What does one do when there is a couple of weeks time between two talks one has to give in Northern and Southern Europe, specially in June? Why, go exploring and camping, of course. The choice was between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. After some thought I figured that since the camping experience is enhanced by the landscape, Scandinavia was a better choice even if marginally so. The first talk I had to give was in Gothenburg Sweden, and so the trip started in Sweden (I landed in Copenhagen and made a beeline to Malmo), then it was on to Noway and then Finland before looping back to Copenhagen for the flight out to Madrid, for the next conference.
Copenhagen (Denmark) to Staffanstorp (Sweden):
After landing in Copenhagen late in the morning, the first order of business was renting a car, I had booked a car from Dansk Auto Rent, and the pickup went quite smoothly. Since they rip you off on accessories, I decided to buy a GPS unit one outright. A friend A, had advised that I go to the fields supermarket, near the airport, where they also have electronic stores. After a little old fashioned navigating with paper maps, I found the place, a got a GPS from the Elgiganten there. It took the tech guys a couple of hours to install the correct maps while I chilled out at Baresso Coffee Cafe in the mall. By the time I set out, it was early afternoon, I had booked a place near Malmo which is less than an hours drive form the airport, using the Oresund bridge. I paid probably the highest toll of my life, of around 50 Euros at the bridge, ouch! The hotel I had booked, the Djurslovsbrygghus Hotel, was actually in Staffanstorp near Malmo. The hotel was a nice quaint place, the manager was very hospitable and chatty. By the time I took a little rest and went out looking for food, most places had started to close, hence my first proper meal in Scandinavia was…..pizza, actually pretty decent pizza from Pizzeria La Dolce Vita.
Staffanstorp to Gothenburg:
After a good breakfast served the the B&B I hit the road headed to Gothenburg. I had to give a talk at Chalmers University, the plan was to stay in Gothenburg for four days before truly starting the camping trip. The drive was about 3 hours and uneventful as I had taken the motorway. My stay was at the 5:ans B&B, it took a little while to find the place. A little help from the owner of an art gallery I wandered into, got me to the right place. Turns out this is a nice family run place, and they live right next door, the rooms were nice, even the shared bathrooms were fine and the place had a well equipped kitchen for guests as well. It turned out that kitchenettes in such B&Bs are a great place to make new friends. I met this group of nurses from China who were attending a conference in the city. We shared a few meals in the kitchen and exchanged stories, one of them Q was also going to Italy after the conference and as I had been there a few times I gave her a few and i hope helpful tips. The conference as mentioned was at Chalmers, this was about a 30 minute rather pleasant walk across town, although the last bit was uphill. One of the central squares in the city is the Gustav Adolfs Torg, this is about a mile away from Chalmers, the walk from there takes one past Gothenberg University as well.
The square is surrounded by several government buildings and the Opera house. On the way are several interesting statues, including the famous twisted gun and older statues of Swedish kings. Many restaurants have been set up in the surrounding area, There is a big covered market in the area, Saluhallen (literally Market Hall), its a lot of fun wandering there, I also tried some of the food and would definitely recommend it. As with many European cities the easiest way to explore Gothenburg is on foot, and using public transport. On the last day of my stay I went for a nice hike with some friends to Bohusleden, which is about 30 min drive from the city center, the area was very scenic and the hike itself moderately strenuous. The following morning I was on the road headed north, with plans of camping on the way.
Gothenburg to Buxarod:
The plan was to get to Oslo or close to it and find a decent campsite there. However by the time I got out, it was already midday. Further it started to rain soon after I was on the road, making the drive quire dreary. I stopped at a gas station to fill up on the way and got some coffee from there, to my pleasant surprise thecoffee was very very good, this would be my experience right across Scandinavia. I decided to make it a short day, as the driving was not pleasant in the rain, I booked a B&B in Buxarod, Ucklum. This turned out to be a hard place to find, it took me a couple of hours of driving around the area to find it. At one point I actually stopped at a library in nearby Stenungsund to look at the local maps as the GPS was taking me around in circles, the staff at the library very very helpful, and I got some sense of where I should be headed. After grabbing a bite at the nearby Pizzeria Kooper I was finally able to find the B&B Algberget’s, there was a tricky turn on a country road that the GPS couldn’t follow which let to all the running around I did. It was still raining when I arrived there, couldn’t find anyone at the reception, in the meantime a couple on a motorbike pulled up as well, turns our R and M are from Germany and do a long bike trip every summer, they were delighted to know that I like biking long distance as well, later I had a pleasant time talking to them about road trips. The landlady showed up and checked us in. Towards the afternoon the rain stopped and I went exploring the surrounding countryside, which his very scenic. On inquiring it turned out that the only restaurant nearby was Pizzeria Ucklum, which is where i went to get dinner, I was having a bit too much pizza on this trip, that was soon to change. The next morning I had a good breakfast and was back on the road headed to Oslo.
Buxarod to Oslo:
I had brought basic camping gear with me, this included a tent and a sleeping bag. I had stopped earlier, by Naturkompaniet, a camping store in Gothenburg. The guys there were avid outdoors-men themselves and set me up with a good compliment of camping supplies. What was left out were the perishables, these I planned to pick up on the way to Oslo in Sweden, as Norway is far more expensive. I stocked up on the essentials like meats, cheese, bread, butter, some veggies and of course Carlsberg beer. At the Norway border there was a customs check, as Norway is not part of the EU. The border guys were having a lazy day, waving cars through after a brief check, when they found out I was from Pakistan there was much excitement, and about a 10 minute delay as they verified my details, but they were very polite almost apologetic about it. I had planned to camp at the Oslo FjordCamping campsite, this was not too far off the highway, but pretty well secluded. It had been unseasonably cold that summer so the campsite was pretty deserted, in fact I was the only one with a pitched tent there, along with a couple of RV’s in the RV area. Nothing like having camp food y a nice campfire, and thats how I ended the day.
It was on towards Bergen next day……