June 13, 2022
Our last days in Sweden were excellent. Despite my bicycle’s delay, I found ways to enjoy the time with hiking and after the arrival of my bike, two very, very short bike rides.
My last post offered some photos from one of my hikes, and on the following day I put in a 10.5 km hike in some pretty dense countryside. As mentioned before, it’s a lot like central Ontario, and the trails, at least in this park, are well marked. This trail was in the Tiveden national park just 30 minutes drive from our hotel. I took the time to read the signs. It says it is a challenging route (there were about 7 or 8 routes) and this one would take 4.5 hours and was about 9.5km long. I did some rough calculations and was targeting 2.5 hours. Jinhee needed to be picked up and she was in the middle of nowhere.
I walked fast. Phhhht. It was easy, until it wasn’t. I am a pretty sure footed guy and used to run cross country, so as it became more challenging I just upped my game. Then the rain started and the roots and rocks were wet. In the end I fell twice. The first time on some wet roots, the second I slid down a bank of wet rocks. I have some sore muscles, bruises and some broken skin but my time was 2 hours and 26 minutes. More importantly, I had time to clean all the blood off of me before picking Jinhee up on time.
That sounds bad, but it wasn’t at all, it was a great (fast) hike in a nice park, and it does remind me that I may not have overcome this aging process that I am seeking to avoid.
My bike did arrive, but there were two pieces, the main bicycle which arrived Wednesday morning and offered great hope, and the front wheel, that was in a second bag, which arrived on Thursday at 8:36 pm.
Because I was hopeful on receiving my bike I put everything together which took about an hour (It’s a special bike which can be ‘broken’ into two pieces for shipping. Putting it back together is a bit of an exercise.). I was hoping the second piece would show up Wednesday afternoon, alas it wasn’t to be. Those who know me best know that I am a bit of a realist . . . Okay I have some signs of pessimism in my thinking, but I sat in that hotel room all day on Thursday waiting for the wheel to show up. I do show signs of optimism from time to time.
I gave up and ate dinner at 6:30 pm and then got the call my wheel had arrived at 8:36. You may recall that in June it simply doesn’t get dark this far north? I was on the bike by 9pm and rode until sunset, about 20km. With no lights in a strange country, I wasn’t going to risk it beyond that.
We were due to leave Askersund on Friday after lunch so I was up early and prepping for another ride, but being very wet outside, I delayed just a bit. I ended my stay by putting in about 50km on new roads with all the picturesque aspects of Sweden in full view.
It would be appropriate to say that this trip was a disappointment because I didn’t get to see a lot more of the country on a bike. It is what it is.
When Jinhee finished her day, we were off to Stockholm, and a day of sight seeing before returning to Canada. Because we had very little time to see the sights of Stockholm, we stayed at the Lydmar hotel downtown, visited the Nobel Museum and enjoyed some nice food in the old town (Portofino) and on Saturday we visited the national museum and walked around the modern downtown shopping district.
It is always difficult to distill all of these experiences into a meaningful story, but one of the items that comes to mind is the collection of ‘paintings’ from the early Christian church which are in the national museum’s collection. Given all of the religious ‘turmoil’ that is going on in the world today, particularly with the Christian zealots in the USA, I did take pictures of the depictions of Jesus from the 15th century. This is before the European rulers had a chance to rewrite history to their needs. They all show black/brown Jesus as one would expect from a middle eastern/North African man. Perhaps that’s too political for my little blog. (The theme was the same in the cave churches in Matera, Italy, also painted in the Middle Ages)
It would be silly to sound too upset by this trip. We are lucky to be able to take them (Jinhee does work, but I am lucky to be able to tag along), yet travel is no longer fun, or inexpensive. It started with a missed flight, progressed to a missing bike (the main reason for my visit) and progressed to crazy busy everything. The lineup at Stockholm airport to get through security was about two hours long. Our status (super elite for Jinhee, elite for me) allows us to get through shorter lines, but the situation could be described as dangerous, with upset passengers, sometimes frantic.
Travel is now ridiculously expensive and worrisome . . . I have one more trip planned and then it will likely be back to driving to the boat and back, where I can control my schedule and my belongings. Jinhee may not be so lucky with her business trips. Certainly the risk of travel for pleasure involves too much stress to be relaxing, and the prices mean staycations are going to be the new norm for a while at least.