From Berlin to Sweden

Berlin, hot summer day mid July, 4:30pm, leaving the office – this is where the adventure starts. I’m meeting up with Nils, my travel mate, to get in the car and get going. Sunshine, on the road out of Berlin, car windows down, music on, feeling free and excited… but we’re going south first. Since my friend Anne made her dream come true and started her cozy café, Fräulein Jakobine, in Potsdam just on the day when I’m leaving for this year’s big adventure, and I couldn’t leave without stopping by to wish her good luck.

After saying goodbye, we’re really driving to Norway, first on the E55 through beautiful Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with their rolling corn fields, until Rostock. Here we take the ferry to Gedser in Denmark, and from there drive on across the Oresund bridge to Sweden, go past Malmö and Gothenburg, past Oslo and all the way up to Gjendesheim, the start of our first hike. Driving up to Norway from Berlin is about 1.400 km, a long stretch, that we want to cover in one evening and one day.

In Rostock, waiting for the ferry we have a spectacular sunset, a preview of dramatic skies to come the next days. Both me and Nils are overworked and tired, the last weeks have been full of things to organize and little sleep. The two hour ferry ride would be a perfect, soothing opportunity to catch up on some sleep… if it weren’t such an unwelcoming place.  There are few seats, and the one available are uncomfortable. Inside, the air smells of stale food and too many people. I find a bench to sleep outside, but since I’m not dressed for cold sea breeze, I have to move in soon. Nonetheless, sleeping outside on the ferry with the wind and the open sky felt really good.

Sunset in Rostock at the ferry quai
Sunset in Rostock at the ferry quai

 

We arrive at midnight in Gedser, and our goal is to make it a short way past Malmö that night. I’m driving, Nils is sleeping, and the road stretches endlessly and boringly through dark Denmark. The most exciting thing happening is the moon rising, and finally getting out of the long trek of cars that is crawling along with about 100 km/h – first reduction in speed from Germany to here, more to come. But since I’m still excited about finally being on this trip, the drive goes by quickly.

Around 2am, at the last exit before Oresund bridge we fuel up and get some gas for the camping stove, so we can have a fresh coffee the next morning. We both agree we will need it. The Oresund bridge with it’s strech of amazing 7.8 km is probably a grand view, but since we are both so tired, and since it is quite dark, we miss out on the spectacle. It takes about an hour longer to drive around Malmö and get a bit up north. I scan the map to get off the highway E6, and a bit south of Löddeköping we get on to a small road where we can camp. It’s actually hard to keep my eyes open, and after driving along for 15 minutes we just take a spot next to field. Pitching the tent is done in a few minutes, sleep come in seconds and feels heavenly.

Sweden to Norway, via Gothenburg

Sun rises early, and soon (7amish?) it gets pretty hot in the tent – feeling half-cooked, sleep is not much of an option. It is fun to see the surroundings in daylight, we had not really paid much attention to them at 3am in the night. I love this about Sweden and Norway, being able to sleep a night in a spot that does not disturb anyone (called “Allemansrätten“). The view might not be the most spectacular on this spot, but we went for availability, not looks. We spend an hour sorting out the things we hastily packed in the car, have a quick breakfast

roadside camping in Sweden
Roadside camping in Sweden

 

Driving on, at 120 km/h, still tired and sleepy. Around noon we decide for a short stop in Gothenburg (Göteborg). Nils, who likes to hang out and explore cities when on vacation, wants a nice start for this one, and a real coffee.  Dropping the car downtown at a carpark, we explore thebeautiful and laid back city centre of Gothenburg. One fascinating thing are the old tramlines, all nice and blue, and the apparent need to put many tracks on the road.

Gothenburg tram lines
Gothenburg tram lines

 

Except for tram lines and the city center, the main attraction for me is the botanical garden (Göteborgs botaniska trädgård), a real beauty. We take time to wander around the old trees, take pictures (yes, every now and then I still do palms and ferns and old greenhouses 😉 )and enjoy feeling like lazy tourists on vacation. Unfortunately we overdo it a little, and leave too late – so by 2 pm when we are on the road again, we still have to go until 11 pm to reach our destination in Norway. Nils is not amused, and foresees again a night with too little sleep. The road from Gothenburg on is rather boring and uneventful, and stretches on, but music, great conversations and the general feeling of being on the road make time pass quickly.

Around 7 pm we are past Oslo, slowing down to 90 km/h, still having about 4 hours drive ahead, so first I feel like hurrying, annoyed by the spit limitation. on the But as soon as we are on the E16 heading north-west, I feel like it won’t be much of a bother driving on for another four hours…the landscape is stunning, to put it simply. Just driving through vast stretches of forests, past small houses and even smaller boat sheds, fields with white hay rolls that look like manicured, past endless lakes with super calm surfaces mirroring the mountains on their sides…somehow, Norway seems like it has been designed just for the purpose of looking good.

Needing some cash, we stopped in Fagernes, which sported a bank and an ATM (since at the gas station we could not withdraw money with a Visa debit card), and from there on I drove the last part on the 51, a mountain road that offered spectacular views of the sunset (which lasted from 9 to 11 pm, and was getting ever better and better). Tiredly, around 12 pm we stopped at a spot overlooking the lake Vinstre, and decided to camp here (especially since someone driving a Porsche Roadster had the same idea 😉 ). It is an eerie feeling, if you’ve never been to a place where the sun almost does not set, and at midnight the sky is still pretty light… after such a long day, sleep was no problem though.

A sleeping pot with a view
A sleeping spot with a view

 

The 1.400 km drive from Berlin to (almost) Gjendesheim was worth every moment. Stay tuned for the next part, when we get into some seriously beautiful hiking at Besseggen ridge.