Alexey Moskvin

Baltic Exchange and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘community

Nyköping to Kalmar

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And it is raining.

Marika’s gift is a bottle of tabasco. ‘I want to give it to you with a message’ she says. ‘Everything in life should be taken with a bit of spice’. I promise to pass it on.

I’ve got plenty of time in the morning. A petrol station offers full buffet breakfast for next to nothing and I’m happily stuffing myself. Getting seriously addicted to the tubed caviar – especially with boiled eggs. Or in sandwiches. Or with anything.

The weather is clearing up. What’s left are the puddles and wet grass in the shade. Looking for a place for lunch and picking smaller roads next to the sea I end up on some rocky camping grounds. Smoothness of red and brown rocks, interwoven only with patches of grass and roots of pine trees, go right into the sea. People are swimming, the sun is at its full blast and I’m happy to shed my biking gear. The water is bracing but so clear and pleasant – it’s my first swim since Luleå.

A guy with a couple of kids play ball and he strikes up a conversation first about the water. Then about football. I probably wasn’t nodding in the right places as he quickly realised it wasn’t the best subject. ‘Where are you coming from?’ ‘London, but the long way around the sea, through St Petersburg’ ‘Are you driving?’ ‘No, by bike’ He whistles. ‘How many miles do you do a day?’ ‘About 150-200, give or take’ He is looking amused.

I jump from the diving board a couple of times and go back to my stuff on the rocks. ‘Hey Englishman!’ I turn around. There’s the guy and his whole family under a tree, he points at my biking gear ‘You are on a motorbike! I thought you were cycling, now I’m not that impressed any more. Do you want some coffee?’ They stopped for picknick before going to Oxelösund to see a huge nuclear safe bunker that was built to defend Sweden against Soviet invasion.
‘I shouldn’t talk bad about russia then.’ Of course you should. ‘You’ve got so much forest, so much space – huge potential. But never used.’ I nod.

Because I left so early I got to Kalmar much earlier and have about 2 hours to spare until Maria comes back from work. Kalmar itself is well looked after, the streets of cobblestone. I stop for a coffee and a delicious coconutty cake in a typical coffee shop, crowded, I squeeze through to the far end with all my gear. Debating with myself about whether I have time for Öland or not and Öland wins – it feels like even a peek would be worth the trip. I’ve been looking forward to it.

The bridge is long and windy. The island looks tamed near the bridge but the feeling dissolves quickly as you go further along the coast and towards the south point of the needle like shape. Dying to pee and although I’m in the middle of fields there is nowhere to hide – I’m always in view of the road or windows. The rain spits every now and again, the landscape changes every minute, barren, fields, bushes, stone, colours merge one into another, bunches of old windmills and wind farms on the horizon are spinning like crazy.

Charming and quiet Maria talks to her cat and all animals. Her house in Orrefors, near the crystal factory, used to be a school. The school was closed because it’s a bit too near and a possibility of contamination. Fine for adults though and Maria’s flat is in the attic.
‘You’ve got a few copies of the same book’ ‘I liked the covers so I bought them’.

After dinner we set off to her friend Anna’s to look after her house. It’s getting dark but the forest road is gorgeous. We spot a cow on the road and Maria stops for us to try and figure out whose it is – it shouldn’t be walking about. After trying a couple of houses the owners are found and the whole family sets off to catch the beast.

Anna’s house is in the woods, guarded by a grey wolfhound – massive, kind and deceptively quiet. ‘But when he smells a deer and you see him go, you really don’t want to be on the deer’s side.’ We open up the house, it smells of wood and a bit of mould and homely, like a country house would. Anna rents it and lives there with her kids, there are family pictures on the wall.

They have three horses, chickens and all kind of stuff growing in the garden. I walk around the house as the evening descends before we settle in for a nightcap and a chat.

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Written by Alexey Moskvin

24 May 2012 at 20:19