Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Made it home

After a 23 hour travel day we made it back safely to Tucson will all of our gear intact. Although you can see from the pictures that the integrity of the Amtrak bike boxes was somewhat degraded :-) It was raining in Newark when we got there and the boxes must have gotten a little wet, not a good combo with cardboard. A few challenges along the way but nothing that couldn't be overcome. Patricia enjoyed her thorough pat down from Copenhagen security - by a guy.

We're sorting through pictures now and starting the difficult process of reducing them down to a reasonable number (starting with 1500). We'll probably do a slide show sometime in the fall, let us know if you're interested.

The next adventure is a medical mission to remote parts of Nepal in 2 months. That should be a little different. Then next year maybe southeast Asia for some more touring.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back to Copenhagen (again)

Through the magic of 2 rolls of saran wrap we made it back to Copenhagen today. We were finally able to attach the wheels to the bike frames on the side with even more wrap, which enabled me to carry both bikes and the wheels. Patricia was left with the 4 panniers which were quite a load. We came early for the first train and it was already in the station. We loaded up with no problem even though there was no bicycle approved car. Our tickets were checked and we were on the way. We dreaded the transfer to the bus halfway to Goteborg. Fortunately it was a short walk from the train to the busses. There was room in the baggage compartments and they had no problem with me sliding in the bikes. Whew!

Upon arrival in Goteborg we were dropped off a good distance from the train terminal, so we decided to have Patricia go ahead and get the tickets for the rest of the trip to Copenhagen while I started re-assembly of the bikes. That went pretty well and soon we were riding the bikes (instead of carrying them) to the next train. 3 hours later we're in Copenhagen and a short ride across the city later we're at Ignacio and Lindsay's for our final night's stay. Most things are repacked now, it's off to bed soon and an early taxi to the airport. Looking forward to being back in the USA and being back home :-) It's been a great trip - 5 countries, countless bike paths and beers!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Norway and a new challenge

The good news is that after a nice stay in Stromstad, we found our way to Norway. A very hilly and scenic ride, with some ugly looking shopping areas in the middle with the worst of the US, McDonalds and Burger King, and many Swedish candy (Godis) and Tobacco (Tobak) stores. The border crossing is over a fjord through a beautiful bridge from 1946. The weather was spectacular today, the warmest, driest and calmest day of all the trip. We came to Halden, a nice town on the fjord that separates Sweden and Norway. The hills were significantly steeper and higher and the traffic pretty bad. we had a bike path around 1/4th of the time. We found the train station and a hotel across from it without a problem. Now the plan is to go back to Copenhagen by train tomorrow because our flight leaves on Sunday morning. After lunch we went to the train station and had to deal with the auto-ticket dispenser since no one works at the station. It was not clear if the train will take bikes and we got our tickets anyway. Steve went to the station while I was getting the hotel room and saw no cars with the bike sign on the train...fortunately he kept looking into it on the internet and found out that as they are repairing parts of the single track sections between Halden and Goteborg (our connection to Copenhagen) there is half of the trip that is done by bus... They are not allowing bikes on the bus unless they are packaged. By now it is after 6 PM everything is closed so we have no other option than going to the supermarket and buying saran-wrap, tape and black garbage bags. The picture shows my idea on bike packing. Tomorrow is probably our biggest challenge in this trip. Like the Rogers' Zippy the Surlys are taken apart and wrapped . Stay tuned...more adventures to the very end!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blue Skies

It was a beautiful day in northern Sweden today. Partly cloudy in the morning as we headed out of Lysekil and then completely clear later in the morning. Temps in the 50's and 60's made for perfect riding. We picked a route that went mostly on secondary routes through the countryside and along the coast. Very scenic all the way. We ended up with about 66 miles and 3100 feet of climbing and are in Stromstad for the night.

We're about 10 miles from Norway, so things look good for spending at least one day and night in Norway. Saturday will be another train trip back to Copenhagen to get ready for the flight home on Sunday :-( The 4 weeks has gone by too fast!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rain, sun, wind, Swedish fjords, bridges and 3 ferries

Today we went from Stenungsund to Lysekil, 39 miles with 2300 feet of climbing. The day started gloomy and rainy, it had rained all night with some good thunderstorms. The scenery was spectacular, the Swedish fjords are a mix of water, big rocks and pine trees. There is a lush vegetation on the side of the road including wild flowers and ferns. There are many rolling hills and some a little more sustained and a couple of switchbacks. The weather forecast said 30 % for precipitation and I guess it did rain or drizzle the first third of the ride. But then it got sunny and windy, mostly headwinds from the NW, which blew the rain away (I take the wind over rain today).
We went over at least 3 amazing bridges with bike lanes and 2 free ferries that function as a bridge and then a longer ferry for people and bikes from Fiskebackskil to Lysekil.
We were able to find a pretty fancy restaurant for lunch which we had skipped the last few days, it was the best and most expensive lunch this trip, I had 6 different kinds of herring...yum! and Steve had the best fish burger I ever tried.
Since we arrived to Lyseki early we went on a walk to the local church, found a cheap pizza place and walked around the town, lots of great pictures... hard to choose them for the blog. Tomorrow we will try to ride longer to see if the last day we can make it to Norway trying to enjoy the last few days and not think too much about work. This is me, Patricia...of course :-(

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Touring in Sweden

Bottom line: I haven't seen this many Volvos since I last shopped at La Encantada. They are pretty much everywhere. We got away from Copenhagen late morning on Monday. Apartment was all cleaned, Federico and family were on their way, and Florencia was left in charge. We headed north following a route along the east coast of the island towards Helsingor, Denmark. A short way out of the city we met a young German cyclist named Robert touring by himself. We stayed together and chatted until we made it to Helsingor and boarded the ferry to Helsingborg, Sweden in the early afternoon. Following a group hunt for the tourist information site and loading up on Swedish Kroner we parted ways with us heading north and him south.

Our northern trek took us to the little coastal town of Angelholm. We had a very nice stay in a small hotel and a very nice breakfast this morning. We weren't sure on whether we wanted to ride some or take the train to Goteborg to be able to see more of the northern coast. When it started pouring down rain during breakfast it was an easy decision. A nice 2 hour train ride north we were in Goteborg around 11 AM. After a bit of a hunt to find our way out of town we used as many bike paths as we could find before resorting to the GPS to find the way. As usual it did a fine job. landing us in Stenungsund in time for a little walk around town before dinner. It's getting hillier and rockier along the route and the scenery along the coast just keeps getting more beautiful. We're looking forward to even better stuff as we head up towards Norway.

We could tell a difference in the bike culture as soon as we rode off of the ferry in Sweden. It's still bike friendly, but a step down from Denmark and The Netherlands. I read somewhere that it may be in part due to the fact that Denmark and The Netherlands do not have car manufacturers, so when someone proposes something pro-bike you don't have the aggressive auto industry bribing, er... I mean lobbying the various lawmaking bodies to vote down anything that is not pro-car. Just a fundamentally different attitude. Sweden is about halfway between Denmark and the US.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The wedding

Steve thinks not too many people would be interested in details of the wedding, but I wanted to put some pictures so you can see Steve with a suit and tie and the Lebensohns in their best outfits. The wedding day went very well with a simple ceremony at the courthouse in the morning and a party at night in a Hotel 12 miles north of the Copenhagen. We biked there because we were too many for the taxi... We had no problems in the way in, after a nice dinner and some dancing and especially after Steve got sober enough he could stay straight on the bike we went back at 2 AM and did fine until 1 km before our apartment when we got drenched with a shower but we were in bed dry by 3 AM. More on touring on Sweden next.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Family time in Copenhagen

Everyone made it to Copenhagen. Our apartment is in the 5th floor (equivalent to 6th in the US) and no elevator which made it very interesting coming up the stairs with everyone's luggage. We are in Noreborro, a neighborhood north of the centrum, with a heavy muslim and middle eastern population. Stores have signs in Danish and Arabic, lots of pizza/kebabs restaurants which seem to be the favorite combination for fast food.
We are forced to walk a lot because the metro is about 1.5miles away and the rest of my family is staying at the centrum. Steve prefers to go by bike, it is so easy to do and faster but with the baby we push the stroller everywhere.
Tuesday was arrival/collection of family members/ Wednesday went to Christiania, a very interesting area that was taken by a group of anarchists, one of the photos is the mural at the entrance, marijuana plants grow everywhere and they sell it freely in little stands on the inside streets, pretty unique... and can not take pictures inside for obvious reasons.
Thursday we went to a family picnic and then Federico, my son went to a ultimate frisbee practice while I ran around in the park and ended the day with our first pizza/kebabs meal.
Steve and I take off each morning before everyone is up and ready to go and explore the city on the bike, it is really easy and fun to get everywhere by bike and be surrounded by cyclists, there are no streets that are off limits for cyclists, only the big highways.
Today we might do a water tour of the city to try to bring everyone together, tomorrow is the wedding, and the next post will be on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to Copenhagen

We survived the 6 trains and 5 transfers to celebrate my birthday. The transfers turned out to not be so difficult, even the ones that were 11 minutes. The weather is great now in Copenhagen, perhaps even a bit warm. This week is the gathering of the Lebensohn family for the wedding coming up on Saturday. Everyone should have arrived by this evening.

On the 2nd to last train we met a nice Danish woman who is a fellow bike traveler. It turns out she lives near where we are staying in Copenhagen, so she volunteered to show us the way which was particularly nice since it was dark when we arrived. You just meet the nicest people while traveling by bike. Today was a little shopping and visiting the various sites around town where the family members are staying. All working well so far!