(aka of Midnight Sun, Moose and Volvos)
Having spent the 2003 summer holidays in the Alps and the Dolomites we were looking for a new challenge for 2004. When the opportunity arose to join a trip to Sweden with the Pan Clan. Having first met in Sweden (many years ago) we decided that the chance to return was not to be missed. We however extended the trip by adding a few days in Copenhagen before returning home via Amsterdam.
The trip organisers were Lorna & Wullie Henderson who had already organised several trips and soon they had bookings for a total of twelve bikes.
The ferry crossings were booked on DFDS Seaways were used for ferry crossings. The sea journey was a very pleasant 30 hour cruise from Newcastle to Kristianstad and on to Gotenberg where on arriving late in the afternoon we were met by the Swedish Pan Owners and escorted to the Hotel St Jorgens. Sloot had his second mishap of the trip dropping his 3 week old Pan (and Brenda) while trying to park up.
Sweden in the past drove on the left (as in the UK) but are one of the few countries to undertake a "conversion" to European style driving on the right. I suppose you could take the view that unfortunately we arrived about 35 years too late,!! Interestingly for those keen on political matters the change went ahead despite an 85% "NO" vote in a referendum.
The next day we were guests of the Swedish Pan Owners club at a BBQ hosted by the local artillery company.
To pass away the time we had various team games interspersed by several demonstration of their breach loading cannons and other weapons use black power which succeeded in flattening large areas of rough pasture in the process!
Leaving Gotenberg we were again escorted by Swedish Pan owners to morning coffee at a castle (where Sloot tried to depart with his disk lock on and dropped his bike (on the other side) and demolished one calliper mount - who was going to steal a Pan in the middle of the Swedish countryside??) Fortunately we were heading for a few days in Jonkoping and the local Honda dealer quickly effected a repair using parts from his showroom bike.
Jonkoping, home of the Safety Match, proved an excellent base and we enjoyed several journeys into the surrounding countryside (minus Sloot who decided the safest place for his Pan was the hotel garage). The roads were well maintained but some were showing wear from the mandatory use of studded tyres in the winter. The southern part of Sweden is relatively flat and very agricultural with numerous small farms. The traffic was very light and the roads not blighted by the plethora of signs of all sorts that seem to litter our roads these days. The most prevalent signs seemed to be warning of Moose.One trip ended up at the farm where we were able to see a calf being born.
Another took us to the village of Grenna, famous for its candy bars and Herr Andree, an explorer who tried to reach the North Pole by balloon. Despite loosing all steering capability shortly after take off he continued on the mission drifting around the Arctic, his body and flight log was eventually found on White Island in 1930.
A visit to the Huskvarna Museum provided an interesting insight into the history of this company which over the years had built everything from Motorcycles to microwave ovens.
Leaving Jonkoping we headed for Malmo where Sloot had an altercation with the hotel garage door which caused yet more damage to his Pan.
Led by Marrinane and Lars we had a trip over the Oresund Link - it took only four years to complete the 8 km suspension bridge, 3 km artificial island and 5km tunnel between Sweden and Denmark. Alex (aka Scooter) took the opportunity to leave his mark on the structure by demolishing the barrier at the toll point with his helmet.
After seeing the rest of the party off we headed over the Olesund link once again into Denmark.
Copenhagen was much busier, and dirtier, than Sweden with cyclists and pedestrians acting as though they had the absolute right of way at all junctions. An excellent evening was spent in the Tivoli gardens.
Followed by an entertaining day at the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix.
Finally the time came to head for Amsterdam and the ferry at Ijmuiden. The Pan easily ate the 634 mile trip (queue Tina Turner "Simply the Best" on the intercom at 100mph+ on the Autobahns) getting us to the ferry by 4pm.
And the Moose? Well the only ones we saw were in a field at a service station.
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