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Day 52 ........Karradal to Gothenburg.......72 km .......(total 4,284 km)

I am now just north of Aberdeen in terms of latitude and thankfully a loooooong way from any other similarities. 

Woke to the sound of light rain pitter pattering it’s drum beat on my tent. There’s something infinitely cosy about the sound of rain on canvas when you’re cocooned inside a sleeping bag in a tent all comfy and dry. Rain on tent ranks right up there in terms of my favourite sounds with champagne corks being popped, the glug-glut of wine being poured, waterfalls, a cats purr, opening a can of tennis balls, Irish banter in our neighbours back garden on a summers eve and  The Redeemed One (aka Mark.S formerly known as The Broken One) huffing n puffing n cursing as he made his way over the Pyrenees with me. 

This was the rain that was meant to arrive at 1.00 pm yesterday. Good to see the Swedish weather people are as bad as everywhere else. The rain didn’t last long and I was on my way for the short hop to Gothenburg with these delightful flowers my company most of the way. Over to you Sara.S for identification please. 

I had just rolled out of a small bakery at my customary 25 km coffee stop when I came across one of the more amazing team of people I have met on this ride. From a distance as they headed towards me their set up looked interesting to say the least and as they passed me on the other side going southwards everything became clearer . She was up front in a reclined position and pedalling. He was sat up high and pedalling. Behind them they towed a small child carrier with not one but two children inside who were not pedalling. Add to that various bags. 

To add to all that he was wearing a Australian Rugby Union singlet. We gave each other a jolly wave and that special acknowledgment that long distance tourers give and passed on. Hold on ! Did I just see what I saw ? Glancing over my left shoulder they were already some way down the road but I wasn’t going to let the moment pass. Quick u-turn followed by some furious pedalling with the wind at my back (so this is what a tailwind feels like eh?) I caught up with them and managed to get them to pull over. They’re from Belgium and live near the airport in Brussels. They started in New Zealand last November and after cycling that country flew to Malaysia. From there they rode up Malaysia into Thailand and Chang Mai. On to Hanoi and down to Ho Chi Minh (possibly the other way around) and then flew to Oslo. From Oslo they’ve headed south through Sweden and will head back to Belgium hoping to be there in about 3 weeks. Their children, aged 2 and 4  were sitting happily in the back keeping each other amused and have being with them the entire trip. To say I was staggeringly impressed would be an understatement. It was easily the highlight 

Of the past few days.

They have a Facebook page “8gambettes a bicycle tote” .  Truly amazing people and I felt humbled and privileged to have met them . 

Truly amazing. They get a second photo as a result of the impression they left. Cute too that one of the children gives the wave. Clearly they’ve been stopped and asked the same questions time and again. Their enthusiasm and joy for life was infectious. 

I mentioned yesterday how patriotic the rural Swedish seem to be. Here’s evidence of a common sight I have seen over the past few days. Quintessentially Swedish in every sense. 

Sweden is quickly losing its need for cash. I encountered two instances today, in a supermarket and a bakery where they would not take cash. Credit card only. It’s now got to the stage where I ask before purchase if cash is accepted . Apparently close to 66% of the population do without cash. The portion of retail purchases with cash has fallen from 40 % in 2010 to just 13% in 2017. It has the central bank concerned about the security and vulnerability of the economy. Control the MasterCard and Visa servers and you control Sweden is the argument put forward by those concerned. Never mind the elderly who clearly are being left behind  in an increasingly digital world. Even Gothenburg public toilets recently went cashless. More than 50% of the country’s banks no longer take or issue cash. Cash payments in the economy have fallen to less than 2% of GDP. This cashless approach has allowed one App in particular to flourish. Called “Swish” it enables the subscriber to make and receive payments by the App being linked to their bank account. It has averaged growth of 100,00 new subscribers a month and now more than 60% of the population use it . The most common amount transacted is 100 Kr. That’s about 10 GBP or 18 AUD$ . It comes into its own when settling group dinner or lunch bills. One person pays and everyone else simply “Swishes” that person their share.  Such has the dominance of credit become that some churches in Sweden now pass along the pews of believers an electronic card reader that enables them to make their donation by card. The central bank of Sweden has even started to consider a digital form of its currency in order to enable it to harness greater control over this phenomena. The e-Krona may not be far away. 

 All a far cry from a couple and their two children cycling the world living a simple but seemingly fulfilling life. 

Gothenburg tonight, and tomorrow another rest day as partner in life, aka wifey, aka KSR, joins me for a look at this west coast Swedish city.

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