Day 25 - Sunday 15th June - Stockholm -Bejing - Sydney

After a well earned sleep, I packed my gear and left it in the apartment for later collection and transit to the airport.

I took the metro 3 stops to the old city- Gamla Stan. This was also where the royal residence is. It's a area full of old building, restaurents and tourist gift shops. As I'd come from the subway and it was still early, it was quite and I found a bakery for breakfast. I was hungry and it was quite inside so I spent longer there then expected listening to Motown songs on the house music via Spotify and talking to the waitress.
The tourist arrived in numbers, some on foot from central Stockholm shopping area and many in tourist buses to the Royal Palace. I had a quick look at the Palace Gates, but saved the 160kr (about AU$20) admission and just walked around. It had a great location on the harbour and I saw the ceremonial 'changing of the guards' at the Palace.

Still in the wandering mood, I headed down to the harbour, then back up into the tourist shops in the old city. I bought two very distinctive Swedish T-shirts for the boys, with classic Volvo and SAAB cars on each.

As I had a few hours left, I browsed the CBD, and quickly realized the boy group 'One Direction' was either in or just been in town. This would explain why accommodation was so difficult to find. There were teenage girls everywhere.

With the hurdle of getting the bicycle box back to the airport still on my mind, I tracked down a shop called 'Claes Ohlsson' where I was told I may find some luggage wheels. This turned out to be an amazing hardware/general store right in the city, where I purchase some packing tape for the final packing. There were no suitable wheels, but a reconnaissance mission between the metro and the suburban train showed I had 200m to carry the box to platform 16 at central.

After more doodling around, I caught the metro the 3 stops back to Tekniska Hogskolan station and walked back to my airbnb apartment. John the host had arrived back and helped me carry the bicycle box to the metro platform. Once at central, I was offered a hand by a local and we carried the luggage the 200m to the metro. After paying the airport surcharge fee, on top of my unlimited 24hr transport ticket, it was an easy 30 mins to the airport terminal 5. There is an airport express train, which is much more expensive, and it was good advice from the rail info people that suggested I get a 24hr ticket and then take the suburban train. Also, the single map of the transport system with major streets and suburbs, plus google maps using free roaming on my '3' UK Network, was all I needed to navigate Stockholm.

After repacking my luggage, I made it thru airport check-in. The bike box was 19,2kg and I was told the dimensions were oversize for AirChina, but he let me through anyway. Between last year and this year, I had done 4 sectors with AirChina and 2 with the excellent Norwegian Air carrier and a standard bike box had not been charged excess yet.

At 20:15, we departed late on a very full and brand new A330 Airbus heading to Beijing. Arriving late didn't worry me as I had 4+ hrs in transit. I set the alarm on the iPhone for check-in time and found a quite spot in the massive Beijing terminal to recharge my electronic devices, before catching the flight to Sydney.

From being a bad sleeper on planes, I have developed a routine to get sleep: Get on plane, do up seatbelt, fall asleep until dinner. Then I can sleep after dinner as I am not overtired.

After 11hrs we landed into Sydney Kingsford Smith airport and had a smooth passage through immigration (expected) and customs (not expected). I had wiped all the dirt off the wheels in anticipation of a grilling by customs (from previous experience). Simon picked me up on a sunny, chilly winter's Sydney morning and it was good to be home.

I was at work by 9:30 and the great cycling holiday was over.

 Bakery in the old city - Gamla Stan. Good pastries and Motown music here.

Bakery in the old city - Gamla Stan. Good pastries and Motown music here.

 ABBA is sill everywhere. I didn't go to the new ABBA museum- it did get good reviews, if a little kitch.

ABBA is sill everywhere. I didn't go to the new ABBA museum- it did get good reviews, if a little kitch.

 The cyclist being a tourist at the Royal Palace.

The cyclist being a tourist at the Royal Palace.

 The Royal Palace is quite a recent building, dating from mid 1800s.

The Royal Palace is quite a recent building, dating from mid 1800s.

 Tourism in the old city. The only place that sells SAAB t-shirts!

Tourism in the old city. The only place that sells SAAB t-shirts!

 Over the bridge to Stockholm CBD.

Over the bridge to Stockholm CBD.

 Yes, it was a glorious day - up to about 22 deg C. Great for being a tourist.

Yes, it was a glorious day - up to about 22 deg C. Great for being a tourist.

 Walking out to the brand new Airbus at Beijing airport.  Next stop Sydney.

Walking out to the brand new Airbus at Beijing airport.  Next stop Sydney.