20th August 2016. Marstrand, Sweden.

It was grey and overcast today, we got the bikes out and cycled down to the town.  We could see what looked like a castle from the ställplats and when we got closer we discovered that we had to get a chain ferry over to the main part of the town where the castle was situated.

As we got nearer the ferry terminal the cycle path sort of petered out and I stopped before I ended up in the road.  As I hit the brakes I heard a little squeal behind me and turned around to see a lady on a bike with a shocked look on her face, she obviously hadn’t expected me to stop.  I apologised profusely and cycled off quickly.  However that wasn’t the last time I saw her, a bit later I bumped into her again (not literally this time) and apologised once more explaining that I was a novice on these roads.  As we were travelling across the water on the ferry she and her husband told us that there was a festival being held in the town, it was something to do with King Oscar.  Apparently people would be dressed up in historic costume.  They said we’d enjoy our visit to Marstrand because it was a pretty town and they were quite right.

The buildings were very grand and painted in lots of different colours.  We watched a parade move along the waterfront.  Bringing up the rear was a horse drawn carriage with the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ seated in it.

As we cycled through the town we came across people dressed in clothes from the 1800’s.

We cycled up to the church where we passed two couples promenading along the street wearing historic clothing.

We carried on through the pretty streets then back down towards the water where we saw a man dressed as a soldier and a lady in historic dress getting on their horses.

The lady was thoroughly enjoying herself and once she’d mounted the horse she got him to rear up on his back legs on command then she was teasing the children who thought it was great fun as she wheeled the horse round to keep following them.

We cycled back into the town to see if we could find somewhere for fika and as we checked one of the streets we came to a little square where there were three beautiful brides and their bridesmaids.  We’d seen another bride and groom by the boats earlier and later as we watched the ferry dock another bridal party came off, perhaps it was a special day for getting married.

On a hill in the centre of the island a fort (not a castle as we’d initially thought) towered over the buildings below, we arrived at the bottom of the hill and viewed the road up to Carlsten Fortress with trepidation.  I’d like to say we cycled up there but it actually took a lot of effort just to push the bikes to the top.  I said to Darren I hoped that they had a café up there and he replied “I hope they’ve got a defibrilator!”

Luckily we never did find out whether they had a defibrilator but they did have a café AND it served våfflor which turned out to be D.I.Y waffles!  The lady could see we had no idea what we were doing so she came over and poured the batter into the waffle irons and turned them over for us so we just had to wait for the timer to ping and put the cooked waffles on the plate then smother them in strawberry sauce and fluffy cream, I was fooled into thinking it was double cream because it was in a bowl but it was still just creamy air (I still say the Norwegians thick sour cream was better, sorry Sweden) nevertheless they were very tasty.

We took our tray to a table outside and I was surprised to see a ‘curtain’ of stalactites when I looked over at the rock that the fort was sitting on.  It was lovely and there were more further along the rock face.  We didn’t stay outside for too long because I felt a spot of rain so we scurried indoors to nab one of the three indoor tables.  Not long after we’d sat down other people came in and sat at the other two tables so that was a good call!

We cycled to the other end of the path by the water after coffee.  Unfortunately the path ended in steps going up the hill, the sky was looking very dark and stormy so we turned around and cycled back to the ferry point where we were lucky enough to hear a male voice choir singing in the street, they were very good.

We caught the ferry back to the mainland and got back to the van just as the heavens opened.

When we got back in the van Darren told me he’d seen a UK registered van as we came in and he decided to go over and say hello when the rain stopped.  When he came back he said he’d spoken to a lady in the van and asked whether she knew of any nice places to stay in Northern Germany.  She said she’d send her husband down because he kept all the details of their journey.  We didn’t think we’d hear any more but a while later there was a knock on the door and the lady’s husband was standing there with his maps.  He introduced himself as Colin and told us he’s from New Zealand.  The irony!  It turns out that the first time we’ve seen a UK registered van it’s being driven by a Kiwi and his Scottish wife who normally live in New Zealand.

He was lovely and extremely helpful.  We sat down with a beer (good suggestion Colin) and we asked him where they’d visited.  I’d say it’s more a case of where they HADN’T visited.  It sounds like they’ve had an amazing time.  He told us they’ve been touring since 2010, now THAT’S a tour. We chatted for ages and Colin gave us lots of helpful suggestions.  It was a pleasure to meet him, I hope they have a great time during the rest of their tour before they return home to New Zealand and if you’re reading this Colin, I hope your van battery is holding out!

We had a great day, we were so lucky to have chosen today to go over to Marstrand but it got even better this evening when they finished the festival with fireworks which we watched over the water.


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