|Thursday, June 15, 2006
I left Hamburg on Wednesday afternoon with the near impossible task of reaching Hirtshals in the north of Denmark before 2am on Thursday night in order to catch the overnight ferry to Langesund in Norway, where some friends of mine were arranging a "hyttetur" ("trip to the cabin", literally) that weekend. It was quite an eventful journey!
To make some early progress I took a train to Lubeck (about 10 euros) and went for a brisk stroll. Expecting to see a "beautiful medieval city" I was somewhat disappointed - many German cities were bombed to pieces towards the end of WWII. Though the main square was quite spectacular:
I also came across a banner with a very interesting message:
I'm sure my brother Anders will be thrilled to hear the news. This must have been a nagging question in his mind for years and years. (It actually means something like "differences are normal"...)
I left Lubeck on foot in search of a road heading north towards the coast, where I might be able to catch a ferry to Denmark, or even Sweden. It was a very long walk and my feet started hurting like crazy - they'd been getting worse and worse over the last few days. A very kind man whose name escapes me bought me a beer and gave my feet a welcome break at a little burger joint at the side of the road!
I eventually found a road going north, and the second or third car pulled over. George, Nicole and Oliver were heading to Travemunde to watch the Germany game on the beach. Next to Travemunde is the Skandinavienkai with ferries to... Scandinavia? Another great coincidence. I followed them to the screen on the beach, sang the German national anthem (I know the first two words - "Deutschland, Deutschland". The great thing about Norway not being in the world cup is that I can choose who to support!)...
Oliver, George, Nicole.
...watched most of the first half, sadly had to turn down (!) an offer from Oliver to stay at his place in Lubeck that night, had to get moving, it took me about 45 minutes to walk to the Skandinavienkai on my sore feet, no more ferries till the next day though there was a "truckers only" ferry going to Trelleborg in Sweden at about 2am. Had to find a truck, luckily I found Ted from Skaane, Sweden, the area with the funniest Swedish accents. Ted was an absolute sweetheart, despite his accent - I slept for a while in his truck, then we shared a room on the boat, the next day he gave me breakfast and a lift to the train station in Malmoe... Thanks Ted!! My apologies to Oliver for not calling you to let you know that I'd found a ferry - your number had mysteriously disappeared from my phone, it hadn't been saved properly, don't know why!
Ted & truck
From Malmoe I went by train across the new bridge to Copenhagen (about 8 euros?), where I spent a couple of short, oh so short hours... I think I could easily have spent a week there.
The harbour in Copenhagen. Everyone suddenly started speaking Norwegian...
But no, I had to press on - it was important for me to make it to the hyttetur in Norway. By the time I got out of Copenhagen, I only had about 6 or 7 hours left to make it to Hirtshals, about 400 km away. For the first time, the hitchhiking was slow. I waited for about 20-30 minutes for Maureen (Scottish) and Diane (American, both living in Denmark) to turn up. After what felt like about 50 km, they dropped me off outside Ringsted. The hitchhiking was even slower than before, but Thomas emerged like an angel to tell me that my chosen spot really sucked, and that I should come with him a few kilometres down the road to a big petrol station.
Thomas was right. Soren the happy truckie pulled over within minutes and brought me along on an almost 200 km ride right across the island of Fyn and across the world's longest suspension bridge (until the Japanese built one a tiny bit longer just to claim the title) to the little town of Vejle.
(This photo is a deliberate misrepresentation of Soren - he let go of the steering wheel for just a split second. Still, it's a pretty cool shot!)
Soren had much to say about most things, and we had some interesting discussions. I quite admire how he finds peace, contentment and even freedom just driving his truck... He actually owns both a sail boat and one of those very small aircraft - the name escapes me - but why stress about it when you're perfectly happy just driving your truck?
Soren suggested dropping me off at a "truck-stop", but I was running out of time and thought a train would be quicker. To cut a long story short - it wasn't. By the time I got to Aarhus, the last train north had left a long time ago. So I spent an exciting night in Aarhus... On the train from Vejle I'd met the uber-lovely Nina on her way back from Turkey. She escaped package holiday hell and lived with a Turkish family. We got on well, so we bought a few plastic bottles of Carlsberg and sat down next to the church dating back almost a thousand years, but having been rebuilt several times.
That's what I call a cheeky smile...
This is a shot from the tape, mid-sentence. You can almost see it in her eyes what she is saying right here... Something like "I'm looking forward to every second of my life". Keep on shining!
Nina went home to get some much-needed sleep, and I went out to get some much-needed beer. I found what I was looking for, and in the process I also found half Danish / half Israeli Anne Bolette, who kindly offered me a place to sleep for the night. Lucky, really, as I was still carrying my backpack around at 3 am...
Thank you, Anne Bolette!
The next day I was disappointed to learn that I would have to wait until 2.30 am on Friday night for another ferry from Hirtshals to Langesund. So I spent the day aimlessly walking around the streets, watching the Argentinians thrashing the Serbs 6-0, etc. I simply couldn't miss another ferry, so I decided to take the train from Aarhus to Hirshals to be absolutely sure.
I wasn't so sure anymore when the train broke down. Waited for ages, got on another one, missed the connection, the train company got us a taxi. Us - that's the young-at-heart elderly gentleman Olav from Skien, Norway, and myself. I bought a ticket for the ferry, left my luggage at the harbour and walked for half an hour with Olav to get into the so-called centre of Hirtshals. Olav and I hit it off, but my feet were killing me...
Olav the solicitor... what's more important - morality or the law? Why do we need one when we have the other?
We boarded the ferry and sat down in a couple of "airplane-style-seats". The next thing I remember was waking up in Langesund about six or seven hours later...
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