Glorious weather, glorious roads, glorious lack of traffic, glorious peace thanks to the quieter new helmet I bought in Stockholm this morning (many thanks for the glorious service delivered by the guy at Stockholm’s MC Varhus, possibly the best bike shop I’ve ever seen, and possibly the best service I’ve ever received, anywhere, ever), glorious scenery in the Swedish countryside of pine forests, wheat fields, lakes and postcard pretty wooden houses in the traditional copper-mining residue dark red, a gloriously cold beer in the town square, and spending the night on a train carriage converted to a youth hostel, with a glorious view across a lake, and at the end of a glorious day’s riding it’s still gloriously hot and sunny and so gloriously picturesque it’s hard to believe it’s real and not a movie set. A glorious day. If this was my groundhog day I wouldn’t mind at all.
Hot enough to be eating ice-cream today. Top tip for Stockholm – get the city card for free public transport and museum entry. Other top tip – go on a diet, start working out, and get plastic surgery to look like a supermodel, and buy a lamborghini or a ferrari, so that you fit in with the locals. And get very rich so that you can afford to eat or drink. Hmm, maybe that’s why they’re all so thin. You’d have to be a gazillionaire to get fat here. Another tip, don’t go up the tv tower, it’s pants. So is the changing of the guard, but that’s probably true at every guard changing everywhere. Unless you’re a pick pocket, then you probably love it. Back on the road tomorrow.
The rain eases and I leave the truck stop, heading north on empty roads, and enjoying the lack of traffic. All cars in Denmark seem to have had their indicators disabled. All drivers in Sweden seem to have had their brains disabled. Most of the occasional biking Vikings that I pass don’t even wave, but an intelligent few do. The miles fly by as I enjoy the view and keep a look out for moose. I see plenty of warning signs and one carcass. The size of it makes it clear if I hit one it will be the moose that wins. Finding the hotel is a breeze, avoiding city centre traffic, and it has a secure underground car park, both important features for motorcycle travellers. It’s also much nicer than I expected given I chose from the budget end, and after a short walk I’m in the centre of the old town and surrounded by camera wielding tourists and (happily), Irish pubs again. Hoping I don’t look anything like the stereotypical tourists with their cameras, bum bags, anoraks, and arguing spouses, I retire to a tourist filled restaurant for tourists and sit surrounded by tourists eating food for tourists at tourist prices but knowing I’m not really one of them. Bikers are different.
TStayed in really bad hostel last night. In a country that experiences almost 24 hours of daylight, why do they have such useless curtains? The early start because of the early light at least gets me a hundred miles down the road before the rain starts. The scenery is like Scotland (I’m sure everyone says that), but with the complete absence of other people, the long stretches of empty road, and the weather, It reminds me of Siberia. When the rain starts and I find a road side cafe for a coffee and smorgasbord, I’m reminded of that day on the trans-siberian highway when I had a similarly early start, empty roads, cold rain, and the restorative warmth of a truck stop, copious coffee, and fatty food. Back then I didn’t have the comfort of Gerbings heated clothing. I’m going to sign us as a salesman or co ambassador for them, it’s utterly brilliant to be toasty warm in cold weather. I enjoy my breakfast, wondering how much colder, windier and wetter it will get by the time I hit northern Norway. I wasn’t expecting to get a tan up here (although how come so many Swedes are so tanned? And why are they walking around in shorts and summer dresses when it’s like winter?), but I didn’t expect it to be this bad when I’m only really at southern Scotland latitudes. I re-fill the coffee cup and contemplate the rain outside the window.