Arctic Circle to Home

arcticcircle2home

Day 10 : Thursday 23 June

Heading back south from the Arctic Circle we found a nice camp site at on the E6 by a river. The site office was the Krokstrand Cafe across the road who hacked me off with stupid Norwegian alcohol laws. They wouldn’t let me buy a beer and take it back to the van – if I wanted one I had to drink it in the cafe – how stupid! That night a thunderstorm brewed and it poured.

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Day 11 : Friday 24 June

The next morning we went back to Mo I Rana and the supermarket where I could buy beers to drink wherever! We stocked up for a few days and filled up with diesel. As we left I set the sat nav for , Storuman, the town in Sweden that we were heading towards for the night. Once on the road out of town the sat nav lady told us to take the third turning off the roundabout after 156 miles and the day night feature started working again. Clearly the software could not cope with the latitude at that time of year!

We headed across the border into Sweden past mountainsides full of Huttes and a large area for garaging skidoos. We drove alongside mirror lakes and through mile after mile of pine forest – Ikea will never be short of raw material. We hit Storuman later in the afternoon and found the municipal camp site where we could pitch up next to the swimming lake. While Sue made use of the laundry the heavens opened and treated us to a spectacular thunder shower. That evening there were a number of folk with classic American cars driving around the town and it was surprising to see the number of immigrant or refugee kids who congregated by the lake in the evening. We took the opportunity to introduce Fred to swimming and I took him in out of his depth, he wasn’t too happy but like a true Spaniel he swam.

Day 12 : Saturday 25 June
DSC_0250The following morning we set off for the coast, again lakes and pine forests. The previous day we had seen a Reindeer on the verge and Sue was just saying she was pleased to have seen one when we came across a large stag in the middle of the road. He wasn’t in a hurry and trotted down the road for a while before disappearing into the bushes. Shortly after we drove through Junsele, a small town that resembles something out of a Wild West movie, that was playing host to the Swedish Wild West Cruisers club for American cars and motorcycles, surreal to say the least.

We got to the coast at Harnosand and visited the supermarket. Our first experience of a a Swedish supermarket and we couldn’t help but notice the single refugee sat at the door begging. We stopped the night just down the road at Bye Camping, simple but economic, and had the field backing on to the lake to ourselves and a few mossies. It was a warm evening and we were able to enjoy a few beers with our BBQ.

Day 13 : Sunday 26 June

Next day we carried on south and then looked for a campsite inland. We found a nice quiet municipal campsite in Soderfors, a company small town laid out in a grid its main industry like so many others in Sweden being pulp. We shared the touring pitches with, amongst others, a German couple in a Unimog Camper in which they had been on a 2 month tour up through Finland at, judging by the speed they we were doing when we passed them earlier, 30kph.

Days 14  & 15 : Monday 27 & Tuesday 28 June

We headed east looking for somewhere to stay near the coast and came upon Osthammer a delightful quiet resort town. Here we pitched up for 2 nights so we could have a day doing nothing much. The town itself had an attractive centre of traditional buildings around a small square. There was a park area next to the camp site where we walked to the waters edge for a paddle and an ice-cream from the kiosk.

Day 16 : Wednesday 29 June

Today we had to get past Stockholm but first it was time for a bit of culture and a visit to Gamla Upsala. Upsala is the old capital of Sweden and Gamla Upsala is the village of Old Upsala where the burial mounds of the ancient kings are amongst the important archeology on the site.

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Afterwards we headed across Stockholm and its dreadful motorways and traffic, the first we had seen since Bremen in Germany. Clear of the city we went looking for a camp site and came across Jorgeso Camping in Oxelsund. A nice quiet family run site with a walk along the beach where Fred had a paddle. Strangely the car park was full of Brits camping in vans and caravans who seemed to have something to do with Triathlon that happens there.

Days 17 – 19 : Thursday 30 June – Saturday 2 July

Today we explored some of the small roads to the coast looking for camp sites and admiring some of the smart holiday properties. Carrying on south down the Baltic coast it occurred to us that half of Sweden looked like they were on holiday. In which case it might be prudent to find a 3 night stop with washing machines to catch up on some domestic chores. We found a large site in Kalmar with nice facilities although we needed some help turning the washing machine on. There were nice walks around the wooded park and a little bit of beech to paddle on.

The site was a little more expensive than all the others and insisted that we take out some kind of Swedish Camping Card. There were a lot of seasonal caravans parked there just like home from home even with front doors in the awning.

Kalmar has a fine medieval castle set in the sea on the edge of the tree lined old town.

Day 20 : Sunday 3 July

The day was one of sunshine and showers. We tried exploring inland but it got very wet and thundery before we headed back to the coast and added up in Karlshamm. Here we found a Nice site with good facilities although it was a bit bunny infested which was a problem with Fred.

 

On one side of the estuary was a huge edible oils and fats plant but the town itself was quite attractive with some grand residences.

Day 21 : Monday 4 July

An interesting day driving along the coast. In the morning we were driving through fruit farms and orchards and in the afternoon through cereals and potatoes. It was interesting to see how early the cereal harvest was at this latitude compared to home.

At lunch time we found a nice parking spot among the dunes but dogs weren’t welcome on the beach. From here on west the road was tight to to the coast and the further west we got the more holiday land it became. We stopped the nite at a pleasant site on the beach front just before Trelleborg before heading to Malmo.

Day 22 : Tuesday 5 July

This morning we crossed the Oresund Bridge from Malmo back into Denmark. The bridge, that costs £45, is actually half bridge and half tunnel that spits you out into Copenhagen.

Once there you can’t not go and see the Little Mermaid along with hoards of others off the cruise ships. Fred wasn’t impressed despite the several American and Welsh lady tourists that wanted to say help to him. On the way we passed the Tivoli so that was 2 birds with one stone.

As we drove around that morning the weather got progressively worse. We crossed the Storbelt bridge, another £40, to Odense, by which time it was a continuous downpour so we headed for the Bojden ferry and stopped at Faarbourg for the night.

Day 23 : Wednesday 6 July

This morning the Camping Gaz ran out in the middle of making a brew so we had to find a supply. Actually the local Shell garage and it was cheaper than at home. Then on to the ferry that takes about an hour to get to Fynshav on the mainland. We drove to Flensburg in Germany and then a rural drive to Kappeln and a camp site at Karshau. It was a disappointingly small pitch and infested with bunnies which was a major problem.

Day 24 : Thursday 7 July

This morning we decided to make progress and head for Holland but first we had to cross the Scheilbrucke at Lindaunis. The bridge is interesting as it is single track controlled by lights and carries vehicles and trains in both direction and pedestrians as well as lifting for boat traffic.

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We used the Autobahn and drove all day until we got to a cute place called Bourtagne just across the border into Holland and found a nice quiet camp site.

Days 25 & 26 :  Friday & Saturday 8 & 9 July

Bourtagne is a complete fortified star shaped village dating back to medieval times. It has a town square surrounded by quaint buildings several of which are cafes and restaurants. A walk around the ramparts gets views of the whole village including the old toilets build on platforms over the moat.

 

Days 27 & 28 : Sunday and Monday 10 & 11 July

Fro Bourtagne we had a pleasant morning drive through Holland ending up at Sue’s friend Marja’s house near Zwolle where we chilled for the afternoon and camped on the green next-door.

Day 29 : Monday 12 July

Marja had booked Fred an appointment with the vet first thing so he could get his worming tablet to come home. So after breakfast we walked her son to school and Fred to the vet. For the rest of the day we headed toward Dunkirk and in the end stopped at a camp site near Ypres in Belgium.

Day 30 : Tuesday 13 July

Today we caught the ferry home. For the first time they wanted to check Fred’s chip against his passport.

It has been an epic adventure and we can’t wait to do more. Our one regret is not spending more time in Norway so next time we will go to the North Cape. In future we would probably not bother with Sweden or Denmark.

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