Our past week has been quite lazy. Upon our arrival in Sweden we had only one planned stop in a tiny town near Rejmyre to meet up with Gisela, a woman we met more than 3 months ago in southern Portugal at the very beginning of our European bike tour. For anyone who's been following the blog since then, she was the woman who was living in her camper van and was so kind to us when we set up our tent amongst the camper community she was a part of. We had remained in contact since we left Portugal and thought it would be fun to meet up again while she was parked at her friend Matts' house for several weeks in southern Sweden this summer.
The night before we arrived to Gisela's we met Ben, a French guy on a solo 2 ½ month bike tour who was camping at the same roadside rest stop as we were. Ecstatic to meet some other cyclists and more-or-less heading in the same direction as we were, we invited him to join us the next day for the ride into Rejmyre knowing Gisela wouldn't mind if one more traveler showed up needing a place to sleep for a night.
It was great having Ben along with us, much better than our ride with the last French guy we met in Austria who didn't speak any English, wasn't much of a cyclist and nearly wanted to kill me by the end of the day because I apparently made him ride to fast and too far. Ben on the other hand, spoke perfect English, was a strong rider and provided an additional element to our conversations which was nice. When pretty much the only people Mike and I have spoken to over the past year are each other, conversations can get a little dull at times.
Mike, Ben & Cari
Ben & Mike
Getting to Gisela's friend's house was a little tricky as there are no names for the country roads in Sweden. The only way you know whether or not you're on the correct road is by the signs directing you to the next tiny village up the road. If you don't have an extremely detailed map you'll never find your way through Sweden on anything other than main highways. The pace we were searching for was called Kallstugan, a one-house town out in the forest and our directions were as such, “There is no sign for your turn off the main road but if you get to an old factory you've gone 100 meters too far. Once you get onto the gravel road keep taking all of the left hand turn options and then look for the black garbage can at the end of the driveway and listen for the 4 dogs who never stop barking.” Well, we never found the old factory and didn't want to get ourselves too lost wandering the logging roads of Sweden so we asked people to point us in the right direction once we got to Rejmyre. Once on the correct gravel road, the garbage can was a good indicator of which little side road to take and we were greeted at the gate by 4 barking German Shepherds, a dead giveaway that we had arrived at the right house.
It was a bit crazy to see Gisela again; typically when we meet someone on the road we never expect to see them again. You spend an hour or two, maybe a day or two together and then paths diverge and the chances of them crossing again is fairly minimal. Once again, just as in Portugal, we were treated with Gisela's kindness and generosity. Not only did we get to take hot showers, do our laundry and sleep in a bed, which are such rare luxuries to us, we also had an open invitation to relax and hang out for as long as we needed.
Our cozy little bungalow.
Ben ended up staying 2 nights before he had to take off to make it to Stockholm where he was meeting his girlfriend for a few days. There's a good chance we'll run into Ben again as we're all heading north towards the same destination, the Lofoten Islands. It will be great to have another person with us for a while. We stayed 5 nights at Gisela's which was considerably longer than we'd originally planned to stay but we had had Mike's mom mail our water filter to this house since we'll soon be in no-man's land, drinking from the lakes and rivers and of course it was late in arriving. It wasn't such a horrible thing to have to wait for a package as this was our first long break from cycling since Spain and it felt nice to relax and sleep as much as we pleased knowing that we had absolutely nothing that had to be done each day. We lazed around all day, read a little, played with the dogs, made phone calls and took advantage of having a kitchen for a few days. Not only was it nice to cook for ourselves but we had an appreciative crowd which always makes it that much more fun.
Pila, one of the 4 German Shepherds.
Gisela, Matts, Ben & Mike
Homemade Strawberry Shortcake
Thanks again, Gisela, for your welcoming arms and caring heart and who knows, maybe our paths will one day cross again.