On day 7 it was time for us to move to our next destination: Arvika (Värmland). The distance from Uddevalla to Arvika is about 255 km. We didn't take the shortest route though, but decided to take the scenic route via Strömstad and a short stretch through Norway.
Strömstad is a fishing town and a popular holiday destination. In the fish shops allong the quayside you can eat fresh shrimp and fish, but also several kinds of smoked fish. Yummy. We also tried the fish cakes, which were very good. In the area, there are a number of prehistoric monuments, among which stone rings, stone ships, rock carvings, burial mounds, etc. We didn't visit these particular sites though.
Tourist info: Strömstad
The border between Sweden and Norway is formed by the Idefjord. The new Svinesundsbridge (toll bridge) in to Norway offers a nice view of the fjord. Remember that Norway is not in the EU, so you may need a passport to enter the country. In Norway, we turned east on road 21, which winds its way through some beautifull landscapes. In the town of Halden, you can see the Fredriksten fortress towering over the city on a cliff. Beyond the town, the road goes through a forest area with many lakes. Some twenty km to the north, the landscape changes again into farmland.
Along this road, we encountered our very first moose, an enormous animal the size of a big horse. We were glad the moose was standing in a field at the forests edge, and not on the road. A head on collision with a fully grown moose is often deadly, not only for the moose, but also for the passengers of the car.
Tourist info: Svinesund and Halden
In Örje, we turned east again onto the E18 and crossed the border back to Sweden.
Past Töcksfors, we turned northwest to Karlanda and then followed road 172 into Arvika. Along the way we stopped a few times to enjoy the view.
In Arvika we stayed in the Arkaden hotel in the center of town, which is more accurately described an upscale bed and breakfast.
The area around Arvika is mainly forest area. There are several nature reserves where you can walk along marked hiking trails. The true city folk we are, we didn't bring appropriate footwear for hiking.
The area is also renowned for its arts and crafts: e.g. the Klassbols linen mill, a glass blowing studio, … In town there are many arts and crafts shops. Around 1900, there was an artists community working in Rackstad Colony, which is now a museum. These artists designed the church of Arvika in Nordic Romantic style.
Because the weather was so nice, we decided to take a walk around the town to look at the different sculptures and the church.
Afterward, we took the guided tour at Såguddens open air museum. It became a private tour, as we were the only visitors interested in the tour. The museum has a number of farm buildings that were moved there from around the area. The main building is the large home of a rich farmer. The various rooms are furnished with things typical for one period. The beautiful closets and typical mural decorations were very nice. This gave us some idea of what life was like before, in the warm sunshine it didn't seem so bad, but we can only wonder what it was like in the long, cold and isolated winters.
Tourist info: Arvika
On Midsummer's Eve we had to get up early to drive to Sälen (Dalarna), 240 km away. There we were meeting up with close friends to celebrate Midsummer festival. After a traditional Swedish lunch of pickled herring, smoked salmon, dill potatoes and some aquavit, we went to a local farmyard (Olnispagården open air museum) where a maypole would be raised.
Midsummer's day was also spent visiting, with a side of strong coffee and strawberry and cream pie. The next day, we went back to being regular tourists.
Sälen is a ski resort at the southernmost
end of the Swedish-Norwegian mountain range called the 'Fjäll' (though the
word 'fjäll' is used in middle Sweden for any type of mountain). Typical for
the Fjäll mountains are their rounded tops, usually lacking any well defined
peaks. The upper part of the mountains usually rises above the tree-line and
only shrubs grow there.
About 70 km north from Sälen lies the village of Särna. Just outside of the village (coming from Särna), a tower was built from where you can see the entire area. In the center of town, there is a lovely wooden church from the mid 17th century, known as the 'Old Church'.
20 km outside of Särna, lies"[Fulufjäll National Park":http://www.swedishepa.se/In-English/Menu/Enjoying-nature/National-parks- and-other-places-worth-visiting/National-Parks-in-Sweden/Fulufjallet-National- Park/. Swedens largest waterfall, the Njupeskär is located in the park. A well marked trail of 4km leads you to the waterfall and back to the parking lot. Wooden walkways are built over the more wet areas along the trail. In short, this is a perfect outing for inexperienced mountaineers (city folk!).
Along the way you can enjoy the varied plant life: blooming hjortron (Cloudberry, Moltebeer) in the open areas and in the woods lingon (Cowberry, Preiselbeer) and blueberry as far as they eye can see. The trees are a mix of pine and birch. Supposedly, there are beers, wolves and a particularly large type of moose in the reserve.
The only fauna we encountered were hordes of hungry mosquitoes, but the repellent worked like a charm. We drove around the Fulufjäll, partly through Norway, across the Transtrandsfjäll back to Sälen.
From Sälen, we left for Örebro (Närke), which is about 310 km away. Outside of Fredriksberg, we turned onto a smaller road leading to Gravendal. Here we found a prime example of some typical Swedish landscape for this area.
Then we drove on to Kopparberg (Västmanland) in the heart of the Bergslagen area. In the heart of this small town there are some beautiful old buildings to visit. The tourist office is located in one of these, the Tingshus (Courthouse) from 1642. Next door is an old archive building from the mining company (Berslagsarkivet, 1876-1877), and a very old grain seed warehouse from the 17th century.
Around the corner, there is a small country life museum where the local pensioners give you a personal tour of the premises: a photographer's studio, a shoemaker, a postal office and a goldsmiths workshop. In a shed outside a small reconstruction has been made of a mine.
The local pensioners club has also prepared a brochure with a guided tour of the town and the various pits. The brochure is only available in Swedish though, and we managed to get lost before reaching the first pit. The town also has a beautiful old church (1635) with separate bell tower and stables.
Örebro (Närke) has a somewhat bad reputation among Swedes as a dull city, but we didn't find it dull at all. In the middle of town there is an enormous castle, that started as a defensive fortress but was later rebuilt into a residential renaissance castle.
You can get a regular tour of the castle with a guide, but you can also take a theatrical tour (even in English) which gives a very lively impression of the castles history.
The town center has a number of 19th century buildings, both in stone and in wood, which give it a nice atmosphere. At the tourist office, you can get a map with a marked trail and some explanation about the highlights.
The city park features an open air museum with small streets with old wooden buildings. During the day, a number of activities go on there, but we arrived too late to see any.
A few kilometers from the town center, you can follow a footpath that leads past a number of modern art sculptures. On one end there is a small nature reserve. There are a number of pools and small lakes, so beware of the mosquitoes.
Tourist info: Örebro
In Örebro we stayed in the IBIS hotel next to the Gustavsvik Adventure baths. Guests at the IBIS hotel get a discount at the swimming pool. Gustavsviks Adventure Baths advertise free internet in their cottages.
Nora (Västmanland) lies about 25 km to the north of Örebro. The town center still has a large number of wooden houses from the 18th and 19th century.
In the nearby lake, there is a large island with an adventure park for children. Nora is renowned for its ice cream parlor NoraGlass, which only sells freshly made ice cream.
The town has an old railway station where several old steam powered locomotives are kept and maintained by volunteers. A few rail cars have been converted to a little restaurant, and some others into a guest house. In summer, a small diesel train takes tourists to Pershyttan, a few kilometers away.
We used our own transportation to go to Pershyttan, were the old iron works are located. The site is very well preserved and gives you a good idea of what went on here. The guided tour takes you inside the buildings to see how pig iron was made from iron ore.
Nearby, an old mine has been reopened to visitors, though only with a guide. The mine isn't very deep underground and you can always still see daylight, still it didn't look like an appealing working environment to us.
In the evening, we went back to Nora to find something for dinner. The guide at Pershyttan recommended us Maria Langs Krog, right next to the church. The food was indeed excellent.
Our time in the Örebro area was up and it was time to go further south to Småland. On the way down, we stopped at Bergs slussar (Östergötland) to see the locks on the Göta Kanal.
Finding Bergs slussar proved to be quite a challenge, without a detailed enough map or a GPS system. As Bergs slussar is such a tourist attraction, we expected it to be indicated along road 36 between Motala and Linköping.
The neighbouring town of Ljungsbro was indicated, but we waited in vain for an arrow pointing to our destination. The next thing we knew, we were driving into Linköping, without a clue of where to go. Maybe Linköping loses to much tourists to Bergs Slussar and has removed all road signs leading there, who knows. In the end we followed the signs to the tourist office and got a better map and some directions. We left the town in haste, before they found some other way to keep us.