woensdag 20 augustus 2014

SCA2014 Day 3 & 4: Höganäs & Vänersborg

I was excited, waking up in Germany. I knew that today heralded the arrival into the unknown - the first country of the tour that I had never seen before. Denmark.

After my arrival the day before I'd noticed there were Latvians and Lithuanians staying at the same motel... and especially the latter group proceeded with drunken hysterics into the small hours of the night. Could this be an omen for the Baltic leg which was still to come? I certainly hoped not.

The weather to the East also left a bit to desired...

...but the West, that still looked OK.

Time to go!

Annnnnnnd it's raining.

I could sense that this route was quite popular amongst people heading North, as caravans and campers were already quite abundant.

Riding the bridge to Puttgarden, I first got the sense of riding into Scandinavia.

I hoped I didn't need a reservation of some kind. A little worried, I lined up for a ferry ticket.

As it turned out, the next ferry was to depart in 15 mins, and there was more than enough space on board. Whoo!

Line 1, for motorbikes only. Bikes are usually first to board a ferry, as a bike can be tucked away in the smaller spaces on board.

While we wait, time to play 'Let's find the project sticker' again!

For those of you unfamiliar with motorbike traveling; on ferries, motorcycles are always strapped down to prevent them falling over in case of rough seas.

I always bring a ratchet strap myself for that exact purpose, but on this ferry, they had their own straps mounted to the walls. I couldn't really understand how they worked...

...until I noticed the instructions were right there on the wall.

In addition to strapping the bike down, I always take extra precautions myself. I put the bike in gear, and engage the front brake with a velcro strap. 

This way, the bike also won't be able to roll in any direction.

Anyways, time for Denmark!

The first new country of the trip. I didn't know what to expect, so I just let things surprise me.

Upon seeing this sign, I contemplated making it to Sweden today. The rain had gone, temperatures were quite good.... so why not?

I was still hoping to meet more motorbike travelers on the trip. On the ferry I'd been the only biker, and knowing the Nordkapp was a popular destination amongst bikers, it seemed a bit odd.

Then again, I still had quite a bit of riding to do until I'd get to the far North. 

Time to fill up.

Well, whaddya know. As it turned out, these Italians were on their way to the Cape as well.

Quite indifferent to the Dutchman greeting them in Italian and helping them out with how the pump worked, they filled their bikes up and detached themselves from further communication.

Must be a BMW thing.

On the carpark however, there was a German who did know how things worked.

His name was Manfried, and surprisingly enough (being a German) he didn't ride a BMW! 

He was on a trip from Berlin with his fully kitted out Yamaha Super Tenere. Quite the machine it was - I rarely see them in the wild, so it was nice to finally see one up close.

He was on his way up as well, except he wouldn't go as far as I was.

We agreed to ride along together. It felt nice riding as a pack, but after some roadworks, I'd already lost him again.

In the mean time, my quest for a Denmark sticker reminded me of how semi-pretentious I've become when it comes to country stickers: the white oval-kind with black lettering is now deemed unworthy. Thou shallt carry the colors of thine country or thou shallt be exiled, humbug!

Would this then already be the first country missed?

As it was the final gas station before the bridge to Sweden, it certainly seemed that way.

The 8km bridge between Denmark and Sweden (or, by its actual name, the Öresund Bridge) is one of the largest bridges in Europe, and connects an artificial island in the middle of the straight with mainland Sweden.

The height of the road surface is about 60 metres above the sea, making the crossing quite a windy affair.

There's also a toll paid after crossing, which for a motorbike amounts to about 24 Euros.

I decided to take a breather at the next carpark... and wouldn't you know it, my German pal was there too.

Not too far after though, I lost him for a second time.

I decided to set up camp just North of Helsingborg, somewhere along the West coast of Sweden.

Between the towns of Höganäs and Mölle, I pulled in the first camp site I came across. And this was where the 'Miss Hekla Project'-awards already hit the ground running.

You see, when I did the trip to Greece and back it took quite a while until there were any good looking receptionists along the way. Not until Croatia was I finally gobsmacked by someone who looked alot different from the swimming-trunks-wearing pensioners I'd encountered in the thousands of miles leading upto the Croatian coast.

But ofcourse, this was Sweden. Say hello to Camilla.

It was nice to finally get the tent out, though. With a nice view of the sea and bikers as neighbours, it was time to set up camp.

It was an exceptional location. I had  a stunning view of the sea, wifi availability inside my tent... all was well.

I thought about the days the lay ahead. I still wasn't too sure of where to go next, but I also felt that this kind of freedom was exactly how I enjoyed touring.

Brining out the can-stove for dinner got some strange looks. Ofcourse, it fired up without any problems whatsoever. Gotta love low-fi technology.

During the night there'd been another addition to our little biker enclave. I was getting ready to sleep, when I heard another bike entering the camp site. Soon enough, this conversation (with me still in the tent) followed:

Biker: 'Is this the budget area?'
Me: 'This is the biker area!'
'Are you from Holland? Why?'
-'Why not?'
'I hear only idiots come from Holland!'
-'You must be from Holland too then!'

Laughing ensued, I got redressed, and made the acquaintance of Reinier, who was on his way from his town of Almelo to Trondheim on a BMW 1150. It was his first camping experience on a bike - he'd done an arranged tour with hotels before, but disillusioned by the boring pretentiousness of such undertakings he'd switched to a more low-fi style of touring.

Welcome to the club of awesomeness, brother!

The next morning, he ofcourse got a sticker... which was promptly stuck on the panniers.

Not too long after, I was on my way as well.

I'd been told that the highway from Malmö to Oslo would be apocalyptically boring, but riding these roads, I felt I'd seen worse.

There was a bit of England to be found in here. Coastal roads flowing down the hills... I didn't feel it was all that bad.

And then, the trees came...

*insert scary music*

I found out that alot of Shell petrolstations also have an inside 7-Eleven. These little in-house shops also carried the one thing I still lacked from Sweden.

The first sticker of the trip! 

Progress was going really well, so not too long after...

...I decided to turn off the motorway. The original plan was to go to Oslo, but when the sign for Trollhättan came up I decided to pay it a visit.

Trollhättan is the home of SAAB, a now defunct Scandinavian automotive giant.

Both my father and brother drive a Saab car, so I figured it was the one chance to check it out.

And after crossing the bridge leading into the town...

...it wasn't long until I came to the vast industrial complex.

It was quite unnerving being there. The thing is: you go there knowing it once was a huge factory, producing tens of thousands of cars that went all over the globe. 

Now, only the huge complex remains, and only a few dozens of cars on the big lot reminded me of what once was. Besides a security-car checking out what the motorbike was doing, there was no-one there. No trucks going in and out, no people, nothing.

It felt horrible.

Time to find a place to stay.

And after a little bit of additional navigation...

...I quickly found myself a place to camp. It was the most expensive place I've ever camped at though - not only had they reserved the spaces for tents for a festival which in turn led to me having to get a space for a camper (including camper prices, amazingly), I also had to get a camping pass. 435 Swedish Krones it cost me in total. I couldn't be bothered anymore to find another site, so I bit the bullet.

Besides, temperatures were on the up and up, riding was going well, the Beast was doing brilliantly so far... I wasn't going to let this ruin the day.

Time to cook, and meet the neighbors. The ones to my right was a Danish family, which was quite useful as I still had 500 Danish Krones at my disposal. Peter, who turned out to ride himself as well and currently rode a 70s Yamaha XS he'd restored himself, helped me out exchanging them into Swedish Krones.

The others were a Dutch couple. The guy (who I'll call Mr DaVinci) was a boatbuilder, and he'd converted the bus to a camper himself. Really cool. Together with his significant other Cecile he was now on his way back from Norway.

Both also turned out to be bikers, but as they'd always encounter incessant rain on their biking endeavours they changed to the camper instead.

Things were going tremendously well. Tomorrow, that's when I'd already get to see Norway. I heard alot about stunning scenery and high prices.... I didn't know though that tomorrow I was already to find out how bad it really was...