Friday, May 23, 2008

Sweden, part 1. Driving to Sweden.

We've not been to Sweden yet, except for changing planes in Stockholm which doesn't really count. Rumors are told in hushed tones of the 1/2 price groceries just across the border. A bus runs from Trondheim to a grocery store in Storlien, for 25 kr. you can ride round trip, and if you spend more than 500 kr. (100 usd) you ride for free. Tempting as it was to ride a bus with a lot of old people, we wanted to drive, see some things on the way, and maybe go past this town all the way to Åre, a small resort town 2.5 hours away and the first real civilization you reach across the Swedish border.

Everyone we spoke to told us not to go. When you reach the border, so they said, you be in boring ugly forest for miles and miles. There is nothing to do in the towns. And yes some things are much cheaper but overall it's not worth the gasoline.

Discouraging words could not stop us – adventure surged in our blood! Besides, of course Norwegians would tell you not to go to Sweden! With the border only an hour and a half away, we could not resist making the drive.

I had many potential stops planned for us on the way to Sweden, marked with triangles on the map below. From left to right they are:

  • Drive around the fjord to the ruins of an ancient monestery on the isle of Tautra.
  • Visit Steinvikholmen, a DaVinci inspired ruined fortress on a nearby island,
  • Drive up the highest mountain in Trondelag, just north of Stjordal,
  • Visit a festning (fortress) in Hegra,
  • Stop to see the earliest stone carvings in Scandanavia, also in Hegra,
  • Go shopping at strange grocery store in Storlien, across the Swedish border,
  • Drive all the way to Åre, a small resort town.
We could do the first 5 of these all of these in one day, but with the Sweden trip we decided to see the Runes on the way there and the Ruins on the way back if there was time.

The weather is hard to predict right now. This morning the sky is cloudy and threatening as we drive out of apartment. Yesterday, freezing sleet fell on our laundry. We've had sun and rain and wind and calm... the weather is very strange.

The tank is almost empty. Filling it will cost 700 kr, about $140. Is fuel cheaper in Sweden? We didn't know, but we'd take the risk. We filled the car with 10 liters in the tank, just enough to get us to Åre. (Fuel this morning was 12.85 nok/liter, the highest I've paid yet ($9.73/gallon). Some weird things happened with gas prices today, more later.)

The first part of the trip takes us towards the airport, 30 or 45 minutes away, depending which way you go. The fast way is to take the toll road, a beautiful sleek black and red asphalt motorway speeding through three tunnels. They want you pay 35 kr. ($7) to drive on it.

The other route takes you on a lovely scenic route, but it's easy to be tricked back onto the toll road. Groups of signs point you back towards the E6, "Stjordal this way! Værnes this way!" We only had to backtrack once this time.

On the back roads we passed three different groups of school children out on bicycle trips. Past the airport at Hegra we took great pleasure in some of the very scenic countryside. The scenery looks like some of the best places in the state of Washington, but it's everywhere, for miles and miles and miles. So much beautiful country, so few people to spoil it!

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