Båstad. The Rough Guide to Sweden sees fit to give the pronunciation: /bow-sta/. It didn’t prevent me from smirking when I saw the town on the map this morning when still in Denmark and choosing it as my first destination in Sweden. Before I leave tomorrow I will continue to smirk every time I see it describe something; Båstad Camping, Båstad station, Båstad police… I wonder if people around here refer to the ‘Båstad Internet’ as although I’m writing this at just after 6pm it seems unlikely that I will be upload to the website for some time. The campsite wireless refuses to allow either my phone or my iPad to connect to it. The mobile phone network that Vodafone has chosen to attach me to is called ‘Sweden 3G’ but the 3G service has been limited to say the least. It took some working out that ‘Sweden 3G’ wasn’t all that it says on the tin as the name ‘Sweden 3G’ appears at the top of the iPhone screen giving the impression that you are indeed being connected via 3G by a provider called ‘Sweden’. Not the case! When I was connected it said ‘Sweden 3G 3G’. I gave up on both the wireless and mobile connections. That’s the Båstad Internet for you…
So what about the Helsingør to Båstad cycling? [Can you stop that now?]. Well… After a chat with my English neighbours (well the woman; the man didn’t seem that keen to talk when I met them last night and only nodded this morning when I passed him en route back from the showers), I spent what was left of my Danish Kronas in the campsite shop on strong coffee and breakfast. The Danes aren’t great coffee makers – it usually comes from a jug that is being kept warm rather than a noisy machine behind the counter – but the one I had this morning almost made up for the rest of them. Alas it would be my last in Denmark, a country which has offered some very good cycling conditions, great campsites, nice countryside and overwhelmingly friendly people. I shall miss it.
There was no charge for Reggie for the 20 minute ferry to Helsingborg in Sweden, just 31DK for me. £3.10 isn’t bad at all for a ferry that crosses an international border. Perhaps the ferry company really make their money selling cheap alcohol on board. To the Swedes, Danish alcohol is cheap and it’s why Hesingør (that’s the one in Denmark) is full of shops selling alcohol and full of Swedes buying it. I was tempted to buy a small bottle of whisky but refrained from doing so. It would be one more step along the road to resembling a cycling tramp.
I was first on the ship and first off it. This area is very popular with the Chinese and there were two bus loads of them on the ferry. Is it the Hamlet thing? Perhaps. If they were looking for a bit of frenzied shopping action in Helsingbord they were in line for a disappoinent. Had I got my days wrong? Was it really a Sunday? No, definitely a Friday… So why so quiet? I eventually found the tourist office in order to pick up any useful cycling and camping information but it too was shut. The notice on the door explained why: midsummer… It’s actually Sunday of course but it’s a big festival in these parts and it looks as though they are making up for not having a day off work on Sunday by having a day off today. Who can blame them?
[Can you get on with the cycling?] So, on with the cycling! I subcontracted route finding to Google Maps and, as it has done on the previous occasions I have used it, it did a very good job. I fed in my direction requests using the free city WiFi in Hellsingborg and was interested to see that it worked fine when offline. The key details must be downloaded at the beginning and directions are then happily delivered using GPS location. The offline map option doesn’t obviously change its route if you yourself take a wrong turn but that wasn’t too much of an issue. As the Internet / 3G becomes more scarce as I travel north, this may be a very useful discovery.
The first 30 of today’s 60 km to Ängelholm were pretty standard stuff. I was struck how similar it all seemed to cycling back in the more urban parts of UK; Britain with umlauts. Even the weather was very reminiscent of home. I got wet, very wet. There did, however, seem to be positive signs in the sky as I paused for a short rest in the centre of Ängelholm. If you want the weather to change quickly and your wish is granted, expect wind. A flat 10 km after Ängelholm was a battle against a wind from the north as it swept across the fields, empty of trees and thus anything to slow down the gusts.
But then, joy! A decent size hill. Not quite a mountain but a big range of hills with trees. The wind was suddenly dissipated by the geography and vegetation and for the first time since the Pyrenees I felt as though I was properly climbing. The scenery changed for the better; much more distinctively Swedish and a nice downhill ride to the campsite at Båstad.
Not a cheap site here in Båstad: £20 plus another £12 for an obligatory camping card that I am promised I will be able to use in Norway as well. I’m the only one with a small tent here; everyone else is either in a caravan or mobile home. Bad planning on my part? Perhaps… My plan for this evening – now that the Internet is up and running again – is to spend some quality time in the tent considering options for the next week or so between Båstad and the Norweigian border. Any advice is, of course, welcome!