So here we are on the not-so-sunny Baltic coast. The weather has been decidely chilly (10 to 12 degrees yesterday), but warmer today, so spirits are lifting. Progress since our last update has seemed slow as our cycle route weaves about like a drunken man on a bicycle. We have cheated a bit on a couple of days and taken a more direct line across country. This allowed us to visit a splendid little smallholding which we had spotted on a website before we left home. It was the day after Kathryn’s birthday so a treat was overdue. We stayed with a couple called Berit and Goren Osterlands who have an interesting Wanderhem hostel. It is an old bus garage, which sounds a bit unappealing until you look inside. They have built three little tree house affairs with cosy bedrooms on the ground floor and attic lofts on top, all named after different kinds of hat! As well as the unusual accomodation we were treated to a regional speciality which he had been warned about before coming to Sweden. Called Surströmming, it is a kind of rotting Baltic herring which some folk consider a delicacy. It smells so bad Göran had to open the tin in the garden. We watched with some trepidation as Berit and Göran gutted their fish on their dinner plates, and placed the remains on a kind of potato and onion sandwich. There was no going back at this stage so we tucked in, and were relieved to find that it didn’t taste as bad as it smelled. We even had seconds! However, this was nothing compared to the delicious flat breads and porridge which Berit cooked for us the next morning to see us on our way.
We are now having a day’s rest in Umeå, a busy Baltic university town, before we push on down the coast to Sundsvall, where we hope for fewer trees and more views.
Some people have asked for maps to give you an idea where we are. Let’s hope this works: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=ume%C3%A4+sweden&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=9.181725,19.6875&ie=UTF8&z=8&iwloc=addr
Keep in touch everyone!