We fairly motor across the border into Sweden, only stopping in the rain at the last supermarket to glug some free hot drinks and stuff our faces with the chocolates also left out for customers. Whilst we're doing this, two fellas who've been out training gun dogs on the moors sit down and share a packet of biscuits with us. As if by magic, the weather improves as soon as we cross the border. Maybe this is one of the rewards for paying higher taxes? We camp on a disused track near to a church out of sight of anything going past. At least until about 9pm when some bored teenager zips past on his stupid little motorbike. The next day we cycle on fairly flat roads through forest, or what remains of it. Again, we camp on a disused track out of sight of the road and miles from anywhere. Just as we're putting the tent up, a dog-walker comes past. It seems you're never alone in Sweden. The weather is sunny and hot and we are no longer worrying about rain clouds coming over when we cook our tea. Instead we have to fend off the midges and mosquitoes. It seems you're never alone in Sweden.
|despite the carnage, Sweden plants more trees than it cuts down|
The next week or so passes in a blur of trees. It feels like we're going down hill all the way to Uppsala. We turn brown in the sunshine, enjoy lunchbreaks in small towns watching the locals drive around in large numbers of old American cars from the 50s. In fact, it feels like how I imagined 1950s mid-west America to have been like. All the teenage boys look bored and faintly rebellious and enjoy drag-starting their cars on the roads, doing handbrake turns, leaving pretty patterns of burnt rubber over the tarmac. This country must be so perfect and so... dull.
We spend a leisurely afternoon at Sweden's "best 'rest place' 2008" where we do laundry, bathe in the bathroom and enjoy a tea of pasta and something. There is the hint that we are in a more culturally developed country - although it's possible that there are more museums than you really need for a country of only 10 million people.
|we passed on this one|
The art installation by Per Henrikkson we came across struck a more discordant note. From the description in the regional tourist office in Dalarna ("the heart and soul of Sweden") he is critiquing life here in rural Sweden and the way that society and the individual interacts:
Sadly such innovative and accessible art was copied all the way to meaninglessness on the road to Uppsala...