Finishing Scandinavia

The Hemavan hostel, a Christian youth camp with no Christian youth, was a comfortable end to my 440km traverse of the Kungsleden. In the morning two more guys arrived, having also finished their thru hikes. One was Finnish and the other a Texan, both having met while hiking the Appalachian Trail last summer. The Texan had just got done teaching English in Madrid under the same program I did.

Hemavan is pretty far north near the Norwegian border, and consequently far from pretty much everywhere else. The two AT hikers and I caught a six hour bus to Umea on the eastern coast, where we parted ways. They caught a ferry back to Finland and, after a three hour layover, I boarded my 8.5 hour night train to Stockholm.

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Somewhere in the center of Stockholm.

My train pulled into Stockholm Central Station around 6:30am and I decided to splurge on a locker for 8 hours until the next leg of my train journey, this time to Gothenburg. The total cost for the locker was around $8, but was totally worth it so I didn’t have to lug my camping gear all around town.

I was able to catch a spot on the morning walking tour of Stockholm, led by a guy from Perth who’d married a Swedish woman and settled here permanently. The highlight of the tour was without a doubt visiting the bank that was the site of the Stockholm Syndrome incident. It was completely worth going on the tour just to hear more about that bizarre series of events at the actual location.

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The hostages under Stockholm Syndrome.

A bunk in a hostel was around $35-40, so I left for Gothenburg (where bunks were a comparatively reasonable $21) around 2:30pm. I very narrowly almost missed my train because of a last minute track change, which forced me to run around looking for platform 10.

I enjoyed my 8 hours in Stockholm, but I have to admit compared to the rest of Sweden it didn’t strike me as anything special (other than the massive science fiction bookstore downtown, which I wouldn’t mind living in). Gothenburg was much more to my liking, which seemed less touristy.

Sleeping in a real bed in the Gothenburg hostel was a surreal experience, and I ended up passing out for almost 12 straight hours after 17 hours on buses and trains. I don’t have much to say about the city other than that it was nice to see a Swedish university town. A full day there seemed plenty. I cooked a lot of Swedish meatballs, which are one of the cheapest things in the grocery stores.

A three hour bus took me to Helsingborg, just 5km from Denmark’s Elsinore (yes, that Elsinore from Hamlet).

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The ferry to Denmark pulling into port in Helsingborg, Sweden.

Back when Denmark and Sweden were at seemingly constant war with each other, the two towns were the sites of important fortifications. I wandered around the parks and battlements of Helsingborg for some hours before taking the regular ferry over to Elsinore.

The ferry to Elsinore ran every 20 minutes, and the trip took a little less time. At around $4, it was surprisingly cheap for Scandinavia. It was made up for by having to deal with a bunch of drunk Nordic university students chanting something at the top of their lungs.

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Overlooking Helsingborg (Sweden), with Elsinore (Denmark) on the opposite shore 5km away.

I  bought a 24 hour public transit pass for Zealand and Copenhagen, and spen an entire day visiting Roskilde, Hillerod, and a little of Copenhagen. Then I flew back to Madrid, where I can actually afford to eat things besides hot dogs.

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Map of Denmark and southern Sweden. I started in Gothenburg, went to Helsingborg, took the ferry to Helsingor (Elsinore), and then roamed the island.

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