If you ever decide to go on a long walk, I hope you have many days like I had today. It was short, with a late beginning, some off road adventure in the middle, and an early ending in a neat little town with a cool hotel.
Today I left the last big city before I finish 11 days from today in Oslo. Gothenburg was a large, vibrant, but friendly town. I left out of Gothenburg this morning at 9:00 with only 12 miles to walk. My route was interrupted several times by construction as I maneuvered along the walking/bike trails getting out of the city. I don’t like seeing detour signs. In a car, going out of your way because of a detour is not a big deal. But a two mile detour while walking can put you in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Luckily, the detours were not that much out of the way.
As I was walking along the bike path, paralleling the freeway, headed north out of town, there was a large construction zone that eliminated the bike path. The construction site was a little muddy and had barriers all around, but nothing that I couldn’t climb over. There was no one working there, so I climbed over the barricades, cut through the construction, dodged the mud, and got back on the trail after a few hundred yards. After that, I had the trail to myself, probably because it was blocked off from both directions. So I was walking along for about a mile, with the trail to myself, when I saw a lady on a bike coming towards me going in the opposite direction. She had obviously gone around the detour up ahead, wherever that was, and wanted to go where I’d just come from. She stopped and asked me if she could continue straight ahead, or should she turn around. I told her there were barricades and a little mud. However, I really didn’t know how energetic she wanted to get because she would have to lift her bike over the barricades and walk it through the construction. So I gave her a noncommittal “maybe” answer to her question about whether she could get through. So she kept going, and I kept walking. After about 10 minutes, the bicycle lady rode back by me going in my direction. As she passed me, she gave me a dirty look. I guess she didn’t want to deal with the construction zone after all.
For the first six miles or so, I was paralleling the freeway on a paved trail. Then, out of the blue, the nice trail turned to gravel. That lasted for a couple of miles. Then I saw a gate up ahead blocking the gravel road. There were no posted signs on the gate, and it wasn’t locked, so I went through the gate and pressed on. However, the gravel ended and the road was now dirt with plenty of puddles to dodge after all the recent rains. There were cows in the pasture I was now walking in. Up ahead, I saw a couple of guys in rubber boots coming out of a tree line. I walked up to them and asked if this was their property. They didn’t speak English, but just held out a plastic bag one of them was holding and said something in Swedish to me. I looked in the bag and it was half full of wild mushrooms. These two guys were out walking around the woods picking mushrooms, I presume on someone else’s property. After a couple of miles, I came to the gate that let me back out of the cow pasture. From there on to town was uneventful.
Tonight I’m in the town of Kungalv. The town is over 1000 years old and is guarded by Bohus Fortress, built in 1308. This area of Sweden was once part of Norway and the fortress was built by the Norwegians to guard against a Swedish invasion. Over the years, it was attacked or besieged 14 times, but never captured. In 1566, the Swedes successfully stormed one of the guard towers. The Norwegian commander inside the fortress asked for a volunteer to go into the tower and blow it up by igniting the ammunition stored there. A volunteer came forward, went into the tower and blew it up, killing himself and 250 Swedish troops. The volunteer’s family was given property in the area to recognize his sacrifice. The same family still owns the property to this day.
I think that’s enough of a history lesson for today. Tomorrow, it’s on down the road 18 more miles in Sweden. I hope your Saturday was as good as mine. But I bet you didn’t meet two Swedish dudes in rubber boots picking wild mushrooms in a cow pasture. JB.