A Travellerspoint blog

Day 6 Bryggen Time

Smogen to Stromstad

rain 22 °C
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Day 6

So I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger last night, with the news of the water leak! Thanks for your offer of help Brigette, but we were very lucky in that Ioan was visiting last night and was able to sort it, with much what’s apping back and forth when our connection would allow us!

We woke at 6am and lay cosy in bed listening to the torrential rain. We were so lucky on our last trip to Sweden where the sun shone every day. We had a leisurely morning and then drove into the centre of Smogen. The gods must have been smiling down on us for an hour as we managed to get out for a walk around the bryggen area of Smogen. This area is so so pretty. I wish I could have had better weather to sit out on the granite rocks and do some dipping. Instead we made up for it with a walk along the boardwalk in the fishing wharf area. This part is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Bohuslen area of Sweden, and I can see why. Brightly coloured old fishing huts that have now been turned into cafes, touristy shops etc, and yachts and boats lining the inlet. I was tempted to go in and look at some clothes shops and then realised a) I cannot afford Swedish prices and b) I am not the tall, willowy, Scandi chic demographic they are designed for! I walked by in my hiking shoes, Tilly hat and waterproof and will return in another life.

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As we approached the end of our walk it started to rain again so we headed back to the van and got the hell out of Smodge!

We drove onto our next stop of Stromstad, where we have a camping pitch with hook up for the next 3 nights. Luxury time! The heavens opened on the drive there, but we had one thing on our mind, and it wasn’t the rain! We were due to stop for a Max burger; Sweden’s biggest burger chain. We had last visited in 2019 and fell in love. It was so easy to order on the machines inside, especially when we tapped the “English” button. So many plant based options compared to 3 years ago too, and infinitely better quality than McDonalds. The burgers were soon demolished and we were back on the road.

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We soon saw our campsite but went for a little drive around Stromstad to find a supermarket to buy bread and milk. We aborted a visit to Willy’s as it was too big (!!) and the parking too crazy, so went to another one nearby. It was time for a solo adventure for me! I came out with exactly what I needed, and not a chocolate more, aided by the friendly Swedish worker whose English was infinitely better than my Swedish. She helped me with the self service till (hint, press the “English” button again, and scan your receipt to get out!)

We drove into our campsite and chose our spot. It’s a little hike up actual rocks to get to the toilet blocks. It takes 2.5 minutes and is up hill and gets my heart beating like it’s going to pop out of my chest. Pah, the Pyrenees will be a doddle compared to this!!

We’ve hooked up now, things are charging and we are having a chill, watching the big ferries go in and out, wondering whether to risk a bbq or whether it will rain again.

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Posted by CariadJohn 17:13 Archived in Sweden Tagged sweden motorhome hymer travelswithharvey smogen stromstad Comments (4)

Day 5 ~ Soaking in Smogen!

Kiel ~Smogen

rain 20 °C
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So I left you with the dilemma of the undrinkable fizzy cat’s pee. In case you laid awake all night wondering, it went down the sink and I opened a can of Strongbow Dark Fruits I’d brought with me. Stay classy Luce!

We had a little chill and ate some of our picnic but one of us was panicking about not having enough food (clue, not me!) so we went for a wander around the ship to scope out the eating opportunities. We spotted a bistro which took bookings from 5.30pm so Lyn had a very expensive pint to waste time. £6 for the same bottle he’d bought for £1 in Germany! It’s all about the location though, right? We booked a table for 8pm after we had checked the menu to be sure that fussy me liked something on there. We went back to our room and showered and read till it was time to sail. We climbed the stairs to Deck 11 to go outside and watch us leave Kiel. Lyn was in his element as we sailed past the German Naval Dockyards. He’d learnt from last time we sailed from here and took his binoculars on board like a Naval twitcher! He was rewarded with a glimpse of a lesser spotted Stealth submarine trying to hide in a dock. Report card: must try harder! I left him twitching and returned to our cabin, my book was calling.

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We were ready and waiting at the bistro at 8pm where the Captain Lee look alike server showed us to our table. Lyn had requested a window seat and was told we could have one if we asked nicely, so we did! We had an intimate table for two complete with fake rose next to a family of 4 Germans. We could look out romantically at the Baltic and watch the container ships glide past as we sailed between the Danish islands.

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For food I opted for the typically Swedish hamburger, fries and onion rings, whilst Lyn went for the boring pickled herrings and baked cod! He loved his meal and raved about the pickled herrings. I was not tempted to try. I made the classic mistake of ordering an expensive Pepsi Max, expecting a can, only to find it was a syrupy gloop from a draught. Yuck. We went back to bed to watch the sunset from our port hole before I climbed the ladder to my lonely high single bunk bed while Lyn bedded down in the too small double below. I was frightened of a) falling out, b) forgetting I was up high and jumping out and c) needing my 4am pee and having to negotiate the ladder, but I slept well until 6.30am.

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It was time for a shower and the stressful part of sailing then, the uncertainty of trying to get back to your vehicle. How long do you leave it before arriving to leave your cabin? What deck is our van on? Which stairs do we need (we needed the brown stairs, not the red, purple or blue!). Will we be queuing on the stairs with several hundred others? Will we make it back to our van before everyone in front of us starts to move off?

As it happened, first on, last off. We had plenty of time, and we were wedged in like sardines. We had loads of fun watching the other vehicles move off as they had to drive in a wide arc to change direction to drive down the ramp. We wondered why the Stena hi vis lady was acting like a frustrated fire person as she sprayed a big hose over the deck, but then we (Lyn!) realised it was to help the huge lorry wheels spin as they turned. Lyn was excited to spot a German Motorhome who failed the turn and had to reverse and correct, plus there was more excitement when he spotted a class 2 and drag ( bigger than an artic with a massive trailer) who did it faultlessly. His excitement finally peaked when we followed 2 tractors out onto Swedish soil. I married a nerd!

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Passports in hand (once we had found them!) we drove out to find there was no passport control. Welcome to Sweden!

We drove out of Gothenburg and took the E6 signposted Oslo. We haven’t been this way before, as last time we headed east. We both needed a coffee by then so Lyn took me to an industrial estate where we had coffee and cereal. Who says romance is dead!

We drove on to our first stop. We have a campsite booked from tomorrow, but tonight was to be a wild camp. Lyn had done his usual job of looking on Google Maps to find somewhere nice, but we had a sneaking suspicion this side of Sweden was going to be far busier than the East coast. We drove for about an hour and a half to the island of Smogen. We were right, it was busy, very busy. We drove round and round looking for a parking place, vying with many other motor homes. Eventually Lyn found a place using the app Park for Night. It was just a car park for overnight parking, but it would do. Harvey was tiny nestled in amongst all the big boys! Next problem was how to pay for parking. We knew we had to pay via an app, but we had no internet so couldn’t connect, and couldn’t translate the Swedish instructions anyway! Lunch was a simple salad, cooked meat and walnut bread, but our German salad had flowers in it! Never had such a pretty salad.

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The weather was not good at this point; it was drizzling with rain, so we chilled out for a while reading, before taking a sneaky nap. When we woke the weather had got even worse, it was blowing a gale and pouring down. Lyn got cabin fever after a while and decided he had to get out for a walk. An hour, 3 miles and a load of soaking clothes later he was back, albeit with some lovely photos. Smogen is a proper fishing village type island, with lots of rocks, brightly coloured houses and boats. I started to cook tea, and took the chicken out of the fridge only to find it didn’t smell good! The fridge being switched off overnight whilst we were on the ferry did not do us any favours! Luckily we had more chicken that was fine, so I cooked a coconut chicken biryani which went down well.

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Tonight is not an easy night. The van is rocking in the wind, we have almost run out of water till we reach our campsite tomorrow, our van router is not connecting well to the data coverage so our internet availability is sporadic, which means we can’t listen to music. Luckily we have a pack of cards and play Beanie, an old family favourite that I loved playing with my gran. Lyn trounced me! We settled down for the evening until Tegz what’s app’d us to say we have a leak in the house and a soaking carpet…..

Posted by CariadJohn 20:51 Archived in Sweden Tagged sweden ferry kiel motorhome hymer travelswithharvey smogen Comments (3)

Day 4 ~ Let The Hunger Games Begin…..

Sittensen ~Kiel


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We woke at about 7.30 and listened to the rain, cosy in our big bed. We got up and had a leisurely breakfast and coffee. There was no rush today as our ferry is not until 7.45pm. Breakfast was a Lucy Breakfast Pot brought from home. They are really handy on long road trips as they can be made in advance and are easy to store. I basically make a fruit compote with chia seeds and layer the bottom of a glass jar. I then add a mix of porridge oats, cacao powder, flax seed, and chocolate protein powder, mixed with chocolate protein milk. Spot the theme yet?? It’s then topped with more fruit compote, cacao nibs and seeds. Yummy, plus it keeps you full for ages. I should have taken a photo but only remembered on the last mouthful!

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A couple more vans had crept in alongside us during the night, taking advantage of the free stay. We left at about 9am, heading towards Hamburg, always a fraught journey. There seems to be permanent roadworks on this journey, and this time was no exception. Crawling in traffic meant we had time to look at the extremely busy shipping container port. It was HUGE with loads of massive cranes, enormous boats laden with cargo and, of course, thousands of containers. Lyn managed to entertain me (!!) with a full blown lecture on how the rise and growth of containerisation has transformed the world. Once we got through the tunnel under the Elbe the traffic flowed faster and we sped towards our big shopping trip.

Food shopping in Europe is always a much anticipated excitement. The shops are generally massive, with such a variety of food. Of course we get the added excitement of Google Translate, as my German is non existent, and it is not a language I can look at and guess. I spent ages trying to find unsalted butter, but Google Translate came up trumps and I managed to find garlic butter. Not quite what I needed to make crumble mix, but I’m sure I’ll find a use. I was tempted by the pretty gin, maybe on the way back! I was also tempted by the Super Dickmanns, but realised I already had my own!

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Shopping in a European supermarket is when we both go in to full blown Hunger Games mode. All bets are off and we both volunteer as tributes. The aim is to fill both our trolley (yes, we have two!) as full as we can, to avoid needing to buy much in Scandinavia as it’s SO expensive. Lyn did a full blown happy dance as we walked into the shop and was faced with a whole separate wing for the beer! I was similarly excited by the mile long chocolate aisle. We were both relatively restrained. I only bought 1 bottle of Prosecco, and Lyn only one trolley full of beer! I was also similarly restrained with the chocolate as I knew I will be wearing it over the Pyrenees in a few weeks time!

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315 euros later we were done. Now all we had to do was fit it all into Harvey and head for Kiel. My lunch was a mix of a pasty brought from home and a black currant tart that wouldn’t fit into the fridge! I added a banana for health reasons, but didn’t actually eat it, so I’m not sure that counts!

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We drove off towards Kiel, stopping for the cheaper fuel on the way. Another thing to stock up on before Scandinavia! We were soon at the ferry, and to our surprise we able to board almost straight away! We parked on Deck 5 and only had to get to Deck 8 for our cabin. Result! It’s a much bigger boat. We have a double bed with a single bunk on top. Guess which one’s mine?? More importantly, we are business class, so have a free mini bar, plus two, yes two free bars of Ritter chocolate! We’ve brought our cool box on with supplies of Strongbow (me) and beer ( not me) plus rolls and cooked meat. Will have a wander around the ferry later, but until then it’s chill time. We leave at 19.45 and get to Gothenburg at 9.15 am.

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Oh and I’ve realised I don’t like Freixenet, but it’s free. What’s a girl to do??

Posted by CariadJohn 14:24 Tagged germany ferry kiel stena Comments (2)

Day 3 ~ In Memory of Squeak

Arnhem~Sittensen


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Current status? Sat in a wet field in Germany. The good thing is it’s a free field!

The excellent plan for today was to visit the “biggest camping shop in Europe”. Lyn could hardly contain his excitement! This is why we stayed where we did last night; to be in close proximity to this camping extravaganza. Imagine the excitement as we drove past last night.

When we parked up, I checked the opening time so we could be first through the doors! What did I see? Sunday Closed! We couldn’t believe it. Lyn had checked at home and it was open on Sundays. Unknown to us they have literally just started closing like everything else in Europe.

So, what could we find to do in Germany to keep us busy until our ferry tomorrow night? Food shopping? Supermarkets closed! Outlet mall? Closed.
We ended up looking at Google maps and typing in the word “castle” and driving to the closest one.

This how we ended up in a town I bet not many people have heard of; Bad Bentheim. We parked in the typically good Motorhome parking area right by the castle, and caught up on some admin (aka this blog!) before the fine rain stopped and we headed out. The castle was not huge and not that impressive but we filled an hour wandering around. The best part for me was looking at all the fabulous cakes on display in a cafe. It was good to get out and stretch our legs though. The rain held off very considerately until we got back to the van, then the heavens opened.

We got back on the motorway, only stopping to get more fuel and headed towards where Lyn had planned to stay the night. So, here we are, showered, and fed (Charlie Brigham lasagne) and ready for a chilled evening in our wet field.

Oh, and as for the title In Memory of Squeak, it does not refer to our much loved dearly departed cat but rather to the embarrassing noise our brake disks make!

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Posted by CariadJohn 18:47 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Day 2 ~ Ferry Nice!

Harwich to Arnhem


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So, the alarm went off at 6am and we were up and dressed in minutes. We headed back out of the ferry car park to fuel up in the Morrisons nearby, then drove back in to wait in line. The ferry was due to go at 9am, and by 8.15 we were one of the first vehicles to drive on board.

We have had some experience of long ferry crossings so were prepared with a cool box filled with food and drinks, and a rucksack full of kindles, books, iPads etc. The first challenge was getting myself up 7 flights of steep stairs from the car deck on deck 3 to our cabin on deck 10. I was beginning to regret some life choices! Once in our cabin all was well with the world. We had a double bed and a single bed, a free mini bar and a good sized port hole. We headed straight into bed to try and catch up on sleep.

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We got up at around 12.30 to explore the boat which didn’t take long. We had absolutely made the right choice on taking our own food looking at the queues for the canteen. We popped into the Duty Free and had some bargain perfume and a bottle of whiskey, plus the obligatory Toblerone. Back to the room for a quick shower and some chill time reading on the bed and a sneaky nap.

Off the boat at 5pm and onto the motorway to visit Lyn’s work colleague Rogier. We had a lovely welcome off him and his family, and some amazing upside down apple cake. It was so cool for Lyn and Rogier to meet as they have only ever met virtually before. We set off again at 8pm to find somewhere to sleep for the night. We had earmarked an aire by a lake, but couldn’t get the entry barrier to work with our Visa or Mastercard credit cards. Knew we should have put some money into our Dutch Ing bank account, but haven’t used it in a few years so it was empty. We drove on and found a spot in a car park in a random Dutch town.

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We settled down for the night wondering just how the continent has such good motorways and RV camping places compared to the UK.

Posted by CariadJohn 14:49 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

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