This was a trip ‘planned’ right from the day I reached Europe. You will see soon why the word is quoted ;)
The trip iternary in short was to drive to Frankfurt-Hahn from Stuttgart, then take a flight to Stockholm-Skavsta, drive around Sweden-Norway and back to Skavsta, take the flight back to Hahn and then drive back to Stuttgart. So with a few maps in hand and no hostel reservations we left on Saturday early morning. The initial part was smooth and we had a smooth landing at Skavsta airport which is still around 150KM south of Stockholm. (I wonder why it is called ‘Stockholm’-Skavsta). First thing to do was to report to our car rental agency Europcar and to our bad luck all other counters were open except the Europcar one. Finally after a few hurried phone calls, the guy at the counter came back with a lot of sorries and a story about some guy crashing their rented car. Anyway after an hour we got the first taste of the Scandinavian roads. They were small, not really up to the ‘German’ design, but still they were fun, really close to the fun you have in India. (except that people here mostly followed traffic rules ;) )
Our first destination was off course Stockholm. We did get a little bit lost in the maze of the Capital of Scandinavia even with our best driver, Mathew driving especially without a navigation system in our car. But still with the aid of some maps (and a classy navigator, yours truly ;) ) we managed to find the old town and even a parking spot. Stockholm did live up to its classy status, though that maybe a quick judgement since we spent only about 3 or 4 hours there due to time constraints. Our next destination was Uppsala where we expected to find accomodation. After forcing Nitya to take all the wrong directions we somehow again managed to find the youth hostel in the city. But alas they said they didn’t have any rooms! To our shock the receptionist even told us that all hotels in the city were booked. But Samrudhi (Mrs. Nitya) managed to get the receptionist to make some trunk calls to Gävle, the nearest city up north and we were able to get a room up there.
On the way to Gävle, I got my first chance to drive. And within minutes of that we were engulfed in fog – I mean a lot of fog. It was difficult to see 50m in front of me. But luckily nothing big happened and we reached the city without too much trouble. I gladly handed over the keys to Mathew who continued our adventure into finding the youth hostel. We had to find a building near the American Pizza shop, go to the front stairs, open up a white box with a secret password, get the key from an envelope marked Anoob (yeah even the Swedes spell my name wrong) and then find our room. Reminds me of a James Bond movie sequence. Anyway we were glad to get a bed to sleep after a marathon 16hr journey on a plane and 2 cars.
Next day we set out westwards towards Norway. We were targetting to reach the fjords by the end of the day, but at some point we realized that was quite nearly impossible. We totally underestimated the distances and overestimated the roads. So we decided to go as far west as possible and get a youth hostel somewhere. Our nearest possibility was the ski-resort of Trysil right across the border. But that decision also meant that we would have to sacrifice the Norwegian fjords. We were pretty badly dissapointed but there was no other option. Anyways the hostel at Trysil was really cool. We got a wooden cabin all to ourselves and it was really damn cheap! I would highly recommend that place.
Day 3 began with a scenic drive towards Hamar. I was dignified to drive through the first unmetalled pothole filled road I had ever seen in Europe. It was a lot of good fun! At Hamar we decided to try book a youth hostel somewhere for the night. We pestered the receptionist there with plans and counterplans and more. Finally after a lot of heated discussion we decided to take a hostel in Sarpsborg south of Oslo. We reached there a bit early so we went ahead a bit into the island of Hvaler. The drive again was exciting, through a tunnel under the sea. At Hvaler we had a nice walk through the bushes to a rocky beach where we spend the rest of the evening and watched a beautiful sunset.
Next day from Sarpsborg we took the road to Moss and from there a ferry across the Oslo fjord to Horten. It was a bit expensive, but was well worth it, saved us a lot of time too. We headed towards “Verdens Ende” the extreme south tip of mainland Norway. We spend some time by the sea on the rocks clicking away some pics and finally headed back towards Sweden to Karlstad. We had a mini Darsan of the busy roads of Oslo on the way but decided not to stop. We didn’t want another city to waste time on! We crossed into Sweden at Orje border post and headed to Karlstad. This time the youth hostel was not difficult to find. And again the hostel standard was pretty high.
Last day. Morning we cooked some food at the hostel and left the place by around 10. We stopped at some small beautiful villages and did a slow leisurely drive back to Nykoping to Skavsta airport. The plane was delayed for an hour or so (bloody ryanair!) and the Europcar guys made a mistake with our car reservations and we were left without a car to go back to Stuttgart. The europcar lady was shockingly rude to us, but anyway she did get a car for us, an Opel Zafira. It was difficult driving back since we were all damn tired. Anyway reached back home by 2 AM after a wonderful trip of a lifetime!
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