From the Baltic Sea to the centre of ancient pagan Norseland cult

After viewing the Arctic Circle monument in Sweden – just over the border from Finland – we started to look for somewhere to park for the night. For some reason we just couldn’t find anywhere suitable so we decided to cross back into Finland where we found a very pretty camping ground on the shores of the Torne River. Borders are very easily crossed in this neck of the woods! We were the only visitors so we had a very peaceful night.

Back in Finland again
The pretty (and empty) camping ground in Finland

The next day we crossed back into Sweden again for the 1,064 kilometre (12 hour) drive to Stockholm. Of course it was never going to a 12 hour drive as we were determined to take the route less travelled – at least for as much of the journey as possible.

We headed first towards the University town of Umea but after a short time on a relatively major road, we grew weary of traffic and branched off into the country lanes and travelled through some pretty countryside. By early evening we found ourselves at a lovely spot to camp just behind a beach. Although we were on the shores of the Baltic Sea the water was still as a millpond. Around us were forests and just a few holiday shacks.

Someone should have told this guy to that there wasn’t any snow!
We really didn’t enjoy being back on major roads with lots of traffic
We found a lovely camping spot just behind the beach

The beach was deserted
It was a great place for a walk

The following day we again took the scenic route most of the way and by early evening found ourselves in a picturesque and scenic village of Skatan.

Back in the rat race
And then we took the scenic route
Skatan was a delightful little holiday spot

Many of the cottages on the harbour were painted in the typical red ochre seen throughout Scandinavia and many of them appeared to be holiday cottages or occupied by retirees so the village had a very sleepy atmosphere.

It was so pretty
These homes had an excellent view!

The motor home stop had bathroom facilities and water and there was no charge to stay there which was brilliant. Because we had two days with a lot of time on the road and also because it was such a pleasant spot, we decided to spend a second night there.

Unloading the E-bikes

We hauled the electric bikes off the back of the truck and really enjoyed cycling through the laneways.

Ready for our ride!

From Skatan we decided to head to the ancient village of Gamla Upsalla and again we took the scenic route. We inadvertently ended up driving on rough gravel roads through lonely pine forests where the only road signs were warning of the presence of bears! We were convinced that we would get at least glimpses of the Baltic Sea but in fact all we could see were mile after mile of silver birches and pine trees.

This was a very isolated and lonely piece of road

Trees as far as the eye could see!

Eventually we found our way back to the main road and arrived in the fascinating village of Gamla Upsalla in the early evening.

Back on the main road we saw quite a few of these logging trucks.

From prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, Gamla Upsalla was the location of the “Thing (general assembly) of all Swedes” and right at the centre of Norse culture.

The Royal mounds at Gamla Uppsala

In the 11th Century it was a pagan cult centre with an enormous Temple containing wooden statues of Odin, Thor and Freyr. Later that Century Sweden’s first Archbishop was installed there.

The Royal mounds at Gamla Uppsala

There are more than 1,000 preserved archaeological remains in Gamla Uppsala – there were more , but many hundreds have been removed by agriculture. Remains reveal that the area was settled during the Nordic Bronze Age, but most of the grave fields are from the Iron Age and the Viking Age.

We were lucky enough to be parked just metres away from the Royal Mounds – three long barrows dating from the 5th and 6th Centuries. Excavations have proved that the people buried under them were very wealthy, powerful and probably Royal.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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