The Sverige Diaries
Two human beings, two mostly-metal ones and a handful of saddlebags. Screwdriver, don't forget the screwdriver!
6th of August 2007 Today is two days before departure. The old lady had some bad weekend with stopping to work properly and at all on friday, being cared for her electric lines on saturday, running for 29 kilometres on sunday before stopping to work again. With combined efforts we managed to clean the fuel ways (you never will see such a clean fuel lever on a 24 years old motorcycle again) and removing the air filter. Now she seems to grace us again with 120 windy km/h. Her ladyship currently has a small hiatus during which she is outfitted with a very new rear tire. Watch out for the roads between Darmstadt and Bremen, maybe we are coming though.
7th of August 2007 Yesterday evening has been full of metal works on the motorcycles, again. We had to fit the saddlebagholders to the motorcycles. Not an easy task considering, that there are not many readymade items for a motorcycle of that age.
The rear tire is as shiny as you see on the picture, because it is a bristling new one.
Weather has been gruesome today. I hope it will lighten up a bit tomorrow. Otherwise, now we both own a complete raingear, so what might possibly happen?
At the moment I am writing this almost everything is put into bags. I am impressed how small my pile is. Nevertheless, I am missing stuff. My pocket knife and a walky talky have gone missing mysteriously.
8th of August
Up-And-Away-Day! No space left on device. We tried to get away early, say nine o'clock. Nevertheless, life is what happens when you make other plans and so we took a little longer. Typical mishaps on the first motorcycle tour-day seem to be inexperience with packing all the stuff and "there is a screw missing on my tank". Besides we had to by another radio set because I couldn't find the second one. When we finally where ready, had the motorcycles (and ourselves) fuelled at the first gas station, we could put our rain coveralls on because it started to rain heavily.
It shouldn't really stop to rain until we almost reached the destination, Bremen. 474 Kilometers on my meter. Probably not a bad distance for a first day although it was far beyond dusk when we arrived. We should later decide that travelling is more fun if you do it at a slower pace. Two days of rest in the town where we grew up before us, we celebrated with a nice hot bath.
Two days later the 11th it must have been the next destination was still in germany, somewhere eastward. On the right you see a "harbour" on the seaside of the largest german sea: the Müritz. As you can see it has begun to get dark again and we where still some kilos from the destination somewhere in the rural of the rural areas in Mecklemburg, Germany.
Did I mention that it rained?
Again we had to leave the next day. We had the ferry from Rostock to Trelleborg booked for the evening. Otherwise the cosy atmosphere in the kitchen on the morning after, the - again - drich weather, the always needed opportunities for heling hands on an old farmhouse and ... yeah, almost everything could have kept me there for a while. Maybe this was again a hint for while life is what is happening while you make other plans - plans are keeping you from living as well.
Thus, at this point of the story we leave germany to follow our plan to visit sweden for a bit. And I have to admit in advance, that the only thing I didn't like in the end was, that I left sweden in the end.
The picture below can be used for a little estimation how far out our friends live. You see the road that is starting direcctly at the house we stayed that night. Although the road in the other direction is paved it is by no means of higher quality. And Maike is able to rush these little pathways at an increadible speed at night. In daylight she is a little slower, which is the reason she can be seen on the picture at all.
Goodbye to germany. We had a very brief stay in Rostock. Merely to the fact that Maikes Virago started to cough a little and we decided to get the ADAC as a last means to get some qualified advice before we wheren't able to talk technics to the mechanics. We simply where very much frightened that there was some serious defect. This vacation didn't seem to start well and the mechanic from the ADAC had no clue whatsoever, unlike the one who helped my motorcycle the week before. But after we waited for an hour our mood had soothed a little, the edges had worn off and we decided to just get on the ferry and try an address in Trelleborg we got via cellphone-relayed world-wide-web.
The good news was that it had stopped to rain shortly after we reached paved roads.
In the end we were relaxed enough to enjoy dinner at a cafe in Rostock. The city itself, or at least the inner part we saw didn't fit to the images of the news about the G8-streetfights or my private "everybody there is a nazi and skinhead"-fears. I knew Rostock only from those kind of news and turned from "a little afraid" to "curious". But as mentioned before, time was short. The only thing we could do was following some strangers advice to the cafe and another strangers directions to the ferry. And then off we got.
Ferries themselves are some ugly thing. I really don't like all these wannabe-glitter, pseudo-maritime and plastik-luxury feeling. On this ferry you could either book a cabin (too expensive if you ask me) or sit in some "sleeping seat" in a large room with too many TV-sets and too many people. Thus we decided to take advantage of our camping-equipment and stay the night out on the upper deck. Some walls gave us shelter against the wind from two directions and as the ship travelled without many turns and the wind was steady there were no surprises - only fresh air and a very nice sunrise over Trelleborg the next morning. Welcome Sverige!
Sweden is a large country, at least compared to germany and we wanted to visit a friend in Stockholm before going further north. On the 13th of August we left the ferry and our wheels touched swedish ground.
The best thing you can do is leaving the harbour, train station or airport as fast as you can. But first there should have been customs and all the other necessities when crossing a border. Or so was the plan that lead us to a set of closed gates between unmanned custom's stations. The closed gates clearly interferred with our intended itinerary to the next bakery and - really sad - a mechanic. Thus we took the lane where the big trucks where queuing, used the motorcycle advantage to jump line and where out of the harbour before we knew we crossed immigration. Blessed EU-borders.
We were on our way...
The address of the mechanic in Trelleborg turned out to be the address of some member of the local Yamaha club. Sadly we never came to the point where he could tell us whether he could help us or not for he did the same thing we were about to start. Meaning, we would have started our journey if he helped us. But that day we only got the information of his estimated time of return: tomorrow. Not that good considering he probably would return late or probably could not help us nontheless. Thus we were on our own on the quest for a mechanic - again.
Gas stations. Although they are more or less focussed on cars, someone at a gas station might know how to find a mechanic. Brilliant idea! It came almost before we started to succumb to frustration. Right beside the harbour there where enough stations and the first knew something about a mechanic just down the road, turning right at the last traffic light of the city. There we went. Picking up the motorcycles we left to somehow safe the last kilometers we had, we found the mechanic. Happyness, relief and... disappointment.
Don't get me wrong, the mechanic was a very friendly guy and indeed a mechanic. But he was a mechanic for garden equipment.
Thus we got a new spark plug (for free) and the directions to a real motocycle dealer just 3 or 4 miles in Malmö.
Now you go and look up the distance between Trelleborg and Malmö. It turned out that "one mile" in sweden is 10-kilometerish, which is a significant difference to a nautical mile (1.852km). Finally reaching Malmö and the dealer we were so afraid the motorcycle could die, we pushed it from the front side to the workshop on the backside of the building. Turned out they run a very decent shop there. While we were waiting for the motorcycle - and the fearfully envisioned early end of our trip - we got our breakfast, free coffee. In the end the Virago-expert (no lie) returned the now smoothly running steely steed, having fixed a minor glitch we should have been able to do ourselves: the choke lever of the virago.
Somehow richer in knowledge and definitely more than slightly emberassed we decided to stay in Trelleborg for a nice little swim in the sea and a relaxing night full of sleep. And then we were of to Stockholm. And the way turned out to be uncomfortably long. After the first stopover on a campsite in a small bay we decided not to rush anything - only to overthrow this decision somewhen along the next day. That's the main reason I took exactly two pictures with my own camera, one of them can be seen below.
We were impressed by the landscape, but only because we did not know the landscape we would learn to love some days later.
Stockholm. We did not arrive by ship, and we did not arrive by day. We took the wrong way because of misinformation and reached a small town south of Stockholm long after sundown. After 10 minutes drive into the real city and probably one hour of drive-by-cell-phone-guidance we reached a small place where we got a pick up by bicycle for the last few hundret metres. Tell me about labyrints and getting lost within, I think there is not much left to learn for us now.
Stockholm nevertheless is a nice town, if you happen to now your way around.
On the first day we did what you do when you don't know what to look for. Go for some sights.
The thing on the right sight caught my eye. Not only because I hadn't read about the Tyska Kyrkan, but because of the interesting conflict between the words on the gate and those on the sides.
This is not the end, I am just not finished yet...