Have I ever been to Sweden?

We couldn't bear the thought of spending any more time in isolation. Having seen much, much more of Portugal and Spain than I have seen of my home country we felt we wanted to make the most of these strange times and take the opportunity to see Sweden.

Four years ago in 2018, when we left my hometown, we visited Hovs Hallar nature reserve for the first time in my adult life. This beautiful place became famous when Max von Sydow played Death in the Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal, but I had never been there despite growing up nearby. Now we were aiming north and again there were lots of places I had never taken the time to go to, however close they were.

A little-known fact about Sweden; it has the most islands of all the countries in the world, 267,570 of them, far outnumbering large island countries like Indonesia that has a mere 17,504. About 1.6 million Swedes reside on an island out of a population of around 10 million. I like islands but I could probably count the number of Swedish islands I'd visited on my fingers! At least if I include the toes. The Gothenburg archipelago is located just north of where I grew up, and we spent some time island hopping.

Typical west coast Sweden.

Typical west coast camping on the island of Hälsö.

Typical west coast shelter outside Marstrand.

Typical west coast town of Grundsund.

Typical west coast weather.

Typical west coast gorge, Kungsklyftan.

Typical west coast petroglyphs.

A much more well-known truth about Sweden is that it rains. Often. We tried to time the rain forecast with cheap hotels, we are pampered enough that we prefer not to camp when it's too wet.

Sweden's various regions are distinctly different, yet they all feel very Swedish. We left the west coast with its salty air and seagulls and cycled inland. The landscape was transformed into rolling fields and forests and traffic on the roads thinned out, although they were driving much faster. Also, the cost of beer dropped significantly.

Typical rural lakeside village.

Typical rural road.

The most typical town in Sweden, Åmål.

Typical quiet free camping spot with a beach.

Typical Swedish bicycle path.

Typical Swedish free-to-use lakeside wooden cabin.

As we slowly cycled up the country, we were looking for work in the north. We had no desire to spend another winter sitting around just waiting for better times. We figured we'd just cycle until we knew what to do and where, and then it would be our destination. However, to our surprise we got employments quicker than we expected, having more than two thirds of the country left to cycle. We were never going to make it to our jobs in the far north in time, so we did the only rational thing we could do. We put our bikes in storage and took a flight to Greece.

Typical Swede in Greece.