Wake up and follow our noses to breakfast which makes a lovely change. A proper cooked breakfast at our accommodation, the only one of this trip. I think I even had a flower in a vase ..
Its twatting down and cold as we suit up and leave and it looks like it could be a very long day down to Oslo. We head for Trondheim which has a bypass .. usually .. but today its blocked with an accident and we get directed over the mountains in the storm alongside all the crawling trucks. This really is a reality check after the last 10 days. You may as well be anywhere on a day like this, staring at raindrops on the inside of your visor and trying to arrange a coherent image of all the threats around you by assembling a myriad of tiny kaleidoscopic images coming through the droplets. Its bloody hard work, and very very slow. Oslo is 600km and I just expected a motorway all the way but no.. not out here.. its just a main road… a pain road ..
For a short while it all opens out as we’re free..
But the closer we get to Oslo the worse it gets. Frequently the single carriageway roads have a big fuck off barrier running down the middle for extended periods making it absolutely impossible to overtake. Its a very unpleasant tedious journey, broken only with coffee and cake
Its not until you get really close that the road turns into proper motorway. We end up getting in towards dusk and a small tired hotel in the centre. This is another quiet capital city, and absolutely nothing like any normal big city. I guess that isn’t a bad thing though. And again, no parking.. not unless you want to sell your anal virginity to pay for it. Well as far as I’m concerned that is exit only.. so I have a look about and see there is bike parking in front of a theatre about 5/600 yards away so the horses will have to spend the night there. I’d never even think about doing that in a normal big city.. There is no bay marked but there is a sign. Lock the bike.. cross my fingers .. walk away .. life is too short to worry about it.
We’ve both got colons full of cake and we’re not really hungry so we take a quick wander about before the light disappears on another day.
By the time we get back to the hotel I’m peckish and go on the hunt for food. There is a supermarket just down the road with a ‘pizza hut’ standard salad bar full of snot and fingernails and I help the bloke out by clearing out all the dregs from all the containers to eat in the room. I hold my nose and eat it like medicine .. crunchy medicine.. with the occasional sharp bit in .. ummmmm
In the morning we drag our luggage down to the theatre, each telling ourselves that they will still be there, straining our eyes to get our first look.. wondering what the tow recovery fee is round here. I hear a fait whinny and I know my iron horse has picked up my scent.. she’s still there where I left her. Thank God for that .. I never doubted it for a moment ..
Today we’re headed back into Sweden and Gothenburg. Its no distance at all really so we decide to take a longer route via Erska then south past a big bugger off lake. But first .. breakfast.. again.
Its 7:30. in any normal city there would be cafes open but here everything is still very much asleep here in the centre. We can see a very very nice cake shop with a very very nice young lady filling the shelves and we knock on the door to see if she would fill out stomachs but no .. they don’t open till 8.. so off we go.. we’ll find somewhere soon enough.. or not. You know its going to be one of those days when you see a brand new McDonald’s.. one with at least 20 Tesla charging stations .. go up to the door .. and its shut..
The road to Erska has been tarmac’d with black boredom so we just stop and press ‘scare the shit out of me’ on the sat nav which immediately recalculates the quickest and most direct route to Gräfsnäs at the head of the lake. There has got to be cafes there right!
Turn right.. TURN RIGHT.. ‘but thats a footpath’… ‘just do as your told’.. I forgot to turn off the dominatrix audio .. ‘ and put that ball back in your mouth’… ‘Sorry miss ‘
So we’re directed down some very small rough twisty rough roads that soon turn into good gravel then open up with a view of the lake.
Not really such a bad option.. and not scary at all once you swap your road brain out and insert the fearless one. That brain has been in a locked box since we rode the Pamir .. it got sooooo scared there that it locked itself in from the inside. So I got the dominatrix to shout at it VERY LOUDLY and it opened back up in an instant.
We get to Gräfsnäs and see a cafe at the head of the lake.. there are 100s of sailboats moored up.. its a beautiful warm sunny day.. there are deck chairs outside .. in we go. No go .. shut.. shit.
There is a tourist information office next door which seems to be the only thing open round here. I think its open so they can tell tourists that everything is shut… which is exactly what she says. There is however a small bakery just up the road that she recommends.. ‘is it open’.. ‘its always open’.. that’s good enough for us. Down a couple of shady street and we spot a couple of old men sitting outside a shop with coffees in their hands, just chewing the fat. Bingo .. We’re going in ..
Inside the air is thick with sugar and I can almost feel it dive bombing my skin .. its like calorie radiation. Well if I’m going to take calories on board its going to be via the traditional route..
The young bloke behind the counter is very obviously not Swedish so I ask him where he is from. Turns out he is from Yemen and he came to Germany then to Sweden where he has a lot of family already. He’s making the coffee, speaking in one of his numerous languages, just passing the time. We buy some sandwiches and cake too and I ask him if he makes anything from Yemen. He just smiles and adds a large slice of free cake to the tray .. two of my favourite words together at last .. free… and cake And Fuck me sideways.. its delicious. So delicious Brian and I almost come to blows over it.
Luckily for us, the young bloke comes out with more free cake to try before we need to call in a referee. So.. then I feel guilty so I go and buy another 2 expensive coffees .. I bet it works for him every single time
The ride down to Gothenburg is pretty uneventful, except for an unusual tag team helmet signing ..
Tonight its my turn to get a room and I’ve gone for a B&B on the outskirts, right on the tram line into the city. Booking.com had it as ‘only one room left.. buy it now .. you’ll be sorry if you don’t .. don’t be sorry .. do it.. do it NOW’ so we turned up expecting a place full to bursting .. people soup .. waiting for the loo .. showing in the last persons skin flakes and wee .. but the place was empty.. and if I’m honest.. it felt a bit weird. Its a big house and the family .. if there is one.. lives in the above ground section, with the ‘guests’ all directed down some stairs to the very nice cells.. err .. rooms.. It felt like I might be locked in at any minute by some weird Swede with bulging eyes and a mouth only 50% occupied by teeth .. and then be experimented on.. and forced to have babies with Brian .. its not somewhere I’d have felt comfortable staying on my own. We were definitely the only guests.
But at least the bikes were close and safe this time
We jump on the No5 tram into town for a wander about. We can’t seem to find the centre, so we just end up following loads of locals .. most of which seem to be assembled out of absolutely perfect body parts ..
Travelling like we do we frequently just end up ticking boxes and moving to the next place. Some ticks are bright green, some are blood red, some flash madly and launch fireworks, and some are a very very very pale shade of grey .. like this place..
Wake up the next day just happy to be alive and come back up to the light from the cellar below. Breakfast.. Oat milk .. just WTF is that about .. did anyone ever see a calf sucking on oats?
I’m not lactose/wheat/whatever is flavor of this bloody month intolerant .. I’m ‘food intolerant’ intolerant. The world is full of fuckweasels shouting and screaming trying to make themselves abnormal just to be normal.. you’re not normal unless your’re abnormal nowadays. Its just like everything I can think of.. all the actual sufferers of any actual intolerance/disability/abuse are just drowned out by all the bloody cock wombles screaming this and that bollocks .. everyone nowdays seem to be born with big open sores that they spend their lives picking at and fucking off 99% of the population with .. ahhhhhhhhhh .. thats better .. and by the way.. I bought the actual proper milk from a cow last night in the supermarket, just after I nearly walked straight into a big display of chocolate after getting a MASSIVE blip on my (recalibrated to only show perfection) tottiometer .. there apparently are humans made from body parts even better than perfection .. my advice .. when in Sweden wear a balaclava .. and put it on backwards .. otherwise you’ll be constantly tripping over your tongue ..
Today we’re headed to Lund to stay with a Swedish friend of Brian’s. Its not far so we decide to pop into Malmo for more coffee.. more cake .. and more tongue/feet related incidents ..
Lund is a lovely little town, beautiful streets, beautiful people, beautiful weather. We’re sitting outside and I want to take a picture but it would get the woman sitting next to me in it so I ask if she minds. She’s French and she immediately starts chatting like she’s cast off a veil of silence.. non stop babble .. she says that she knew we must be English because they are the only people that will approach and talk to random people in the street.. and she loves it. She used to work in Oxford and loved it so much she is trying to convince her husband to move to the UK. He is some mad scientist for a CERN related project they are doing out in Sweden. They’re building more of those particle things – and this one will be straight, so the bloke throwing the particle can get a really good run up before he throws it .. They’ve been at it for 8 years so far and she’s not happy. WTF do the EU decide to build the most expensive projects on earth in the most expensive countries on earth? Makes no sense at all to me.. unless they’re building it out of wood.. plenty of that in Scandinavia ..
Get on the bikes and ride out to Brian’s mate. I’ve been looking forward to this bit of the trip. Staying with a local is always an enlightening experience, being allowed into somebody’s home, to sit in beautiful worn furniture, turn taps used a million times by old hands .. a living museum .. I just love walking in and soaking it all up .. people’s character expressed through paintings and carpets and furniture and towels and soap and condiments.. sights.. smells.. an atmosphere .. character.. a lifetime mapped out before you .. I just love it.
Brian’s mate keeps bees.. lots and lots of bees .. 1.5 Tonnes of honey a year bees. The garden is full of hives and the house is full of well used and well worn bee related gizmos and gadgets. Its quite a complicated business. Did you know honey bees only live for 6 months.. and they die because their wings wear out .. something I would never have even thought of! Poor little buggers. We just spend a lovely evening chatting and listening to old music that the old boys sing along to with their wine lubricated voices. I just smile.. all night long. Happiness like this isn’t expensive, but its absolutely priceless.
Next morning I’m sad to leave. Jut say goodbye to the bees.
From here it’s just head down and back onto the tarmac treadmill back home. Over the Øresund bridge.. where Brian buggers off because he thinks I’ll be arrested if I stop ..
From Copenhagen its due south ..and its very very very windy
take the short ferry trip to Germany
And head for our hotel in the Turkish district, home of the drunken carpet fitters ..
At this stage in the game its just ride .. eat .. bed .. repeat. We head go to the food court in the nearest shopping Mall and tank up on Turkish .. $%”^£$^”£ .. well that’s what I thought he said .. it was warm and tasty and cheap and that’s all I wanted ..
And some spunk for afters .. obviously
We need to get a negative lateral flow test before we catch the ferry, and Germany seems to be the easiest place to get it. They allow anyone one free test a day, perfect. We’re heading to see my brother tonight so this will be the last hotel of this trip. My body isn’t used to coming home so soon. I’m steering the bike west but I can feel it trying to tug me in the opposite direction, its far from finished.. but I promise her .. and myself .. an XXL ride next year. This was just a short break.. a release valve for all the pent up frustration built up over the last couple of years .. the world is coming back slowly and I’m bloody well going to get out there and see of much of it as I can. I want to come to the end this life with both my eyes displaying ‘MEMORY FULL’
The test centre is only 5 minutes down the road and in typical German style we’re in and out in no time, minus a few mills of mucus.
One last stop for coffee and cake
And we’re on our way to my brother and his wife in Made. They have a lovely little house with a beautiful garden so we just sit in the sunshine and chat, talk and listen, just share our lives.
And all to suddenly its time to go home. Brian is such an easy bloke to travel with.. everyone should have a Brian .. but you can’t have mine
A quick skip to Dunkirk, approach the ferry booths with a bit of trepidation.. but we’ve got all we need and on we go .. both being pulled inextricably towards home ..
Get home and back the metal mule into the garage, open the door, and slide back into my parallel life ..
She’s like a dog that doesn’t want to go back in its kennel.. she’s fucked off.. she growls if I go near her .. I need to throw her a bone.. a Pamir Highway shaped bone, a Magadan bone.. that should give her something to chew on over the winter .. and me too ..