Glory of Green
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Stories from the Great Outdoors

 

We came to Karlstad, Sweden, for a concert steaming of nostalgia and had planned for a trip down the memory lane of our family. We were to bike the beautiful Klarälvsbanan, as we have done before. However - thanks to our notorious last-minute booking, we ended up quite far away, in a hotel in beautiful Borgvik. It was a sign. It was meant to be. No way we could leave without discovering this landscape!

We went to bed in total darkness - and woke up to this view of the old church in Borgvik… Surprise!

We came for the golden ages

Yep. This is what we came for: 

If you're in the right generation, you might remember Roxette, a Swedish pop-duo that were big in the late 80ies and early 90ties with monster hits like "The Look", "It must have been love" and "Joyride". This is not them. 

Actually its the male half of the group - Per Gessle - on his forty-years-tour with his original band "Gyllene Tider" (which translates into something like the golden ages). 

They were HUGE. Or at least they were huge in Sweden and Norway, before they separated back in 1985. Still - their music is durable enough for our daughters of 10 and 14 to know a couple of their biggest hits. And so we went for the family fun of standing close to the scene at a stadion concert, fighting off drunk middle aged swedes with big boobs, who threatened to trample down the kids. Oh well. At least we brought ear-plugs.

What we got

Waking up to this breakfast area, we instantly decided to look for a bike route in the vicinity of Borgvik. A glance at the sign-poles hinted that we would have no problem making a day out of it. 

In nearby Nysäter a shop is renting bikes. We brought our own, but decided to try out parts of a suggested round trip, starting and finishing in Borgvik. 

History everywhere

All the signs in Borgvik is due to the cultivation of an immensely rich local history. Borgvik has one of Sweden's best preserved mill villages, going back to 1627. In 1889 Borgvik delivered iron needed to build the Eiffel tower in Paris, but 36 years later the ironworks was closed. 

In WW2 Borgvik was the site of the third front line, ready to defend Sweden in case of a German attack after the invasion of Norway. The attack never came, but the military gave the village an upswing and it continued to thrive until the post-WW era. 

Remains of the WW2 defence line.

Afterwards there has been years of neglect, but lately tourists have rediscovered this beautiful cultural landscape. Book a table if you want to eat at the slightly famous Sliperiet during summer months! We were too hungry to take a look at the art gallery. Something for next time.

Still - in my book, the old, red-painted smallholdings along gravelled roads is what really makes me feel like I'm in Scandinavia. Like I'm home. In various states of decay or refurnished as summer houses, they all give wings to romantic ideas of what probably was a very hard life. Some things we've gained, and some things we've lost.

Same, same, but different...

 

About half way we stopped for a snack in the grass. The 10-year old was definitely tired after jumping up and down at the concert all night. Kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon buns) were needed! And yes - take this as a general tip to bring provisions. 

 


Also: be prepared for this route to be hilly - we climbed a total of 778 meters - not all of them on our bike-seats… It goes up and down, still steadily elevating the first half of the round. And it will almost never get entirely flat. 

Water everywhere

Borgvik lies on the shore of Vänern - Sweden's largest freshwater lake. Remember to bring bathing suits if you visit in summer. There are lakes and rivers everywhere and the water is clean.

On our way to the highest point of the round, and completely in the middle of nowhere, we found a tranquil lake where you could bring 50 Swedish kronor and a can of gasoline and go water-skiing Thuesday to Thursday between 6.30 and 8 pm.  Time it, and you might be able to try. The club is on FB.

About loppis and globe trotting

With loving nature comes a responsible for taking care of it - and Sweden is the absolute best place for buying used stuff of any sort. If a sign says "Loppis" a flea market is never far away - check if the place is open and go treasure hunting!

On our way back to Borgvik we found a lovely old farmhouse with a barn full of fun - and a Norwegian woman with a fascinating story.

Wenche and her husband came to live in Värmland, Sweden on a whim. One day her husband found an advertisement for an abandoned farm in his hunting and fishing magazine. The family bought it as a holiday home, stayed three nights, looked at the view and decided to move here permanently. Still with jobs in Norway and kids in school. Brave!

But then Wenche turned out to be no stranger to moving around - she was born in Tasmania - after her Norwegian parents bumped into each other in Sydney. Him on a journey to see the world, her waiting to get her working permision in Australia. To her, Värmland is a bit like Tasmania. I'll have to take her word for it.

Wenche was also able to give us some more detailes about the local history - her farm lies along what used to be the main road to Stockholm:

Yeah. That's behind the white boat over there. Coming through - I'm going to Stockholm...

Other practicalities

Our round turned out to be a total of about 30 km - maps can be found below. The route is not car free, although cars are mostly far between. I would not have brought small children on their own bikes. 

Do not expect to get a seat at the restaurants in Borgvik. Bring food and enjoy the free Swedish nature. Neighbouring Nysäter might be less busy, but I have not tried it.