Pre-travel arrangements

Before leaving Sweden for our 8 months endeavor, we first had studies and work to finish. Lucy had her exam by end of April and I would finish my work in Kosovo second week of May. To give Lucy some peace of mind to study for the exam, I used my final leave days to take Nina with me for a week long bicycle trip from Karlstad to Stockholm. Leaving only Pim for Lucy to take care of.

 

Karlstad – Stockholm by bicycle & trailer

Nina and me set off on a sunny Monday morning. We passed Skattkärr and stopped to have lunch an hour later. At the same spot we used for lunch on a previous trip riding towards Filipstad.

 

This time we turned right at a gravel road crossing and continued until we found a playground to take a rest. Full of new strength we covered the last piece of distance to Storfors, where we had hamburgers at a local joint and slept at a hostel the first night. Day 1: 65 km

 

As we sat eating breakfast following day it was snowing outside! Not the best condition for riding bicycle. Well, well, we got dressed and took off, this time with Nina in the trailer, protected from the snow which soon turned into rain. She had some toys to play with inside and an extra blanket over her legs. By lunch time conditions looked a bit better so we stopped to cook food at a basic playground.

 

Bad weather continued. Just as we finished eating a hail storm suddenly covered everything in ice. Small white iceballs came into everything and soon started to melt. Tough luck! We continued the afternoon to Gyttorp , close to Nora. We checked in at a b&b place and had a sauna and hot showers. There were toys for Nina to play with. Then we went to the local pizzeria for food. It was dark when we parked the bike outside the b&b to lay down in a really nice big bed. In the morning a big nice breakfast was waiting for us downstairs. Day 2: 68 km

A few raindrops fell as we started riding in the morning for a longer days ride. We first went a bit north, crossed a big road and continued on a narrow road which turned into a gravel road. It was heavy to ride there after all the rain past days. We stopped to have lunch at a playground in Vedevåg and put all the clothes out for drying in the sun

 

We then chose to stay on the sealed roads for the remainder of the day. Luckily Nina slept for two hours behind me so I managed to get a fair distance before she woke up again. I am really satisfied with the bike seat for Nina. It can be tilted backwards 20 degrees so she is sleeping very well in there. When she woke up there was an hour left to Köping. We went straight to Sibylla for hamburgers and then checked in at the adjacent Best Western hotel. Again I could have a sauna while Nina was playing with some toys. Wonderful after a long days ride! Day 3: 90 km

 

After a filling hotel buffet breakfast we went straight east from Köping towards Enköping, following the railway track. It was dry weather but a bit of headwind to make it more difficult. We passed by Strömsholm’s castle and stopped at a playground in Dingtuna. Nina met another girl to play with.

 

We stopped in Västerås for lunch and had a look around some food stalls at the main square. Nina had pancake. We continued east but it was starting to get late so I tried to rearrange the booked accommodation east of Enköping. Unfortunately all accommodation options in Enköping was fully booked due to some event taking place so we had to stick to the original plan and continue another 12 km for a b&b. The sun was coming down and rain started falling when we had a flat tire on the trailer. The only puncture on the journey at the most inconvenient time. I changed the tube, put Nina in the trailer with an extra blanket, turned on the lights forward and backward and continued the last kilometers. It was dark when we entered the farm where we would sleep the night. Nina was happy because she got a cat to play with. It was lying by her side when she fell asleep and it was there again when she woke up. Day 4: 88 km

 

We were offered a big nice breakfast and ate with good appetite. The weather outside the window did however put the mood down. It was snowing! What a week; rain, snow and hail all the time. Is this really end of April? I could not believe how unlucky we were with the weather. Started riding on a snow covered road with Nina in the trailer with extra blanket. She made drawings using pens and paper she got as a gift from the hotel the day before. It was freezing cold for me in the rain mixed snow. After an hour we stopped by the roadside and I decided to end the riding when the ground was covered in white. It was not fun anymore.

 

We took the commuting train the last 60 km from Bålsta to Stockholm. While waiting for the train I read the newspaper. It said: Warning for bad weather, leave your vehicle at home. Warning for snow chaos. It also compared this weeks weather with same week last year and concluded it was much colder this year. Unlucky for us.

                  

Weekend in Stockholm

On our arrival downtown in Stockholm we went to my friend Carlos place, where we spent a nice weekend with Carlos, Elisabeth, Anton, and Paula. They made food for us in the evening and Nina enjoyed playing with Paula. Day 5: 25 km

          

Saturday we went for a stoll to the city center and had a coffee at Kulturhuset. Just as we sat there, Carlos started looking at a guy just behind me. I think we know this guy, he said. It was our old pal Denis! The three of us studied at Uni together ten years ago. We had both heard that he moved to Australia and now he stood here, right in front of us. We invited him and his girlfriend to join us at the table. It was really nice to catch up again after several years.

 

The day after was Sunday. Nina and me joined Carlos, Elisabeth, and Paula to have a look at some houses on display for sale that they were interested in buying, located close to the coast. All five of us could fit well in their Volvo and Nina was happy to spend the day with Paula. Later in the afternoon I borrowed the vehicle to visit my former collegue Ewa in Bromma and her daughter Embla. Nina and Embla have met before a couple of times down in Skopje. We went to the playground for a while.

 

I then got a phonecall from Lucy that she had lost her way coming into Stockholm. She was however parked close to Bromma. I found the vehicle with her breastfeeding Pim in the backseat. She followed me back to Carlos place.

 

We had a rather late dinner together all of us and went to sleep. In the morning Lucy and me put all of our stuff into our vehicle and I dropped Lucy outside the building where she would have her exam. Picked her up 4 hours later, had lunch and then we drove all the way back to Karlstad again. With this Lucy was done with her obligations. Me, I had another weeks leave and then needed to go back to Kosovo, finish the contract and check out.

 

Karlstad and Kosovo

We started to arrange for renting out the flat for the rest of the year and put all of our belongings into boxes for either storage or to take with us. I went jogging every second day but unfortunately hurt my leg one day. The doctor told me to rest the leg for ten days – no more training possible. A couple of days later we went to our friends Bror and Irian’s place at Norsbron to celebrate ‘Valborgsmässoafton’ and looking at the ‘Maj-bålet’. An annual event to greet the summer on the 30th April.

 

Some days later we met an evening with Jocke & Lisa on town for food and drinks. We met last in Kosovo more than a year ago, so it was really nice to catch up again. Jocke was also training for ‘Göteborgsvarvet’, same as me. A couple of days later we invited many of our friends with kids in Karlstad to join us on a ‘farewell-dinner’. Lucy made some really nice ‘Smörgåstårta’ for the occasion. We counted 11 adults and 10 kids altogether. We also spent one nice evening with Bwoeau&Thomas in Karlstad, eating pacific food and chatting the night away.

 

I then went back to Kosovo and packed the last of my belongings into bags and gave away whatever could not fit because of volume or weight. Some weeks earlier I had invited my colleagues on a couple of occasions on ‘farewell-dinners’. It felt a bit sad to leave after four years engagement but with so much fun planned ahead, it was easy to leave anyways. My good friend Kushtrim gave me a ride to the airport and off I went.

         

Weekend in Gothenburg

With me back in Sweden again we packed us all into the vehicle Saturday morning. It was time for me to participate in the half-marathon ‘Göteborgsvarvet’ in Gothenburg. It was a nice sunny day with ideal conditions for running. Hillevi, a former collegue from Kosovo, came to see me off and to meet Lucy and the kids while I was running. It all went well for me even with the lack of training the last couple of weeks. It was congested on the track all the way around but a fantastic atmosphere with music and audience all along. I come in on 1.53.33. Not too bad after all. Lucy’s friend Sina was there with picnic for us after the race. I then went to my friend Kalle’s place for shower and food. Nice to meet him again after a full year being apart. His Colombian girlfriend had improved her Swedish since last time we met, so we sat chatting for a while. Then Kalle and me went for a drink at another guys place and it was nice to meet all of them again too. I slept hard and well that night. In the morning Kalle took me to Sina’s place at Hisingen where Lucy and the kids had stayed overnight. Lucy, me and the kids drove to see Helen, a friend of mine in Lillekärr, to see her new house and to hear about her experience, just coming back from one year working in Kenya/Somalia. We chatted away a couple of hours with her. Nina was happy playing with her dog. Then we continued to meet Fredrik, Annika, and their kids in Hisings Kärra. They offered us dinner and good company. It was nice to catch up again after a couple of years apart. Their kids had grown plenty. We had a lot to talk about. It was rather late when we left them and their beautiful house to drive up to Karlstad again. 

 

A week in Skåne

Time for final packing and cleaning of flat, handing over keys to lessee and go south. But before embarking on our big journey we first spent a week to visit family and friends in Skåne. First we met with my dad and his ‘sambo’ Margit in Hok, Småland on our way south, where we rented a small cabin overnight and spent a nice evening in their mobilehome. In the morning we went for a stroll and had a look at some pony horses nearby. After lunch we continued to Vallåkra to visit my sister Carina and her husband and kids. They offered us a pleasant evening with good food. Nina enjoyed playing with their cat. It was getting late when we took off for Höllviken where we stayed in dad&Margit’s flat a few days. Luckily they had made the bed for us already so we soon went to sleep, the whole family exhausted.

         

Then we had a day to rest and next day we spent at ‘Skryllegården’ were we met my ex-collegue Christine. I took the opportunity to go for a 10 km run on a very well maintained track in the forest. It was sunny and nice that day. We had a small picnic with Christine and wished her good luck on moving to Brussels again.

 

Following day Carina came to visit us in Höllviken and we went for a stroll in the village we grew up in, taking Nina to the same playground as we used to play at when we were kids. Nina showed Carina some pictures she made at kindergarten and in the evening Carina’s husband and Joel also showed up. We had another dinner together before parting for the rest of the year.

 

                    

One morning a couple of days later was really fun for Nina and myself. We went fishing together for the first time, borrowing my dad’s motorboat by the fishing cabin in the morning. Sun was shining and waves were calm. I was driving, Nina holding the rod and before long there was a fish on the hook! Another followed and another. In total we caught 11 fishes, saved 9 of them for eating. We proudly showed the fish to mummy on our return home.

         

 

Then it was time for a race against the quickest of my relatives, my nephew Lucas. At Bokskogen outside Malmö we met my sister Camilla and her family. Lucas and me changed clothes and got ready to start a 10 km race to see who was quickest. Five loops on the 2 km track it was decided we should take. Ready-steady-go Camilla said and off we went. It was nice conditions for running that day. After four loops I met the others on the track going the opposite direction!?  All of them including Lucas had taken the wrong turn and went around on the wrong track. I was the only one who completed the race correctly. So this time I won quite easily. They offered us a big picnic at a table in the woods afterwards and Nina was happy playing with her cousins.

                          

We then continued to Malmö to meet with an old friend we hadn’t met for many years. Bo, whom we got to know during a skiing trip in France. He offered us pizza and we chatted the evening away. Nina was happy playing with his daughters toys. It was late when we lay down in the bed in Höllviken again.

Then it was Monday morning and I took our vehicle to a workshop in Trelleborg for repair. Dad& Margit picked me up in their mobilehome, coming back from a weekend at Öland. Nina and I went to a nearby park to have a look at a childrens race. She also got to play in a ‘jumping castle’. Margit came to join and then helped us unwillingly to prepare the fish. Lucy, Nina and me ate it with good appetite. Next day was time to collect the vehicle again, take it for its yearly check at ‘bilprovningen’ and wash it to prepare for keeping it in a garage for 8 months. The afternoon we spent with Dad&Margit and I prepared the remaining fishes and we all had a big dinner finishing off all of them.

 

Now we were ready for our departure around the world following day.