Not the most politically correct but

September 10, 2012 - Göteborg, Sweden

 

Today was another glorious day, sat in a kebab house taking coffee and sandwiches nicked from the hotel breakfast, we commented on how fortunate we had been over the last couple of days. Today was another meteorological improvement including sun and a tailwind! Not realising that we had less than 5minutes of our weather peak remaining, as without warning rain poured from the clear blue sky.
Today Pontus, another friend made on my previous quick stop in Gothenburg rode with us. Expecting him to know everthing swedish as we ride along, Dani casually questions him -is there anything we should know about this place? Dani's extremely open ended queries are perhaps the reason she keeps drawing blanks in tourist informations. On finding out that the hotel receptionist was from Oslo, Dani asks 'is there anywhere we must go?' our Oslo native replies with a no. Real sales talk.
Pontus asks us why we picked Scandinavia, if I'd been questioning myself before now, today's stunning route justified our journey. Following an erroneous navigational slip we missed out on a short cut and a free ferry (two of my favourite cycle touring features). Instead we took on a mammoth bridge across a series of islands and an illegal tunnel through a mountain but it was a real testimony to the beauty of the west coast of sweden not surprisingly a popular summer house location for the richer, colder Norwegians. Stunning archipelagos, bridges and beaches, empty, free and stretching for miles. This was why we'd come to Scandinavia.
Complacently sailing along, smashing the miles back, it was after I'd confidently stated yesterday my legs were feeling fine, that my IT band begins to give me some knee trouble. Over 400km down and 0 stretches completed its not too surprising! Thirty kilometres from destination I have to call for a stretching break. The rate of stretching breaks from here to destination increased exponentially to the point on arrival whereby I am resigned to walking.

Munkedal is a small town 110km north of Gothenburg (pronounced yote-berry in swedish) and sign of how well we've done today as it's further on route than originally planned. Munkedal is not exactly a reward for out labour as its earned the prize of weirdest place I have ever been to, a fairly contested prize.
To be more honest than politically correct, I have seen more immigrants and disabled people here than I have in the whole of Scandinavia thus far. As a country with a population smaller than London and a land mass larger than the UK, they are not worried about the lack of space, as such people tend to spread out. In munkedal, people appear to live in communal accommodation, flats and on council estates. Groups of people (none of pure Swedish origin, in shell suits and over the age of 21) hang outside the supermarkets, in bus stops and garden sheds. Following a bed sign we arrive at a dead end to find what I can only describe as feeding time at a mental retreat. People of all  colours, shapes and sizes are flocking from there dorms into a central area to return with served meals. With the air of some kind of prison or immigration holding camp even left Pontus looking pretty nervous we decided that we must move on. Leaving me slightly disappointed that we didn't find out what kind of set up this was..
On finding the only accommodation for voluntary arrivals into Munkedal our host is overly chatty, when he begins with the highlight as mini golf we can see what calibre of attractions are available. Despite this, his explanation of the surrounds was really exemplary (particularly in comparison to the underselling of Gothernburg and Oslo received over the past two days).
On an exploration of Munkedal we aim for the international shopping mall described by our host. After a lot of searching we discover a pet barn, a congregation of people riding bizarre tricycles, and our prize find, a postcard of Munkedal. We agreed that the international shopping mall may have been of more interest to certain international small scale agricultural businesses. Everything about Munkedal is odd, from the people to the street sign 'korskallevagen' (literally silly head road). We were also struggling to find the ice rink, the famous miniature golf and the Olympic training centre.
Our b&b appears to have had no guests in recent weeks, a Danish doctor is the only other resident. He sums up Monkedal in a more politically correct but concisely accurate manor -'There is simply nothing to do here.'
The evening is progressing with games of dice, a discussion of the sinking European economy and giant marshmallows microwaved onto pancakes. For some reason my ideas of microwaving an entire box of raw eggs was turned down. We may go to sleep now, but secretly I think Dani wants to go back to Munkedal centrum bus shelter in her PJ's.


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