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From the heart of England to Finland: Day 5 / 4 August 2009

View of Lake Shore from a cafe

View of Lake Shore from cafe in Sweden

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Paul Darke blogs the trip from Copenhagen, Denmark to Stockholm, Sweden

We had a long drive ahead of nearly 500 miles. So, we were up early and left Copenhagen at 9am having bought some sandwiches. Having first paid the bill of course. Too much but that is life! The receptionist showed me the route out of the city on the tourist map.

We drove into Copenhagen, passed Tivoli Gardens in the car and then directly on the road to Malmo. A new road links Denmark and Sweden. On the Denmark side it is a tunnel which comes up on a mid-point small island where it becomes the Øresund Bridge. It is a toll road and costs 275 Dane Kroner or 395 Swedish Kroner (about £25). Go to the website www.oeresundsbron.com. It was amazingly spectacular and well worth the money for the views, which included masses of wind turbines. I do not mind them at all and think they add an extra sparkle of magic. I would happily have a giant one in my back garden - especially if I got free electricity from it. Put them right across the Yorkshire Dales I say!

We stopped half way on the journey to Stockholm at a place called Jonkoping - a town at the very southern tip of a staggering large lake called Vattern. It is the second largest in Sweden. We went in to the old town which is very modern with one or two old buildings hidden at either end of the main street. There is a new part of town with a new shopping centre. We had no Swedish Kroner and needed some for a drink and petrol. Claire and I got the maximum 2000kr the cash machine would allow. We had been unable to get Swedish Kroner in England as they either did not stock it or would not order it!

We go to the lake shore at the end of the high street. It has a very accessible tarmac promenade that seems to go on for ever around the lake. No dreaded cobble stones. The railway line is the only thing that separates the town from the lake shore. We walked west and ended up at a beach cafe. The Bistro Strand is okay but one never feels anything other than robbed in Sweden by the high cost of everything. A coffee (machine), coke and orange juice cost 60 kroner (£6). I think the locals are told they have a high cost of living and high salaries but they are just being robbed. No wonder they did not want the additional cost of the Euro. The introduction of the Euro has always been exploited to push prices up.  If the Swedes and the Danes could compare prices exactly they could (and should) revolt.

Whilst sitting in the cafe Walker and Claire go paddling. A young woman strips naked in front of me. She puts her bikini on but is reluctant to go swimming. I suspect it is a little cold in the water even though it is 30 degrees with glorious sunshine. I think the young woman has not actually noticed me sitting there.

We only stay a short time in order to get back on the road to Stockholm. Petrol first - another £50 in the tank (more expensive in Sweden). We stop at one more service station for a cup of tea (from our flask). I saw a young man roll some black putty looking stuff in to a ball and put it in the back of his mouth. No idea what it was but it looked disgusting.  We are nearly in Stockholm when the heavens open up making an evening walk doubtful.  Within mintes we are in the city centre and it is sunny and hot again.

We have booked in to a hostel for two nights - pre-booked as otherwise almost always full.  At only £50 a night for two nights (better than an accessible hotel at £200 per night) we get an accessible room with the only roll-in shower so far. It is not a large or luxurious room but adequate and clean. The Zinkensdamm Hostel (www.zinkensdamm.com) was 1080 kr for two nights plus another 70 kr for cleaning. Getting money back for cleaning your own room just seems wrong!

We decided to eat in the cafe at the hostel. We had baked potatoes (three with a drink each for £20). At least we had glass bottles of pepsi. Then we ventured into the park for a walk along river bank. There were lots of hippies and drinking going on. Stockholm seems quite a dirty place in comparison to Copenhagen. We walked back to the park in front of the hostel and Walker kicked a ball for half an hour against a wall (more fun than it sounds as the wall was a 40 feet cliff face of brown granite).

All this driving has been tough but better than flying as you see so much more. It was amazing to see all the farms and farmers using their combine harvesters in France, Germany and Denmark. Yet, Sweden from the motorway is all pine forest until you get further north where there are more fields of green and wheat and not a single combine harvester. The green lands, the forests, the lakes, the hamlets and the people would all be missed by plane. I am glad I drive.

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