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Andy's Travel Updates "The real thing is not reaching, the real thing is the journey, the very travelling. If you are too bothered about the goal you will miss the journey, and the journey is life - the goal can only be death."

Sweden

SWEDEN | Sunday, 24 August 2008 | Views [401]

I took a week off and went to Sweden. Some photos here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=50517&id=720958974&ref=share That's why you live in London, so you can do things like that.

I spent 2 days in Stockholm. The highlight was the Vasa, which is the only 17th century man-of-war ship (the king ordered a ship with too many cannons and everyone was too afraid to tell him so it capsized and sank on its maiden voyage). Shopping was also good as was admiring the attractive Swedes.

I went camping with Chantal (a family friend) and her fiance Oskar. In Sweden you can camp anywhere but the challenge is finding a decent place - this is also half the fun. While camping I experienced both the midgees and rain Sweden is famous for. One night we found a perfect spot: flat, soft grass, isolated and next to a lake. In the morning I had a quick bath in the lake which I think is a very Swedish thing to do.

Three days later Chantal and Oskar dropped me near the Jamtland national park where I did a four day hut-to-hut hike. The first morning was pleasant, taking photos or reindeer, picking wild berries, drinking from streams and finding ways to cross streams. But the afternoon was wet, windy and got down to 8 degrees. In the evenings meeting people was great; because Jamtlands isn't famous overseas everyone was Swedish or Norwegian and they were generally interested in why I was there. I came away with a fantastic opinion of Swedes and Norwegians as the most lovely people (as well as some of the best looking).

The second day I climbed a mountain called Sylarna. There was a marked train part way up but I thought I could keep going and meet another trail on the other side. There was a ridge to follow so I could navigate my way up in the dense cloud, avoiding a cliff the map said was below the ridge. Reaching the first peak I couldn't find the second ridge I had thought would take me further. I was nervous about going back because it was getting a bit wet and slippery (so I wanted to get to the other trail directly). Looking where the ridge was supposed to be was only a rocky outcrop surrounded by cloud (see photo 29). At this point I wondered if there was a reason they hadn't marked a trail here. Standing on the rocky outcrop I could see a few metres down; when I climbed down that I could see a few metres more. It turned out it was a steep ridge with cliffs on both sides but easily climbed. Further along was a glacier meeting the ridge. Coming down the other side (in Norway) the view as I left the cloud line was amazing.

That night I befriended some Norwegian cyclists who had a miserable day pushing their bikes on bad cycling terrain. I told them a bout my hike up Sylarna and the next day they left their bikes and did the same (lucky for them there were no clouds). They told me about a nice lodge called Blahammeren which had great food so the third day I changed my plan and went there. Being famous with the locals for the food it was packed with 65 people and 45 places. 45 places already included a hall full of mattresses so 20 more had to be put down in hallways, showers and the sauna. Before it was full of mattresses I tried the sauna which had a great big window for the view (in Sweden saunas are done naked (this may be more than you wanted to hear but believe me it was more than I wanted to see)(the window is for the view of the mountains, not the view in (I think))).

Leaving the national park the next evening I arrived at a town called Enafors with no booking, knowing only that it apparently had some accomodation. It was nothing more than a train station with 3 or 4 houses nearby. From the bus I had seen a road sign to a hotel which turned out to be probably the best place I've stayed in Europe. For half the price of a dorm the previous night, I rented a room in a cottage and as it happened had the cottage to myself. It was on a river island and from my room I could hear a waterfall.

Sadly the next day I had a plane to catch. Leaving Enafors by train I was nervous about having only 198 Kronor in my wallet having been told a ticket could only be bought on the train and would cost about 200 Kronor. It was also the only train that day - thus my nervousness. Luckily it was enough and I got back to London (although I would have preferred to stay in Enafors!).

Now in London I have 2 weeks left before a 2-6 month holiday. It's a vague as it sounds and I'm happy to say I haven't booked a thing yet. Living in London has been good - I plan on at least another 6 months here next year. I remember the early days at Griffiths Rd fondly, the rest is a blur of holidays, long weekends and a work routine. I'll leave you with an amusing story summing up the English work ethic. In his last week of work Pete's boss asked about the workload he was handing to his replacement. After four years of work Pete said, "It probably wasn't a full time job". Don't forget to write back. Andy.

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