We kicked off the day with a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs on Hönö skärgårdskaka and some ham. Jamie performed the fitness duties for us all by going for a run. After cleaning up the campfire from the night before and packing away our belongings we parted ways with Myles and Lovisa, since they were heading back to Gothenburg and we would continue on our trip. After some quick Googling of POI’s nearby we discovered that an old monastery from the 1100’s, called Alvastra Abbey, was only about thirty minutes south of us so we decided to make a detour on our way to Linköping.
It is completely free to roam in and around the monastery and there is an information board at the entrance with a brief introduction to the site in various languages. The information plates around the site are only in Swedish, but it is possible to call a phone number to listen to an audio guide as you roam around the site. The area surrounded the monastery is green and vibrant, especially on a nice sunny day. On one side there is a large collection of coniferous orchids that may have been around since the construction of the monastery!
After a quick lunch we began our drive towards Linköping to pick up (much needed) supplies. Biltema for various bits and bobs. Bauhaus in search of a better hose and couplings to improve the process of filling up the fresh water tank. XXL for a frisbee, camping bowls and another water bottle. Lidl for food, and finally Max (basically Swedish McDonalds) because Tom was dying from too much shopping!
We then headed south along highway 35, exiting at Åtvidaberg and making our way through some beautiful countryside in search of a place to free camp. It was dark by the time we were looking for a spot and along the way we were fortunate enough to witness a herd of eleven deer crossing one of the back roads, half of which were fawns.
After driving a little further we decided to settle for a small piece of flat ground off the road running down along the western side of Stora Bjän. Not the best spot to free camp, but it was quiet and we witnessed a large orange moon peeking over the treetops on the south east end of the lake!
The following morning we got up early in search of a spot to cook up breakfast and ended up locating a badplats (designated swim spot) at lake Loftern. After a quick dip, coffee and breakfast we continued on towards Västervik and once again stopped at a Biltema, this time in need of a new headlight! Once we were done there we realised we had completely bypassed a bunch of trolls in Gamleby. To be more precise, a sculpture park containing over eighty different sculptures of trolls, open all day, all year around and is completely free! The park is called Garpe’s Vänner (Garpe’s Friends) and is located at Garpedansberget, and all sculptures are by artist Jan Pol. We decided to double back up north to visit the park and it was well worth it. Not only for the park itself, which was absolutely fantastic, but also for the drive along the coast, passing through Piperskärr where we also picked up some fresh honey.
We got our fix of mythical trolls, had a quick bite to eat in the van and decided to make our way to Öland. After a little bit of location hunting via satellite we found a prospective spot up the North Eastern side of Öland. With the coordinates locked in we made a quick stop at Kalmar for supplies and crossed the impressive 6 km long bridge over to the island. The first thing that we noticed was all the old windmills along the roads, a clear throwback to Öland’s deep agricultural roots. The roads through Öland pass through beautiful little villages, farmlands with free roaming animals and many, many Loppis’ (garage sale) selling fresh vegetables, fruit and various second hand goods.
After about three and a half hours and two hundred and fifty kilometres we arrived at the prospective spot. The location ended up being right on the edge of a nature reserve, that runs all the way to the beach and is surrounded by forest all around.
The location was stunning, and with the weather forecast being 25+ for the next two days we were glad to be just a 200 m walk from a beautiful white sand beach. The spot seems to be known to locals for parking during the day and by midday all available parking spots are gone, so it was a good thing we arrived late at night! For the next two days we would be soaking up the sun, sea and wilderness all within a few minutes of each other 😀