Written by Clara
Scandinavian countries are paradise for touring cyclists, as much as Berlin for creative individuals, or Silicon Valley for tech entrepreneurs.
This summer, I headed north from Berlin to Copenhagen - then again a month later, from Copenhagen to Oslo through Sweden, along the North Sea coast.
Berlin to Copenhagen: 603km in 7 days
Copenhagen to Oslo: 743km in 7 days
It is probably useful for you to know that I had no prior cycling experience, as well as knowledge. Coming from a country like Vietnam, where most of the time, there is no difference between car lane, scooter lane and bicycle lane, and myself occasionally ride my scooter on the pedestrian lane (guilty as charged) - the two trips were for me, a ride to Mars.
The stunning landscape, the well-developed and maintained infrastructure, and easy-going residents. I later learned not anywhere in the developed world is like this.
And no, I didn’t get to meet the Vikings in case you’re reading this Mom.
They take care of cyclists
-- following Kattegattleden
From Berlin to Copenhagen, the route is signposted all the way. We rode through beautiful parks with sealed cycle paths (try saying psychopath, notice the difference?), sometimes in the middle on the forests where you’re surrounded by the sound of pine cones falling and rushing against the fallen branches.
Going to Gothenburg, we followed a 370-km-long bicycle route from Helsingborg in the south called Kattegattleden, named after the 30,000km2 sea area in the West that it follows. It is also signposted throughout, with a brick color square sign one can easily spot.
The route leads itself through small roads with private gardens on the sides. The lawns are flawlessly mowed, as if the owner does it everyday, we later found out that they have those remote-controlled robots do that job. Or at least just the one I’ve seen.
Cyclists are respected, cars would happily let you go through the zebra lines even when you're on a bike. Not like in France, where the hierarchy goes like this: cars, ugly Chihuahua dogs and their owners - strictly in that order, pedestrians and finally cyclists. And if you're lucky, they would acknowledge your presence by overtaking you close and fast enough, so that even you, are aware of your presence, and reel, to save your life.
Spend your money without hassle
-- card vs cash: 1-0
We didn’t carry our food all the way. That means we went to the supermarket everyday. Having lived in Berlin for some time and got my card rejected from time to time, I appreciate being in these Scandinavian countries. You can pay with card everywhere. Since they have different types of krone, not euro, paying with card means you don't have to exchange and try to get rid of your other krone every time you cross the border.
The planet suddenly feels like home
The majority of people speaks great English. Not just the young but even folks in their middle age speak the language fluently without effort.
The Viking is a well- educated population. They also take care of the environment. Everywhere was clean and green, very rarely we saw littering.
And the biggest plus: in Sweden and Norway, freedom camping is a right! See: where else you have this freedom to roam.
-- view from a camping place
In Germany and Denmark, we had to pay for camping grounds, but on the second trip to Oslo, we were in the Sweden territory mostly, and we camped freely every night and woke up to the most beautiful places on earth, completely surrounded by the raw beauty of nature.
Suddenly, the world feels smaller, where you can communicate with people, and you’re allowed to sleep wherever you want, without paying for it. Is it how it should be? Is it how everyone of us should feel? We’re all born on planet Earth. It is our home. It's our right to seek shelter wherever we feel like as long as we respect the environment. Scandinavia for the win!
If you’re happened to consider doing a bike trip, your next destination should be the Scandinavian countries. More and more cycle routes are being signposted and developed. The way is mostly flat, a great start if you’re not used to climb mountains. And the beauty is going to blow you away.
If you need any more information, reply in the comment section, we’ll tell you everything we know!