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Europe 2007

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Journal for 15-06-2007 : Stockholm (Ferry to Finland)

Hurricane winds blowing up from the south when I went to sleep.

Found it hard to get out of bed for the ferry. I'm getting the hang of sleeping in bright light - and rigging my camping gear for maximum darkness inside the tent.

Lots of bird life on Visby. It keeps shitting on my bike and my tent.

I feel I didn't really give Gotland a fair chance. It was, after all, a good place to spend a sleep deprived rest day. There was plenty to do, even if it was hand washing clothes (where I think you are supposed to do the washing up) rather than poking about photographing old buildings.

Tried to learn some Finnish on the ferry to Nynashamn, but slept most of the way instead. My downloaded phrasebook was no help in this regard. It explained how everything in Finnish is achieved by conjugation, but then included none of the 30 or so conjugations needed to use the language.

My only worry was the train to Stockholm. I had 145 Swedish Krona with me (about $25) , and no idea if that would be enough, or even if they'd let me on. Swedish trains don't like bikes, and they are only tolerated on certain routes at certain times. I got on OK, but had to pay at an intermediate station where we changed trains. My heart sank when the ticket lady presented me with a book of coupons with 160 SEK written on it. But it was OK, I only needed to buy 3 (20 SEK each), not the whole book.

Latest commuter trains based on the famous Swedish tilt train, but with an everyday internal fit out.

Got to the ferry terminal ok, asked for an English language timetable and fare book. Using this to specify what I want proved a good idea at Visby, because the ticket seller did not know the English word for bicycle, and tried to charge me for a car instead.

The translation was not particularly clear about whether or not I needed to book an expensive cabin or not. My heart sank again when I was told the ship was fully booked. "You can go today, buy you can't have a cabin". Yes!

Cycled around the foreshore towards
the city. Downtown Stockholm must be the most beautiful city I've seen yet. No high rise beyond the 18th century sky line. Lots of old buildings, but lots of well blended new ones too. More than anywhere else in Europe (that I've seen), they have the blend between the old and the new right. The old dominates the visual while the new dominates the functional (though the odd bit of parve on the bike route/lane/path made me rethink that last idea).

Cycled up a tree lined and tree centred avenue to a fountain park. Found a supermarket and spent all but my last 25 SEK on provisions for the ferry ride.

Cycled back through the fringes of downtown, then headed back to the ferry terminal to the only toilet I knew about in town. There had been hardly anyone there when I bought my ticket, but a cruise ship had just arrived and there must have been at least 1000 mostly completely sozzled, mostly shirtless (it was sunny and a tropical 18c today in Stockholm) tourists milling staggering around waiting for buses, taxis and god knows what else. Presumably the ability to stand up to return. I locked my bike, raced into the terminal and found a security checkpoint between me and the lengthy queue for the toilet.

I eventually found a vile overflowing portaloo outside, but I needn't have bothered. The tourists, clearly not Swedes, were pissing on anything and everything. Fences, vending machines, and my bike if I didn't move it quickly enough.

A bike route ran past the ferry terminal and I'd already followed it into town, it was time to see where the other way went. Through a lot of freeway overpasses, underpasses, old back streets and mostly construction sites. This was an old industrial area undergoing urban renewal, with old factories making way for new apartment blocks.

The sight of a softening tyre made me realise the foolishness of what I was doing. I was up to 10ks from the terminal, my boat due to leave in about an hour, and I had only the faintest idea which way I needed to return. Fortunately the failing tyre was on someone else's bike. On my own I'd have gotten lost for sure, but whenever I wasn't certain which way I should go, I just waited a few seconds and a stream of cyclists would emerge from the correct direction.

Spent last SEK on ice cream in a park.


Busting for a poo while waiting to be checked in, seemed to take ages.

Ferry ride out of Stockholm amazingly beautiful.

I smell terrible. In the past 4 days I've had one ocean swim (2 dips no more than 30 seconds each) and one 3 minute shower (I didn't dare risk spending any more SEK on more shower tokens).

Managed a Chux bath in a toilet on an out of the way deck. I can't believe I found somewhere that smells worse than me. I replaced the oily smelly film enveloping me with a soapy sticky one. Even so, I feel and (definitely) smell better for it.

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