A Quick Week in Scandinavia
We felt some urgency about coming to Scandinavia this summer. We wanted to take our time and not just have a whistle-stop tour of the southern cities and sights. We preferred the idea of a more epic journey travelling up through Finland to the Arctic, touch the "top of Europe" at Nordkapp and then meander back through the fjords of Norway. It felt like 2019 might be our last chance to do it the way we wanted.
Why the urgency? Well It's that same topic that has dominated a lot of our travel thinking in the last couple of years - Brexit, or as we call it in our motorhome - Brexshit (or sometimes on our more frustrating days f&$king Brexit). The reason it’s so important now is that at some point in the future, could be this year, could be in 2021, UK citizens are likely to lose their current rights to travel freely in the Schengen Area. We have plans to deal with this (more to come in a future post) but unfettered travel for more than 90 days at a time in mainland Europe is likely to become considerably more restricted for people with a British passport once the UK give up their EU citizenship rights.
Back in March we were waiting to see if the UK would crash out of the EU with no deal. When they didn't we decided now was the time to head to the Arctic and the top of Europe and to take a full 3 months to explore Scandinavia and Finland as well.
We knew we wanted to travel through Finland but coming from the southwest of Europe would have meant a long drive if we went via Estonia. Instead we decided to make some judicious use of ferries to cut down road time. Our chosen route included a ferry from Rostock in Northern Germany to Trellbourg in Sweden then, after a quick zip up to Stockholm, we would catch the overnight ferry to Helsinki.
We plan to give Sweden (and Denmark which we skipped completely) more attention on our way back down at the end of the summer. But we got a little taste during this week long scamper from Trellbourg to Stockholm and we certainly liked what we saw. Here's how it went down.
The Rostock ferry was uneventful, a half empty boat and a 6 hour journey. The cost was around 80 Euros for both of us and the motorhome, which seemed a good deal for all the ground we were covering and easily cheaper than the price of diesel and toll bridges to get to the same point by road. We arrived mid afternoon and headed up to Malmo to spend the night. We took a cycle ride throughthe city and were mightily impressed with what we saw. It's an interesting mix of old and new and a fabulous setting on the water with lots of green space and people frolicking around enjoying the summer weather.
From here we had to decide whether to go up the middle of the country or head along the Baltic Coast to get to Stockholm. We opted for the latter considering that it was the midsummer holiday weekend and we guessed would be the less busy of the routes. After a fairly uninspiring stop in the city of Karlskrona we finally found paradise in a tiny little village of Revsudden. Actually more of a hamlet than a village, it’s a gorgeous spot right on the coast where we sat and enjoyed the long sunny evening looking over the Baltic sea as the birds darted around diving for fish. It was blissful.
From this paradise we moved further north along the coast to the lovely town of Valdemarsvik where we stayed at the marina again, right on the water where we enjoyed more warm sunshine and tranquility. If we didn't have a boat to catch to get to Helsinki we could definitely have spent more time doing this all along the route. But we decided to keep moving as we really wanted to spend a couple of days in Stockholm before our next boat ride.
We stayed on the outskirts of Stockholm and purchased a 3 day public transport ticket. We love cities and were excited to explore Stockholm. The city was quite muted and a lot of places, including the street market we had hoped to visit, were closed for the Midsummer holiday. Still we found enough to keep us occupied for a few days. We wandered around and explored the sights, quickly deciding to stay away from the old town (Gamla Stan) where the swarms of tourists were just too much for us.
I have a hard time complaining about tourists, after all it's pretty much all we do and I hate travel snobbery. People seeing the world has to be a good thing and how they chose to do it is their choice. But the huddles of 50 people moving en masse following someone with a flag and the constant rumble of tour buses through the historic streets can pretty quickly ruin the atmosphere of a place. We have started to realize that for some places the key is to get up super early to beat the crowds or to visit a city at night when you can soak up the atmosphere and the larger tour groups have retreated to their hotels or cruise ships for the night.
We wandered off the beaten path and away from the old town to sample some craft beer. Sweden has been like an oasis after the desert of overrated German beer we had been experiencing in the past few weeks and we were grateful even though we were now paying Scandinavian prices for alcohol. We also had to sample some local meatballs! We enjoyed the dish, made world famous by Ikea, away from the tourist hoards at Meatballs for the People again accompanied by local craft brews.
Another spot to get away from the crowds is the vast park area of Tantolunden. There we wandered around the Tanto Norra allotment area that was established in 1919. For over 100 years the 93 allotments have provided a green oasis in the center of Stockholm.
We love visiting cities, the atmosphere, the variety of people, the public transport, but Stockholm was just ok for us. I am not sure why it didn't grab us like other places have. It certainly has an amazing setting but, as we have said before, not everywhere can be your favorite place. Still we enjoyed our few days there and we definitely are looking forward to some more Sweden time when we return at the end of the summer. Now though, we have a ferry to catch - next stop Finland!
Recommendations & Tips
Where we stayed: We visited in the second half of June.
70. Andelshamn Marina, Malmo 200 SEK a night with elec. Full motorhome service point. GPS. 55.59588, 12.93336
71. Marina, Karlskrona 200 SEK a night with elec. Full motorhome service point. GPS. 56.16564, 15.59371
72. Marina, Revsudden 150 SEK a night with elec GPS: 56.77653, 16.47993
73. Marina, Valdemarsvik 175 SEK a night with elec. Full motorhome service point GPS: 58.2033, 16.60479
74. Bredäng Camping, Stockholm 315 SEK a night with elec GPS: 59.2956, 17.92312
You can always find details of where we stay on our overnight stays map.
Getting around Stockholm: The public transport system is excellent you can buy a 24 hour (130 SEK) or 72 hour (260 SEK) travel card that covers trams, buses and some ferries. If you are going to make more than a few journeys it is well worth buying the card. You buy the ticket at a station or from a local kiosk. The time starts the first time you scan it at the gates.