Scandinavia Grabs You And Won’t Let Go| Vendula Kosíková
Scandinavia is a charming place: once it grabs you, it doesn’t let go. Snared once by its wild beauty, Zdenek Valenta came back a year later to taste its magical mix of exuberant nature and friendly natives. This time he took along his girlfriend, Jana. Riding a Yedoo scooter and a unique cart called a cruelter they together conquered 1550 kilometres across Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Zdenek has fallen in love not only with scooters but also with marathons. Unwilling to forsake either love, he had a multifunctional cart constructed for Scandinavia, thanks to which he could run part of the daily planned route and just “push” the rest of the way.
The prototype, made with the help of an experienced specialist producer of tricycles for the disabled, has a uniformly distributed centre of gravity and huge storage space. When running you can push it like a shopping trolley, when scootering you push off in the middle. “It’s possible to ride without holding it and for parking you don’t need a prop,” Zdenek explains, in the end not having run much with the cruelter in Scandinavia. Nonetheless, this unique cart went through endurance testing and now its road version is being prepared.
Travel info for Scandinavia
- In Sweden and Norway travellers can spend the night for free in “blue cabins”. Leave your torch at home – in summer you can write your nightly travel log by daylight!
- You need a four-season sleeping bag even in summer
- Waterproof scooter bags are a must
- Warm, waterproof gloves and warming massage gel can come in handy (but leave the coolants at home)
- Scarcely populated areas of Sweden are patrolled by an ambulance, so help is at hand for those in need
- You don’t have to stay in official camps, but if you choose a spot near someone’s house it´s best to ask permission
From Oslo Northbound
Almost a month´s travel began in Oslo towards the end of May. Every night they fell asleep with a kilometre plan for the next day - because by June 19 they had to reach the Norwegian town of Tromso, situated in the far north, from which they were supposed to fly back to Bohemia.
“Honestly, our whole tour was taking place by the roadside. We had no time to go deeper into preserves but still there was a lot to see,” Jana says, a dreamy smile on her face, adding, “Nature here is completely different from what we are used to. It´s rough, mysterious and beautiful at the same time. The way of our travelling also contributed for the most part to our sensing it so intensely. Never in my life had I so much time for myself and my thoughts.”
“When riding along a road that intersects the whole Sweden it might happen to you that in half the day you bump into no car at all but when taking a short break by the roadside out of the forest there comes an elderly husband and wife walking a dog…like in a magic fairy-tale.”
- A lit front door light shows someone is at home and you are welcome
- On state holidays all shops, including supermarkets, are closed
- In villages, some shops open only 1 day in a week and even then for only three hours
- Steering wheels in cars are on the left but in postal vans the opposite applies
- People drive into petrol stations from either end, agreeing with one another the best way to proceed
- Food information labels and restaurant menus are generally in local languages, only occasionally in English
- Scandinavian bread is sweetish and you can buy it for the equivalent of 60 CZK
- Money is not everything but collecting cans and plastic bottles can help you to make money for a bottle of beer - which there costs 200 CZK! Be warned: Norwegian cans are not accepted in Sweden
- People are willing to help you so don’t be afraid to talk to them
- Do not rely on bike shops: Jana and Zdeněk ran across just one on their entire journey
- Travelling by a local train or bus is expensive - but according to Jana, such an experience is priceless
- Jana and Zdeněk´s total baggage weight was 35 kg. It included: a tent, mats, sleeping bags, spare warm clothes, spare shoes, tools and spare parts, personal hygiene items, a camera, a mobile and chargers, a diary, medicine and vitamins, food - bread, long-life salami, instant soup and energy gels.
Charms Of Low Cost Travelling
Jana and Zdenek had a limited budget for their journey. Thus they brought from home the staples of their diet (bread, salami, instant soup) and where possible chose spots outside paid camps. “A few times we camped in a lay-by but mainly we tried to spend the night near a residence because of the bears,” Jana explains.
They improved their financial situation by collecting cans and plastic bottles. Thanks to them (altogether they found 1200 containers) they made a nice 1200 SEK (3600 CZK) which they spent on groceries and at fast food restaurants.
“Low-cost travelling has its charms, particularly in Scandinavia with friendly people willing to meet unusual wishes of Czech travellers. Commonly we asked local people for cold and hot water to pour our tea, coffee or instant soups. Thus we had lots of occasions to get to know residents of this region closer and to learn more about their country and surrounding landscape than from reading a guide book.”
“People here are sweet and friendly, they listened to us willingly even though our English was not just fluent. I´m not speaking about big cities ruled by the same hustle and stressing spirit as it is in our country but about small towns, villages and settlements where there is such almost contagious peace,” says Jana.
And One Can’t Plan For The Weather!
Unfortunately this June was, according to locals, exceptionally rainy and cold. “Riding in the rain for three days does not make your spirits any higher but from a time distance I don´t see it so bad anymore,” reflects Jana. The worst of it was an icy headwind which made them take a train and a bus and only ride part of their route.
Nevertheless, Jana Šmídová felt she had found in Scandinavia an almost idyllic world. “I haven´t believed that such still exists somewhere. Even today when I recall some situation there is a smile in my face and when I close my eyes I appear to be at a lake´s shore and all bad things cease to exist for a moment.”
Back Again Next Year!
To reach by scooter Nordkapp, Europe´s northernmost corner, is Zdeněk´s dream. He is even going to contact the Finnish Scooter Association so that like-minded people can join him for at least part of the journey. However, in the meantime he does not lie idle. He rides his scooter to work every day and so does Jana. That is to say, they can no longer imagine life without their scooters.
- Ridden by scooters: aprox. 1 550 km (Oslo-Slangas, Jokkmokk-Killpisjavri)
- By train: 247 km (Slangas-Jokkmokk)
- By bus: 162 km (Killpisjavri-Tromso)