swedish snapshots



It’s been a while since we left Sweden. Slow internet connections come and go, and time passes me by. But it would be wrong to not revisit the time we spent traversing Sweden. It would also be wrong to tell you how long it took me to upload all of these photos. But I will. Three and a half hours, give or take a year. 

While we were in Sweden, it seemed as if we would never make it to Germany. Our stay in the Schengen region of Europe visa-free is limited to 90 days. As such, our goal was to make it out of Scandinavia within 30 of those days, and we pert near made it.

The plan was to take a train from a randomly chosen city which we knew nothing about (Mora) to a destination further south, near the coast (whether east or west side, it didn’t matter much to us). We luckily came to find out ahead of time that very few of the multiple train companies in Sweden allow bicycles. Even luckier, the one possible company we could utilize operates on a line running south from Mora. So while we were not able to make it to the coast, or as far south as we had hoped, we were able to shave a few hundred kilometers off of our cycling itinerary, allowing us to meet our self-imposed deadline.


Pippi Longstocking riding a giant felted twinflower! How Sweden!



Sweden is Norway’s less showy, less prosperous sibling, at least to a casual observer. The houses were not as meticulously clean nor freshly-painted, there weren’t as many roadside tourist-friendly amenities (whether necessary or frivolous), there most definitely were not as many bike paths, and a visit did not break the bank. While still expensive as compared to mainland Europe, Sweden was much cheaper for us to travel through than Norway. We began allowing ourselves more treats, in the forms of coffee and pastry stops, meals out, and occasional bottles of wine.


DALA HORSE FEVER! A fever that could only be interrupted by waffles. Waffles were the theme of our vacation in Sweden. They were also, come to think of it, the theme of our time in Norway. And through to the present day, they continue to be the theme of our trip. These days we can be found frequently indulging in gaufres de liège, sugar waffles. From the supermarket. They come in packs of five or eight. We’re on our fifth or sixth pack in just a few weeks. Life is good.

Mora turned out to be a delightful surprise. We were able to take in crew races on the lake in town, pose with several different dala horses, choose from hundreds more to purchase, and we even stayed in an adorable hut at the local campground. Camping in tiny huts seemed to be a very Scandinavian thing to do, and I am not one to oppose getting more in tune with the Motherland vibes, so a hut it was. While in Mora, we were also able to watch a Euro Cup semifinal (a clue to anyway else who watched the game just how long ago we were there). We watched at a restaurant, outside, on a giant screen. Everyone was really into the game and there were fans from both sides, which made for a very Euro atmosphere. When the game ended near midnight, it was disconcerting how light the sky still was; it made walking through the sleepy deserted town an eerie experience.


The forestry in Sweden was quite different from in Norway. In Norway, they apparently adhered to the same regulated thinning treatment, at least in the areas we saw. In Sweden, there were larger clearcuts, but trees in general seemed to be allowed to grow older, and to a larger size. They looked nicer. There were also varied treatments, which was refreshing after seeing the same identical type of harvest throughout Norway. I appreciated the variability and diversity, and while we didn’t see much for wildlife in either country, hopefully the critters appreciate it too.

The cracker selection in Scandinavia was phenomenal. They also loved pickled herring of all flavors, and various cheeses and meats squeezed into colorful tubes.



Before we left Sweden, we stayed for two nights in a campground adjacent to the above bridge, in Malmö. For one day, we took a train across the bridge to see Copenhagen, and it was well worth the trip. Denmark is the only country that I’ve been unprepared for currency-wise, but since we were traveling directly into the heart of a city, finding an ATM to withdraw some Danish kroner for the day wasn’t a problem.

And then, very close to our self-imposed 30 day mark, we took a ferry from Malmö to Travemunde, Germany. It took seven hours, and we paid for two buffet meals, at which we proceeded to pig out so much that I don’t believe I should say any more.

välkommen to my house

We’re in Sweden now! We spent a few days exploring the Trondheim of many moons ago (back when it was the capital of Norway, and was called Nidaros), and then we cycled north along a gorgeous fjord until we turned east towards Sweden. Eli made the excellent pun “I can’t believe we’ve been affjorded all these terrific views!” Nyuk nyuk. It took another day, but we crossed the country line on a little dirt road without much fanfare (except on my part). I couldn’t even really tell where the border was apart from the signs. Having worked on the US-Canada border, where there is an engorged no man’s land so large that you couldn’t miss it even without eyesight, I thought that was pretty neat.

We meandered our way through very watery woods and peat bogs over the next day. Everywhere, water is close to the surface. Both small and large lakes abound, as well as tiny kettle ponds and rivers of all sizes. The mountains are surrounding us, with snow and freezing temps only a few hundred feet up. Down in the valleys it is pleasant, but still quite chilly at night depending on location.

This team of two decided it would be best if we try to take a rest day every four or five days, so that we don’t get burnt out or too fatigued. With all this mountain climbing and gravel riding we’ve been doing, that makes hella sense to me. And so after a few long (to me) days, we aimed for a random town to take a rest day in. A sign had let us know that the town should have food, lodging, and camping. We arrived after an 80 km day of riding, a third of which was dirt and most of which was a hill of varying size, to find out that the lodging and food signs had been scratched off the map and the camping hadn’t even existed in the first place. We made camp for the night in a little hideyhole, and found ourselves a campground down the road a short ways the next day, planning to take a day off.

Well! I found out that there was a bike park a few miles down the road from where we’d be staying, and there was suddenly all this fantastic literature all around me (okay, yes, we were in a library, so, not surprising, no) promoting biking in the region and at the bike park. It had been my intention when planning this trip that while we would ride our touring bikes from country to country, that if we made it to various bikes parks across Europe, that Eli should have the opportunity to ride at them if he wanted to. He had already passed by Hafjell in Norway on their opening weekend, without much fanfare other than taking a pic of the slopes. So I worked on him a bit and tried to get him to tell me if he wanted to go downhilling. One might say it’s a bit like cracking open an oyster, it’s a bit of going back and forth. I knew he wanted to. We both knew he wanted to. And then we saw some big bikes at the campground we were staying at. Our plan was get up early the next morning, see if they were headed back to the Åre Bike Park, and if so, ask for a ride. And it worked! Thanks to John and his son Emil for letting us tag along in their camper, for riding up to the very top of the mountain in a cable car with us, so that we could descend a 5.5 mile trail in heavy wind and rain, and for a tasty post-ride beer. And for refusing any sort of recompense afterwards! There are so many lovely people in this world.

Now! Here are a few photos from our time in Trondheim. More recent photos will have to wait.


The Nidaros cathedral was impressive. The most northerly Gothic cathedral in the world! We sat outside of it one day, and even had the place to ourselves for a few quiet minutes in the evening. The next day we went inside, and found sooo many triangles and Illuminati paraphernalia. Shhh.


We went to Baklandet Skydsstation for their midday herring buffet. All the herring you can dream of, in every sort of sauce, plus a beer and an Aquavit. The Aquavit selection was longer than our 80 km day of biking the other day, so we had the waitress pick us out two options. We came for the herring, we stayed for the beautiful Norwegian tapestry hangings. And then I had a belly ache, because I ate way too much.


Eli demonstrates, sans bicycle, how to use the bicycle lift.


We had plenty of time, so we went to a number of museums. We saw 1) creepy dioramas detailing the history of skiing in Norway, 2) lots of really old swords + shit, and 3) the ruins of a castle built on top of a hill over one thousand years ago. I have a thing for dioramas.


It was Midsummer, and while we sadly couldn’t find any wild parties to join in on like we’d heard tell of, we did make ourselves a tasty supper, and threaten each other with another pound or three of pickled herring. 

More next time!

hi hi from trondheim

We arrived in Oslo, Norway at the start of last week after a surprisingly pleasant red eye flight from JFK. Things got a little less pleasant when one of our bags failed to show up in the baggage claim. While we had our two bikes and half of our stuff, we were missing four bike bags that had all been shoved into two layers of heavy duty garbage bags. Within that missing bag was a sleeping bag, our cook set, our stoves, a mattress pad, and our tent, along with anything else that would allow us to successfully camp. We were told it could be one day, or maybe two, and that they didn’t have a clue where our bag was, but to check back the following day.

Initially we weren’t planning to bike into Oslo proper, as it was 25 miles or so south of the airport and in the opposite direction from where we were planning to head. It was a blessing in disguise though, as I’m glad we were able to see the city. We made it to Lillestrøm the first night, and slept in a tiny hotel room with a bed that the clerk didn’t believe we’d both be able to fit into. We showed him. Breakfast the next morning was an exciting dive into the world of Norwegian processed meats.

We made it to Oslo the second day, after calling the airport and hearing that nope, they had no clue where our stuff was. And then I had my first whoops of the trip when my bike tire was caught in a tram track and I skidded along the pavement and skinned my arm and twisted one of my shifters. As the sticker on my bike warns, “My life is a cautionary tale.” Everything is good.

Found a cheapish place to spend the night. And then it started to rain, and Eli’s rain jacket was sitting in our forgotten bag, likely somewhere back at JFK.


So he bought a stylish poncho and looked really dapper while drinking coffee. Early on day two someone had told him over the phone that our bag was *maybe* on its way and to check back, but when we called back their internet was down and turns out the call center isn’t actually at the airport and so they couldn’t tell us anything. We waited around a while, calling various numbers and likely racking up quite the phone bill, not wanting to go see the sights in town because it was pouring out and I was still working on a mystery illness that promised to turn into pneumonia (again) if I wasn’t careful. Eventually we decided to just chance it and take a train back to the airport. 

The baggage claims dude said that no, our bag was nowhere in the system. Eli worked his magic and the guy let him back into the baggage area, and after checking every carousel they found our sad bag abandoned near the side of Baggage Carousel 5, where it had apparently been for hours, unnoticed. Thankfully.

So that was the changing of our luck, and things have only gotten better from there.

We were able to start camping. We found a very neat wooden troll perched on a large rock in a recent clearcut. We have seen endless forest management, though none actually at work at the present. We’ve eaten some lefse and some shrimp salad.

Things are so beautiful and it is so weird having sunlight so much of the day. I don’t think our bodies have quite known what to make of it, and between all the sun and all of the biking we’ve been sleeping 12 solid hours, pretty much every night. Such is the decadence of vacation and having no destination.

We’ve only been spending around four hours per day on the bike, but after 11 days of it, that’s a lot of effort. We started off following Norwegian Cycle Route 7, which for some time was signed really well. Biking straight from the airport, with nicely paved bike trails and clear signage is not something we would have found back home. The route was lovely, and took us onto some gravel roads and paths about as far from any towns as we could get. We lost the route once we entered Lillehammer, unfortunately. But! We’ve been fortunate enough to speak to some locals who have recommended routes for us to take, which has paid off tremendously.

Leaving the town of Ringebu [apparently Ringebu has one of the largest remaining stave (wooden) churches in Norway, and sadly we missed it. Such is a life without constant Internet], we spent two hours climbing five miles. We made it above tree line and into the beautiful Rondane high mountain area. There was snow, and it was quite cold. After plateauing for part of the day, we descended a steep and winding 12% grade and stopped for cake and coffee at an enticing lodge. It was pouring rain again, and the host recommended a lean-to he knew of a few kilometers down the road. It pays to talk to those locals. The rain stopped long enough for us to take our first bath in days, in the freezing cold stream adjacent to the lean-to.

We left one mountain range, only to come within sight of another: the Dovrefjell range, crowned with the mountain Snøhetta. It was visible and glorious on our slow ascent to it, but upon our arrival to the viewpoint it promptly clouded over. Apparently you can go on a muskox safari nearby. We chose to bike on the freeway instead.
E6, which in Oslo was the busiest stretch of road around, was actually enjoyable to bike on so far north. It was made even better by at least 30 km (and probably closer to 50) of sweet sweet downhill. After all that climbing, my legs needed it. We made it to the town of Oppdal, a mountain village with not one but two bakeries, side by side. We frequented both. In a row. And then went back this morning.


And then we took the train to Trondheim. We’ve biked 560 difficult kilometers in a week and a half, and our legs are begging us for a rest. So with the help of Eli’s mom’s cell phone, we hooked ourselves up with Airbnb and have a place to stay for the next three nights to rest up — thanks Elaine!

More to come soon.