Day 29: Umeá to Söderköping

Sleeping in a nice hotel bed with totally black window blinds makes for a great night sleep.

By 6:30am I was on the E4 again and covered another 650km (boring) to meet my old team colleague Matts in his cottage by a lake just south of Stockholm. He had invited me for “Fika”, the Swedish ritual consisting of coffee, something to eat e.g. pastry and a chat amongst close acquaintances. Fika can be done at any time of the day, even multiple times, and it is important.

After some quick calculations we found out that we had not seen each other for 18 years. Unbelievable! We had worked together in northern Italy implementing SAP in a Bombardier plant for locomotives back around the year 2000. Matts had be on the client site but since he too was an expat we hung out together a lot.

And the good thing was that after all these years we could just continue chatting like back in the days.

I was asking him tons of questions about Sweden and my observations about country and society and it was good to hear his perspective and the background he provided. And we also had coffee and “bolle”.

I also complained to him that I had not seen an Elk yet. So he told a story of a young Elk a couple of weeks ago who had pitched up just 50m from where we were standing. This made me feel a little better.

After a good 3 hours we said “good bye” and I continued driving south to meet Roos on a camping site next to a Göta Kanal in Söderköping. I had already gotten to know her at the beginning of my tour in Rusksele. She had been cycling up to the Norwegian border from the Netherlands, but was denied entry because of closed borders and her missing vaccination. So she had to turn around and is now cycling all the way back south and just crossed the 6.000km mark.

On the way I came through a lot of places which I had already passed by bike on my way up. It was a satisfying feeling each time.

Roos and I had some sort of dinner together and were exchanging on all the small and big adventures that each of us had encountered on their tours. It was super fun and it got late quickly. This is when I realized that I was now clearly below the Arctic Circle again and here in this region there actually is a sunset and it does get dark at night. This was actually quite comforting.

It was a perfect last evening of my time in Sweden and Norway before boarding the ferry back to Travemünde tomorrow.

Learning of the day: Old and new friends are like the spices in a delicious food. They make the difference.

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