Sweden 2005

Jenny rode down from Lappland

the length of Sweden down to Uppsala, where she joined me at the new home of her brother Rick and his wife Erika. After that it was down South to the WIMA International Rally, which she attended without me. In the nearby port town of Simrishamn they named a street after Jenny. I don't know what she had to do for this honour.

On the way back up North we spotted a lake monster.

 Although, I have to admit that it was painted onto a rock. And then there was this troll house:

Next stop Oskarshamn, where we camped one night before catching the ferry to Visby. While there we spotted some very strange looking characters travelling in two old vans. We were to see them again on several occasions...

Visby is the main town on the island of Gotland and a former Hanse-city. Its city walls are almost completely preserved, including most of its towers. Inside are many old buildings as well as a large number of ruined churches. Once every year in early August this is the backdrop to a week-long mediaeval festival. We had participated in this on our first visit to Sweden in 1998 and liked it so much, we were very keen to repeat this experience. It was here we came across these strange German characters again:

It turned out they make some awesome music. The group calls itself Cultus Ferox. They certainly play ferocious! Other than music (generally of the mediaeval variety) there are the usual shows and competitions. About half the people run around dressed in period costumes and it is a very nice atmosphere.

We made a beeline for the port when we heard that a tallship was there and we could visit it. It was the Götheborg, a replica of the East Indiaman which sunk in 1745.

 We were too late for a visit, they were preparing for departure, but at least we could watch them set sail. The occupants of a wooden dinghy must have gotten the fright of their lives as they motored past just as they fired a two-gun salute over their heads.

Back to Oskarshamn and it was here that we had our biggest misadventure: one night a thief relieved us of one of our tank side panniers containing Jenny's wet weather gear, among other things. On we went and spotted this impressive church:

Now, why would they want me to do that?

Then we discovered a Viking museum village.

There was nobody there and we could just wander in and look around. One had the impression people had left only a short while ago.

The owner has already propped up his boatshed, but how much longer will it last?

Back to Uppsala, where we celebrated Rick and Erika's wedding.

After the wedding we were invited to join the entire family for a trip to the island of Huvudskär, in the far East of the Stockholm Archipelago.

We stayed in the youth hostel, which we had almost to ourselves. An enjoyable few days were spent here, exploring the small island, watching the wildlife (we even saw a snake) and socialising.

We were soon on the road again, first to Stockholm, then in search of Birka, a place Rick had recommended to us. Finding it turned out more difficult than we had imagined and involved taking a wrong turn in Stockholm, two ferry trips and a boat trip. Even finding the pier where the boat leaves was an adventure, thanks to missing signs. We ended up following our nose right across paddocks. On the pier, while waiting for the boat, we met a couple of guys with a beautiful wooden boat.

They happily showed us their boat. Meanwhile, a steam ship turned up, the S/S Ejdern. She was built in 1880 and is the oldest working steamboat in Sweden. She has been lovingly restored by volunteers who run her for excursions and charter traffic from Södertälje. S/s Ejdern is noted in the Guinness Book of Records as the World's oldest propeller driven steamer with original machinery.

 Very nice, but she wasn't going to take us to Björkö, and no sign of our boat. So, the two skippers offered us a lift, as they, too, were going there. Very nice cruise, thanks guys! The island was pleasant to walk around on, but to see the old stuff and get a glimpse of its historical significance you have to see the museum.

In the countryside we stumbled across this water-powered sawmill, lovingly restored and still in use, by the looks of it.

It was time to leave Sweden and we pored over a map. Which route to take? Ferry direct to Germany, to Denmark, or the bridge, or...? Then Jenny discovered the line marked "Tallinn". "Where is that?" The Baltics. What do we know about them? Nothing, really. Let's go there, we may never have another chance! Why not? Done deal. Checked the timetables and bought the tickets. Departure from a terminal on a peninsula North of Stockholm. Weird place: a big long straight road with little traffic. At the end a turning place, several very large car parks, ferry terminals, but no port settlement as such. As we had arrived far too early there was hardly anybody around, the terminal building practically deserted. Just a few trucks and cars and some strange characters hanging around. I was sure that some shifty deals were done here. So what.

The only thing I remember about the ferry is the "Safety Notice" posted in our cabin which was concerned solely with drunken and disorderly behaviour of passengers and the dire consequences thereof.