Culture shock – Northern Europe

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So I’ve been in Stockholm for a week now, and everything’s fine. It’s time to write down the few quirks I encountered during the trip. I’ll probably do a few similar posts on life in Sweden a bit later. For now, this is what surprised me as a Frenchman, while going through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. This will be more or less random, based on the photos I come across.


This is a good start, as it’s still actually biking. I’ve found that Germany provides good, specialized lanes for most of the major roads. It’s not at the level of Belgium or Holland, but definitely better than France or Sweden, and even Denmark.


I have to post that again, the pedestrian tunnel under the Escaut river, along with the wooden escalators, was really a delight 🙂


Back to Germany, there was quite a bit of speed limits for panzers, once above Hamburg. Maybe invasion of Denmark is in the works.


This was a fantastic playground right outside Helsinborg in Sweden.

Antwerp again, with a pigeon rap gang just by the bike shop.


And a bit further, the church of the holy praying mantis.


Special Trump editions of snickers, found in Gränna in Sweden.


Almost all hotel rooms in Sweden had a beer opener – in the bathroom. Again, this is in Sweden, not in Germany.


This was in Germany – local elections coming up. All posters were really clean, standardized, same logic. No fighting over getting elected here.


May have posted this during the trip : the Fehmarn train going into the ferry for Denmark – maybe with bikes inside the train inside the ferry. A steel turducken.


A cat ladder to enter directly at the second floor. This was at my first stop in Sweden.


This is a parking spot in Sweden – family spot ? Special stroller ?


A take on the US election, by Eindhoven in Holland.


Bike paths in Germany are nice, but when they’re over, you’re on your own.


A taste of Nordic mythology in Bremen.


An automatic sex shop in a public lavatory in Germany, with the most convenient “travel pussy”.


A local version of KFC, with the Swedish fried chicken.


Denmark, of course.


Quite a few hotels had this digital juice dispenser, which make me dream again of the Coke version found just a couple of times in California.


Old distance marker by the road in Sweden. Thanks France for the metric system !


Sweden again, wearing a cap is forbidden because ?!


Last pic before arriving in Stockholm. It’s all over town.

Stockholm!

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That’s it! I reached my destination around 1pm today. It’s been a very wet day, but it didn’t really matter at this stage 🙂

  
I knew it would be raining most of the day, but there was supposed to be a calmer time around mid day. So I waited and waited, and when it seemed the rain had stopped over Södertälje, I took off. The gps once again drove me into secondary dirt roads, but I expected it, and that remained bike tracks – mostly. I went around lakes and visited secluded country homes, then went back into civilization, which I never left after that.

  
That’s also the time when it started drizzling, and it never stopped. Never a really strong rain, but I was again feeling like in the millennium falcon, with raindrops whizzing past me. In urban areas, the gps is usually more efficient, and with bike lanes now commonplace, I soon saw Stockholm as a destination. I couldn’t grab a picture with the city sign, but with the weather, it wasn’t a good idea anyway.

And so, at one point, when I entered Södermalm, which is the southern part of the city, I started recognizing the area. This is a very special feeling when you realize you reached a very distant place on your own 🙂 I had this same feeling when I saw Los Angeles, or New York. You start grinning like a maniac 🙂

After this exuberant phase, I changed quickly in the toilets of a burger king, to avoid catching a cold, and I even went to buy a long sleeve shirt and some pants. It’s still a pretty chilly day here. Now I’ve got a couple days to recover before I start working 🙂

That was a almost-30 days ride, almost-2000kms. I paused three times, in Antwerp, Bremen and Copenhagen. It took ten days to cross Sweden (only the southern bit really), eight for Germany (the northern part). I had a few days of sunshine, but really the weather has not been helpful. No technical or physical issue (ah yeah except my back brake was out today). I didn’t really get lost, except the second day in Sweden, in that forest after the chemical plant. The quality of bike lanes vary wildly, even in the same country, but i doubt you can beat Belgium. I’ll do another post for cultural surprises along the way, and maybe a few learnings 🙂

   
 

Sweden or bust

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I’m going on the road again in a few days! This time, moving from Paris to Stockholm – a little less than 2000kms.
I had actually thought about going along the Danube this year, all the way to Romania. Maybe next year (if there’s no sign of the red army yet).

This was before I found a new job in Stockholm 🙂 So, I’m actually moving to a new country, and as I will be starting early September, I thought, why not go there by bike ? I have one month, and that’s precisely the time to do the trip.

That decision was less than a week ago, and I want to leave on Monday. So, many things to be done in a very short time, including putting in a safe place all the stuff I won’t be needing in the short run.

I also decided to make the trip without my trailer : it mostly carries camping equipment that I seldom used. So, it’ll be a small backpack only. More on that later.

I’ll try to post a note every day, as usual, as I cross northern France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. If the first two trips were about home and love, this one is sure to be about work 🙂