Day 4, Monday July 13th, Vinlöv – Olofström
Distance cycled: 96 km
Weather: rain in the morning, then sunny
Vinslöv, Önnestad, Färlöv, Torsebro, Fjälkinge, Gualöv, Bromölla, Näsum, Olofström
1 flat tyre
When I wake up, it is still pouring. I go out and look at the sky. It doesn’t look like clearing up soon. I decide to pack everything as well as possible and cycle further. A man watches me and shakes his head. “You’re not going off now, are you??”, he asks. The last few weeks before I went on holiday, it was beautiful weather and just when I left, bad weather was forecast for the coming period. And if the forecast is right and it continues to rain all week, well .. I can, of course, stay here, but I think that’s a waste of time. And yesterday’s 123 kilometres gave me a kick. If I go on like that, who knows where I’ll get to!
Again, the beginning of the route is rather boring. Or is that because of the weather? From Farlöv it gets better again and I have to climb and descend more. On my second day in Sweden, I conclude that that goes together. The hillier, the more beautiful. And I am only in Skåne, the flattest province in Sweden.
Towards the afternoon, it clears up. I start to look for a place where I can go to the toilet. Here, as in Denmark, there are also little churches with a cemetery. And where there’s a cemetery, there’s always water and often also a toilet. And so there is, in Gualöv.
When I come back from the toilet, two ladies invite me to lunch in the church. There is a delicious cold buffet in the hall and after an hour’s nice chat and food, I get back on the bike.
Lunch with delicious home-made bread / Waved off by the ladies, I’m off again
When I arrive in Olofström, I suddenly get a flat tyre. That’s the limit! I don’t normally get worked up about a flat tyre, but now I’m furious. Stupid, stupid bike! In the spring, I cycled through Holland for a fortnight, the first cycling holiday on this bike. In the beginning, I had one or more flats every day. It turned out to be caused by the rim-lint. This was made of plastic which curled up through the heat and thus cut into the inner tube. It takes a few days before you realise this. A cycle repair-shop in Nieuwleusen put a new lint in and it seemed to be alright for a few days till I had another flat. After that, I went straight home, two days earlier than I had planned. This was no fun. After that, I had the bike thoroughly looked over and it should now have been alright.
By chance (and that really is by chance, as you usually have to go far in Sweden before you find one) there is a camp site nearby. A lady shows me the way: up this hill and after some two or three kilometres, it’s on the right.
As I’ve already done more that ninety kilometres today, walking uphill, wheeling a heavily laden bike, is no joke. The camp site is large and very expensive, one of those I would never go to if I had the choice. But now I’m glad it’s there.
“No more room”, says the caretaker. Well, of course, he’s not going to earn much if I only want to stay one night and haven’t got a huge caravan.
“Please, sir, I have a tiny tent, I’m alone, and I’ve got a flat tyre”.
The man sighs. “How big is your tent?”
“Less than a metre wide and about 2½ metres long”.
He takes a map of the site. “Put your tent between these two caravans, as close to the edge of the wood as possible, as a lot of people walk past.”
Well, I’m glad I can stay here at any rate. Again I get a pass for the door of the sanitary building, which means I am stuck here tomorrow morning till half past eight.
I look for my spot and see a number of empty spots on the way. Full?
When my tent is up and the tyre mended, I go and explore the surroundings. Behind my tent, there is a path coming out of the wood. This leads to a lake. Admittedly, the camp site is beautifully situated.
What an interesting day. It is now beautiful weather and children are swimming in the lake. I’m sitting on the grass by the lake, writing my diary. A duck has come to keep me company. She came and sat beside me fearlessly, but when she realises I have no goodies for her, she waggles away.
Day 5, Tuesday July 14th, Olofström – Tävelsås
Distance cycled: 94 km
Weather: Sun in the morning, rain and thunder in the afternoon
Olofström, Kyrkhult, Urshult, Hunshult, Vrankunge, Vederslöv, Tävelsås
Today’s route is beautiful. I cycle through the western point of Blekinge, Sweden’s smallest province, and after well over an hour, I arrive in Småland.
Åsnen, a large area of lakes in the south of Småland.
In the course of the afternoon, the sky clouds over and it keeps getting darker. Thunder can be heard in the distance and when the first drops fall, I come past a bus shelter. Without a moment’s thought, I decide to wait here till the shower is over.
When the thunderstorm is over, it goes on raining. I look at the map and see that I won’t find any camp sites for the time being, unless I cycle back a bit. For some reason, this is no option. But I do see a youth hostel on the map, not even very far away. It seems very tempting not to have to put a tent up and to sleep in a proper bed, especially as it doesn’t look like getting dry soon.
The youth hostel is typically Swedish, a wooden building, painted red like so many houses here in Småland. It is very cosy inside: a big living-room, a kitchen where I can cook and a number of bedrooms upstairs and downstairs. I have a room for four, but the caretaker assures me that I will have no sharers. To my great surprise, there is also a washing machine that I can use for free. That’s a bonus! Everything is super-clean and by the time I have unpacked everything, the sun is shining again. What more can one want?
While I am cooking my supper, a man comes in with an enormous fish, just caught in the lake at the back. He tells me that he is on holiday here with his family: father, mother, and four children, the oldest of whom is sixteen and the youngest four. The mother also comes to the kitchen and says that her eldest son is ill. He has contracted some infection and has a high temperature. They have been to the hospital with him today.
When I am alone a little later, an old man comes in. He rents the room next to the kitchen. He tells me that he is 85 and I gather that he lives here more or less permanently. He speaks very good English and I ask where he has learnt that.
“I have travelled a lot and been everywhere. In the Netherlands too. A beautiful country!”
"When were you there?”, I ask.
“In the fifties”.
Probably Holland is quite different now to what it was sixty years ago, but I don’t say so.
Once I’m in bed, my imagination runs away with me. This would be a fantastic decor for an Agatha Christie detective story. All the ingredients are there, except Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. Besides the family and the old man, there is a young Swedish couple, a German couple of about sixty and an English couple who arrived after me. The female caretaker was only there between 17.00 and 19.00 and was fetched by her husband and daughter, so they couldn’t have done it.
Eh ... done what?
In spite of my rather morbid imaginings, I fall asleep fairly quickly.
Day 6, Wednesday July 15th, Tävelsås – Växjö
Distance cycled: 41 km
Weather: sunny. Later cloudy
Tävelsås, Rinkaby, Teleborg, Växjö
I slept very well last night and it is gorgeous weather when I wake up. There is a breakfast-buffet in the mansion behind the youth hostel and as I sit at a table, I secretly study the other guests. Hey, another couple has come, an elderly lady and a young man. What would their relationship be? Mother – son? Two lovers? They fit perfectly into my fantasy Agatha Christie decor. I look round a bit more and nearly fall off my chair in surprise. In a corner of the conservatory there is an old woman with almost white hair. Like me, she is unashamedly studying all the guests.
Miss Marple ...
Now it’s time to leave. Before any deaths occur.
A little later, I cycle off happily. The lady really didn’t look much like the Miss Marple I had in mind.
Landscape near Tävelsås. Swedish ground consists mostly of rock. Wherever you are, the ground is covered with stones and rocks
During breakfast, I had mapped out a route of about 95 to 100 km. Via Växjö to Vetlanda. That should be possible and otherwise I’m going to have a problem finding somewhere to sleep.
It is 10 o’clock when I arrive in Växjö and I have about 15 kilometres on the counter. Since there are only some fifty to go, I decide to go into town and maybe make a detour through a nature reserve to the north of the town.
I don’t realise that I have made a big miscalculation.
First I go to the centre and look for the tourist office. There they tell me that there are various routes in and around Växjö. I decide to take one that passes the ruins of Kronoberg.
Växjö is an old bishopric but because of the many fires in the 19th century, there are not many baroque buildings left.
To the north of Växjö is the Helga lake. Five kilometres north of the town, the large ruins of Kronoberg Castle lie on a peninsula. This castle was built in the 14th century as a border defence against the Danes. After the Peace of Roskilde in 1658, it was no longer used and became a ruin. This beautiful ruin is now open to the public.
The remains of Kronoberg Castle
A kind of ‘old crafts’ market in the middle of the ruins
II’m thoroughly enjoying myself here and after lunch I decide to go on. I look at the map and recalculate the number of kilometres I still have to do. I have a handy cycle map of Sweden which gives the number of kilometres for the Sverigeleden. To my horror, I discover the miscalculation I made this morning. There is still 80 kilometres to go and it is already two o’clock. I see that there is also a camp site a few kilometres away. But it is very big and very expensive, not my favourite sort of camping. Between it and the one I had planned for this evening, there are no others. Alright, then I’ll make this half a day’s rest and go to the Växjö camp.