Initial impressions: Stockholm – Ödeshög

Stockholm is a majestic city. Some day I should spend more time there. This time though I felt out of place among fashion-conscious middle-class with my bike, all the gear and the back-pack attached to the carrier. Turkish lembas (falafel with hummus) for breakfast and I was on the road.

“It is not the distance, but the journey” said an Asics ad spotted in Stockholm, but I had to make it to Ödeshög in three days. Distance mattered. 330km in total, spread over three days. Could have done it in about 280km, but the path is not always straight. Initially I religiously tried following marked cycling paths, but after going in circles and getting lost, I realised that a bold red line on the map does not necessarily exist in the wild. Sometimes paths are clearly marked and separated from the traffic, sometimes they are not. Having said that generally cycling infrastructure in Sweden is superb, especially in cities. Puts Helsinki to shame really. Overall infrastructure is also better, clearly 200 Years of Peace doing its magic. There’s a sense of aesthetics in the air – everything is nice, tidy and neat. Every house looks like a real estate commercial. Reminded me of Switzerland very much. Countryside is mostly farms, picturesque churches, crop and golf fields, as if Swedes en masse do not do anything else than growing food, praing and playing golf.

The first place I properly visited (read, went to a supermarket there) was Trosa, dubbed by the locals as the “the world’s end”. Quite a big word for such a small place, the supermarket is the only attraction there. Nyköping is a nice little town with a touch of urbanisation. There is the main walking street with some boutiques and cafes, which make you almost forget that you are in the midst of the countryside. Nörrköping was next on the agenda. Bigger and somewhat exciting. It even has trams and the brutalist city library. Probably a nice place to live in, but not something you go to on a weekend. Linköping was more of the same. Neat and nice. Nothing to see here, move along.

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