Diary from Coast 2 Coast Sweden part 1
5/16/17 - Other than a 1 hour delay, my luggage and I arrived in Sweden intact (even though I flew United Airlines!!!). I took the ‘important items’ such as my sleeping bag and tent as carry-on luggage – items that I could not replace if my checked baggage was lost. Having shifted my 'clock' the few days before I left (I woke up an hour earlier each day) I didn't feel jet lagged at all. Jonas (a fellow hiker) met me at the train station and together we went to Fransiska’s apartment (another hiker) to drop off my luggage. Then, it was back to town to meet up with Fransiska. We hung out in Stockholm and went to dinner at a lovely restaurant in a photography museum on the waterfront. Early Saturday morning, we took the train back into downtown, dropped my suitcase off at the hotel I stayed at after the trip, and caught yet another train for a 4 hour ride to Kalmar where the hike will start. It was here I was introduced to the Swedish national pastry: a cinnamon roll called, “Kanelbulle". The old town of Kalmar is quaint, full of little shops and cobblestone streets. The hostel we stayed at was also very nice and clean. We then met up with the rest of the hikers and had a few beers (not me though! I've been spoiled by craft brews in Asheville!).
Day 1 C2C - 15.75 miles.
We started the hike at 8:20 am and we got to our campsite at about 4:20 pm. The start of the hike is at the Kalmar Castle along the coast of the Baltic Sea. We had the ‘mandatory’ group photos taken by some guys from the Park Service.
Before we left, we all walked up to the water line, dipped our hands and feet in the Baltic Sea and tasted the brackish water. The hike was quite easy, mostly (99%) road walk. To start, the first several miles were paved. A good portion of this was a rails to trails and blacktop.
After that we got onto dirt road but anyway you cut it, road walking is a drag. There is no change to your pace so it’s just on and on. We took our first stop at a bird sanctuary and had a lunch break along a creek.
Mostly, we were wandering through farms. Rape was starting to bloom so some fields are a lovely yellow. (Rape seed is used for both cooking oil and bio-diesel).
There were lots of horses along the way, including this one pretending to be a zebra at our campsite.
Wild flowers are also blooming in full force, with fields of anemones, cherry trees and more all along the route. There were nine of us that day. Another guy – Martin - met up with us the day before, but started hiking last night. We passed him at the bird sanctuary and haven't seen him since (and we never did again!). Also, two German guys had plane trouble and lost baggage, so they were late joining the group. In total, there are people from Holland, Germany, Sweden and America (me!). The common language for everyone is English. The 2 German guy's said the issue with the plane was that the windshield shattered! The pilot , who could not see out the window, had to turn around and make an emergency landing. They said there was all the emergency equipment lining the runway when they landed.
The majority of the houses here are painted red with white trim. The red paint is a by-product of copper mines. You mix a powder with water and sort of "white wash" the house.
Our campsite the first night is on a farm where the owner has generously let the group camp here every year. There was fresh tap water as well as a tank of water for washing, an outhouse, and wood for a fire.
Old stone walls are literally EVERYWHERE. They are amazing in size, age, and they’re all covered with moss. The work that must have gone into them!
When I made my dinner, I discovered I left my (long handle titanium) spoon in my suitcase in Stockholm! Until I can get one I will just have to 'drink' my dinners from the Ziploc. My first dinner was from Outdoor Herbivore and it was very good! I was unsure of the rules for bringing in food from non EU countries, so I opted for pre-packaged foods rather than my usual home cooked, dehydrated foods. But it turned out the Outdoor Herbivore foods are not ‘just add hot water and let soak’ foods and some of them need to cook. I just let them soak longer and some were still a bit crunchy. Oh well!
Stay tuned for Volume II!