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Jul 11th 2022

Overland from London to Finland: Day 3


Thanks to my new and improved itinerary, I unexpectedly got the chance to spend a few hours looking around in Münster. I used my time to have lunch and generally bimble around the old town, in search of a place to have a beer. (Worry not, I found one.)

It was certainly pretty enough for a quick visit, but I didn’t spot anything that would have me return. The coolest feature was a cycle path, that I only discovered on my way back to the train station, which I assume followed the route of the old city wall. Had I spotted it sooner, I would’ve certainly cycled round.

The travelling day ended with mixed feelings. On the one hand the train was late, on the other it was the last leg of the day, so it didn’t matter. On the one hand the bike carriage had wheel-destroying bike racks, on the other it was the most spacious bike carriage I’ve ever seen. All in all still a net positive, I’d say.

I didn’t see very much of Hamburg, but I did have a walk around Altona and ate a massive falafel platter, which had maybe the best falafels I’ve ever tasted. Definitely top 2 at the very least.

My hotel was a very spartan affair, but I chose it based on price and proximity to Hamburg-Altona station, which was supposed to be where my trip continued, but due to an error in the planning department, it didn’t.

I woke up at 6 to find a sunny morning hiding behind the curtains. I packed, lugged my luggage down, strapped it onto the bike and set off towards the train station. I went on a short detour via the Elbe’s waterfront, maybe because I felt it could make up for not making time for anything touristy. It was mostly just cycling next to 4 or more lanes of traffic, so despite the water, it was an underwhelming experience.

Another train station breakfast in my musette, I found myself standing next to – what I strongly suspected was – my train with a dumbfounded look on my face. My source of confusion came from the discrepancy between the sign on the train and the one on the platform; one said Flensburg (platform), while the other said Kiel (train). I suspect this might be a common issue, as the train guard who spotted me immediately knew what was wrong and directed me towards the far end of the train, where the half of the train that was heading for my destination was hiding.

After an uneventful train journey I found myself in Flensburg, where I had two things to do: firstly, collect my DSB reservation tickets, and, secondly, drink a Flensburger pils.

I had had a suspicion that I might not be able to collect my tickets at a German station, but considering there was a DB ticket vending machine in Enschede, I thought there could be a small chance it was possible. But it wasn’t. Which meant I needed to cycle to the nearest Danish train station and back, which seemed a bit ludicrous and also slightly annoying that it wasn’t mentioned when I made the booking.

But it was a non-issue, really. I had hours to kill, the weather was glorious and the distance was under 10 km one way. It allowed me to experience an on-bike border crossing and amuse myself with Danes booze-shopping just beyond the border.

(As an aside, even though the quality of cycle infra varied wildly over the short trip, especially on the German side, drivers were invariably extremely polite and not a single close pass was experienced on the stretches where the cycle lane was part of the carriageway or there was no cycle lane.)

Tickets acquired, I rolled to a halt in front of a pizzeria in the Flensburg harbour. I ordered a margerita and my coveted pilsner and plonked myself in a beach chair overlooking the basin.

Body and soul fed and watered it was time to yet again get moving. The final three trains of my outbound trip would take me to Fredericia, Copenhagen and finally Kalmar.

As I write this, I’m on leg two bound for Copenhagen and I’m crossing all my crossable extremities that there’s space for my bike on the train to Kalmar. Unless there is, I’m just a little bit fucked and really have no contingency plan.

I need to reach Stockholm by Wednesday evening and not being able to start cycling already tonight will make that nigh impossible. Not to mention I would run out of days on my Interrail pass on my return trip.

My plan for the evening after I reach Kalmar (crossy-crossy!) is still a bit unsettled, but I hope to get in a few hours of cycling before I set up camp. Yes, camp!

Then an early start tomorrow and ride as far as I possibly can, in order to make Wednesday less stressful.

I’m sure it’ll all be all right.

(More sounds of crossing fingers.)

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