After a few days hanging in and around Stockholm (kind of), we finally headed up north to Gävle and then Höga Kusten (The High Coast), over the course of a couple of days. The High Coast may not look high compared to a lot of Scandinavia – it’s only halfway up the country, after all – but I should remind you that the top part of Sweden (and Finland and Norway) is actually in the Arctic Circle – even Southern Sweden is quite north. So if you see any maps telling you Norrland (Northern Sweden) is only the top quarter of the country, ignore those maps – Norrland begins at around Sundsvall, a bit south of The High Coast. Also, I think The High Coast may have its name due to certain geological features that I shall discuss in the next blog post (yes, it’s to do with land rising).
Anyway, enough geography (that’s a lie, I just couldn’t think of a good transition to a new paragraph, for which I deeply apologise). The drive to Gävle was only a few hours but it was already getting late, so we decided to rest up and shoot off early the next day instead. We stopped at a place called Rullsands Camping nearby and set up tent, before running off to the beach which was mostly deserted as it had already become fairly cold as the sun began to set. But this didn’t bother us. Well actually I lie, I whinged and moaned about the water not being warm enough, but that’s what happens when you get an Aussie in Swedish ocean, regardless of the time of year. What does continue to amaze me with Swedish beaches though is the total lack of waves. I have barely seen a wave since I moved here, and I’ve been to at least half a dozen beaches now. Not that I’m much of a surfer, but it’s just something I’ve noticed I guess. What fascinated me with this particular beach was the really quite large stones sticking out of the water, noticeable quite a long way into the water as it remains shallow a long way out too. I can’t help but think that at winter, when this would be frozen over, you could make some sort of sports game on the ice using the rocks as goals or something. Or not. I don’t know.
That night, as we failed to go to bed early to rest like we intended, I came across a small frog or two hopping around the place. It was cool to see them, but I did sort of freak out that I would step on one because my eyesight
in the darkness is pretty terrible. But I don’t think I did and in the end the bigger concern of the night was, sadly, some noisy drunken campers nearby who eventually got yelled at by everybody to shut up and finally did a little while before the sun came back up (I hate sounding like the fun police, but there were a lot of families and young kids around, and you can literally and legally camp ANYWHERE in Sweden if you want, meaning there’s a lot of other places you can go if you want to have a big party and not annoy a couple of hundred other campers. End rant). Before leaving we went back to the beach one last time. The others swam again but I just sunbathed for a little while, as the sun was out and shining in full which led to a surprisingly busier beach (I didn’t think that many people were actually staying near here but there you go). Eventually we packed up and got back on the road.
As we found ourselves ever further north, Sweden showed its true natural face – lots of trees, lots of lakes, some more trees and even more lakes. Sweden has just under 100 000 lakes, and just under 9% of the landmass is covered in lakes which is quite staggering (although Finland next door, despite much debate, has nearly double this many lakes (and Canada has several million but then Canada is just enormous so that goes without saying)). Still, it makes for stunning scenery, especially on blue sky Summer days like almost every day we drove (the car had no air conditioning so we kept sweltering in the heat while driving and then catching up to the rain at each new campsite…typical). I would love to go back to this area during Winter and see everything frozen over and covered in ice – many of the lakes up this high you can drive on safely for a couple of months each year. Eventually, at around the same point as Sundsvall, we crossed Högakustenbron (The High Coast Bridge – the “The” is in this word too, as it’s the “en” in the middle. But don’t get me started on Swedish language, at least not until I feel more confident with it) which really is quite a huge and magnificent bridge. At the other end of this was…ta-da, Höga Kusten!
We were greeted with a beautiful afternoon and evening, and the last clear-sky day on which we would set up the tent for the rest of the road trip as the weather was finally about to wreak a bit of havoc. Finally, the main part of our holiday had begun! But I’ll cover the details of the few days we spent in this beautiful part of the world next time!