Son, Karlstad, Vastraamtervik, Rottneros, Sunne, Torsby, Mora, Rattvik, Leksand, Falun, Horndal, Enkoping, Uppsala
49 days away
604 miles / 972 km since last post
3,346 miles / 5,385 km total
Tuesday had a cloudy start to the day. We decided to drive east and cross over from Norway into Sweden so it was a lot of driving. The grey water drain at the campsite in Oslo was pretty disgusting, so we decided to make a services stop to drain the water. We happened to stop at a services which had a McDonalds, and we're a little ashamed to say we both indulged in a couple of McDonalds meals for lunch. For some unknown reason we got two free cheeseburgers with our meal, so we felt even more ashamed! I say 'free' cheeseburgers, but the meal still cost the best part of £20. Stu note: Biggest shame moment of trip so far.
As it was a long drive into Sweden, when we arrived at our first stop there - Karlstad - we just wanted to get a campsite and relax for the rest of the evening. We stopped at one campsite, decided to check out another one, then ended up returning to the first one again! Stu wanted to try staying in the car park just outside the campsite for the night, despite the sign saying 'no camping'. We didn't want to risk it. Stu note: I wanted to risk it!
Wednesday we headed north from Karlstad. The first place of note we passed through was a little town called Vastraamtervik where there was a pretty little 19th century church. We then went further on to Rottneros where there was an old manor house, but more of interest was the surrounding Rottneros Park. It contained some interesting sculptures, attractive flowers and fountains and was worth a wander around. We also timed our exit just right as, despite being hot and sunny to start with, it started to rain heavily as soon as we were back in the motorhome.
We continued our drive north towards Sunne, and made a brief stop with a lookout over a lake, but it was still raining. The rain soon became extremely heavy, and combined at times with some hailstones about the size of peas, we thought it best to stop for a few minutes at an information point along the main road. It had actually become difficult to see and the sound of the hailstones was a bit disconcerting. We made a couple of stops like this as we continued our drive when the rain and hail became heavy again.
By the time we had made it as far as Torsby we realised that the weather wasn't going to let up, and so we decided to stay at a campsite. The heavy rain and occassional hail continued for a while longer into the evening, easing off around 8pm. Some crazy kids decided to jump on the inflatable pillow in the campsite during the extremely heavy rain - rather them than me! We also spotted some people who were obviously returning from a hike - looking decidedly wet and grumpy. Stu found a small frog on his wander around the campsite!
Thursday we made our way towards Mora - the most northern point we would be going in Sweden. The landscape of Sweden getting extremely familiar now - essentially lots of trees and pretty lakes. Not that we are complaining, it is very attractive, but after 300 miles it starts to get a little samey. We made a stop in Mora and decided to park up the motorhome and go for a walk, as it didn't seem a very big place. We took a wander to the house and gardens of the artist Anders Zond, which were quite pretty. There was also a very attractive lake here too.
Driving on to Rattvik we were now on the route around the Lake Siljan, supposedly one of the prettiest lakes in Sweden. Although it is a very big lake - a 75km ring-shaped crater formed by a meteoric impact 360 million years ago, and Europe's largest such crater - I don't think I could distinguish it in beauty terms from the many other lakes in Sweden. It is pretty, but so are the others.
Along our drive we kept seeing some really old American classic cars driving past. We couldn't understand it at first, but upon entering Rattvik we saw a sign for Classic Car Week. We then spent about 20 minutes driving through the tiny town centre, clogged up by road diversions and lots of classic cars parading through the town.
We headed on around Lake Siljan to Leksand, stopping at a campsite here. Unfortunately they were fully booked - probably due to Classic Car Week, so we had to drive a little further to find one with space. The campsite was very nice though, and right next to the lake. We had a pleasant little walk down to the lake in the evening before dinner.
On Friday the clouds of the last day or so had disappeared and the sun and blue sky had returned. We drove towards Falun, where we stopped at a supermarket to get a few bits - including the first beer we have bought since Germany. We deserved a treat! After having lunch we took a wander to the home of the painter Carl Larsson. Whilst there was a charge to have a tour through his house, which we opted not to do, you could freely wander around the grounds where there was a pretty river and some rather interesting little shops selling a weird mix of antiques, dolls, clothes, books and Nintendo 64 games!
Driving on in the general direction of Stockholm - which we purposely did not want to reach until after the weekend - we decided it was time to find a campsite for the night. Initially we followed campsite signs into a massive field. It was completely empty besides us, and was quite cheap, but it really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Besides, with Sweden having so many lakes it's nice to find a campsite near one, which is exactly what we did. This campsite was in a little place called Horndal right next to lake Rossen. It was a very nice lake and there were lots of people swimming. We sat by the lake for a while and it was really nice. Unfortunately, we discovered later on in the night that we were quite close to a railway line - but thankfully they didn't run all through the night.
Saturday started very lazily. When there is no specific check-out time from a campsite, we usually make the most of it. We were both feeling quite tired due to a restless sleep for some reason, and decided we weren't going to achieve much today other than driving. Near Enkoping we found ourselves a campsite, once again by a very pretty lake, and had a very relaxed afternoon and evening. After going to bed we heard the start of a thunderstorm, and laid in bed watching some truly awesome lightening for a good half an hour or so. Then followed the rain, so we went to sleep.
I'm pleased to say that by the morning (Sunday - today) there was no evidence of the storm and rain of the night before, and it was hot and sunny again. After making use of the campsite showers - which had some stupid system where you have to press the button every five seconds to get water - we drove straight to a campsite in Uppsala. After a spot of lunch we took the bikes out for a ride into the town.
We really liked Uppsala. It is an attractive university town. The Lonely Planet describes it as having a 'small, green Amsterdam feel' about it, and we would certainly agree. It must be the tranquil waterways, little bridges, cyclists everywhere and student population. The 15th century cathedral was pretty spectacular, and we cycled to the Renaissance castle - the gardens of which were particularly attractive. We enjoyed our cycle around Uppsala - certainly the most interesting town we have come across so far in Sweden.
Back at the campsite we decided to take advantage of the on-site crazy golf - which I'm ashamed to say Stu thrashed me at! Stu note: 55 to 69. The rest of the evening was a relaxing one, in preparation for our trip to the city of Stockholm tomorrow.