continued another 60 miles, coming down to a parking area beside a wide 'canal' at Gamleby. A small boat arrived at the jetty with its small haul of fish, as it began to rain.
Delightful Blasinge Hamn
After supper we looked up the area around Stockholm in preparation for our proposed visit.
Monday 12th June Norrkoping and Nykoping 102 miles
It was a surprisingly pleasant morning after the torrential rain and thunder in the night.
We stopped to get diesel in Gamleby before heading north on good roads, with very little traffic.
We were driving through forest, mostly coniferous, with the occasional meadow and lake. We stopped for coffee before Norrkoping where there were mauve and yellow flowers amongst the grass.
We drove into Norrkoping, a large and pleasant former mill town, along a tree-lined boulevard. However, we weren't to have much luck here! We spent hours looking for a parking space, finally finding a 'Blue badge' spot. We were intending visiting two (free) museums, and some colourful gardens. We didn't manage any! We'd given up on the gardens, as parking was too difficult. As we set off to walk to the museums, it began to rain hard. We continued, armed with our large umbrella, but much of the town was being dug up, with roads closed. We thought that we knew where we were going, but ended up going round in circles!
Finally we came to the 'workers museum', which was on several floors. We had much trouble with the antiquated lift, but finally reached the top floor, where out leaflet said that there was an exhibition on one of the workers at the mill. But it wasn't the 7th floor, it was the 6th, and the restaurant! The lift went no further, so we climbed the stairs to the 7th floor to find that the door was locked!!
Giving up on this museum, we made our way to the second one – the 'Town Museum', which supposedly had a good reconstruction of a 19th century street. We found the door – but – it was closed on Mondays!
We now had difficulty in finding our way back to the van, with all the road closures. When we did, we went into Netto store opposite, to find that they didn't sell any 'fresh' bread, which we wanted for lunch. The baker/Konditori next door didn't sell bread either!
We got out of Norrkoping, and made our way to a quiet little spot above a tranquil lake for lunch. The motorway was just across the lake, hidden from our view. Obviously a busy swimming spot 'in season'! Purple lupins flowered everywhere.
We had more success at Nykoping. It was a smaller, quiet town, with the remains of a 13th century castle. We were able to park very close to it, above a tranquil river. We wandered through what is left of the castle – a film crew were busy setting up.
The former mill town of Norrkoping, where we didn’t have much luck!
Then we walked by the river to the main square, where there were a few stalls – clothes and fruit. The strawberries smelled good, but we didn't buy any, as the price displayed didn't tie up with what the man said!
We looked inside nearby St Nicholas church, and viewed the wooden bell tower – all that remained after the Russians had attacked in 1719.
We now made our way to an overnighter at the marina, having tried a second nearby option, but coming back to the first. We even had electricity here! After a reviving cup of tea, we had a short walk around.
Nykoping - the Main Square and the wooden bell tower
Tuesday 13th June Magical Mariefred 59 miles
What would have made this place extra special was a narrow gauge steam railway, but as we knew, this wasn't open yet for the season! We walked across the station and had to suffice with a few photos!
Instead, we walked on to Gripsholm Castle – a massive building of red brick in a very photogenic setting. You could wander around the outside, and through the outer parts without going in and paying. We didn't want to see the art collection anyway! The weather wasn't that bad ( just 14C!), so we really enjoyed our walk, especially as notices were usually written in English too. There was a drawbridge which we walked across, and a garden with blue irises and even agapanthus. It had been a lovely stop.
The station at Mariefred - but no trains running!
Glorious Gripsholm Castle
The night had been really cold – we even put the heating on for a while in the morning – but it was a perfect day. We’d heard a cuckoo's repetitive song. We were up early, and left at 8.20, heading for Stockholm. At first we took small roads - the scenery made us think of rural England. The latter part was on motorway. We arrived at the campsite at Bredang at 9.10.
We were able to book in now, so having sited our van, we set off for our day in Stockholm. First we had to walk to the station, where we caught the metro to Slussen, just across from the old town island of Gamla Stan. They were working on the station access, so we had to climb up some horribly dirty metal stairs - hardly a welcome!
We made our way to the old town, and enjoyed wandering along the narrow cobbled streets flanked by tall painted buildings. We came across the German church, one of many churches in the city. Soon afterwards we stopped for an icecream, sitting on the 'window ledge' outside and looking across to ancient doors and attractive shop signs. The pleasant young girl came to make the waffle cones behind us, showing us how she did it.
A walk at bedtime
A place to suit us!
Wednesday 14th June Stockholm in the sun 31 miles
We now came to the enormous church of Storkyrkan, by the main square. We didn't go in here, as you had to pay, and we see plenty of churches without paying!
Views in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town
Outside the Royal Palace, we saw the 'changing of the guard' before waking across to Riddarholmen Island where we had nice views across the water. Stockholm is set on many islands, with hundreds of others surrounding it.
Stockholm’s Royal Palace
We walked through the parliament buildings and then ate our sandwich which we'd made, sitting in a grassy park. The temperature was perfect.
The City Hall from Riddarholmen Island
We had been looking for Medeltidsmuseum, the free museum about medieval Stockholm. It turned out to be right beneath us! It had been excavated in 1978 and many of the walls (and a boat) formed the main part of the museum. A concrete roof had been built on top and the park made on top of that. An excellent display of medieval times completed the museum. Once again, signs were in both Swedish and English.
Walking through the Parliament buildings
Our lunchtime park behind the Royal Palace,
right above the underground museum
We now thought that we'd cross to the island of Djurgarden, but had a lot of trouble in locating the right place to catch a boat. All we could find was the 'Hop on hop off' boats and buses – 200 krone for a 24 hour ticket. After much trailing around, one of the pleasant 'touts' told us of the ferry - another 10 minute walk! This cost us 29 krone each return – much better!
Djurgarden however, was our one disappointment. It houses a huge park, but we couldn't get that far. All we came to was the 'Tivoli Gardens' funfair and lots of people! Also, we discovered that the island is joined by road, so there were trams, buses and cars, not the relaxed place we were expecting! We cut our losses, and took the ferry back, stopping off at Skeppsholm island, just long enough to catch the next ferry back to Slussen. From here, we walked the cobbled streets, stopping to buy a couple of rolls for breakfast, to the station and got tickets for our train back.
Medeltidsmuseum, Stockholm’s underground medieval museum
Once back at Bredang, it was the 600m walk back to the campsite, which we reached at 4.15. It had been a really good day, but we were both ready for a cup of tea! We sat outside – we were pleased that our van was in the shade!
The ferry to Djurgarden, arriving at the Tivoli funfair
A few minutes relaxation back at the campsite
Nothing comes easily! Our time leading up to this trip had not been plain sailing. Adrian had had this idea of going to Scandinavia, but it seemed to be thwarted. He'd had radiotherapy treatment for his prostrate cancer in January, and all had gone well. Then my brain scan had showed an 'enhancement', so the oncologist had wanted me to have another scan. At the next appointment, although the enhancement was still there, she said to have the next scan in 3 months – August – so we went ahead with our planned trip. The run up to it was as busy as ever. We had visited both Tom in Spain and Simon in France in May as well as Paul in Dorset. Then we had a rally at Sandringham, when we took our little vintage caravan for the Caravan Club National Rally. We returned on Tuesday, and got organised to leave on Friday. A busy time! Not helped by the fact that Adrian's back had been really bad. We got up early on a beautiful morning, and amazingly we were on our way to Dover before 9.30am. We soon heard that there was a problem on the M25 near Clacket Lane Services (more or less closed). We pulled in to Cobham services and had our morning drink while Adrian tried to find an alternative route. This wasn't easy, but we turned off at J7, driving past Gatwick on the M23. There was a lot of congestion on the other carriageway too. Our progress was very slow. We drove through East Grinstead, and later Tunbridge Wells. We passed through beautiful scenery, with villages with lovely houses and gardens. It would have been very nice if we'd been on a tour of Kent, but we were trying to get to Dover! Realising that time was getting short, when we pulled in for Adrian to phone about catching a later ferry, I enquired about sandwiches from a food van. This proved too difficult, so we stopped a bit further on and ate a hasty sandwich lunch of our own. It was after 2.30 when we finally reached Dover. (our booking had been for 1.55) It had now become a bit misty. There was no problem in boarding the 3.40 sailing. It wasn't the quietest of crossings! The boat was full of mostly French school parties, and was incredibly noisy. As we neared Calais, Adrian looked out and saw that our 'usual' motorhome parking spot on the front wasn't there. We disembarked and drove there just to check. Sure enough, the wonderful spot right by the beach and adjacent to the port to watch the ferries arriving and departing had gone! Adrian spotted a sign which gave the name of the relocation of the overnighting place. It was a regulated area with neatly laid out pitches, and now cost €10 instead of the previous €7. After our stressful time, it was the thing to do, but getting into it was most difficult! To raise the barrier to get in, you had to register and pay, but it wasn't easy! It must have been set up for pygmys, as the controls were very low down. Two passing campers came to our aid, and we finally got in, but witnessed many others with similar problems. It was now 5.40 (6.40 French time). It wasn't long before we got the seats out and enjoyed a well deserved drink, followed by supper, sitting outside.
It was a fine morning, so we enjoyed our breakfast sitting outside. We said goodbye to the pleasant 'unGerman' couple from Dortmund, next to us, who were travelling to Devon, and left at 8.45 French time. We had to negotiate the ridiculously difficult leaving procedure, closely watched by an Englishman behind us, so that he could do it. He asked where we were heading, and when we said Scandinavia, he said 'We went a couple of years ago. Surprised how flat it was, Denmark. I thought that Scandinavia was mountainous'! We enjoyed the 'Frenchness' as we drove through Calais, especially the pretty church tower, and a line of attractive houses reflected in the canal.
We'd both heard the cuckoo at 5.00am. The morning was sunny, cool and quiet. We left just after 8.30, trying to find the source of an alarm which was sounding. We later found it to be from the sound system, and Adrian was able to turn it off! We stopped in Ottersberg to get diesel – which turned out to be really cheap - before joining the A1 towards Lubeck. Lorries were still parked up – it must be because it is a bank holiday today. While passing Hamburg, we found that we had turned off mistakenly. On the road back to the motorway we saw lots of lupins and wild roses. We soon stopped at a parking area with rough grass and tall trees and sat at a picnic table with our drinks and a shared German bread roll, reminding me of my time in Duren in the fifties. We drove past Lubeck, and as we were early for our booked ferry time to Denmark, turned off to take a smaller road nearer the coast. This turned out to be a mistake, as it was really busy, and not what we wanted! At Gromitz we stopped at a Netto supermarket, like we had been to in Romania - rather like Lidl and Aldi - and bought some quark cheese and other things. I had been enjoying being able to understand the language in Germany. We drove down towards the coast again at Dahme, but had no luck! We parked by a tall dyke, but when we ascended it, we found that we were miles from the sea. We ate our lunch, then headed for the ferry at Puttgarten. We embarked and left just before 3.00pm for our ¾ hour crossing. We ascended the many stairs, and then some more, right on to the top deck, where we were surprised that it was really warm.
We were up early on a sunny but windy morning. Nearly all the parked up lorries had gone – we saw many crossing over the bridge. We were stopped in our tracks by an email from Nicky, saying that her Mum Diana had died yesterday. Although we knew that she was very ill, we were both really upset. It affects me deeply when someone close dies, as six years ago we thought that it was going to be me. Feeling much sobered, we left soon after 8.30 for Copenhagen. We had visited in 1988 with the boys, and I had been here in 1964 with my friend Angela. The last part of the journey was slow, but we reached 'City Camp'– a place where motorhomes could stay – at 10.00. It was an area almost full of motor homes, in the middle of road construction. We're sure that it can't last much longer, but it suited us. We settled into our designated place, and had tea/coffee while we prepared for our day in Copenhagen. At 11 o'clock we walked over to the multi-story mall opposite to get some Danish Krone from a hole in the wall on the second floor. Then we had to make our way to the harbour to catch the waterbus.
There were underground loos near here. They were a throw back to the past, with polished wood and brass doors, and an attendant - and free! Once more having trouble in finding our way - despite a map given to us from our 'campsite' – we sat on a step by an underground car-park to look at the sat-nav. A strong gust of wind took my hat, and it landed on the ramp going down! Luckily Adrian retrieved it for me.
We'd already noticed the vast number of bicycles (mostly upright), both being ridden, and parked (and usually unlocked). We'd also noticed that pedestrians obey the lights, and don't jay walk. And many loving young mums pushed prams, not buggies.
The site looked very dismal when we looked out, with large puddles. I caught up with some emails before we walked across to the mall to shop in Lidl. We ascended to the first floor, but then found that it was back on the ground floor. Afterwards we could walk back next to the canal. It was quite a smart and spacious shop, very quiet. We were able to buy a few things, which though not cheap, were probably less expensive than in Sweden & Norway. We came back for coffee while we unloaded the shopping. Adrian removed our spare tyre from the back, as he had for the ferry. This made the length of the vehicle less than 6m, and therefore €50 cheaper. Then it was time for the 'emptying and filling'. There were boards across the puddles to the loo. I got 'locked in the lavatory', but was trying to open the door the wrong way! It was midday when we left – this place had served us well – stopping nearby to buy diesel which is cheaper here than Norway & Sweden. At this point there was a heavy shower, which Adrian didn't appreciate, especially as he'd cleaned the windscreen in readiness for me to photograph the bridge! So now we made our way to the Oresund bridge, 16km of it in total, linking Sweden with Denmark. which had been opened in 1999. We first went through a 4km tunnel then 4km of man-made island before the actual 8km bridge. Certainly impressive!
We were now in Sweden, which we'd visited briefly from Denmark (by ferry) in 1988, and I had come to in 1964. We had to hand over our pass (joint ticket with the ferry from Germany) and then our passports were checked by a very cheery fellow, and we were on our way. We drove southwards, to a spot that Adrian had in mind for lunch, with a view back to the bridge.
We viewed the nice station building and an elaborate hotel before walking into the Tivoli Gardens. We had noticed groups of young people in fancy dress, so had realised that something was going on. We never did find out what, but imagine that it was an end of term, or graduation gathering. The music was certainly booming! We made our way to the river, and sat by the roses! We walked back to the van, and still had time to have a cup of tea while we decided where to stop for the night. We discovered that there was an overnighting spot across the river, so made our way there to the Naturum Vattenriket parking. In fact it was right opposite where we were! Once parked, we set off immediately, walking back through the nature reserve, with yellow irises growing amongst the reeds, to the bridge over the river! We could have parked here all along (and saved our 60p!)
Across from Kalmar, on a 6km bridge, lies the island of Oland, which we wanted to have a look at. Luckily, there was a motorhome overnighter right by the bridge, so we headed there. It was quite busy on a Saturday night, but we pulled into the last front row pitch, looking across to the island. The sun had come out warmly, so we sat outside with a cup of tea before having a little walk across to the water. We came back and sat outside with our aperitifs, but came in to eat.
Today was forecast to be really cold. For that reason, and the fact that I had a problem with my left eye, we had decided not to go into Stockholm today. We hadn't been able to get any bread yesterday, but fortunately had a 'bake it yourself' Ciabatta loaf, which we enjoyed for breakfast. Despite the damp morning, two men came to strim the grass around us – a pet hate of Adrian's. After emptying the tanks, we drove off at 9.00 back into Nykoping. We had seen that there was an opticians, so wanted to check out my eye. Using my Blue badge, we were able to park nearby, right next to some building works. The opticians was in fact Specsavers! A very nice young lady who spoke good English saw us. First she had to go through all the official procedure – name, date of birth etc. When she examined my eye, she couldn't see any obvious problem, so rang the eye doctor at the hospital, who was supposed to ring back, but she had no idea when. She said that she would then phone us – but we don't normally use our phone, so had a problem in giving a number. We returned to the van and busied ourselves – me washing my hair, and Adrian working on maps for the website. We had thought that there was no point in hanging around – we could visit a hospital anywhere if necessary, (the procedure here, it seems) so after an early tea/coffee, Adrian went back to tell the optician. She said that the doctor had just rung, to say that if she couldn't see anything, they probably couldn't either. The really good thing was that we didn't have to pay anything. We had decided to continue, and hope that it sorts itself. At 10.50, we left pleasant Nykoping, driving up past the square and church which we had visited yesterday. We then drove a rural route to Mariefred, on Lake Malaren, inland from Stockholm. We had read that this was a pretty little town, with an impressive castle, and this was true! We parked in a car park opposite the castle to have our lunch before wandering the delightful streets lined with wooden houses painted autumnal colours. We passed the tall, slender white church, built on a small bluff.
We left at 2.30, searching without luck for the nearby Railway Museum, which we imagined we'd at least be able to view. Adrian even drove into what turned out to be the local rubbish dump looking for it! We now drove off to find somewhere to stay for the night, in readiness for driving on to Stockholm tomorrow. We turned off onto a long tree-lined road to Taxinge Slott(castle), but this seemed to be more of a hotel, with shops in a nearby building. Back along the road, we pulled into a rough area, and enjoyed the greenery all around. We loved being in our isolation, where the sun shone in until really late. At bedtime I had a short walk behind us along a rough footpath towards a grave, until a fallen tree blocked my path. It was a beautiful evening.
We had left the roof fan on, and found that it was making a loud noise, so Adrian had to fix that. Also my eye was still being problematic. We sorted all the washing for the 2 machines we had booked for 7 o'clock – the most difficult thing when free camping is doing washing! We took the washing over and the rest of the evening was spent in going back and forth! Luckily it was a lovely evening. At first, one of our machines wasn't ready – someone was still using it – she turned out to be from Swansea. A pregnant mum from Swansea, in a caravan, wasn't what we were expecting her to be! We'd decided to wash the duvet covers too, so much time was spent in going back to check first the washing and then the drying. We walked past the group of tractors with caravans, which were travelling around Europe!