Uppsala on wheels
‘Help me. I’m poor’ said every college student to visit Sweden ever. Don’t be fooled by the ten to one conversion rate (1 USD for every 10 Kroner) because when you decide that you can’t go one more day without those mittens/gloves you thought you would never need in Europe (you live on an island in the Mediterranean after all) are going to cost you 180 Kroner. An 18 dollar pair of gloves might sound inexpensive to some of you, but it can take a gouge out of any budget.
To offset our costs and to see more of Sweden we decided to spend a few days in Uppsala, a college town about an hour north of Stockholm. OH MY LORD but it is a beautiful town.
Today is not about Uppsala though (A tour of Uppsala to come next week) it is about biking…
You went biking in late October? In Sweden?
Yes. It wasn’t my idea, but I wish it had been.
Why was it a great idea?
The short list:
- We convinced the guy at the rental store to let us rent the bikes for close to nothing. The argument we must be crazy worked for him.
- We saw a ton of the country side
- and all of the surprises to be encountered there
Surprises from the saddle
Bike saddle that is.
Lets be honest with each other. Cows are cool and Swedish cows were super hairy compared to the american varieties I have encountered. Towards the end of our trip outside of the city, which was halla hilly, my trail companions out biked me. I decided that instead of killing myself to hang with them, that I would chill with the cows. Great. Decision.
Nature Park… I think
Biking down the country roads of Sweden we decided to ‘pick a direction,’ a game where at each cross roads we took turns deciding which direction we would turn. An off turn onto a country side road brought us to a dirt trail, which brought us to a river and a trail. The trail, whose mud puddles were striped with bike tracks, brought us to a public trail, which we could not bring our bikes onto.
After hiding our bikes in some bushes, we did not have locks, we hopped to fence and found ourselves on a wooden path. Don’t be fooled by any american conceptions of a board walk through the woods where three could walk abreast, this board walk was just that, two boards side by side to keep our feet dry from the muddy ground below.
Winding its way through farmers fields, which I can only guess were private, the path wound through woods and bog and finally to an observatory on the edge of a lake.
Arriving in the observatory we decided it would be a great place to have lunch. That is until the cold wind of late October began to blow directly across the lake, knocking all the heat out of us. After five minuets of gritting our teeth we admitted to ourselves that we were beat and meandered our way back down the path towards our bikes.
Some of the coolest adventures come from doing first and asking questions later. This Nature Park (?) was one of those.
The Land of Vikings and Their Sweet Burial Mounds
I am six foot tall, blond haired and green eyed. I look far more a Swed. than I do a Spaniard and that is in great part because I have Viking blood running through my veins, though many of you probably do because they were all about the raping and pillaging. Something else they were all about bad ass burial mounds.
Our pick a direction game led us to three very tall, round hills. Intrigued we biked closer until we found ourselves at an interpretive center. Never one to turn down a good museum, especially when they promise miniatures, I paid the 100 kroners and wandered in.
The center was amazing and I soon found myself engrossed in Viking history. I learned all about the three large burial mounds, under which kings were buried. I learned about Viking cultural expansion and the introduction of Christianity to the area. This discussion was prompted by the construction of the Christian church pictured above. The new church stood where once a wooden church was, which was proceeded by a ‘pagan ritual site.’ (It might be the new church but it was still several hundred years older than the country I am writing this from.)
Too soon the sun was setting (around five) and we were forced to return to Uppsala. I wish I had had more time to explore and even though I was reluctant to bike into the country side I was strongly considering the merits of biking the whole country by the time I was safely tucked into a beer at the end of the evening.