Friday, 9 January 2015

Back to the grindstone

... Well, sort of. As I mentioned in my last post I have an unusually long break this year, with classes not resuming until January 19th. So I'm writing this post from Amsterdam! However, just because I'm on holiday doesn't mean I don't have coursework to do, so don't be too jealous.

My (left) and my girlfriend's (right) bikes
My (left) and my girlfriend's (right) bikes. Don't be fooled
by this awkward perspective, mine is bigger, I promise.
From what I hear the relatively warm weather we were having before I left Uppsala is now more or less gone, and I notice that the next few days on the forecast call for snow, with the temperature to dip down to -10C on Sunday. The combination of snow and cold will make for some uncomfortable cycling conditions, I'm sure, so this seems like a good time to talk about getting around Uppsala.

The best way to get around is without a doubt by bike. Living in Amsterdam had already changed me into a cyclist, so I was thrilled to see that cycling is also very popular in Uppsala. The city is well equipped with bike paths, and it is small enough that almost everything is within comfortable (less than 30 minutes) biking distance. Uppsala isn't exactly hilly, but it's not totally flat either, so I'd recommend a bike that has at least a few gears. Mine is a 3-speed, and that works just fine. There are used bikes for sale on various Facebook groups/pages (Buy and Sell Items, Buy & Sell in Uppsala, Buy / Sell a bike in Uppsala), and at the Saturday market on Vaksala Torget. For reference, I paid 700kr for mine, and bought it through Facebook.

When the snow comes, cycling gets a bit trickier, but you still have options. So far I've just been taking it slow and hoping for the best, but I am considering in investing in studded tires. For rainy days (and they are plentiful) there is also the bus. Uppsala's local transportation company, UL, offer a monthly pass at a student price of 550kr. I haven't bought one of these yet as I don't take the bus often enough to make it worthwhile. However, I do have the UL card. This only costs 20kr but saves you 10kr per bus ticket (20kr with the card, 30kr without), so investing in one is a no-brainer. In my experience the bus service is very good; I never have to wait more than about 10 minutes and there are plenty of stops so I don't ever have to walk very far.

Finally there is also the issue of getting to Uppsala. I always fly to Arlanda airport, which is about halfway between Stockholm and Uppsala. From there you have 2 options: the train or the bus. The train is much faster (20 minutes) but also much more expensive (about 160kr if I remember correctly). Bus number 801 is much slower (about 45 minutes) but also cheaper (60kr with a UL card), and it has stops at different terminals which is nice if you don't want to walk far with your baggage.

Until next time!

EDIT: Since I linked a few handy pages in this post I've decided to start keeping a page of helpful links on this site, instead of adding more and more to the sidebar. Feel free to check it out and comment if there's anything that should be added!

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