turned around

Something about Gothenburg just strikes me as very pleasant. It has roughly the same population as my hometown of The Hague and is similarly leafy. But it also seems a lot livelier: perhaps that’s just because I’m spending two summer days visiting a really nice botanic garden, a bunch of museums and an overall pretty town.

Having reached southern Scandinavia I want to head north again, and follow the coastline of the Gulf of Bothnia to the Finnish border. I consider traveling inland, but people warn me off it, saying that there’ll be too little traffic. After a day I end up in the town of Jönköping, which isn’t much in itself, but lies on the edge of a beautiful and huge lake. After walking a few kilometers out of town I find a little path down to a small wharf with a wooden bench on which I spend a very comfortable night.

The hike to a highway rest stop the next morning takes way more time and energy than I’d like. Though the area is very beautiful it’s also very hilly. After about an hour and a half I finally get to the fence next to the highway, and after a few minutes I find a passage through to the other side. Then I wait: one hour, two hours… I decide to check the time on my phone less as it’s only discouraging me. Finally I get a ride. A pleasant guy who’s driving all the way up to Stockholm. But after about half an hour I notice my phone is missing. We search the van’s front seats but no luck. It must have fallen out at the rest stop somewhere. So we part ways in the hope I can still recover my phone by retracing my steps.

I dread having to go back since it took me forever to get here. But after about 20 minutes a Romanian truck driver gives me a ride. Him being an elderly gentlemen with a good socialist education I can use Russian to explain the situation to him and he agrees to drop me off at the rest stop on the other side. Luckily the highway is not busy, so I can cross it without putting myself in too much danger. But I can’t find the phone. So I start to hitchhike again in the same spot at the beginning of the rest stop so drivers on the highway can see me. After a short while a cop stops and says I can’t stand there because I’m being a distraction to the cars. I dread being condemned to only having to rely on the very few cars that stop at the rest stop itself. But after about an hour standing near the stop’s exit I get a ride from a woman to the capital and even manage to reach Stockholm before nightfall. As soon as I leave her car I pull out my netbook, find free wifi and manage to contact my couchsurfing host.