It was already 8pm by the time we disembarked the ferry and set foot/wheel on Sweden. It was my first new country of the trip however this was just a short visit before we crossed into Denmark. With light dwindling and it being a Sunday night with little open we didn’t have much time to hang around. We found an ATM, wolfed down a hamburger and chips from the only place we could find and rode 10km away from Trelleborg and into the countryside.
Swedish right to roam laws are very much in our favour and we took advantage of this by camping on the edge of a field. We didn’t have much choice as we were surrounded by farmland with no woods in sight. Basically the rules in Sweden are you can camp where you like as long as it’s not damaging agricultural land or is clearly part of someone’s immediate land or it’s marked as private. Whatever our interpretation, we slept soundly and nobody came to tell us to move that night or in the morning.
It was only 25km from where we camped near Villie to Malmö. The cycling was either on country roads or bike lanes so Sweden made a good first impression. Malmö seemed like a nice city, again with bike paths leading us right into the centre where we found the train station, bought two tickets to Copenhagen and departed Sweden via the *** longest bridge in the world. As we started to navigate our way out of the city a friendly chap named Hendrijk asked us where we were heading. It turned out he was on his way back from the library where he had just rented books on several Central American countries as he was starting to plan his own bike trip there. He offered to show us the way out of the city towards Vedbæk where we were staying and also took us past the uninspiring little mermaid statue. I’d been in Copenhagen the previous year and had seen it then but it was only minutes off route and is a tick in the box for most tourists visiting the city. We had a good chat exchanging advice on travelling by bike and what to do in Copenhagen and Denmark generally. It was about a 25km ride to Vedbæk where we were staying with Morten. I met Morten and his son Peter in Colombia and we’d met up the previous year too. The route took us along the coast and through woods in glorious sunshine before a perfect arrival. Morten greetd us with a cold beer, showed us to our own individual bedrooms and asked if roasted pork on the barbecue would be okay. YES!!! We spent the evening catching up and eating and drinking too much.
Slightly groggy the following day, we took the train into Copenhagen for a spot of sightseeing. After a stroll around the city, we went to Christiania, a free town which excludes itself from the EU and where we spent a sunny afternoon. We decided to extend our stay with Morten for another night, we weren’t in a hurry and had no pressing timescales. It gave us time to do some planning, for me to attempt to catch up on some blog, plus we were enjoying the comfortable living and good company. However Friday soon rolled around and it was time to get going. A sluggish 11am departure and we cycled towards the port at Hundested. Along the way Al picked up a puncture, his third of the trip. We took the quick 20 minute ferry to Rørvig in pretty lousy weather. It was a tiny little port but we did bump into some other cycle tourers there.
Once back on the road we started to think about where to camp that night. I’d found an app from a cycle tourer blog called shelter.dk which showed all the free shelters in Denmark. Unfortunately the nearest one was showing as in the sea. After asking at a centre for philosophical thinking or something along those lines, we were taken to a nearby school. Meanwhile I picked up my first puncture of the trip. We set up anyway although at a school it was Saturday the next day so we weren’t awoken by any curious students or disapproving teachers the next day. It was an awesome camping area although as it was a little chilly still the tents were still needed. Unfortunately, the shelters too low for my larger tent so I set up just next to our. As there was a fire pit we were able to have our first fire of the trip! There were stacks of logs nearby which were under cover and withave no one else around, we helped ourselves to.
We left late the following morning and for almost the first time, it was warm in the morning. We soon rejoined the coast and for a while we had the sea on either side of us as well as in front of us in the distance. We stopped for a break and had hot dogs, something the Danes seem to love. As we made it to the end of the peninsula at Sjaellands Odde we were expecting a town but actually there was nothing but a ferry terminal. The road literally just the road stops and then you’re at a ferry terminal. We tried to buy tickets however there was no luck for the day, from what we could understand the ferry was already full. We couldn’t understand how there wasn’t even space for two cyclists but alas our protestations didn’t get us anywhere. We didn’t have much of a choice but to stop there for a day but we did discover a journey the next day would cost over 100 Danish krones less. I should mention that things in general were beginning to get more expensive. A beer was now back at London prices and our food shops were around 50% more than in Germany. This was manageable but things were only likely to get worse as we headed to Norway!
Here’s a little GIF of the sunset from Sjaellands Odde.
Anyway, we managed to pick up enough supplies at a little shop to last us the night which saved us a 10km ride back to the nearest supermarket. Like the night before, we followed the app in the hope it would take us to a shelter. Unlike last night, it lead us to the exact spot. It couldn’t have been more perfect. We found ourselves less than 50m from the sea, again with a campfire but also with a toilet and our own private beach. We had only cycled 18 miles so we had a very short day and plenty of time to enjoy the location. We had the sea on three sides, even had a dip (wash) in the sea and had numerous different throwing competitions until our arms tired. In the evening we probably cooked out worst meal yet. Undercooked instant noodles with mackerel and tinned veg. It was all we could salvage from the tiny shop but gave us a reminder that we needed to prepare for Sundays when all but the smallest and most expensive shops close. Since Germany this had been the case but so far we had got away with forgetting. We had begun to talk about fasting options…With plenty of time to kill, we got stuck into a bottle of rum, bought in Germany and originally destined for Norway. Realistically it was never going to make it that far.
We left the campsite the next morning slightly hungover after a little too much rum and took the ferry to Ebeltoft. For Denmark it was surprisingly hilly and there’s nothing that gets rid of a hangover better than lugging a fully loaded touring bike up a hill. Steady progress throughout the day got us to a place called Randers. We had previously talked about getting an all you can eat Chinese buffet and as we cycled into town we had no cash on a Sunday evening with few shops open. We just so happened to roll past a Chinese restaurant so despite the fairly expensive price tag we decided to treat ourselves. The conversation went a little like this:
Al: It is quite expensive.
Joe: Yeah, you’re right, it is. But we did say we should do it and it’ll only get more expensive in Sweden and Norway.
Al: Ah, that’s true.
Joe: But we haven’t got any cash and we would still need to go to a shop to buy breakfast anyway.
Al: Yeah, but we could pick up breakfast in the morning. Although we don’t know where we’re sleeping tonight and it might be dark by the time we leave.
Joe: Hmm, what do you reckon then?
Al: Probably a bad idea considering the no money, no shelter, expense and approaching darkness. Shall we do it then?
Joe: Yep, definitely. Let’s do it.
I’m sure we looked slightly out of sorts with our cycling gear and having not had a proper wash (apart from a swim in the sea) in three days. Nonetheless, we gorged ourselves until we were completely full, then ate some more, then Al ate some more! We finally left and did a very slow 3km to a shelter. Again we were able to light a fire and we had a shelter each which meant no tents and no dealing with each others snoring. After a quick post midnight call to wish Hanna a happy birthday, I fell asleep content in my little wooden hut with a very full stomach.
Randers to Vodskov
With no breakfast and no tents to pack up we got away quickly. It was a tough day with head winds and gravel tracks slowing us down but beautiful countryside. We needed to cover enough ground to make sure we made our 2pm departure from Frederikshavn the following day. We arrived into Aalborg and had a very brief look around before finding another shelter using the app I mentioned. It was only 10km away so we cycled on into the early evening. Another great set of shelters this time with doors as well as running water, fire pits and a toilet! Denmark had spoilt us on the wildcamping front! As it was our last night in the country we celebrated with steaks and sweet potatoes, both cooked by the fire and washed down with a couple of beers.
Vodskov to Frederikshavn
We decided pretty early on that it’s nice to wake up and have a hot drink and now take it in turns to make the coffee. If you’re not on duty it’s an extra 15 minutes in your sleeping bag! It had been a cold night and I relished every extra minute I had until my drink arrived. Any sleepiness quickly disappeared once on the bike as we ascended and descended gravel tracks where a lack of concentration could be rather painful. Once we picked up the main road, it was comfortable cycling all the way to the port. In fact, we were first in the queue and arrived 15 minutes before check-in opened. Quite a turnaround from 24 hours earlier when we were struggling through the woods at a measly 8 miles per hour! Once aboard we spent the remainder of our Danish krones on beer. The smallest amount we could buy was 24 cans so we set to work. I dare say we were judged by another couple of cycle tourers we’d bumped into earlier. Ah well, Denmark had been great and our last evening went in a similar fashion to our first night in the country, happy and hazy.