My jaw dropped as I drove into Sweden – the skies were so big and you could see across the land for absolutely miles – as the saying goes, as far as the eye could see. It took my breath away. That is after I had stopped giggling at the fact that I had seen a huge IKEA literally minutes after getting off the ferry – very cliché.
It was a strange feeling driving through this huge land. It made me feel very small in Beryl – like a tiny (purple!) dot moving slowly across a map – which I guess we were. It was a bit unnerving and I wasn’t sure why. The feeling soon passed and I got on with just enjoying the views. Unfortunately there weren’t any places to really stop and take pictures and the weather was pants (technical term!).
To start with the roads were a bit bumpy and I was concerned this is what I could expect from here on in – but thankfully they soon flattened out.
Across the big landscape you could occasionally see farm houses dotted around – mainly red wood in a ranch style. There were also more horses around – some race horses too (so the signs said). I was in cowboy territory – Scandi style! The weather stayed cloudy, with rain on and off for the first few days. On the plus size this added to the big amazing skies.
I first drove to Halmstad but once I got there I realised I had an issue. I didn’t have any Swedish kroner so I couldn’t pay for parking and I needed to park to get to a bank. It was a fair-sized town which made it harder to find a bank you could just pull in front of. And to be honest it didn’t look that interesting so I decided to move onto the next town on my map – Falkenberg. It looked smaller which I hoped meant it would be easier to stop outside a bank.
On the way I spotted a sign for centrum (centre) to what looked like a small village – I figured I might have better luck somewhere small. I drove into the centre, with Mr Tom Tom telling me to turnaround every two seconds, and stopped in the garage to ask where the closest bank was. Perfect result – it was literally in front with parking too! Cash sorted we drove on.
When we got to Falkenberg I stopped briefly in the town to pop up the tourist office – in case I can’t get wifi it’s handy to pick up camping books. I had to tie alf up outside but when someone came in behind me – he followed! Ops. But then Alf’s a bit like me he doesn’t like being told what to do!
The campsite that night was quite big but they had a campervan / mobile home bit at the front. All very practical – a Tarmac bit to park on and a patch of green next to it. It works but I do prefer the less practical bit of just camping in a field. The beach was just 5 minutes walk through the site. When we got there Alf and I were the only ones on it – heaven. And before long Alf was running through the sand like a puppy and we both had a paddle.
The weather hadn’t been great but I’ve was pretty lucky – it had been raining all the time I was driving but cleared up for the afternoon and evening once I’d camped up.
The next morning it was poring down again so we headed off – I wasn’t sure how far we would go but no point in sitting still in the rain. First stop was just the next town, Varberg. It was a prettier town than the previous one – I had a coffee and picked up a couple of things in body shop. It’s been quite liberating to ignore all the shops as I’ve no space so no point in shopping. I should keep this in mind when I finish this trip! That said if I could I would love to look in their shops for the house stuff – they have great designs. That said a lot of it is a bit to subtle for me!
We explored a bit further along the coast – it is beautiful, a little ragged but that adds to its charm.
I was going to drive further until I realised that there were blue sky’s where we were but black clouds in front – so rather than head into the rain I found the local site. And as soon as I’d set up for the night’s camp we headed to the beach again.
In case you are wondering – setting up only consists of pressing the button to pop the roof up, putting up the front and back window covers, taking the chair out, putting the bedding up in the roof tent and get Alf’s bowls out. For one night I don’t usually bother the table & awning but they only take another few minutes if I do.
Back to the beach – to get there we walked through a few houses and I noticed they all had sheds that matched the house – mini me houses. And sheds isn’t quite the right name as they look far nicer than any shed I’ve seen.
The campsite, whilst full of caravans they were mainly empty, from what I could make out there were only a few other people on site – which felt a little creepy but I didn’t dwell on it. I did some washing which is easy as the sites have big machines so it’s all washed and dry in an hour. The big highlight of the evening was watching bunny rabbits and a hare run past the van – I was never fast enough with my camera to capture them but I saw them and that is enough.
The next stop was Gothenburg. On the way I stopped in a place called Kungbacka for lunch – I’ll be honest the main reason I picked that as the point to stop for lunch is I loved the name! It was raining and the only place that would let me and Alf in was a pizza place – not what I was looking for but undoubtably the best pizza I’ve ever had. The drive there was fine except for absolutely torrential rain – so much so I pulled over to wait it out in a garage. But again I was lucky – as I arrived at the campsite it stopped raining.
I hadn’t read up on it much nor had I heard anyone talk about it so I had no expectations – except that it is the second biggest city in Sweden next to Stockholm. It might be my favourite city yet – like the rest of Sweden it wasn’t packed with people. It was green, on the ocean with a canal running through it, lots of character to the buildings – all in a variety of pastel colours. And trams running – which for some reason looks good. I guess the reason I liked it is because it didn’t really feel like a city.
On the tram ride in to the centre I had read about the different areas and decided to head for Haga – it said it was renowned for its coffee shops and small bars. They were impressive – it was all down a cobbled street, with funky shops as well as coffee shops with gorgeous looking cakes and other yummy food and bars that character, similar to our pubs. Of course I had to sample some coffee, cake and wine – it would be rude note to! There was also a lot of people walking their dogs – which added to that feeling of not being in a city.
I considered staying another day but even though I liked it and it was chilled for a City- a City stop does mean a lot of walking for Alf and the sun was due to make an appearance over the next few days so I decided to head towards Lake Vaner – the biggest fresh water lake in Sweden.
Again the drive there was beautiful – big landscapes with red wood houses and great big barns dotted around., as well as other houses in pale yellow or white with big decks out the front.
The first nights stop was at Falkenbourg – we stopped in the town campsite and just chilled in the sun by the fir trees before wandering into town.
It wasn’t very big, but quiet and quaint – with coloured wooden buildings and cute coffee shops – and bars – I tried them both out!
The next morning I went to find the waterfalls and was a bit disappointed. I had read that they’d built a canal from falkenbourg to varenboug so that they could keep goods on the river – previously they had to take transport goods by road rather than river over this small section because of the waterfalls – the canal solved the problem. But what I hadn’t realised was that it meant there wasn’t really a waterfall as such – the water only flowed a few times of the year and this was it. There was an impressive lock system – but whilst it was technically impressive it wasn’t as pretty as a natural waterfall.
So on we went for about half an hour until we got to Vanersborg and Lake Vanern. It was perfect for a few days stay. The campsite was right on the lake, there was a beach area at the front and big tall fir trees all around and rocky little coves around the lake. The sun was out, there was a restaurant on site and a few people around. It was so relaxing Alf and I stayed for 3 nights. The only other time we’ve stopped this long was Weista in Germany.
It was great to sit back and do nothing for a few days but listen to the sound of the water lapping against the rocks and the birds singing away or playing sticks with Alf in the lake, reading a book. And saying hey to everyone – some people even say hey hey – I don’t know the difference but they are all friendly.
I got chatting to a couple of people who lived there – one lady who said she’d love to live abroad for a year. I thought afterwards she should look at doing a house swap – I bet loads of people would be interested. The two couples next to my camping pitch had little tear drop caravans – seriously cute.
In general caravans don’t have style – but these do. One of the women was from Norway and spoke perfect English (as do most people) – her son lives in wales so she’d been over recently to the UK.
There were lots of people with dogs on the site. All very well-behaved – there were even two other ruby cavaliers – nowhere near Alf’s good looks, of course. There was also shitsu whose owner looked just like him – I couldn’t get a picture but I would have loved to – he not only looked like his dog but very swedish too – ohh I wish I could have got a photo!
Once when I was walking by the lake a couple were picking something – so I asked what it was – it was Lilly of Valley. I’ve never seen it grow wild – I had to take a photo for my Mum because she loves it.
After a few days rest it was time to move on and get into Norway. I’d taken Alf to the vet whilst in Varbourg to get his passport signed to confirm he had taken his worming tablets. The vet had travelled in Norway a lot so he had a few recommendations. On his advice the plan was to drive to Stomford and get ferry to Sandjfrord in Norway. I hadn’t planned on taking the ferry is because I thought you either had to leave your dog in the car or in a room in a cage – I wasn’t going to do either, but he assured me that’s not the case.
The drive to Stomford was awesome – it took us through forests, with big beautiful lakes around the corner – or running alongside rivers. The roads weren’t big – some more or less single track but a lot wider than our single track roads. They were quite windy and up and down through the hills – even over a wooden bridge at one point. And there was hardly any other cars or people. I felt like I was in the wilderness!
Finding the ferry port in Stomford was easy – it was the first place I saw as I came into town. It was a brilliant feeling buying the ticket – tomorrow Beryl, Alf and I would be in Norway! Right by the ferry port was a fish restaurant on the quay side – so I had a delicious piece of salmon to celebrate and a small bottle of cider. I only actually drunk half the bottle – shocking I know – but my intention is not to drink at all when I’m driving on this trip – just to be safe, but this was a small celebration.
I was then off to find a supermarket to fill up the fridge before Norway. Once I’d packed everything away I realised there is still space for a few more things – so if I can I will pop back into the shop tomorrow. I’m going to be in Norway for at least 2-3 weeks and anything I can bring with me will save a lot of money.
I had planned on stopping at the campsite that I’d passed just before getting to the ferry terminal but when I got back there – the reception was shut and it was self-service check in. I didn’t fancy it – I don’t know why – but anyway I decided to drive on to another site, I knew there were at least two close by. I’m so glad I did as the campsite I’m at is far nicer than the one on the edge of town. It is just by an inlet which is pretty and then you walk round the corner a bit and it turns from pretty to totally stunning.
This is the reason I’m doing on this trip for views like this. Bring on Norway!
p.s. As I was writing this there was a huge thunder-storm with lightening going on – not my favourite at the best of times and definitely not whilst in camper.
Looks incredible Thea. Alf looks very debonair! Mary x
Thea, another really good travel chapter. Enjoying it. Waiting for Alf to find time when you stop at your next camp (between sleeps), to update us on his ‘perspective’.
OMG, it sounds so wonderful, I just want to jump on a plane xxxx