Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beard One: Gothenburg to Karlshamn

375km; six-ish days. I followed Sverigeleden, mostly but not entirely on purpose, and then followed Banvallsleden along a converted train track. On-road about half the time, with extremely minimal traffic.

California plates.
Left Monday April 15 (tax day!), 9:30, after a medium-length goodbye from the crew. I finished packing early that morning, then had fika with the crew at 9am, as usual.

For the previous month and a half, I had volunteered with the Götheborg.

That's worth another post in itself, but if I start writing about the past I'll never actually write about anything at all. So!

After leaving the ship with more than a few bittersweet emotions, I wandered in a lost sort of way around the city of Gothenburg, finally getting to the posh seaside suburbs around 11. The rain started pretty quick, like it always does when I start a trip, but it never rained hard. The day was basically uneventful, except for the familiar cycling euphoria that took hold, even if the landscape is still all grey and cold and hoping for warm weather. It never sucks to be riding a bike, with the past completely behind you and the future entirely in front of you and nothing in the present but the present.

The first night was spent with another volunteer with the Götheborg, Martin. He lives in a huge old farmhouse in the countryside. He recognized the Couchsurfing logo on my laptop a few weeks earlier, and a couchrequest was duly sent some time later.

The next day was a slow, late, "what is this cycling thing you keep talking about, we legs are unsure of the concept" day. There was sun.  The rain started about when I set up camp.

Wednesday the 17th was probably the highlight. I was able to do some sunbathing, I ate a lot, and I cycled 81km.

I don't remember where I stopped, except that it was the forest as usual. This part of Sweden is pretty sparse. What villages exist are nothing more than a collection of farmhouses. I am used to being able to stop and resupply every 10km or so, but I was spoiled by Latvia and Lithuania. ("Veikals, veikals, veikals", as one fellow cyclist said when explaining his trip to a fellow countryman. I cycled with that dude and his friends for a day and a night last summer.) Central Sweden had lots of trees and hills but not much in the way of shops.

Thursday the 18th was rough. So was Friday. My legs hurt, I was chafing in places I prefer not to chafe, and the wind was a mess. The weather was trying really hard to change, and unfortunately having little success.

I camped in some pretty sweet spots though. Incidentally, have you heard of allemansrätten?

I also passed a pretty sweet sign on the border of two Swedish provinces.

I just learned that the provinces are historical with no modern political purpose. Hooray, internet.

Finally, early on Saturday, I arrived in Karlshamn, a pleasant seaside-y type of place. I dawdled for a bit, then boarded the ferry around 4 in the afternoon. It's no East Indiaman, but my cabin was a bit bigger than what I had on the Götheborg and I was able to hang up my gear to dry it a bit. Self included.

Ok that's already too long! More next week, after I travel to Kaunas!  I bid farwell with this two-sided boulder near Karlshamn: