Day 22: Malmo, Sweden

After having a quick look around the shops we headed to the Form/Design Centre, not really sure what we would find. On the ground floor there was a photographic exhibit showing the development of modern Chinese cities, and up on the second floor there were very detailed displays of plans for the progression of the Skane area, which although interesting were so in depth (and mostly in Swedish!!) that we decided to headed back into the town centre in search of food.

We had read about a falafal restaurant that had been recommended in the Independent as a must, so having consulted Google Maps, we set off. Passing though pretty shopping districts – and one street that was full of interior design stores (much to Blaise’s delight!) we entered the Lebanese district with it’s thriving food market. Having a quick look, but with tummies grumbling, we ploughed on in search of ‘Falafel No 1’, vowing to head back to the market later. After two parks, many side-streets and thinking that we’d never find it, we arrived and swiftly ordered two falafel wraps with everything and extra haloumi. Heading back to one of the parks we sat and ate – fortunately it was well worth the walk!

After letting our lunch go down, it was time to head back via the market. It was a true local’s market, crazily busy with people buying every fruit and veg that you could think of and barely enough space to move – not what we were expecting to find in Sweden given our sleepy start to the week! With food bought, we visited the harbour and had a final wander around the town before heading back to the campsite with weary legs! It was an interesting city, and the most diverse that we had visited to this point.

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Day 21-22: The discovery of the porcu-hog!

Waking early to more blue skies and sunshine, we set off to explore the local town of Ahus. Continuing the theme of Swedish towns/cities, initial disappointment soon gave way to surprise as we were greeted by yet more quaint cobbled streets, historic buildings and the local Absolute Vodka factory! We had been told at the campsite that we must try the local ice cream, so even though it was only 11am it was very hot and rude not to give it a go! After getting flavour translations from the local police (life is clearly tough for them there!), we dived into massive cones of super creamy and very tasty ice cream, enjoyed by the water front.

On our way back to the BFG, we went for a stroll along the long sandy beach, and soon forgot that we were in Sweden as it felt more like the med. Sadly we had to move on to our next destination of Malmo, but fortunately this was not a long way away and gave us time to enjoy more pretty coastal towns on route.

The prettiest town by far was Simrishamn, a lovely sleepy seaside town with beautiful shops, squares and cafes. In typical ‘La Grande Aventure’ style we had a wander around before finding a perfect little oasis tucked up a side street. Entering via a narrow alleyway what we found would make any interior design enthusiast go weak at the knees, however as we delved deeper we discovered a little gem of a restaurant housed in a sun drenched courtyard. We couldn’t resist stopping for a bite to eat and enjoyed a delicious pizza which left us feeling like we were in Southern Italy!

With full tummies it was back in the BFG – but not before spotting a weird hedgehog/porcupine cross, that we’ve named the ‘porcu-hog’ – and onto our final Swedish stop, Malmo.

Day 18-20: Vanersburg to Gothenburg, Sweden

It was time to leave Norway behind and make our journey into Sweden; we set off early (only to hit Oslo’s rush hour traffic – a bit of a shock to the system after weeks of empty roads) and had crossed the border by 10am.

Our first few nights were spent in Vanersburg, on a campsite overlooking Lake Vanern – the largest lake in Western Europe – where we were practically the only people on site bar a few deer! We spent a lovely few days planning, sunbathing, exploring the surrounding woods by foot and bike, and just generally relaxing.

Feeling refreshed (after a hectic few days in Norway) we headed in the direction of Skane, but not before a quick detour into Gothenburg. After failing miserably to find their park-and-ride system we have to park in an industrial estate on the outskirts (as the BFG is pretty tricky to park in town centres) leaving us two hours to explore the city. After Oslo we weren’t sure of what to expect of Gothenburg, especially as we’d only found two things in the guidebook that interested us, but were pleasantly surprised to find pretty cobbled streets, a canal flanked by parks and lovely old buildings.

With time against us we set off on our mission to visit the food market (where we picked up some beautiful dill smoked mackerel) and buy a massive cinnamon roll that we’d heard rave reviews about!¬†Within 45 minutes , and in true ‘Challenge Anneka’ style, we’d completed both challenges and felt pretty pleased with ourselves as we stuffed the super scrummy, not-to-sweet cinnamon roll in our mouths!

On the way back to the van we stumbled across a mass gathering in one of the squares with hundreds of students dressed as sailors carrying placards of photos (presumably) of themselves as children. We think this must have been their graduation day, as we saw more of them arrive on the back of trucks later, but who knows! This is a city that definitely needed more time, so we vowed to return soon when we have more than 2 hours to spare!

From Gothenburg we headed south to our campsite – stopping at an IVECO garage who miraculously had replacement glass for the broken wing mirror and only charged is ¬£16! – and arrived into Ahus about 6pm for another relaxed evening and our first film night watching ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’.