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Kuolleiden purjehduskenkien seura

Aug 14th 2022

Overland from Finland to London: Day 2

16:42

I slept well but didn't enjoy how the morning sounded. There was no rain, but, if anything, the wind was worse than the day before.

In store for the day was a cycle to Helsingborg, some 100 km away. I would then ferry to Helsingør and get the train to Copenhagen. This was my plan to still get some cycling in, but lessening the strain on the damaged rear wheel.

Listening to the wind made me change my plans to instead get the train to Helsingborg and do the cycling on the Danish side. With the wind blowing from the west, it should be slightly less exposed.

This also meant I would be reaching Copenhagen a day early, giving me half a day to look around, instead of the one or two hours I'd expected.

Inspecting the train schedules, I found I was able to squeeze in a quick breakfast stop. Abandoning the comfort of my sleeping bag I once again packed up and headed for the nearest coffee shop. There I got myself a tasty sandwich and a cinnamon bun, to go with the terrible coffee. But to make up for the bad coffee, they did have a clean and spacious toilet.

Toilets are very important when cycle touring, especially when not staying on camp sites. A dip in the sea is nice and certainly refreshing, but it's so much nicer to have a mini wash-up with clean fresh water. My last night's camp spot was next to a river, but it didn't look very inviting, so I'd not had the chance to get rid of the previous day's stickiness, which made washing up all the more appealing. Applying deodorant and brushing your teeth can only do so much.

Once on the train, I enjoyed watching the winds tearing up the seas into a white foam maelstrom. Particularly because I was being whisked along at nearly 200 km/h, instead of 20 km/h with a pained grimace on my face. An hour later I, amongst a motley crew of cyclists, was stood in the harbour waiting to board the ferry to Helsingør.

In a stroke of good fortune, the ferry was free. The online store wouldn't let me buy a bike ticket and when I rolled up to the service booth, I was simply waved along.

The boat ride was a short affair. Just long enough for another terrible cup of coffee. The sound is merely 4 km wide between Helsingborg and Helsingør.

Helsingør looked very pretty and some of the buildings in the centre looked down right ancient. I spotted some dating from the 1600s. I could definitely see myself returning there later to have a better look around.

Cycling towards Copenhagen, my route followed the coast fairly closely. I was later informed that this part of Denmark is some of the richest in the country and the houses along the seafront certainly supported that claim. Quite a few that were more castle than house.

Unlike most Nordic countries, Denmark doesn't allow wild camping, but they do instead provide a vast selection of free camping spots with varying facilities; shelters, fire pits and sometimes even water taps. (See udinaturen.dk for details, some Danish or machine translation required.)

On the way, I stopped at two camping spots I'd picked out that were near to my route, to check whether they were as interesting as they'd sounded like in their online description. The first one was absolutely stunning: it had a sea view over Kattegat, and a small adjacent sandy beach, and a fire pit. The thought of an evening spent by a crackling fire was undeniably appealing, but sadly, I did not carry the tools to make a fire, so it seemed irrelevant to me at the time. The second spot felt less remote, as it was just next to a restaurant, and the area seemed generally busier. It definitely wasn't as appealing as the first one. The difference in distance from Copenhagen was negligible, so quite obviously I settled on staying at the nicer spot.

I carried on to spend my day as a tourist in Copenhagen. First stop, the little mermaid.

The route into town as a whole almost entirely on segregated cycle paths or shared paths. Some of it snaking through the forest beside a train track, other times it was a wide boulevard next to the sea. Danish cycle infrastructure was in general quite good and rarely required stopping. Arriving into Copenhagen there were a few traffic lights, but once you got into their rhythm, they were generally always green.

Closing in on my first tourist attraction, I spotted some remnants of the Tour de France's visit, in the form of names painted in the road. Even though the event was long gone, I still felt like I caught some of the atmosphere, cycling up the small hill on the (I think) first stage time trial course.

The little mermaid proved to be rather popular, as bus loads of tourists hoarded around the sculpture perched on a small rock in the harbour. As the swarms of tourists did their best to frame themselves together with the statue without bystanders, I couldn't be bothered to wait for a gap and instead snapped a crowded photo. I had more important things on my mind, namely finding some food and beer.

My head on a swivel, like any good tourist, I pedalled on, gawping at the beautiful city.

I had heard about the Reffen food market on Twitter, and decided to go check it out. Copenhagen being a compact place, it required only a quick push on the pedals, before found myself surrounded by a wide array of different food stalls. Spoilt for choice I picked the shortest queue and then headed for Mikkeller's tap room for a refreshing drink to accompany my lunch.

Sat in the sun, whilst a DJ played some music in the background, I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon of drinking beer and snacking. Eventually it was time to head back to my camp site, as I wanted to pitch while it was still daylight. A first for this trip.

On the way I stopped at a Coop to stock up on something to eat and crucially to drink. I couldn't be expected to bid Scandinavia farewell with a parched throat, now, could I?

Arriving back at the camp site, I found I was not alone. A young couple had come on a mini-break from their small city apartment. They'd even set a fire, which was a lovely surprise.

I pitched my tent and went for a swim in the sea. I expected the water to be chilly, but it turned out to be really pleasant. I paddled around for quite a while before getting out. It was just too nice bobbing along the waves in the fading sunlight.

Dried up and dressed in my comfies, I joined the others around the fire, beer in hand.

After chatting for a while, I was left on my lonesome tending to the dying fire, while I finished my beer.

As I retired to my tent, I gave a final glance towards Sweden, where you could still see the lights of (presumably) Malmö twinkling in the dark.

Following a pretty terrible series of constant adversity, today had been a raging success and just a wonderful day.

I fell asleep listening to the quiet lapping of waves, with a big smile on my face.

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