Hi all! It’s a red letter day for Neil and Kathryn. We are drinking our hot choc before our last beddie-byes in Sweden. Yes, we´ve made it to Helsingborg http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=helsingborg&ie=UTF8&ll=56.127184,12.694702&spn=0.675079,1.724854&z=9&iwloc=addr 3300 Km from Nordkapp as the cycle path meanders. Our early estimates of 5600km total are beginning to look rather foolish – we just didn’t know how "relaxed" the route would be as it travelled from one place to another. Back in June we calculated it would be about 2,500km to here. In spite of this we’re not too far behind where we thought we would be by this time – perhaps we expected to be in Germany in the first week of October. But now we start the Danish leg and Germany is only a week or so away…
We’ve already been in Denmark, having decided to stay an extra day in Helsingborg and use the frequent ferry link to explore Helsingor as well. You may know that Helsingor (or Elsinor) Castle was the setting for Hamlet and today we’ve been in the dungeons of this huge Rennaissance palace, as well as its ornately carved and painted Royal Chapel. It has some hilarious nudie figures on the pews.
First impressions of Denmark are excellent. Helsingor is packed with wobbly half-timbered buildings painted in jaunty pastel shades – just the sort of thing we love to see. It also has real food shops (Sweden has all but sold its food retail soul to the supermarket chain ICA) and pubs!! How we’ve longed to see a cosy tavern as we’ve pedalled across endless reaches of forest. In fact, many of the shops around the harbour are off-licenses, selling alcohol to the drink-deprived Swedes who, for the price of a pint, can come over on the ferry to stock up.
Helsingborg, on the Swedish side of the water, is also an attractive city, though completely different in character. It has a grand late 19th and early 20th century centre – many of the biggest buildings are hotels and banks – and an attractive modern quayside.
Since Borås we’ve kept up our regime of mainly shorter days but fewer days off (ie none since then). This suits us much better as we have more time to see the sights along the way and we arrive less shattered. Much better than doing 100km stretches for three days and then being too tired to ride on the fourth. Also, as we’ve come further south, the towns have become much closer together so there’s more to see. The countryside has given us plenty to look at too. We’ve made our way down the west coast around huge sweeps of bays and over wooded penninsulas. The weather has been mainly fair and mild but very windy, whipping up some white horses on the waves. The much flatter landscape means plenty of headwinds too and the area is dotted with windmills old and new. In fact, Kathryn nearly lost Neil when we stopped to look at a lovely old windmill. It was attached to a cafe and had an old VW Beetle outside. Neil was photographing this when its owner, a winsome young lady, came out of the cafe to pick herbs for the dish of the day. The idea of a woman with her own windmill, a red VW and endless supplies of cinnamon buns was almost enough to turn his head.
Tomorrow we sail for Helsingor again, this time with the bike, and make for Kopenhagen where we will take a couple of days off.
Sorry still no photo’s – this time the computer won’t recognise our memory stick. Problems, problems.