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It got worse. My credit card, my only one, was declined. One of the agents lent me her cell phone. I called. I answered a bunch of security questions. Then it listed some transactions that they thought to be suspicious. They were several weeks back. They did not name the source of the merchant, just the dates and amounts. I punched okay. In hindsight I guess I should have punched that they weren't. But that would have delayed things. They were trying to close up the ticket counter. By this time only I and another fellow in the same predicament were left. The agent still took my folding bicycle and said it would be on the plane.
My next hassle was security. Because I had just bought my ticket I had to go through secondary screening. I got a pat down, plus he went through everything rubbing a swatch and putting in a machine. This took a while. It wasn't just the straps. But my shoes, my camera, my watch.
I'm about the last to board. The plane is hot! Of course once we take off it will cool down. And the individual reading lights don't work on the outside rows. On the bright side, and everything can't be negative, I have two seats for myself.
I ask about my gluten free meal. There is one on board, but my name is not on any list. But then I was moved. Four rows up the window control set did not work. Since I had an extra seat I switched with a father and son. While I still had two seats, I could only have a reading light on the aisle seat. As I plan to sleep this shouldn't be a problem.
We pull back from the gate only a few minutes after the scheduled 10 PM. They bring around peanuts. They bring around cups of juice and water. Then they bring around cups of beer. Finally at 11:15 I see the first food. At midnight I'm eating. Two hours of a seven hour flight wasted. After a pit stop at 12:15 I try to sleep.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
As usual I am not aware that I slept. Through presumably I did sleep some. The seat by the window did not recline. I switch to the aisle one and lost the wall to lean against. I did find I could lean against the upright other seat. And it was good that I had brought an eye mask. The controls for the cabin lights in economy were broken and the lights couldn't be shut off.
I was aroused for a hot towel long before breakfast. These guys don't try to maximize sleep time. My breakfast snack was gluten-free. I eat two of my LaraBars to supplement it. I only brought two pemmican muffins (I decided I didn't want the extra weight). I held off eating them. With no guide books (I photocopied the pages I'd need) my luggage was so light I'm left wondering if I forgot something. [I now rip out the pages I need and only bring those along.]
I check out the tiny town hall. I take a walk along the lake. I find one of the church ruins. Then it is time for the bus. I get to the spot 7-8 minutes before departure time. I wait. No bus 803. Other buses come and go. I learn from others that I can take a bus to Märsta Station and then another bus to Arlanda Airport. It is a little more expensive. It takes a little longer, but the buses are more frequent.
We take off in a little jet (around 110 seats) with the sun shining. I get some pictures of the archipelago. The pilot says it is raining in Visby. As soon as we get off the coast it becomes overcast. By the time we are landing we can see the rain.
I walk along the water looking for a dinner place. I pass the tourism office and collect more maps. I ask about getting a panoramic picture. She points out a hill.
I pass a bicycle rental. One is only $10 a day. The first restaurants are either pizza parlors or night clubs. Then I come to Kaffestugan. They have a sign out front advertising entrecoté for 95 SEK ($14).
We discuss the need for gluten-free and dairy-free. We determine that the entrecoté and the French Fries are okay (they are). There is one problem. There is a group of 20, mostly young boys, having dinner after a game. It is noisy. Did I tell you it was noisy!? After I finished my eating and got back to writing my journal they all left. A couple just then walked in. I told them that their timing was good. The other people in the room laughed. I caught up with my notes in the quiet.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I awake early, but do not get up early. Breakfast is a grand buffet, though there is not much that I can eat. Eggs are only hard or soft. Meat is only cold cuts. Bananas disappear quickly. I bet most go into bags for later eating. I have no bag.
I return to my room as it starts to rain. I decide to nap and try to get completely rid of my lingering cold. It rains hard while I do. At 1:00 I head out. It is only slightly raining.
I stop at the front desk. No bicycle. I buy a detailed map of Gotland. The fellow offers to check on the bicycle. I go get my claim check. I try the web site on it. The URL is no good. The woman tries calling the baggage service. Busy. She calls Skyways [now bankrupt] at the local airport. It will be on the evening flight.
I head off for lunch and an afternoon in town. I stop at the same place as dinner and order the same thing.
I head to the Gotlands Fornsal, one of the largest and best regional museums in Sweden. Only some of the captions have English. This is just as well, as it would have taken hours reading just some of them.
I then head to the Botanical Gardens. I then spend the afternoon finding all the church ruins and parks. It rains lightly on and off all afternoon (and evening too). I was always finding new streets to walk. I stopped in a grocer and bought some mixed nuts. Behind me in the check out line were three women from Boston. One liked my idea of nuts for a snack. I found the Adelsgatan. On it I see the Texas Long Horn Restaurant. Steaks, of course, are a big part of their menu. I decide I'll come back. I head to the hotel. The flight with my bicycle has been in for 50 minutes. He calls. The airline responds some time this evening. The hotel clerk says they'll leave it in my room. I head back to the Texas Longhorn for dinner.
I ordered a big steak. I wanted a baked potato, but they had no olive oil. I settled for French fries. The order also came with a piece of corn on the cob. I don't know why restaurants serve this. The corn is invariably old. It was cooked long before. If you've had fresh picked corn that has just come out of the pot you'll know what I mean.
I walk back to my room. I try a little different way to see the Visborgs Slott ruins. In my room I find my bicycle. I take it out of its bag. First I notice that my four bungee cords were stolen. Then the bicycle is a little banged up. The front wheel is rubbing on the front brake. The wheel looks warped. I head to the front desk. He gives me a map with the cycle shop. It isn't too far. I go off for a walk to find it. After I get back I examine my bicycle. I am able to unjam the stuck pedal. I can bend back the chain guard. And I can bend back the rear fender, so it doesn't rub. The front wheel actually looks okay. Just that the tire is on crooked. But the brake rubs it. I pop the brakes open. I can do without a front brake. I go for a ride. I find the art museum and a park in front. I had somehow missed them before. Then I bicycle around the wall for a little ways. Then I bicycle to the Stora Torget to see the night life beginning. One bar is really jumping. All the patrons are about half my age. The bicycle's kick stand feels a little wobbly. I find it is already loose! This is a new bicycle. On the previous one the kickstand came loose and stripped the threads in the aluminum frame; and Dahon gave me a new bicycle. I did not bring the needed #8 Allen wrench to tighten. I was planning to, but didn't, figuring tools would be easy to find. I won't use it until I get it tightened.
I return to my room. I stop at the front desk. She thinks it better to take the bus both ways to Fårö. The direct road to faro is a fast highway with little room for bicycles. At least I can take the bus there and see how it goes.
I return to my room to get things ready for the next day.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I'm up and ready for breakfast before they open at 6:00. It is overcast, but not yet raining. There are a group of motorcyclists also waiting for it to open. I ask if they have a wrench that I can borrow for my kick stand. They don't.
At breakfast I see it isn't just bananas that are taken for later. A single woman is making sandwiches and stuffing them in her bag. Plus she takes two bananas. Maybe she took enough for lunch and dinner? I take a banana and leave it in my room for later.
I get to the bus station early. It starts to rain. I fold up my bicycle. I see there is a hatch to store baby strollers. Full size bicycles hang on the back of the bus. But I'm afraid the kick stand will loosen and fall off. I put it underneath as the driver is watching. He does not charge me for the bicycle. Promptly at 7:05 we take off.
As we leave town we pass a flying museum. It looks like something I can do the next day.
The direct road to Fårö is a highway and no shoulder at all for bicycles. And as the guide book wrote, at about 10 km from town the countryside begins to get pretty.
As I started this day earlier than the day before I wore a flannel shirt under my rain parka. I figure I can later put it on the bicycle rack. But wait. I didn't bring a plastic bag to keep it dry. I have one in the room. I'll have to buy one.
In Fårösund I have a 15 minute wait for a ferry.
I continue on. I see a place that says café. It is only 11:00, but I'm hungry. It's been five hours since breakfast. I bicycle in. A woman is pulling out in her car. She says this place only has sandwiches. She recommends getting lunch in Sudersand. She also suggests making a side trip along the coast to get there.
I bicycle a little ways. Two women are coming out of a dirt road. I take her map (it's twice the scale as mine) and ask her if this is the one I'm looking for. It is. Good. I may have missed it otherwise.
The road hugs the coast. It is rocky and slow going. But it is very peaceful. I did meet a group of cyclists, one motor vehicle, and a couple of hikers. The road ended and I was basically in Sudersand. My first stop was the grill at the camping ground. He suggested I continue on to a real restaurant. There are three, he said. The first is Carlssons. I stop there. A daughter suggests a lamb patty off the dinner menu; with salad and fries. I order it. Then she comes to the table. There is some dairy in the ground lamb. Would a beef burger be okay? It would. I also asked for a lot of fries. And a lot of them I got! These were homemade. Basically new potatoes broken, not cut, in half. I finished them all.
I asked the girl about bicycle repairs. She pointed out where a good one is. She also suggested two side trips: one trip to the very eastern tip of Fårö, and another to get a view of Norsholmen. She also suggested a restaurant in Fårösund for dinner.
I head on. When I see the sign for Ara I decide I'll take that side trip. It is a peaceful ride through the woods, but slow going at times. For parts there is deep sand and I have to walk the bicycle. I think I have to go back to the main road, but I see a fellow walking. He says it is better to take the green line on my map (which isn't really a road, but the border of the Skalasands Nature Reserve. Along one side all the trees are marked with a white strip. Presumably they mark the border.) That will allow me to avoid the entire main road and I can then turn down the road to what I discover is a lighthouse at the eastern tip.
This is a popular spot to view the waves and get some sun. The sun did come out. Since lunch there has been no rain. I walk along the rocky beach and get some pictures.
I continue on. I make a turn to the right on an unpaved road. I thought it was the road towards Norsholmen. But it was just to a fishing dock. No matter. Like most side trips it circles around and returns to the main road. I then find the road to Norsholmen. I bicycle as far as it is a road. I get a picture. It goes further as a bicycle/walking path. I see people on the beach on the other side of the bay. But I turn back.
I find the ICA. I ask where the bicycle man is. I go find him. The front wheel is warped. He says tomorrow. I tell him I have to go back to Visby. He says one hour. It is now 4:00. This means 5:00. I really should not have taken the time from my Fårö trip, but I did.
I went back to the ICA for some water. By mistake I bought sparkling water (how do you tell in Swedish?). Yeech. I did learn that it had a deposit and I learned how to get my 1 KR back. I was shown the deposit symbol.
At 4:30 I return to the cycle shop. It's ready. I could have drunken my water faster. It's all fixed. He asks for 30 SEK. That's the equivalent of $4.20 in US!! After I left I realized I should have asked if he could put a lead crimp on the end of the brake cable, but too late.
I bicycle on towards the town of Fårö. I make the turn towards Langhammers. I stop and finish off the nuts I bought the day before. I pass some old buildings. There is an explanatory plaque by the road. But like all the plaques on Fårö they are only in Swedish. I take a picture. Plus I take a picture of the plaque.
I make it out to Langhammars-hammaren. These are a bunch of upright rocks on the beach. This is the main tourist attraction on Fårö. Despite it being 6:00 there are many cars there. I see on the plaque's map two red boxes around buildings. One was the group I found on my way there. I'll look for my other on the way back. I do. I found an octagonal shed with a mill inside.
I then bicycled through the Digerhuvuds Nature Reserve. I'm heading southwest. It is all open. The head wind is strong. It is slow going. I stop a couple times to take pictures.
At the end I'm at Lauterhorn. I settle for a picture from on high. I see signs for Lauter's bar and café. There is a mob of people in the yard. I stop. I find it is an all you can eat barbecue. For 185 SEK I pig out on pork chops, lamb chops, and beef.
I get ready to leave. I sort of find out how far it is to the ferry. I leave. I go a short ways and decide I'll check the bus schedule. I find a three hour gap! One leaves in a few minutes and the next in three hours. I return to Lauter's. I chat with the bar maid. I ask for suggestions of what to do. She's not from Fårö. Only one of the staff there is. Her parents have a summer home there. We decide I might as well go back to Lauterhorn. I do. It looked better from a far. I do check what time I was there before. It was 7:05. There was no way I could have made the 7:38 ferry to catch the 8:05 bus. Stopping for dinner did not hold me back. I return to Lauder's to write these notes. While writing a woman comes and sits down. She had an accent that was hard to understand. And the wine she was drinking didn't help. I went back to my notes and she left. Obviously she was trying to pick me up. The couple next to me says her name was Monique ----, the home of a famous Swedish movie star. I learn we are in Bergman Week. Ingmar Bergman lives on Fårö. She was asking me questions about movie stars. I don't follow movies. I had no idea what she was asking. [Since this trip Ingmar Bergman passed away.]
I headed out. I had about an hour and a half to go 15 km. I did make two side trips for scenic views. And I pedaled fast. I got there just as the 10:08 ferry was pulling in. This is a half hour sooner than I needed to make the bus. I take it.
Over in Fårösund I first tried to find the restaurant that was recommended at lunch. I didn't, but then I didn't try very hard. I did see a sign for a cycle shop. (I also later found a second one on Fårö.) My problem now was I couldn't remember where the bus stop is. I only knew it was on some side street south of the road to the ferry. And there were no people around. And all shops were closed. And there are no bars. I did find a woman in her front yard on her cell phone. She clued me in. I wanted a juice, but I was out of luck. I just waited for the bus.
It was a full day. I took the first bus to Fårösund. I returned on the last bus back. But it was dark when I got on the 11 PM bus. I get no view on my way back.
I eat the banana from breakfast and get to bed before 1 AM.
Friday, June 29, 2007
I see no reason to get up early. I don't have any big plans before my flight; except for a few things I missed and to find bungee cords.
I get to breakfast late. All the bananas are gone.
I first head to Almedalen Park. I had been there before, but it was too dark for a picture. I then found what the guide book says is the most photographed street in Visby: Fiskargränd. I then bicycle around the outside of the wall for the parts I didn't walk earlier. I then headed to the cycle shop that I had planned to use for my front wheel repair. They had no bungee cords or tools. He recommends ÖB. They did not have any #8 Allen wrenches and only one small bungee cord. A clerk there recommends Coop. On my way to Coop I pass Sport Nordica. No bungee cords or tools. I get to the Coop. No bungee cords, but they do have a set of wrenches. But the entire set is way too heavy. Besides I already have a set at home. And they do have straps one can use to strap things to a bicycle rack. Just they are not elastic. I buy the longest. I then head back to the first bicycle shop. He has a T-handled Allen wrench and tightens the kick stand well. This should last for a while.
It was now noon, and time to check out. I go back to my room to move my bags to the baggage closet. As for the bungee cords, the desk fellow recommends trying a combination cycle/car shop. I first headed to lunch at the same place. I got a hunk of beef on a bed of French fries. Then I head to the recommended shop. Lo and behold, in the car section, they had one size. And bungee cords are a lot cheaper than the straps were. I buy a package of two.
I head back, going through the old section. I was to stop at the ICA and get another package of mixed nuts. But they were sold out, and a fellow did check the stock for me. I settled for some weird fortified fruit juice.
It was time to head back to my hotel for my bags. Using a strap and the bungee cords together—not really right; one was too short and two were too long—I get the bags to stay on. The desk fellow recommends the way to go with the least hills.
On my way I pass another ICA. I go in. This one has a much more limited nut selection and they didn't even carry the mixed nuts that I wanted.
I make it to the airport. I fold up the bicycle right in front of the checkin. At first the fellow didn't see my bag (it was in its case) and offers me a plastic bag to put it in. Because my Visby ticket was cheap I couldn't check my luggage through the next flight.
I'm one of the last on the plane. It's hard to get a window seat. I do, but it is on the sunny side. With water everywhere the sun reflects back and would ruin any picture.
Again I'm not well positioned to be first for the plane. I do get a window seat, but again it is facing the sun.
On this flight everything is for sale, including the water! I pull out one of my pemmican muffins and my last Larabar. They will tide me over until my late dinner.
One of the flight attendants finds out I'm an American. (We had to discuss the food in English.) She likes America and wants to visit it often. I explain to her what pemmican is. I give her my card so she can check out my pictures.
We arrive in Simrishamn. As his wife isn't yet there he hangs around as I remove the bicycle from the bag. Or I try to. I had noticed that there was a kink in the zipper. But it zipped closed fine. But it wouldn't zip open! It was a few inches from the end. There is no way to slip the bicycle out. One of the teeth was bent. We examine it. We try. And we try. We discuss a possible fix with needle nose pliers or a small screwdriver. I'm concerned I'll lose a day of bicycling trying to get the bag repaired after I've cut the bicycle out. And it being a weekend would make it worse. But then he did something and he got the zipper past the kink.
I just have to be sure now to keep each of the zippers on their side of the bad spot. I strap on my luggage. I give him my card. His wife arrives. And off I go.
I find the Maritim Krog & Hotell. I go to check in. I find there has been a mix up. They had me arriving a day later. But they learned the correct dates that day. They have a room, but I have to switch after the first night. This is the one room I did not book myself. I paid a large premium to book a self guided tour with Svea Adventures. And I learned that she didn't even book my room directly, but had the local tourist office book it. Too many people involved. All I got for my premium were some maps that I knew existed and could have gotten from the tourism office, and a route sheet. I'll see how useful it is. Probably not much, as I may not want to go in the direction she has described.
But I digress. I then ask and learn that breakfast is from 9-11! Never in my travels do I recall such a late breakfast. It is 7:00 during the week, but this is the weekend. They will leave me a cooler box outside my room with hard boiled eggs, some cold cuts, and fruit.
I put my things in my room and return to their restaurant. I have a choice of yet another steak or a seafood casserole in coconut milk. I order the later.
It is now 10 PM. It is sunset. I bicycle around until 10:45. The old part of town is pretty. There are lots of old small houses.
I get back to my room. I want to get everything ready tonight. Since I have to leave the key in the room I want to be sure not to leave anything behind. I look at the notes that Svea Adventures provided. I look at the bicycle route flyer from the tourism office. It is nothing but a direct translation. I now see that I paid a few hundred dollars for this translation. Nothing else was provided that I couldn't have easily obtained myself; and with less hassle. Plus it cost me $450 to fly down to Scania for the two days. This will be the first and last time I use someone else to plan all or part of a trip!
Saturday, June 30, 2007
I awake early and eat much of the breakfast they left outside my door in a cooler. Then back to bed. I awake again at 7:30. The overnight rain has stopped and it is clear outside (and remains clear with some clouds all day). I get off around 8:30. This is not as early as I hoped, but still before the restaurant opens for breakfast.
I start following Bicycle Route 3 and head south to Brantevik. I follow the bicycle path along the sea, and then I carry my bicycle over a fence and bicycle a grass road for a ways. Eventually it abruptly ends. I don't see a way to the road. I try going through someone's yard. The husband comes out. I apologize for intruding. He points that back a ways is a fence and a road.
On the paved road I come to a sign for Gislövshammar. It looks on the map like there may be a path along the sea from there to Skillinge. I head down to the hamlet. I walk out to the point. I see a dirt road heading south behind a fence. I find a fellow in a yard. I ask if I can take it and does it go to Skillinge. He says yes and to go for it. I open the fence and head on. The road turns to grass and ends at a house. I go up a hill. I see no path at all heading on; very strange. I return to Gislövshammar and return to the paved road and head on that to Skillinge.
In Skillinge I first stop in Skeppshandel; a large nautical and gift shop. I admire some handmade cordial glasses. (I have a weakness for this art form, though I rarely use one.)
I then head to Skillinge's Sjöfartsminnesförenings Museum (a local maritime museum). It is only open from 2-5. It's now only 10:40. I try to buy some mixed nuts at the grocer. Like my other recent attempts they only have the nut and raisin mix. I pass. I go check out the small town square. I continue on along the sea on a gravel bicycle path. It goes on and on. My problem is being on the path I have no idea when to make the turn to Hoby. I ask a fellow sitting in front of a cottage. He's just renting for the summer and doesn't really know. Then he remembers seeing Hoby. I have to go back a little ways.
I bicycle through Hoby and the Östra Hoby. I then slightly miss the turn to Salap, but I find a motorcyclist and he sends me back. I came to a mystery intersection. I wasn't sure where I was. But I could see a church, and that had to be Vallby. I went for it, and later determined I had trimmed off part of the route.
In Vallby I stopped at the church. I couldn't get in. I walked around.
I was now near Glimmingehus. This is a castle that is the main attraction in these parts. And the only place I'll be able to get lunch. I head there. My first stop is the restaurant. I tell them my dietary restrictions. She thinks and suggests the chicken with new potatoes and fresh vegetables in a honey vinegar sauce. It was one of my better meals so far. Despite them giving me an extra portion I wanted more. More potatoes and vegetables would be free. I offer to pay more. But others are in the restaurant and it will be 30 minutes. No problem. I can go see the castle.
I go turn my voucher from Svea Adventures into an admission sticker. The woman tells me there will be an English tour at 2:00. It is now 25 minutes to. As I will have the tour, instead of looking at the castle now I go get a picture. Then I spy a fellow with a bunch of equipment in the courtyard. He's a circus performer, and he and another fellow will give a performance for kids at 6:00. I go back and check on my food. It is next. Timing will be just right for the tour.
I take the tour with a Canadian couple. One learns a lot about the history of the fellow that built it. He was very rich, and very paranoid that someone was going to try to steal from him. He made the place very fortified.
I head on, following the route to Gislöv. There in Gislöv I come across a blacksmith museum. I went in. They have quite a collection of ironwork. I was most interested in their scissors. Alongside was a black smith shop. There was a fellow showing a younger fellow how to forge steal.
I headed back to Simrishamn. It was just 4:00. I figured I now would have time for the Simrishamn Museum. I stopped at the tourism office. They checked. The museum is closed at 2:00 on Saturday. I have been hoping that I could take the 8:15 bus on Monday to my 10:00 flight. It would give me 25 minutes to check in. The fellow at the tourism office tries to call Skyways. He tries their reservations. He tries the Kristianstad Airport. All he can get is the airport information and they say an hour before. I plan on taking the chance.
It is now 4:40. I look at the cycle map and pick a short trip from the northern routes. I have a bit of difficulty finding the start of Route 1. But then I find it and I make it to Gröstorp and to Bäckhallagården. This is a nature reserve and the cycle route recommends going for a walk. What I found was some sort of unoccupied camp. But I didn't find any paths to walk on. One could trample down some vegetation and walk in. I was not the first. All in all I was disappointed.
I returned to Gröstorp. I could have then returned to Simrishamn. But I had hours of light left. I decided to do a loop in the middle. I hit Östralorp, Omaberga, Vemmerlöv; then to Karlaby. I was wondering about a short cut back to Gröstorp, to return via the bicycle path. A fellow I asked in Karlaby said he wasn't from here. I then asked a couple on bicycles. But they were rented bicycles and they were following the same maps that I was. Then as I was approaching the turn for this I came across a fellow working in his yard. I stopped. He said no, but I have a bicycle path from Järrestad. (And later when I passed the shortcut I found it marked private way.) He then asked if I was interested in ground carvings. Just 300 meters down the road were some prehistoric carvings. He explained how to find them. What a find! Completely unmarked at the road, but a plaque was at the site. There are hundreds of carvings dating from 1800 BC. I took a bunch of pictures. Then on my way to Järrestad I came across the couple on the rented bicycles again. I told them about the carvings and how to find them.
In Järrestad I found the bicycle path. What a grand path. It was the road, but it has now been closed off. Cars must have a new road.
Back in Simrishamn I stop to look at the ferry schedule. One option is to spend the day bicycling in Bornholm. I could. It would be the day. I then look at my fast food options. The only possible one is kabobs. I pass. I head back to the Maritim Restaurant to get my new key and to eat.
I also want to call Staffan Lindeberg in nearby Lund. They look up his phone number. In Sweden mobile phone numbers are published. I call Staffan. He would like to see me. He's going to work on Sunday afternoon. What about this evening? He'll check the bus schedule. We also check. I've missed the 8:00 bus. The next, at 9:23 would get me in at 11:30 and I'd have to leave 30 minutes later. I call back. He offers to put me up for the night. But I want to eat first. We decide I will take the 8 AM bus and he'll pick me up at the bus station. Then he'll put me on a bus or train around noon. I figure I can afterwards get a bicycle ride in.
I have dinner and write my notes.
It is only 9:30. I have another hour of decent light. I get my bicycle. I start heading north. I go out on the boardwalk to the beach. I watch the sun set for a while. I take pictures with different settings. I'll pick the best.
I know there is a long park nearby. I head over to it. I bicycle through a cemetery. I bicycle up to the top of the park and bicycle through the woods along the edge. I come across a large snail with a small snail on it. I get a picture. On all days I have seen small snails and lots and lots of slugs.
I bicycle along the bottom of the cliff, which is along a stream. I bicycle through a community garden. Like the one in Visby people have large plots with buildings. I stop at a family and ask. He says it is rented from the town for a nominal amount for the next 25 years. Some people have brought in electricity and are using them as summer cottages.
I bicycle through the marina and head for my room. At 10:30 it is getting dark enough that you can't really sightsee. I get to bed a little past 11:00.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
I awake earlier than planned. I had set the alarm on my watch, but I don't really trust it. (Did someone say Timex's are supposed to be reliable?) I eat the breakfast they left for me. But this time they forgot the flatware. Ever try to start an overly ripe banana without a knife? One that is black around the stem? I try the bottle opener. Not sharp enough. Finally I use the bridge for my false tooth. It has a sharp point. I use it to pick at the top, and while I couldn't cut the top off, I could split it and create a slit down the side.
I still have a lot of time until 8:00. I reset the alarm for 7:00 and go back to sleep. At 7:15 I awake. There was no alarm. I shower and head to the bus with time to spare.
There are others waiting for the bus. An apparently American couple is also coming back mid-day. They mention a 2:20 bus that gets back at 3:45. I mention the train from Malmö at around noon. They had not thought of that.
We get on the bus. One thing strange, at least to this American, was a fellow got on with his dog.
We head to his house where I meet his wife. We talk about the Paleolithic Diet and each other. A paper he has recently published just received some press. It received the publicity in Europe on Thursday and spread to the US on Friday. I will look for it when I get back. The study, for those curious, was the first randomized study comparing the Paleolithic diet to the Mediterranean diet in diabetic patients. Of course (I'm biased) the paleo diet was superior.
We went for a bicycle ride around Lund while Staffan's wife prepared lunch. Of course the lunch was paleo. Then it was time to take me to the train. Staffan had to work a shift in a hospital emergency room, and I wanted to get back for a bicycle ride to the north of Simrishamn.
I started out along the coast in Simrishamn, but then the bicycle route went along the highway. Looking at the map later I see there is a walking path along the coast going to Baskemölla (and at dinner one of the women says it is bicycleable). At Baskemölla I go down to the water. I see a second cocker spaniel with a long tail. I ask. There was a law passed some 5-10 years ago banning dog tail docking.
In Baskemölla there is a pedestrian path leading to Vik. I ask people if I can bicycle it. Yes, they replied. There were parts that were too sandy or rocky to ride, but a minor inconvenience to be away from the road.
In Vik I have to get on the main road, but not for too long, as the map has the bicycle route go back and forth across the main road so to be on more attractive ones. Longer, but it was worth it. In Rörum I came across a group of people sitting around a courtyard, with a line of people waiting for refreshments. I go over and ask. It is to be a fashion show. And he saw no reason why I couldn't get a drink. I wait in the short line, and I wait. The women are taking their time deciding which to drink and what snacks to take. They seem oblivious that there are people waiting behind them. Finally I was near enough that I could walk around and get a cup of what turned out to be lemonade.
I continue on. Some of the side roads are dirt. Some go through fields. Some go through forests. Though I wasn't paying attention at the time this is all clear on the map. I get near Stenshuvuds National park. I pass the Kafé Paris. It barely looks open. But I and another couple venture in. I ask what they have for a gluten-free, dairy-free snack. She suggests roast beef and potato salad. I go for it. The couple leaves. We don't know why. She opened the day before. She's running the place only for July and weekends in August. She has another job, but she is off for July. This is how she's spending her vacation.
I continue on to the park. I hike to both of the hill tops. The views are nice. I walk my bicycle up the hill to get out of the park.
I now head towards Lake Gyllebo. There is a long hill. I manage to not walk the bicycle up.
Lake Gyllebo is a popular swimming spot. Plus some rowboats (no motors), barbecuing, and a snack stand. I bicycle the loop road that is on the north side, with a couple walks out to the lake.
It is now getting late. If I want to eat at Maritim I have to be there before 9:30. I race back the fastest way (Östra Vemmerlöv, Karlaby, Järrestad). Along the way I pass a farmer in a field of the yellow green grain with whiskers. I ask him what it is. He replied Swedish corn. Okay, as least it is something I can research.
I get to the restaurant at 9:15. I was in time. The chef again offers me gluten-free bread. I explain that I am also wheat-free. He goes and looks. I'm correct. It does have wheat starch in it. I pass. I ask what Swedish corn is. The chef doesn't know. One of the waitresses looks it up. She finds the Swedish word. Then she knows how to find a Swedish-English dictionary. Drum roll. It is barley.
As the battery is dead in the room clock, my watch alarm doesn't work, and there are no phones in the rooms in the building that I'm in, they will have the breakfast girl knock on my door at 6:30. And which bus I can take is solved! On the Skyways web site it states that check in is 20 minutes before and they close the check-in 15 minutes before. I can safely take the 8:15 bus. This was much ado about nothing. My detailed notes were unambiguous about taking the 8:15 bus. I must have seen this when planning my trip.
Monday, July 2, 2007
I had another of these hot/cold nights. Here in Europe they like to make the beds with duvets. You have the choice of no covers at all, not even a sheet, or the thick duvet. The room temperature is fine, but a little cool for no covers. And it was way too hot using the duvet.
I'm up before the 6:30 knock. I'm first for breakfast at 7:00. It is a nicer spread than the breakfast from the cooler.
I bicycle around to get a few local pictures, which I hadn't gotten around to. Then I head to the station for the bus. While on the bus I pull out my notes. It is only 63 minutes to the airport. For some reason I had been thinking 1:11 (which must be another bus). I will be at check in 35 minutes before. He didn't even open the check-in until 30 minutes before. By the time I got the bicycle into the bag I was last, but my presence was quite evident. In front of me was a family with an autistic girl. On the autistic spectrum she would be low functioning. She was not toilet trained and even through she could walk they used a wheel chair to control her. There were outbursts and screams, and at one point she was trying to eat the luggage. But the mother knew how to calm her down. (A pacifier was used to control the outbursts somewhat.)
At the gate the plane had not arrived. It didn't land until 9:55, five minutes before it was scheduled to take off. We take off late, but I still should have ample time, even if I have to switch terminals, to find the train station. On the plane the autistic girl has her shoes off. Not liking shoes is a common autistic trait. The adults were using sign language between them, though both could talk. Presumably this was to not disturb the girl. Sporadically the passengers were treated to screams. As someone that is a big proponent of using a gluten and dairy free diet to control autism this was all of interest to me, though I would have to presume that this girl is not on the diet. Her mother bought a sandwich. I watched to see what she'd feed the girl. She did give the girl a piece of bread.
I walk to 2nd class for food. It is quite full. There are a few seats, but we have a couple of stops along the way. I buy some nuts. All the chips have flavors, like sour cream or barbecue. At least there was a choice of nuts.
On my second trip for nuts the woman tells me that with a no-seat ticket you can sit in the empty seats. The biggest problem with first class was we had no air conditioning, and it was hot. Plus the sink in the toilet was overflowing. I had to use the one in 2nd class.
I stop at the library. No English language newspapers and Internet access isn't free. Any news can wait. I stop at the Coop and stock up on walnuts and pecans. I bicycle around a little. Most of the town is new buildings. Charmless, though there are some old buildings scattered about.
I go to check in. Where to check in is very confusing. It is not at the place with the sign. After carrying my bags around I check in and lug them back to right next to the restaurant. First thing wrong is they only had me for one night. Now I reserved using e-mail. It is clearly their mistake. Then they have no laundry. They give me an address to try.
I go and find a place that will send out dry cleaning, but not same day and I don't dry clean my laundry. Back at the tourism office I do learn from other tourists that at the campground you need tokens which you buy at reception. It is unknown whether you have to be a camper to use them. All there suggest I go check it out.
I bicycle around the campground. I find one of the laundries. It is a single washer and a single dryer. I go to reception and tell him I'm not staying there. He's okay with this. I get the tokens and then he sends me to the store for detergent. Fortunately they do have single wash packets. And now armed with a map showing all laundry locations, I'm all set for the next day.
I look at one restaurant. I decide I'll start with the one associated with my B&B. I head there. It is cheap. I get a leg of chicken with new potatoes. Plus water logged green beans and a salad partly from cans. Considering the price I can't complain too much, but it wasn't very filling. I think about ordering a pork chop. Or should I try the Chinese restaurant? But I don't expect they will know English. I order the pork chop. The chop itself was small and fine, but ugh for the rest. I'll find someplace else for the next night.
I head out on my bicycle. I stop at the Chinese restaurant. There is a Swede out front. She says the Chinese are only in the kitchen and it is all Swedes out front. I find the Wasastugan restaurant near the lake. I like the looks of the Cajun spiced beef; a decent size for a decent price. But every dinner main dish has dairy in the sauce. The waitress says she went through this today for a woman. Some of the lunch sauces are dairy-free. She says without the sauce it isn't good.
I bicycle along the lake in each direction until I can't. I find six church boats tied up in the water. I get some pictures of buildings. I go look at the sunset. I get some pictures. The problem is it takes a long time to set. And this night it will never get completely dark. The 6° below the horizon for civil twilight will not be reached.
Back in my room I try the walnuts. Like what I buy at home they are raw and unsalted. But they are terrible. While mine are organic and these are not, it's more that that. They don't have the freshness that I'm used to. Except for a week or two, my walnuts are always chilled or frozen. These have been sitting at room temperature for months. I'll try to find those OLW Mixed Nuts that I found the first time.
I look at the bicycle map and decide my first route.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Having an 8:30-9:30 breakfast isn't very convenient. There is not enough time to do a laundry before without getting up awfully early. Or I'll be ready for breakfast long before 8:30. The problem is the same shift does all the meals. In Simrishamn the breakfast woman was not also there in the evening.
I'm looking in the restaurant window at 8:00 AM. There is no sign of life. I go walk around. I get back a few minutes before 8:30. Promptly at 8:30 the door opens. The buffet spread is much simpler than in Simrishamn, but then the room rate there was about twice as expensive. I get my usual eggs, ham, tomatoes, and juice. The proprietor stands behind the bar watching. It is as if he is watching how much people are eating of what.
I return to my room, get my dirty clothes, and head to the campgrounds. The machine next to the commissary is not in use. I try to figure it out. There are instructions in English on the wall that don't match what is by the token slot. By the slot says two tokens for 40° and three for 60°. But the instructions say three for also a prewash and two without. I want 40° with prewash. My two tokens don't start the machine. I ask for help. A fellow working there thinks maybe three. I put in a third. No start. The girl at the commissary comes out and gives me three tokens and says try another location. But first I twiddle with the selector dial and it starts. I give her back two tokens. I had split my detergent packet between prewash and wash. Clearly it was not enough for the prewash. For the wash I added some from a big bin. (I didn't need to buy the packet.) Then as it was starting I add some more, then a little more, just as it stops taking in the powder. Now I'm afraid it will draw it in during a rinse. I find paper towels and clean the powder out of the hopper.
After I carefully transfer the clothes to the dryer, (try without dropping anything on the floor!), I go for a bicycle ride. I get a picture of the Zorn House. And then I take the inside of the church. Then back to the clothes to see if a second token is needed to dry.
They are all eventually dry. I drop them off in my room. It is becoming overcast. I bring my rain parka. It is now 11:50. Of course I'm hungry. I stop by a Middle Eastern kabob place. All five of the men there did not speak English. A woman outside recommended not eating there. She says you don't know what went in the frying oil.
My next attempt was Wasastugan, the one near the lake. But lunch was basically a salad bar. I head off to Orsa, going up the east side of Lake Orsa. I hope I can get food along the way.
The bicycle route is on back roads. I pass nothing for food. In Vattnas I find a place that says Kafe. It is really some sort of garden. But no one answered my repeated hellos. I continue on.
At a bird watching stand I take a panorama of the lake. As I approached Orsa the route goes up to the main road. Exactly where the route goes is unknown. The 1:125,000 scale of the map is too large to be really useful for bicycle routes. 1:50,000 is much better.
As I get to the main road there is a gas station with a store. I buy a bag of almonds, a quart of fresh strawberries, and a hot dog. The strawberries were excellent. I go back for more hot dogs.
Now on the main road I pass a place that says café, but I'm now well satiated. The map has Hembygdsgård on it as a "place of interest." I turn up the road to Slätberg. But I see no sign for Hembygdsgård. I follow the signs to Orsa Centrum. I see the tourist bureau. I stop in for an Orsa map. I mention I want to go to the Bear Park and that I'm bicycling. They say it is all uphill, but I could take a bus. One of them gets out the bus schedule. There are only two buses up there a day. The second is in 35 minutes (to bring down the people that went up on the first). We talk about what I could do in that time. I learn that Hembygdsgård was that café. It is a bunch of buildings. I don't have time to go back. I'll go see the Orsa Church.
In the church there are volunteers with a table with coffee, tea, lemonade, and cookies. I have some lemonade. One of the women asks if I want to go up the tower. Do I! Up we go. The top is 8 sided. The windows are fairly clean. I end up taking just eight pictures in portrait orientation. The sun may have changed while taking them. Then later I'm concerned that I took enough. On four sided towers I take three from each side. They may not meet at the bottom. We'll see. [It came out okay.]
I head over to the bus. I fold up my bicycle to put it under. I did not need to (though I'm sure safer for the bicycle). They don't charge for any bicycle, and there is ample space under for bicycles.
I think he took a dirt road up. I was trying to write notes and wasn't paying attention. At the park there is major construction taking place. They are undergoing a big expansion. The grand opening is six days away; which includes a price increase from $14 to $20.
The animals are in large free roaming areas. This means we may not see them at all, or they may be far away. It was a nice walk around, but for the money you don't actually see many animals.
I head down. I come to a dirt road turning off. But the sign to Orsa is on the paved road. I take that. I go up again. I thought it was to be all downhill on my way back. I look at the map. The road I'm on is taking me to Fryksås, and the women at the tourist bureau had mentioned I'd go through Fryksås and that there were a lot of cute houses. That there were, but it was hard to get a picture. I was downhill from them.
When I get down to the main road I have a choice of bicycling 3 km back to Orsa, or continuing on to Våmhus. I continue on.
Past Bäcka I turn onto a road that has a sign with a knife and fork. I'm expecting that I will find food. (I later figured I turned into Sivarsgården Hembygdsgård.) I find a snack place and a lot of little houses. She had nothing that was gluten-free and dairy-free.
I then come to a sign pointing to Fryksås! I could have saved seven km and come directly. It would have kept me off the main road, and I would have missed Sivarsgården.
I continue into Våmhus. It looks on the map like it is a substantial town. I was expecting to find food. I ask another cyclist. He says none at this time (it's now 6 PM). I did after this find what would have been a daytime snack place.
I get back onto the Siljansleden bicycle route. It will be a bit longer than the direct roads, but of course it will be quieter back roads. At one point it is confusing, as the sign clearly points up a gravel driveway that does lead to a path into the woods. And the signed route in places does not agree with the map. (The map has a simpler route.)
When I was on a dirt road through the woods I came upon a woman and her daughter picking berries. I stopped and chatted. They were finding wild strawberries and wild blueberries. I found one of each. They were small, but sweet.
I get back to Mora at 7:25 PM. That is 7 ¼ hours after leaving. I still have three hours to sunset! I head back to Wasastugan again. I want their Cajun beef. I can't have the sauce. Ok, they'll omit it. I can't have the fries. Ok, they'll swap for a baked potato, but no olive oil again! The food was tasty, though the beef was overly well done. And I was charged $1.15 for tap water! In Denmark they all charged. Here they don't on Gotland, but so far they do elsewhere.
I return to my room to call it an early night.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
I'm up early. I decide I'll see what is on TV. At 6:30 AM there are only two channels, and both were Swedish newscasts. There were two more channels not yet with programming. Only four channels on cable TV? I go take a shower. I run the water until it gets a little warm. Then when I get in the shower it goes cold. I end up with a cold shower. For $86 for a room with a shared bath I guess I should not expect much. And this is a "bring your own soap" place.
I have an hour before breakfast starts. I haven't really bicycled in the southwest direction. I'll go for a ride that way. I try to follow the map and the route signs. But the signs were incomplete, and the map of limited usefulness in an urban area. It isn't easy. Using the islands in the lake as a guide I'm able to follow the map. Unfortunately it starts to rain. I have my flannel shirt and not the rain parka. Eventually I end up in the middle of a forest on a foot path at an intersection. It is now raining hard. I head back to my room. I end up at the breakfast only five minutes after the start. I am totally soaked in my front. The room is quite full. It looks like everyone wants to get an early start. I eat my eggs, ham, tomatoes, and orange juice. There is no fruit at all here. I guess spending $86 a night isn't enough to get fruit.
Back in my room I hope to dry some. I'll have to switch to my waterproof shoes. The flannel shirt and my hat aren't going to dry.
I head to the train station a half hour early. People help me buy a ticket from the machine. This is cards only. No cash. My biggest problem was Rättvik does not start Ra, but Rä, and this is under the English menu. I used my credit card. It wants a PIN. I do have one I've never used. I try it. It works. When the train first pulls in (it arrives twice, as it goes to the beach stop and turns around) I still have the bicycle set up with luggage on the back. The conductor says no bicycles. I say it folds. He says first car. I take it in unfolded and fold inside the car.
At the hotel it isn't clear where to enter. There are signs in Swedish. I leave my bicycle at one entrance, in the rain, and walk around. I find the fellow in the restaurant at the other end. By the time I've checked in and get back to my bicycle the bags are quite wet. My clothes bag is not waterproof and some of the clothes are wet. My attaché leaked through the zipper. I spread things out to dry. I take the map and the Lonely Planet pages and head out. In the square there is a girl selling strawberries. I buy a quart. I go stand near a trash bin and eat them. They were not as good as the day before, but very good. Maybe I'll see her the next day. I look around for a restaurant. The recommended Anna's is only open for lunch on weekends. Most places are café's with only salads and sandwiches. Or pizza places. I do find Restaurant Lilla Rummet. I can't read the menu, but the fellow asks the chef and I order fried herring and boiled potatoes with cherry tomatoes. Plus there is a small but quite adequate salad bar. Plus coffee or tea, and a cream soup I skipped. All in all it was a good deal for only $10.
I wander down the pedestrian mall in the rain. I stop at the museum. For some reason the exhibit on the beginning of the universe and the meteorite that hit this area is closed. The only things open are the taxidermied animals and an art exhibit.
I wander around to the lake. I check out a church boat that is in a shed. They look better in the water, like the six in Mora. I find what looks like an art installation. There were lots of colored sticks leaning on a frame. I start to walk out the Långbryggan, the longest wooden pier in Scandinavia, but decide to wait until I have my bicycle. I wander through the campgrounds towards the church. At the church I go in. There is a volunteer in a Rättvik traditional costume. She says each town had there own design. I ask about going up the tower. The answer is no. I learn about the 87 stables. She tells me there is a church boat race the next day. I take her picture.
I head towards Gammelgården. I initially walked through the Stiftsgården by mistake. The Gammelgården is kind of neat. There are a lot of old houses and some are open with furniture painted in the local style. Plus one building that is only open at 14:00. And it is all free!
The sun is coming out. I return to the church. I wanted to get a better picture of her costume. Then she tells me she can take me up the tower. Because there is a wedding others are now there. She can't leave the nave when she's the only one.
It was a great tower to climb. I hadn't really expected much, as there weren't windows up there. But she hit a switch and these electric motors opened up three of the four wooden shutters. I could not get a panorama, as they had barricades to keep people away from the windows. I settled for shots out of the three open ones.
With it clearing I return for my bicycle. I want to go up to the Vidablick Tower. I push my bicycle up 392 meters. It will be an easy ride down! The views were good. I get pictures for a 360° panorama.
Now with the lovely weather I bicycle out the 625 meter pier. The water is very shallow all the way out, and at the end is a man-made island with trees!
The guide books rave about the amphitheater at Dalhalla. But I'm not sure what I can see when there is no concert. I stop by the tourist bureau. The amphitheater closes at 5:00, they say. I will try my next day, after my ride to Töllberg, Leksand, and the Naturum, and before the 7 PM church boat race.
Since it is only 5:30 I'm itching for a bicycle ride. I will head around the lake in the opposite direction of the next day's ride. I quickly bicycle past the church. I see the signs for the Siljansheden bicycle route. It is on the road, but on the map the bicycle route is about halfway between the road and the train tracks. I keep bicycling down to find it. I'm getting annoyed with the inaccuracy of the map. Eventually I realize that there is a highway further up the hill and the road I'm on is the one halfway between the highway and the tracks.
I bicycle on to Stumsnäs. I bicycle down to the beach. A couple and a woman are there and have just come out from a swim. They try to convince me to do the same. Instead I walk out a pier and take a panorama.
On my way back I take pictures of chimneys. The older buildings have original and artistic ones.
Back in town my first stop is Restaurant Anna's. Now I've become very down on this charging for tap water. I've decided I'll either pick places that don't charge, or bring my own. Anna's is basically a Chinese restaurant, though my Lonely Planet says it is Swedish and international fine dining. I ask about the water. It is 5 SEK ($0.82). I state that I will either eat elsewhere or bring my own.
I head back to Lilla Restaurant. They didn't charge at lunch. I find that they don't charge at dinner. But the two young women there could not explain what the food was, and not reading Swedish I was left clueless. I did figure out that the fried potatoes would be contaminated with gluten. I left. Back in my room I filled a water bottle with tap water. I had discarded the cap (I was planning on returning it for the $0.14 deposit), so I walked back to Anna's (instead of cycling). There were glasses on the table. She said I could use one. I tell her I'm gluten and dairy free. And no soy sauce, as it has wheat in it. She replies that they have wheat-free soy sauce that they can use. This is a first! But I already had my eyes on a chicken with coconut milk. She brings out bread (the first to do this on this trip). I ask for extra rice to replace the bread that I can't eat. The chicken was not spicy like advertised, but a very nice meal anyway. (Apparently the Swedes are not used to any spiciness in their food.)
I walk back to the hotel. A couple of the guys working there are outside. We chat. Among the things we talk about is breakfast. I learn that the eggs will be warm and there will be fruit. While telling him about hawk eyes in Mora I realize that what he was looking for were people making sandwiches for eating later in the day.
I retire to my room. I tried to wash out the stain on my pants. It remained.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
The sleep was better; mostly as the duvet was much thinner. It rained during the night. At times it was rather heavy. Now it is very lightly raining on and off.
Breakfast is quite fine. The ham was higher quality and had no lactose.
I'm off by 9:00. I follow the Siljansleden bicycle route to Tällberg. I stay off the main road. I go up and down hills. It is much longer than the main road. I go for a walk through the brush to the water in Östanhol. In Laknäs, while I'm out in a campground it gets cool and rains a few drops. In Tällberg I check out the two hotels mentioned in my Lonely Planet. I pass the Äventyret Sommarland. This is an amusement park for kids. I keep on going. I'm now in Leksand. I pass a church and look in. They are setting up a lot of speakers and microphones for a small church. But it is not the one mentioned in my Lonely Planet. I stop at the tourist bureau to get a bus schedule. I'd like to take a train or bus back to Rättvik. It took me over three hours to get to Leksand the long way. Following the main road would be quicker, but not pleasant.
It is now lunch time. I go looking for a place to eat. What I find are sandwich places, pizza, grill places, but no real restaurant. I ask in a café along the water (one of the many selling mostly pastries). They suggest walking down Leksandsvägen. I do and find a Chinese restaurant. Their English is somewhat limited. They have a buffet with two dishes. One obviously has soy sauce. The other is beef in coconut milk. There is some confusion as to whether it has soy sauce. Finally it is determined that it does. (They probably marinated the beef in soy sauce.)
I ask a fellow that is selling strawberries in front of the Coop. He suggests Bosporen. At Bosporen initially the waitress thinks the first dish is okay. But after she checks she says I have to order off the dinner menu, which starts at 172 SEK (about $25). I leave. I go to a grill place and get three bare hot dogs. Then I buy a liter of strawberries from the fellow that recommended Bosporen. After I eat them I get a bag of mixed nuts from the ICA and eat some.
I head to the park. I first find a Hembygdsgårdarna, a group of old houses brought together. Then I go to the Leksand Church. In addition to outside pictures I change the ISO setting and take one inside. Then I go to Munthe's Hildasholm. This is a sumptuously decorated early-20th century mansion built by a doctor for his young English wife. You can only get in on a guided tour. I ask about the next in English. It is 45 minutes away, but she can add me to the one that started 10 minutes ago. We quickly go to the main house, and I'll pay later.
The house is filled with 18th c. English antiques and paintings given to the doctor by patients and painted by the sons. After the tour I wander around the gardens.
As I leave the docents suggest a Japanese garden down the road. It was only so-so. They also suggested I visit Styggforsen, some waterfalls north of Rättvik. I then return to discuss buses to the Naturum. It is uphill. I still have the bus timetable. They show me where the 84 bus stops are. I have a little time. I go wait for the bus. The bus does not run often, I'm very lucky with the timing.
The driver's English is only passable. I'm not sure why. He was Caucasian, maybe not a Swede? He stops at the closest he can and tells me it's my stop.
I push my bicycle up the hill. On the way I pass a sign for the Mas-olles Gammelgård. It is yet another group of old houses brought together. The ninth grader inside has passable English. He has more years of it coming. I quickly get some pictures.
I continue on to the Naturum. I'm getting tired. I'd like some iced tea. Now this is not a drink that is available in Sweden. They bring me a bowl of ice and I brew a cup of tea. I dump the tea into the bowl. It filled perfectly. I stir it and drink the tea in a flash.
I head to the museum. All captions are in Swedish. They give me a book in English. I flip through the beginning and discuss forests with the two young women. Then I go up the tower for panorama pictures.
I then head down to Siljansnäs to see the church. There are two radio trucks outside. They are rehearsing for a broadcast. I get an outside picture and go to take one of the musicians through the door. I find my camera is still set to ISO 800! One of my problems with this camera is some half my pictures have a wrong setting. All those panoramas I took will be overly grainy.
I start back to Leksand. I stop and look at the bus/train schedule. I have about 30 minutes to the next train. And 14 km to bicycle! If I miss it the next is two hours later. I bicycle hard. I don't let up. I get to the station with a few minutes to spare. It was just enough time to buy a ticket from the machine.
I'm back in Rättvik a little after 7:00. I head to The Stop Inn, which is the restaurant associated with my hotel. I order a steak and fries. They normally charge for tap water, but he won't charge me. It was good (though the fries were too salty). I order a second. Then I realize I forgot about the church boat races! They were taking place just as I returned. There were people heading towards the pier, but I was focused on getting dinner. I wanted to eat so I could make the trip to Styggforsen.
It's 8:40 PM and I'm cycling to Styggforsen. I'm going to follow the bicycle route most of the way. As I start off my legs are tired. I really wish I'd not forgotten about the boat races. Then I could have done Styggforsen along with Dalhalla in the morning and gone to Stockholm later in the day. I continue on.
The route is mostly on Route 301 with side trips through Nedre Gärdsjö and Västanå. When I reach near Boda I see a small wooden sign to Styggforsen saying 2.6 km and pointing down a dirt road. I take it. I soon realize I'm on the walking route. I follow it into Boda. I see the Boda church. It is on a peak. The views must be stunning from its steeple. I make a detour to get closer for a picture.
I follow the signs. They no longer say they are going to the falls, but just mark a footpath. It turns into a real footpath through the woods. I'm bouncing over roots and going through muddy marsh. As night is falling I'm hoping I don't end up lost in the woods. And then I'm there at the information sign! To see the falls one has to walk a ways on a path. The sun is now setting. I take all the paths and try for some pictures. I'm hoping something comes out.
It took and hour and 40 minutes to get there. Then 10 minutes to get from the falls to Boda and Route 301. Then it took only 50 minutes to get back, all on 301. No side trips this direction! I did pass a young deer that was road kill. Just a little past it a car was driving very slowly towards me and looking around. I suspect he was looking for the deer. I don't know what Swedish law is on road kill. Maybe you can keep it, and this was a friend of the killer that was looking for it to get it?
I'm back at Rättvik just three hours after I left. I figure I did a good 25 miles. I'm dying for some juice. I find a gas station that is still open. And they have real Tropicana orange juice. I buy a quart. I really should not drink so much, but I do. I also finish off the nuts I bought during the day.
This is the latest I've been up. At 1:00 AM it is as dark as it will get. It is sort of dark, but there clearly is a glow in the sky to the north.
Friday, July 6, 2007
I stay in bed until what I think will get me to breakfast at 8:00. I get there at 8:10. Like the day before it is really quiet. I ask. The woman says there are only 17 staying at the hotel, but they are full over the weekend. There are concerts at Dalhalla and some people will dress in traditional Swedish costumes for it.
I head out on my bicycle. I figure I'll stock up on nuts, look for shock cords, and return the empty water bottle. (I'll get another on the train.) I learn that shock cords are sold in some gas stations, but the only ones had plastic clips. I do return the bottle and get nuts. And I go for another liter of strawberries. The ones the girl was selling in the square were not all ripe. I checked out the ones in front of the Coop. They were better. I go back to my room to eat them.
I now had 25 minutes to the train. I might as well head there now; even through it is next door.
While waiting on the platform, as usual, there is interest in my bicycle. A fellow with his family asks about it. I tell him about it, how much it cost, and the train rules are very simple. Folding bicycles are okay, any size, regular bicycles are not.
At Borlänge the next train is right across the platform. I did not have to unfold and fold the bicycle. When grabbing my things I leave the bag with the bicycle cover on the platform. I do not realize it. As I'm trying to squeeze the bicycle in a space there is a man rapping on the window. He's telling me I left the bag. I push through the people getting on and he goes and retrieves and brings it to me. I thank him profusely. I'm not sure what he was doing there. He wasn't a passenger. It was like he was just hanging around.
My assigned seat is an aisle seat. The window seat is free. I take it. A fellow gets on at the next stop. It is his seat. He also likes window seats, but he lets me keep it. He disappears to the food car and really disappears for an hour. The train is crowded. There are people without seats that keep trying to take his.
I go for a drink. I see him there talking with a pretty woman. Eventually he returns. His name is Adam and seeing my camera asks if I'm a photographer. He was one for 25 years. First fashion photography; then in other places around the world, including Kenya and Brazil. He knows some eight languages and isn't even Swedish, though it is now his adopted country. Maybe he was a famous photographer? I give him my card so he can see my web pictures. When we get off in Stockholm he helps me get my bicycle set up and we say goodbye.
When I check in the fellow says I can bring my bicycle through the lobby to the lift to take it to the parking garage.
I drop off my luggage; get a map at the front desk, find where the Indian restaurant is, and head out on my bicycle.
My first stop is the Gamla Stan island/neighborhood. This is the oldest section of Stockholm. I bicycle around for a while. Then I come upon the Kungliga Slottet. This is a royal palace with four museums. I buy a combination ticket to all four, but as it is approaching 4:00 I can only go to one today. With a bit of difficulty I find the Museum of Antiquities a little after the 4:00 tour started. It is just I and a little older woman. She's in Stockholm for a month and is visiting museum after museum. She's into bicycling 20-30 miles per day. I show her my folding bicycle. She shows me a map I like better than the Arlanda Express one I got at the front desk. I return to my room to get the Lonely Planet page that shows where the tourism office is.
I head to the Kungsträdgården. I find the tourism office. They don't have the free map that she had, but I get a couple of others. I wander around the FotoExpo exhibit that is spread all over the park. When I get back to my bicycle I find that someone has tampered with the lock. Apparently someone tried to steal my bicycle. But the lock is okay.
I head to the one known Indian restaurant in Kungsholmem. It is a small mostly takeout place. The gluten-free mention completely registers. There was no attempt to sell me bread. They put butter in the rice, so though free I pass. And the top water is, and always has been, free. The one slip-up was my salad came out with yogurt on it. It is a busy place! As I leave I say something about are they the only Indian restaurant in Stockholm. He says no, there are 100.
I go off bicycling looking for others. I see a restaurant. I don't recognize the word. I go over and ask a couple walking by. It was Moroccan. I ask about Indian restaurants. He tells me of two others. I go check them out. Both put butter in their rice. I go bicycling for more. I find a couple more. Yes, butter is in the rice. I find Bee's Thai Food. Dinner is 65 SEK. This is a bargain. I go in. I decide I'll have a second dinner, with their unbuttered rice. (With all my activity it is a battle to not lose weight while on vacation.) It was a lot of food for the money! As they were closing I could not sit at one of their outside tables, so I bicycled to the Kronobergsparken and ate it on a bench. It starts to lightly rain. I reluctantly return to the hotel at 8:45. There is a little confusion, but eventually they have a fellow come up and take my bicycle away to a cycle room that is down in the garage.
I'm watching their large tanks of salt water fish. I'm noticing that like fish are all hanging out together. A nearby fellow is saying the same thing. We start to talk. He asks where I'm from. He used to live a few blocks from where I live, but then he got married and moved back to Manhattan. They head out for dinner. I go and see that the rain has stopped. I walk around a little then head to my room. I find CNN, but don't watch for all that long.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
With no windows you lose a sense of time. I awake at 7:00. On my way to breakfast I look out a window and see an overcast sky. I get to breakfast at 8:00. It is crowded. The breakfast food is the best of the trip. It is the first place with first bacon. It is the first with scrambled eggs, though they had dairy and I had to have soft-boiled eggs again.
A walk outside finds no rain at that time, but it is a cold day. I'm slowing down. I don't rush out to sightsee. I catch up on CNN until everything is a repeat.
I head back to the Kungliga Slottet. There are a bunch of guided tours that I planned to attend. First stop was The Royal Apartments. In contrast to the two of us on the tour the afternoon before there were some 75 on this one. We were taken through the State Apartments, though on the floor above there appeared to be more that were closed for renovations. I then took myself through the guest apartments. Next was a tour of The Tre Kronor Museum. By the time I found it I had missed the beginning. This group was smaller and included the woman from the afternoon before. She wanted to know where I was staying for 440 SEK. She was having a friend visit. I gave her the name and said to get the price you have to book on the web, prepay, and you don't get a window. Plus it has to be a summer weekend.
While in this museum the changing of the guard took place. It was finishing when I was leaving. I got a quick look at the band marching away.
The fourth and final museum is The Treasury. (There is also The Royal Chapel that has very restricted hours.) It would have been an hour wait for a tour here. Instead I looked at the crowns myself in a few minutes.
It was now lunchtime. I decided to return to Bee's Thai Food. On the way I get rid of my flannel shirt, but as it rained most of the day I kept my rain parka. At Bee's I had a slightly different meal. It seems of their 19 choices that the sauce is the biggest differentiator.
I then tried to get into the Town Hall (Rådhuset). People have been recommending this for the view. But it was completely closed for renovations. There was nothing but a construction entrance. [While editing this journal I found the Stockholm City Hall on the web. Could this be what people meant?]
The Nordiska Museum was next. It was now raining steadily. A museum would be a good place to be. It closes at 5:00, and my Lonely Planet had the nearby Vasa Museum closing at 7:00. The Nordiska is a cultural museum, showing trends and traditions; life and work in Sweden from the 16th century on. This included a lot more clothing fashion than I expected. One of the temporary exhibitions was highlights of collections from 63 collectors. One collector collected torches (flashlights in American English). One of the torches was the same Ray-O-Vac flashlight I had as a kid. And in the candle collection was an alter/choir boy candle that was the same or similar to one we had.
It was now 5:00. I headed over to the Vasa Museum. It was still steady rain. I get there and find it now closes at 6:00. This does not give me much time. A movie was starting. Until 5:30 I got the history of the Vasa. The Vasa was a ship that sank 333 years ago on its maiden voyage. The ship was way too top heavy for the amount of ballast in its shallow keel. The ship was not an ordinary ship. It was a rather grand one. It was located in 1956, salvaged, and in 1988 opened to the public. Almost the entire ship was preserved as the bottom of the Baltic. It is quite an impressive sight. After the movie I only had 30 minutes to run around and see it and the associated exhibits. It was much too short a time.
After getting thrown out I walked around and found the museum's garden. It has some herbs and vegetables from the Vasa's time.
I then started bicycling around the perimeter of Djurgården Island. It was now only raining lightly. I first passed the Gröna Lunds Tivoli Amusement Park. I then found some cute old houses. I then bicycled out on the small island of Beckholmen. This is mostly dry docks to repair ship hulls. I continued around Djurgården until I came to a herd of sheep grazing in a field with no fencing. There was a man and a woman watching over them with a few border collies. I chatted with them. They have a pen and they bring them out twice a day for five hours each. In a few minutes one of the dogs would round them up and send them to their pen. I stayed and watched. The man made different whistles to tell the dog which way to go. The sheep would stay away from the dog. First the dog brought the ones at the left towards the center. Then the ones at the right were moved to the center. All was not perfect. At one point the dog simply stopped and wasn't following the commands. Another dog was sent out. While this was taking place a car pulled up. They were also watching, and watching so intently that he drove into a ditch and got stuck. It reminded me of when I got stuck in Ireland. I left them as the two fellows went to get some logs as the woman from the car watched.
I went back to bicycling around Djurgården. I was bicycling on gravel paths that had posted no bicycles. But in the rain I never passed any person that was on the path.
At the Lilla Sjörtallsbron Bridge I crossed over to the main island and bicycled along the north side of the Djurgårdsbrunnskanalen. This led into the roads that took me to Bee's Thai Food for another meal.
It was now 7:40 and Bee's closes at 8:00. Being this close it is take out only. This was fine with me, as I wanted to eat in my room. I asked about some different vegetables. He recommended a special not on the wall. For the higher price of 75 SEK I had a little different dish. I went to bed early.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I got up early and made it to breakfast early, but was very slow in getting out.
I headed straight to Skansen. I got there about 11:00. The first entrance I came upon was Hazelius Entrance. A sign pointed out that the main entrance was 500 meters. I locked up my bicycle. At the ticket booth I asked about the main entrance. He said the escalator was there, but there was no bicycle parking. [I later see this made no sense at all.] I go in here. The place is huge. My Lonely Planet says it is more than can be seen in a day. It is open until 10 PM, so I figure I should be able to get around.
I start by going clockwise along the perimeter. I pass a variety of things; then I get to the animals. I spent a lot of time there. You can see more animals closer than what I saw in the much more expensive Bear Park.
I come to the Bredablick. This is a tower at the top of the hill. I wanted pictures from the top. But it was closed for renovations.
At 1:00 I look for food. Nearby is a café. They have only sandwiches and pastries. The girl behind the counter suggests I go to the Solliden. There I find a white table cloth restaurant and a cafeteria.
I first look at the restaurant menu. On the Swedish menu all items have a G, L, V, or nothing, or a combination. The G means it has gluten, the L ones have lactose, and V is for vegetarian. Only the steak in béarnaise sauce has no letters. She shows me the English page. No letters appear. She says the English don't have the allergies the Swedes have. (!?) I have salmon and boiled potatoes in the cafeteria.
I go back to visiting the buildings. Paths wind all around. There is no logical way to go. One wanders and hopes to see them all. At 5:00 I learn that almost all the houses with people inside in costume close and the people go home. I should not have spent two hours looking at animals. I should have saved them for 5:00. I do learn that some houses are still open until 7:00. I go see them and check out the outsides of the others.
I take lots of pictures. I figure they will make a web album all by themselves. At 7:00 (or later) I make it to the aquarium. That closes at 8:00. I stay until it closes.
Along the way I learn that there is a ferry to Slussen. This is on the island of Södermalm, an island that has been recommended to bicycle around many times. Throughout the day it has been lightly raining, with some periods of no rain. But as I'm leaving the park at 8:00 the rain is heavy. I look at the ferry. A bicycle costs as much as an adult! The short ferry ride, which might save 20 minutes or less of cycling, would have cost 60 SEK ($6.70). Besides the expense, with the rain I had no desire to start bicycling around the island, or going up the Katarinahissen for a view.
I return to the hotel. As I've had success with Thai food I decided to look for another (Bee's is closed on Sundays). I ask at the front desk. She really didn't come up with many that were open on Sunday. She notes one on my map. I go and check my Lonely Planet. The one they list is closed on Sundays. I also notice The Grill, which is heavily meat oriented. At the desk she says The Grill is awfully trendy. I head towards the Thai one she recommended.
I pass a Chinese restaurant. Having had success at Anna's in Rättvik I go in. Neither of the two that I spoke with had heard of gluten-free, despite speaking perfect English. They were the first in Sweden that did not recognize this.
A little further I come upon another Chinese restaurant. Like the first one it has a buffet. I ask about gluten-free. He doesn't seem to recognize it. I say wheat-free and no soy sauce. Now he recognizes it. Of course everything on the buffet is out. Pork and beef are out as they are marinated in soy sauce He checks with me to be sure potato flour is okay. (It is.) He can make any chicken dish fine by leaving the soy sauce out. I order one to take out. Eating in my room is fine with me. He brings it out with a little container of soy sauce. People have really short memories.
The sauce spills out when cycling back. I make do with the chopsticks and soupiness. I'd still like some more food. I go out looking for French Fries.
My first stop is Max, the closest. This is similar to McDonald's. The fries are not gluten-free. They fry everything in the same oil. Next stop is McDonald's. The fries are not gluten-free he says. Then I go to Burger King. He says yes. I ask if he's sure. He comes out and looks at a chart on the wall. All foods and foodstuff are listed with various allergens. The fries are listed as gluten-free. I order some to take back.
As I enter the hotel there is a fellow locking up his bicycle with a trailer attached. I tell him that if he's staying at the hotel they'll put the bicycle in the garage. He's a bicycle mechanic from England and he's cycled his way there. He has a room with a window for double what I'm paying. I tell him a windowless room is fine.
I go up and eat the fries. They were stone cold. I could tell they were cold when I bought the, I should have had them make fresh for me.
Monday, July 9, 2007
I'm up early. I get down and see dry pavement. I eat breakfast and find a bowl of berries that I had missed before. (I had been eating the fresh fruit cocktail.) The breakfast here really is sumptuous.
I head off for Södermalm, My first stop is Katarinahissen for its view. But it is poorly designed. You can't get to its end. You can see the view from the sides only. It should have the walking wrap around the tower.
I bicycle around the island counterclockwise. This puts me closer to the water. When I get to the island of Långholmen I cross the bridge and start bicycling it. It is up and down dirt foot paths. Once I had to carry my bicycle up some stairs. Halfway or so I cut it short and return to Södermalm. The path there is really good. You are right next to the water, and to all the boats. There are so many small pleasure craft that it appears that every family in Stockholm owns a boat.
I eventually make it around and head for the Kaknästornet, the television tower. I pay and go up. The glassed in viewing floor has tinted windows that severely reflect the interior. No pictures are possible. I go up to the outdoor level. It is completely screened in with a mesh with about 1 ¼" holes. No way to take any pictures. I stop for a toilet break. I like the sink. I plan a tiny lavatory and I need a small sink. I had seen one in the Nordiska Museum I liked, but this was better. I take a picture. Then I get a picture of the name on the bottom.
I go down and tell the woman it was a complete waste, as you can't take pictures. She replied that there is a key that can open portholes for pictures. I had noticed them. In exchange for my driver's license I get the key and go back up. I first open all of them, so others can take pictures.
They are not evenly spaced. The area is not square. I try my best to get pictures I can stitch. One problem is it started to rain steadily a while before. No matter what they won't be great.
I head towards Bee's for my last meal. I use my remaining change, plus a credit card. I now have no more Swedish money.
Back at the hotel I get some paper towels and dry and try to clean the filthy bicycle. I buy an Arlanda Express ticket. The convenience was overpowering. I get my bags from the storage room and head to the train. The next is in one minute. I ask if I can fold the bicycle on the train. He said yes. As usual everybody watches me fold and bag it.
At Arlanda the lift stops right in the departure room. I get in line. The agent is really slow. One family literally took 10 minutes to check in. After 30 minutes a woman comes out and right in front of me ends the line. I have to go to the end of another. All the people that were behind me are now in front. I go back to timing the two remaining groups in my original line. Each took seven minutes.
I'm now one of the last to check in. A total of 50 minutes waiting. The agent has me take my bicycle to Special Handling. I hope it makes it on the flight. If they deliver it the next day I won't be home.
I find a seat and wait outside the gate. Everybody else gets in a long line waiting to board.