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J252 - Friday, June 25: Stockholm – 7km before Gnesta

74.26km  – 10H20’
Altitude : 27 m
Yesterday evening, after giving Serge all the details of the route through the Swedish capital, he decided to go directly to the center of the old city by car.  Stockholm is spread over 14 islands which are joined by tunnels and bridges.
There is no traffic on the 18 km which separates us from the Royal Palace; however, Stockholm is not asleep.  A certain number of people are waiting on the dock for a boat to take them for a ride.  The sun is already high and very hot, whereas Serge, who has not begun his day, is complaining about his knee, which is very painful this morning.
The team takes advantage of the 40 minute break necessary for a photo shoot, to admire the National Museum, the Royal Palace, the Riddarholmen church, the city hall and the bay of Riddarfjärden from tiny Riddarholmen Island, where a swarm of Russian busses stop so that tourists can take photos from this scenic spot.
We start out heading south, by Södermalm Island, before reaching the south-west suburbs: Huddinge, Tumba, Varsta.
At a traffic circle, we see a runner with Serge.  It’s Victor, a Swede from Stockholm who speaks Moliere’s language as well as we do.  He found Serge thanks to his I-Phone and the GPRS beacon but did not tell us he was coming so it was a happy surprise.  Serge chatted for quite a while and was even talking with his hands (sometimes I wonder if doesn’t have Italian ancestors!)
To avoid the bottleneck exiting from Stockholm, at Södertälje, I had planned to head south on small, quiet roads, but our map is not detailed enough and didn’t show us that a bridge at Sandviken is for pedestrians only.  Due to lack of time yesterday and this morning we were unable to see the place and I did not want to send Serge on a dead end.  In 10 minutes we make a change of itinerary and we cross Södertälje, which I had hoped to avoid.
Everything goes without a hitch, even if a small switching error means that Serge had to do 1 km up and 1 km back.  BĂ©rengère is upset and we all reassure her that everyone has had the experience of sending Serge on a wrong direction.  On a point-to-point, where it is a question of a certain number of days and a minimum time, Serge is very particular about the planned route; on the European loop, where it is a question of running as many kilometers as possible, he is not concerned about an extra 2 km.  And this evening nobody is waiting for us.
Once past Södetälje, we are back in the country and prefer small, deserted roads, since traffic has been heavy up to now and is a real danger on the N225.  As Eliane says, “in Stockholm we are close to forests and countryside, not having gone through any industrial area, and we are quickly  back on a trail where we can see doe, so it is hard to imagine  that were in a capital city of 1.8 million inhabitants, just a few kilometers back.”
Serge saw wild strawberries and in spite of his stiffness he was able to bend over to pick them.  He was so happy to give them to us for our 4:00 PM refueling.

Town : 7km avant Gnesta

GPS : N 59.05’28.4° E 017.20’69.0°