Week 8 - Back into Sweden.

Monday 28th July 2014.

Today turned into something of a waste of time. We went to book the ferry from Svolvær to Skutvic billed, by the ferry company, as the most beautiful ferry ride in the world. We first went to the ferry dock at Svolvær where we found a young man in a shed that advised us that the there was one ferry out of action, so the timetable was cut from around eight crossings per day to just three, one at  8.30am one at 4.00pm and one at 7.00pm and as we were so long we should either get to the dock well before the ferry was due or pre-book and no, he was not able to take bookings, that had to be done by phone or internet. The 8.30am crossing was the only one that would allow us to reach a reasonable campsite before they filled up in the early evening so we went back to the van and fired up the computer to book on line. The crossing would cost us NOK 880 (£83.38) that was OK it was a three hour plus crossing, the only problem they wanted to charge us a booking fee of NOK 350 (£33.16). We went back into town to the tourist information office to ask why they should charge a booking fee? it seems it’s because they have a monopoly and they can. The tourist info lady questioned the “most beautiful ferry ride” claim suggesting that the crossing was over three hours and for most of that time you would see sea and not much else.

Rethink needed!😚😗😙

Rethink done!😃

We would backtrack 100 km and catch another ferry (pre-booking not available) that runs hourly which the tourist info lady said she thought was just as pretty and that would put us in an area we had not previously visited.

Had a BBQ tonight we had bought, at huge expense, a ready marinated pork leg steak around (in old money) 12” diameter and an inch thick After BBQing some potatoes and beetroot for 30 mins, we slice, oil and season these then put them in foil and place them around the coals, the steak was put on the hotplate for ten minutes each side. We should have invited another couple to share there was so much but we managed with the aid of a bottle of wine to eat the lot - small wonder we are the shape we are 😱

Tuesday 29th July 2014.

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The ferry ride was everything we hoped for, except sunny, there was some blue in the sky but the clouds hid the sun, never the less it was dry and clear and the scenery was great.

The site we are staying on tonight is the first site we have used in Norway with anything like good facilities, these were first class, not brand new but very well kept and spotlessly clean.

Wednesday 30th July 2014.

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Back on the road today we are now south of the Arctic Circle, we visited the souvenir shop and would have liked a spot of lunch but being tight we declined to pay over ten quid for a basic burger, still I did get a picture of the caravan under the sign that said Welcome To The Arctic Circle so that should make me eligible for the Order of the Bluenose Caravanners, not that I’m holding my breath on that score as, last time I looked, the web site was gone and Google turned up nothing on them so the order may now be debunked.

We are now back in Sweden and the difference between last nights site and tonights could not be greater in the facility stakes. This site has showers very much like those at a 1960’s school, a room to get undressed in and to one side four shower heads. The loos do have all the necessaries except someone to give them a good clean. I’m certainly pleased we are moving again tomorrow.

Thursday 31st July 2014.

Third day in a row we have moved on, today we have come around 300 km south to Dorotea, in what is said to be the last true wilderness area in Europe as it still supports wild bears and wolves. We were hoping to see wild bears and Doro Camping, where we are staying, normally organise bear safari’s but the weather has been so good the bears (who are herbivores) have gone deep into the forest and will not be seen again until food starts to get short as winter approaches.

Sadly the showers in this site are very much like those at last nights site, although the toilets are good and clean.

Friday 1st August 2014.

Not moving today. Had a lie in with no alarm to wake us at 8.00am; heaven!

We had bought our booze supplies as we left Sweden and entered Finland and am pleased to report that we finished the last bottle of wine and last two cans of beer last night and still have some gin and a liqueur or two. Today we were able to visit the local Systembogolet the state alcohol shop and stock up. The cheapest wine we bought was equivalent to £3.11 per bottle and the dearest £4.18, the beer came in at £1.13 for a 440ml can.

Polar caravans are a second big caravan manufacturer in Sweden (remember Kabe from a few weeks ago?) and have their factory here in the town. They also have a caravan museum, thats advertised as “The only one in Sweden” I would think it’s the only one in Europe. We were planning to visit it today but learned it is closed Saturday and Sunday. I had a look at the Polar web site and WOW they make some fabulous caravans, I fancy the Polar 900 TRX TDS, trouble is, it is 10.36m long and our present one at 7.92m is we, understand the longest allowed to be towed by Joe Public on UK roads, it also weighs 2650kg so very few cars would be able to tow it but then if you could afford the SEK 795000.00 (£68865.73) to buy one you could probably afford a Toyota Landcruiser or similar to tow it.

Nothing else was planned for the day which was probably just as well as early afternoon the rain started and came down in bucket loads so we just flopped until mid afternoon when the fridge started beeping at us. No electricity, oh well change the supply socket, erm! that one is off as well. It turned out that a piece of Sweden, if reports be true, 250km long was without power, the site owners were in a panic as, of course, all their freezers went off and they only use electricity to cook in the restaurant. There had been a great storm earlier in the year that had badly damaged a major electrical distribution installation which although being repaired ASAP was still a work in progress. The locals were fearful that if that had failed completely virtually the whole of northern Sweden could be without power, possibly for a very long time. The only information they could get from the power supplier was no information at all. All the shops shut as without electricity they have no computers and without computers they have no tills. One couple has booked into a cabin on the site as they haven’t enough fuel to get the 100km home and the garage cannot, obviously, sell fuel without the electric pump to dispense it.

Fortunately after around four hours, back came the power. No explanation from the power company  though!

Saturday 2nd August 2014.

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Went for a drive into the wilderness today. Drives here are quite long as there are few roads so our  circular route was over 200km (124miles). It didn’t start well as when we had gone just a few miles I realised we may not have enough diesel to get all the way round, so back we went to fill up. Fortunately that turned out to be the only hiccup in an otherwise very pleasant day. On the route there were several community art works ranging from poignant, a pair of marble prayer kneelers that overlook where 14 people were drowned in a boating accident in 1936 when returning from log driving, to a bit strange, the concrete bowl described in the tourist blurb as “. . . an opening in the concrete exoskeleton invites us to step inside the 17 tonne heavy and classily clean-lined structure. The ravaged landscape outside is left behind and our eyes find refuge in the curved room . . .” what did that Booths Gin advert say about pretentious rubbish?

I have been meaning to un-tick the “avoid unpaved roads” in the sat-nav as unpaved roads here are very different from those in other parts of Europe. The one we used today ran for over 25km (15 miles) it was well constructed, two lanes wide and shortened the trip by over 100 km but had a gravel top rather than tarmac.

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The highlight of the day was visiting Trappstegsforsen waterfall, it is high and wide and very spectacular, and unlike UK tourist attractions (I know they have lots of space and few people here) but parking is free and there are dedicated spaces for long motor-homes and even longer caravan/car combos. We had lunch there in a little snack bar/souvenir shop, Sue had “two sausages in bread” which turned out to be two hot dogs and I had sausages and chips Sue washed hers down with tea and I washed mine down with coffee and the whole came to just SEK 140 (£12.08) which we thought good value for money.

Parking here is totally different than in many perhaps all other parts of Europe in that although the bigger towns charge for parking most have a carpark dedicated to motor homes and car/caravan combinations. It is quite common to see cars with 10m long caravans on the back in supermarket carparks - try that in a Tesco carpark.

We’ve turned into real gadabouters today first lunch out then tonight we went out to eat in the site restaurant, our first meal out since the start of the trip. It was an enjoyable meal but one I would not like to repeat to often as like some other parts of Europe Sweden is very fond of it’s processed foods (we find supermarket shopping quite difficult as there is so little choice) and much of the menu consisted of different types of burger. We eventually settled on Bison Burger with chips etc for Sue and Reindeer with chips for me. My reindeer meat was, when it arrived, processed, and not fresh as I had hoped still we both enjoyed our meals but it will be a while till we eat out in Sweden again.

Sunday 3rd August 2014.

Another one of those exciting housework days today. The laundry was charged at SEK 80 (£6.89) for a two hour period which seems quite expensive but Sue managed three washes and hours dryer use in that period (most camp sites charge around £3.00 per wash) and when she mentioned to the site owner that she had used the wrong drier setting and had not got everything dry he gave her another 1/2 hour free so this weeks washing was cheap.

We wandered round the supermarket trying to find something we fancied for our dinner when we spied a lunch “thing” that we had fancied the day before when at SEK 140 (£12.07) but now on it’s sell by date it was 1/2 price. Well we didn’t know quite what it was but it was around 8” long X 4” wide and 4” high, had lots of prawns and baby tomatoes on it and what looked like cheese wrapped around it, it looked good so we bought it to go with a salad. When we opened it up it was a very large sandwich, but what a sandwich made with delicious soft bread and spread thickly with a sweet creamy mayonnaise (probably béarnaise sauce as there are more containers of this than mayonnaise) and piled high with prawns. It was the best sandwich I can ever remember eating and with our salad made a satisfying dinner.

Last updated Sunday 14th September 2014                                                                                              © S W Ghost 2014