We agreed to take the East coast route down so had a stopover at Vasteras, one of the bigger towns in Sweden, before we hit the coast. The entertainment for the day and evening was provided by a snazzy zip-wire come wake boarding school outside the front window. Think water skiing on a board but being pulled by a zip-wire rather than a boat – amazing people doing amazing things on a bit of wood and a wire, we would have paid for the view but luckily it came in with our parking spot.
On route down we needed LPG, first obstacle we faced was none of the garages sell it – fail to us, we forgot to check availability and found that there were only 30 suppliers in the whole country. We found one at Falun, closed on Sunday, so instead went for Eskilstuna where lucky for us we found a gas supplier – who happily tried to top us up, only to find the tank wouldn’t totally fill.
When we stopped off at the marina Iain rang the LPG system suppliers in the UK, who spent half an hour telling him how to fix the problem – seemingly we have at some stage over-filled the tanks. After freaking out the motorhome next door and a yacht in front of us with several large emissions of gas we hope we are fixed – and have enough gas left for the next 2 weeks until we test refilling in Germany.
It would seem repetitive to mention the roads and how quiet they were, but again they were – Sweden is empty. it’s all lakes and forest. We drove over the bridge on Hjalmaren Lake – over 480 square kilometres and 58 km long or lake – that is the same size as Andorra. Standing on the road side we could see false horizons but not a soul on the lake in any direction. One of the most magical things about Sweden is the sense of space amongst all the amazing views.
The holiday season in Sweden is incredibly short, it starts mid June and ends mid August. Just 2 months then tourist stuff starts either closing up or reducing hours. At the moment most things seem to be open until 9pm-10pm at night, that includes anything from big shops to little ice-cream stalls. The vast majority of people on holidays here are Swedish, we have seen very few other nationalities. In the last four days we have seen one Dutch and three German vans – whereas in Norway we were seeing that many Dutch and Germans every hour.
We did meet an amazing English lady last night. She is sem-retired and touring Sweden and Finland. She is on her own, driving a 4×4 with a canoe on the roof and that’s it. She sleeps in the back of the car and uses public loos and showers, cooks with a small stove outside her car and camps out in the woods on her own. A very gentle lady, polite, well spoken, retirement age – the biggest thing was she is doing it – no moans that she doesn’t have a motorhome or can’t afford hotels, just enjoying it the best she can. We were both a bit humbled by her story and more than a little impressed.
As the weather has turned to Swedish summer we have had a couple of days parked up in Valdemarsvik, as is now our usual on the local marina. We cycled up a former railway track to the next town but other than that we have spent our time just sitting and watching the yachts come and go, topping up our tans and generally watching the world go by.
Today’s view from our window Valdemarsvik marina
Last night we were treated to the peculiar Swedish phenomenon of Allsangsmandag. It is said here you have not experienced a Swedish summer if you have not been to an Allsang, they are mad about them. The concept is the same be it on national television or in every village and town in the country. Half the town turn up with picnic chairs and sit around a stage set up in a 40ft truck. There is a pop-group with celebrity guests, some singing of traditional Swedish songs, then members of the audience get up and sing with the bands to modern chart stuff – but the best bit is the audience are given song books with the words to join in with the bands on several songs. The majority of songs were of course Swedish but a fair few English ones in there – we were awesome and did the British proud :). If Allsang isn’t on British tv in 12 months I will eat my hat – it’s going to catch on, hopefully!
You can’t beat a bit of Allsangsmandag!
The other strange obsession here is ‘Loppis’ – flea market, garage sale, boot sale – call it what you will, you cannot fail to come across one. In the back of regular shops, outside supermarkets, in peoples gardens they. It’s not what they sell that is remarkable, its the number of them. Here on the harbour there were four Loppis huts, a Loppis in the corner of the bakery and even in the loos one of the small storage rooms had been converted into a self serve Loppis. The GDP of Sweden must be impacted by selling junk as we have never seen so many people doing it anywhere else.
Tomorrow a bit further South, keeping to coast and hopefully keeping with the sunshine.
We came across this little moho the other week, their trip detail on the van puts ours to shame!