Friday, January 25, 2008

Driving in hot and cold

One of the areas of the world that hasn’t ever really appealed to me for some reason is Scandinavia. Maybe I always have the impression of cold and that puts me off. Maybe I’m just not interested in wending my way up there in order to stay at one of the Sweden Hotels or the Norway Hotels.
I remember reading one of Bill Bryson’s books in which he was particularly rude about the
bus trip he made at the beginning at it rather put me off reading the rest. However it was about a trip he made to somewhere in Scandinavia, and certainly cold was the impression you were left with.
On the other hand, my most recent experience of anything Scandinavian wasn’t to do with Stockholm Hotels, or Oslo Hotels,
or any hotels at all, in fact. We were in Spain, (not the coldest place on earth), travelling from Barcelona to Valencia. Normally we would have travelled all the way by train, but there were major works going on at the railway station and we had to be transported the first part of the journey by bus.
Now it was autumn in Spain, and for the Spanish it probably felt chilly. We felt warm, as we did through our entire time in Spain. Anyway, the heating was on in the bus. On full bore. We’d
hardly got out of Barcelona before we began to feel as though we were going to melt, but the Spaniards on board were no doubt quite comfortable.
Across the aisle from us were two women from Denmark. Like us, being used to cooler climes, they felt the heat as oppressive. The problem was, we had no idea how far we would be going in the bus. Our first understanding was that it was merely taking us to another station within Barcelona, but the bus kept on and on and left the outskirts of Barcelona well behind.
Then one of the other passengers claimed that we were travelling all the way to Valencia in the bus. This would have meant that the bus would arrive in that lovely city with at least four melted passengers, if not more. (And one who would be desperate to go to the loo!)
However, we breathed a huge sigh of relief when the bus finally pulled into a station in another city, and dropped us off into the wonderfully cooling autumn air. The Spaniards’ armpits were
no doubt thoroughly dry. Ours were dripping!
I've never driven in Scandinavia, unlike Bryson, though I was recently sent an email which had a longish description of the sort of things you need to watch out for when driving there. They're mostly pretty similar to driving anywhere else in Europe, except that dipped headlights are required at all times, and there are heavy fines for anyone driving under the influence of euphoriants - a word I can't say I'm familiar with.
Another interesting thing is that you can get something called an Autopass. There are some 45 road tolls in Norway, and the autopass allows you to drive in a special lane straight through the tolls. You've paid in advance, in other words. (You'd want to make sure you did enough driving there to get your full value out of the pass!)
The only other thing to watch in these four countries is the state of the roads. The winter weather closes some of them completely. Not nice to get stuck in the mountains in the middle of winter, I'd say. It would be the equivalent of being stuck on a steaming hot bus in Spain!

The photo in the upper right corner is of the Öresund Bridge. It was taken by Jonas B. The other photo is by Geek2Nurse, and shows the Great Belt Bridge. Both are massive sea bridges, as you may be able to tell.

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