Seven games in Sweden including derbies in Gothenburg and Stockholm.
From stormy weather in England, delays at Heathrow, to sunny Uppsala north of Stockholm.
16th September 2016 Sirius 2 Varnamo 0 Superettan 6,234
Sirius reside at the old style Studenternas stadium next to the water and a pleasant stroll through the park.
The ground, next door to the Bandy stadium, is planned to be redeveloped soon and that corresponds with an uplift in the fortunes of the local team who seem destined to return to the top level after a long absence.
On the pitch this was a solid performance and a reasonably comfortable win.
A feature of the match was the lively performance of Ghanaian Kingsley Sarfo.
He lacked some quality but made up for that with consistent prompting and threats to the visiting defence.
Another African, captain Moses Ogbu had given the home side the lead and they added a second after the interval.
Varnamo, though generally second-best did have some chances particularly Culum and, later, sub Nkuru.
Both failed to convert leaving Sirius to claim the three points and make another step towards the Allsvenskan.
As the sun went down the temperature dropped and it got chillier but the locals, many of whom (like your correspondent) headed for the sports bars to watch Chelsea v Liverpool, were warmed by the result.
This being the land of the £7 pint meant one drink and just the burger at the game for sustenance.
17th September BK Forward 1 Akropolis IF 1 Division 1 North 105
From Uppsala to Orebro for this third level match.
Trangens IP immediately gives the impression of a typically lower-level Swedish ground with lots of trees, grass and two, small, old stands.
It prompted an admiring stroll around the perimeter.
Once we got going the pattern established was of the visitors passing the ball and the home side backing off and making fast breaks.
Despite having much less possession you somehow knew Forward would score first.
And so it was that Carlsson squeezed in an effort off the post on 32 minutes.
Suddenly Forward were on top and Akropolis frustrated.
1-0 at the break.
But the higher ranked visitors would eventually get parity.
Tall (and vociferous) Italian striker Polo should have scored earlier, contriving to hit the bar from 5 yards, before he headed home a left wing cross.
Both sides pushed for a winner in a more lively second period but it ended 1-1.
Akropolis, presumably of Greek origins and with a variety of names on the teamsheet (Rajamohan, Ymeraj, Alemayehu, Mitropoulos), thus remain in third although some way behind the league leaders.
Back in the centre of Orebro the evening was spent (being the operative word) in O’Learys watching Everton beat Middlesbrough.
18th September Assyriska 0 Frej 0 Superettan 942
Returning to the capital I stayed in Jarva, near Solna, to the north of the city.
Much further south is the stadium of Assyriska which is shared with Syrianska.
It comprises a sizeable stand plus open terraces, some of which are semi-temporary.
There were no problems fitting the crowd , which looked a lot less than the published figure, into the main stand.
Many of those present represented the cultural background of the club and that was reinforced by the drums and music.
We also had a group of Assyrian bikers attending - not something you tend to see at Chelsea.
The home side are in danger of relegation and they could have done with three points but it was not to be.
Both sides missed good chances, Frej had an effort cleared off the line and front man Soderstrom shot over when well placed.
Most of the action happened later on with two dismissals, firstly two yellows for Graden of the visitors then a straight red for Ugonna Anyora for what seemed a stray elbow.
So no goals.
Back via bus and train and just snacks in the hotel.
19th September BK Hacken 2 IFK Gothenburg 2 Allsvenskan 6,380 (c.2500 away)
A stayed on a ship in the harbour before getting the tram to the rebuilt (four neat, smallish stands) Bravida Arena for this derby game.
The vociferous IFK fans brought copious flares to provide the cameramen with plenty of nice shots.
All that made it an excellent atmosphere and the game itself matched the off-field vibrancy.
IFK began quickly testing the home goalie before they were awarded what looked like a dubious penalty, for a high challenge.
Emil Salomonsson smashed home the spot kick.
As the half wore on Hacken would gradually get more play.
However, on 60 mins, they made the task harder when Abubakari was tackled in midfield and IFK broke away for Omarsson to score an easy second.
But the home side would stage a great comeback prompted by the arrival of Nigerian Owoeri just after the hour.
Firstly he stepped in from the left and produced a great right foot effort for 1-2.
Then his cross was controlled by Alhassan Kamara (Sierra Leone) in the area who then drove in a superb leveller.
On a reasonably mild evening it ended the scoring in the best and liveliest game so far.
Afterwards back via tram to the boat for a couple of glasses of red before bed.
20th September Angelholm 1 GAIS 5 Superettan 626 (c. 150 away)
I stopped at Halmstad before making the half hour train ride to Angelholm for this Tuesday evening encounter.
In mild and windless conditions we witnessed the home side self-destructing and handing the visitors an easy three points.
Initially it seemed Angelholm might get level after they shipped two goals late in the first period.
They managed to respond with one strike and only went in one goal down.
But disaster followed just after the hour mark.
Prince Adjesi (Ghana) appeared as a sub. and immediately got involved in a tackle that resulted in him being dismissed.
And to make it even worse he was injured and ended up being carried off.
Not longer after that defender Dyrestam got a second yellow and the home side were down to nine men.
That opened the way for South African sub. Luther Singh to convert two easy chances and Malkom Moenza to compound the misery with a fifth in added time.
Angelholm could certainly have done with the points in their battle against relegation but it was not likely after they lost their discipline.
Many of the home fans had drifted away before the end while the away contingent (positioned in two small stands - 'Army of Dreamers') could enjoy their trip back to Gothenburg.
Conveniently enough (Sweden is not short of organisation) there was a train some twenty five minutes after the match finished & I was back in Halmstad by 9.45pm.
Which is another benefit of 7pm kick-offs - there is still part of the evening left.
21st September Djurgarden 0 AIK 3 Allsvenskan 22,197 (c. 8,000 away)
A return to Stockholm and another boat for a hotel - certainly cosy and with nice views of the harbour.
The new Tele2 Arena, conveniently situated south of the city with 4 or 5 metro stations close by (again good Swedish organisation) hosted this derby.
And if you want good choreo and copious amounts of pyro look no further.
We had all that from both sets of ultras with one end engulfed in blue smoke and the other yellow and black.
In fact there so much of it that the start of both halves was delayed for around 15 minutes before the play could begin.
Many of the locals probably wished the smoke would never clear in order to hide their team’s performance.
AIK showed how to convert chances with striker Alexander Isak netting one in each half.
Whereas the home side missed their best opportunities.
Not that it halted the noise from both sets of fans.
The Djurgarden ultras never relented despite many of their fellow fans leaving once AIK had scored their third goal on 76 minutes.
And what a goal it was.
Nigerian Chinedu Obasi had just come on as a substitute and he immediately won a tackle and jinked past a couple of defenders to shoot home left footed in front of the ecstatic away ultras.
That set the seal on a solid win for AIK who stayed third behind Norrkoping and Malmo.
No problems going back via the metro and I was back on the boat within about thirty minutes.
What better than to contemplate the game whilst admiring Stockholm harbour nursing a glass of Merlot ?
22nd September Atvidabergs 2 Syrianska 1 Superettan 1,623 (c. 20 away)
From my base in Linkoping I took the bus to the small town of Atvidaberg.
Small it is - in fact it can claim to be the smallest town in Sweden to have produced top level champions.
That was twice in the 1970’s when they were sponsored by (ex-) calculator company Facit.
Amongst their past coaches was famed Englishman George Raynor who went on to have significant success with the Swedish national team.
To go with all that they have an interesting ground, the Kopparvallen vintage 1907, comprising an attractive old stand, larger main version and decent sized terraces.
To the right were a lively group of away fans with flags and a drum.
On the field it was the home side who got the points thanks to two left wing crosses.
The first headed in by striker Maholli, the second diverted in for an o.g.
Before that Atvidabergs had a defender red-carded - a straightforward ‘last man’ scenario.
Sadly for Syrianska they failed to take advantage.
It looks like their lack of goals could endanger their status.
Only in the closing minutes did Martinique front man Yoann Arquin get the ball in the net for their consolation.
The weather got a little chilly but thankfully the wind was light.
My bus was near enough on time for the ride back to Linkoping.
As for Sweden itself - admire the organisation, the healthy citizens (all that crispbread and cycling), the scenery and the enlightened outlook for big matches (allowing all those flares and smoke)But accept that the budget will be compromised and, obviously, winter would be another matter.