Roadtrip Sweden And Norway – Part 1

Our venture started on 30.july 2016 and if someone told us what all is waiting for us, we would probably go even sooner! The trip was amazing and was all we have hoped for. We saw never-ending sweden’s forests, steep norway’s fjords and wonderful islands of Lofoten. We managed to do 11.000 km in 21 days and we slept in a car.  We stacked our car with caned food and camping gear with little or no room left for us to sit.  On first day we did 1100km, tired but still full of adrenaline, we literally had to force-stop ourselves to take a break. But before we went for search of our sleeping place we wanted to see the city of Lübeck.

The city of Lübeck

They say Lübeck is the largest port city of Germany on the Baltic sea, but we didn’t have the feeling that it was that big and not at all a port. We decided to take a look exclusively on recommendations of our friends, so we didn’t expected much. Brick houses everywhere and a gothic house in the middle of an old town – typical north German town. But there is some very recognizable about the town and we wanted to see it. A mighty two-towered gate Holstentor guarding the city! And what is more interesting is that the two tower are slowly sinking in. The sight is really astounding and with the park in front makes a relaxing chilling place on a sunny weather. After a short break we took a light walk to the city center. Circled around the farmer’s market that was happening that day and snapped a few shots of the St. Marsy’d Church and of the canal of river Trave.

After that we decided now it is really the time to get a nice place to sleep. We drove a bit north of the city, where we found a nice parking place for caravans, which was really secluded and private. Next morning we had a ferry from Puttgarden to Rodby, which we booked in advance online.

In the morning we took a ferry to Denmark and drive through the scenic countryside. As we come from the heart of Julian Alps, we agreed this land was way to flat for us. You could literally see 100km in all directions and the highest point was maybe the electricity pole or a tree. Next stop was Helsingor and a castle Kronborg, a castle where William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is set.

Helsingor, Helsingborg?

The castle is one of the most important renaissance in Northern Europe and it is under the UNESCO. What is really fun is that they have little paper stands of Hamlet and other characters scattered around the property where you can take a picture posing as one of them. We had a nice sunny weather that day and decided not to go into the castle, but just to chill on the grassy banks of the castle.

After Helsingor there was time for another ferry, this time to our first destination state – Sweden! Since we didn’t wait long for a ferry we decided to also take a quick look at the neighbouring town of Helsingor-Helsingborg. Helsingborg is one of the largest populated areas in Sweden and it is one of the oldest cities of what is now Sweden. We walk up to the keep of Helsingborg, named Karnan. From the Karnan you can see the coastline of Helsingor and almost all of Helsingborg. From there we walked down to see the Dunkers Kulturhus and chilled at the docks watching all the yachts.

odeshog

Refreshed and relaxed we drove forward to our next stop city of Vadstena. While driving through the mighty forest and plains of Sweden, searching for our next coffee break, we stumbled upon a real gem. It was not marked on any of our guides and books, so we knew it, it will be something special. We followed those international signs for natural landmarks (marked as a rose) till we arrived to this gorgeous ancient ruins. If i am not mistaken they are called Alvastra Kloster and are situated near the village of Ödeshög. A Cistercian monastery founded in the first half of the 12th century. The weather was sunny and really warm even though it was around 6pm, the sun was still high on the horizon. We brewed us some coffee, eat some snacks we brought from home. What surprised us was the surroundings of the site. Well kept benches, empty dust bins and clean toilets. And not just that, everything was decorated and kept in a nice subtle way with fresh flowers. Since there was no sign of sun rising down and letting us rest, we decided to move forward and see another small city on our travel list, a city of Vadstena.

vadstena

Vadstena

Dense forests were replaced by big plains of wheat and big farm ranches. For a moment we asked ourselves are we in Kansas? Arriving to Vadstena looked just liked we arrived somewhere in the middle of a Kansas. Abandoned railroad and railroad station, some dogs and cats running around, leaves floating and rolling on the road and not a single soul in sight. But despite all it gave some peaceful feel to all of it. We remembered that Sweden and all the northern countries are real low populated and this is somehow “normal” for settlements outside of the big cities. When we slowly walked to the center and to the main castle the the city (yes it was proclaimed as a city in 1400) came to life. Tourists wandering around the castle, locals sitting on the benches at the near park, just enjoying the beautiful day as it was. Remembering now when i am at home, this was one of my favourite places of Sweden and i would have moved there in a heartbeat. Despite everything i saw a small apartment studio situated just near that lake Vättern that is surrounding Vadstena and would be perfect for my illustration business/office/home. Tired but happy of what the day brought us, we looked for a place to sleep. Found it rarely easy with a camp in the neighborhood and fresh blueberries all over the forest floor. Imagine the breakfast we had!

Stockholm

gamlastan

We woke up into a beautiful sunny morning. Our plans were to visit Stockholm this day and then move north to find a nice place to sleep. We decided we will take the train to the center and leave the car on the outskirts. Why? Well, we read about the very expensive toll the city has to avoid people driving with cars. Apparently they have small cameras implemented and when you pass them they take a photo of your license plate and you get a nice looking bill to you home. We didn’t want to take this chance so we took a metro ticket – the full day costed about 20€ per person and you have the access to all public transport. Even for those little boats that take you from one island to another. Since we spent a lot of the time in car driving, we said to ourselves that some walking won’t hurt us. We strolled around the Gamla Stan – Old Town, walked down to the City Palace and hopped on a boat to the other island to see Skansen – open world museum. After that we took a little break and chilled in the parks in front of Nordic Museum. We decided not to go into the Vasa Museum, since we wanted to save a little more money. In the afternoon we took the metro back to the outskirts and slowly drove out of the town – north – to our next destination National Park Hamra.

Cottage By The Lake

Lake
Lake
Lake

We didn’t have to drive far to really exit the urban areas od Stockholm. Maybe in just under 10km and we were already surrounded by vast forests of Sweden. It was getting kinda late and we needed to find a nice place to sleep and have dinner. We passed quite a few places be we were really stubborn and picky and we really really wanted to find a place by the lake. And our efforts paid off. We found this truly magical place and private enough to settle ourselves a nice dinner. I think that was by far the best place we found to sleep in our whole journey.

National Park Hamra

We woke up into a beautiful morning and took quite a looong breakfast, while just enjoying the serenity of the place. Next stop was the National Park Hamra. The 1,383-hectare national park consists of forest, swamps and streams. Hamra National Park is most well-known for its forest. The oldest part of the national park has one of the few untouched forests in central Sweden. Many of the ancient forest’s animals and plants live in the old trees and deadwood.

Hamra
Hamra
Hamra
Hamra

Almost half of the national park is a large, contiguous swamp complex made up of marshes, brooks, tarns, quagmire and pine-covered islets. The large, untouched bogland is popular with both birds and hikers. The Svartå river, which drains the swamp, has never been used for log driving. As a result, rocks are scattered all over the riverbed, which provides good living conditions for fish and small aquatic fauna.

Storforsens Nature park

After National Park Hamra we headed north to the center of Lapland – a Swedish historical province. Our first stop was Arvidsjaur to see the Lapstaden – 300-year old Lapp village.

lapstaden

Then made a lunch stop at the Storforsens Nature park. Stoforsen is a rapid in the Pite River and is one of biggest in Europe. The park in nicely maintained and is offers quite a few places for picnic in nature.

stoforsen

We passed the Arctic Circle and made a quick stop in Jokkmokk  to visit the Sami market and a museum.  Although being August it was freezingly cold here and a lit open fire just infront of the museum was pretty convenient. We continued our way pass the sinking town of Kiruna to National park Abisko.

National park Abisko

abisko
abisko
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