Kuolleiden purjehduskenkien seura

Aug 14th 2022

Overland from Finland to London: Days 3 and 4


I awoke with a nagging feeling of having been dismissive about drinking water the day before. Not quite hung over, but not quite not hung over either. Thankfully I wasn’t in a hurry and could afford myself a lie-in.

The morning was overcast, which made it feel chilly, as Scandinavian August mornings can be, but whenever the sun peeked through the cloud cover it made the tent warm and comfy.

Trying to convince myself leaving my sleeping bag wasn’t a terrible idea, taking a quick glance at the weather forecast motivated me to begin packing up. Some rain was due and I was keen on reaching Copenhagen central station before it.

While I was slowly putting away my lodgings, my beach companions from the night before appeared from their abode and began to prepare their breakfast. Reminded of having none of my own, suddenly made me very aware of my growing hunger.

Everything packed up, I thanked the rather tired looking couple for the amicable previous evening, which had probably carried on a bit too long for all of us, and waved goodbye.

The great thing was still being completely without any hurry. I was pedalling along at a pace your granny would call boring taking it all in. My only target for the ride was to find breakfast.

I had in mind a place which I’d spotted the day before, which advertised breakfast sandwiches, but it’s doors were firmly shut and it would only open after 11. But, as luck would have it, there was a bakery next door.

I did end up getting breakfast, but the way there was certainly one of the strangest experiences of not being understood I’ve had in a while. To elaborate a bit, my mother tongue is Swedish, and I speak Finnish as a native. On top of those two I speak fluent English, conversational German and this and that in several other European languages. As Scandinavian languages go, Danish is certainly in a league of its own, but ordering a coffee shouldn’t be impossible across neighbouring languages. But the clerk at this bakery simply would not understand me. I started out in English, followed by Swedish, and then “nordic”, or my best imitation of Danish, to get through. All I was trying to order was an oat milk latte. The rest I could simply point at.

Their colleague eventually butted in to translate, but I wasn’t sure whether I’d got rid of more than just bodily liquids the previous night, when the same thing was repeated later when I tried to get my water bottle topped up. I can say water in 8 or 9 languages just off the top of my head, but nothing seemed to click. Brandishing my water bottle and miming drinking got through, but again it was strangely difficult. (The whole situation reminded me of the Kamelåså sketch from the Norwegian show Uti vår hage. Worth a watch, if you’ve not yet seen it. Perhaps it’s not as outlandish as it once seemed.)

Still, I got myself coffee and a pastry for breakfast and the coffee was the best I’d had for days. As I was sat outside the café, several groups of runners passed. I merrily waved and continued to stuff my face with croissant.

Immediate needs fulfilled I continued to make my way to Copenhagen. The rain arrived slightly before me, so I didn’t quite avoid getting wet, but it was merely a light sprinkling of summer rain.

At the station, I prepared for a day of train travel by stocking up at the 7-Eleven with all kinds of rubbish. Nothing like eating your way across a country, especially on junk food.

The first train of the day was from Copenhagen to Fredericia, where I would change to a train to Flensburg. From there I would catch a regional train to Hamburg. The journey was quite unremarkable, except for the interchange at Fredericia. It was the first time anyone actually wanted to see my place bookings, as a very stern-looking train manager blocked the carriage doorway and not letting anyone without a reservation to board.

In Flensburg I managed to catch a train an hour earlier than the one I’d scheduled, which meant an extra hour looking around Altona. This was very welcome, as some aimless walking was nice after a day of train travel. I also treated myself to a tasty vegan burger and cheesecake at Froindlichst, a place I can wholeheartedly recommend.

The next morning I had an early first connection from Hamburg to Osnabrück at 6.46. Despite an early start, I felt I arrived too late, when I saw the long queues to the few open shops at the station. Still, I managed to get myself a sandwich and a treat, before I rushed to my platform.

Bike and myself aboard the train, an announcement informed us the train would depart late, as there was yet another electrical problem causing irregularities in train traffic. The early start had annoyed me earlier, but now it felt justified, as it would allow me to reschedule the rest of the day’s connections.

The final destination of the day was The Hague, from where I’d cycle to Hook of Holland for the final ferry of the journey. Originally, I would have ample time in The Hague for some shopping and final hours of holidaying. Now, I wasn’t so sure.

But, my worries turned out to be unfounded. Whatever the original issues were, its ripple-effect had also delayed my onwards connections, so I made all my original connections. I arrived in The Hague only an hour or so later than I’d planned, which wasn’t bad at all.

A quick pitstop at De Pindakaaswinkel, to get myself the one indulgence I’d bring home, followed by food and several beers in a sunny canal-side bar.

The final cycle to Hook of Holland came with mixed feelings again. On the one hand it would be nice to be back home. On the other hand I would be sad to no longer have days of cycling and camping ahead of me. Happiness was still definitely the overall emotion.

Checked in and showered, I had dinner, and waved my holiday goodbye with a final drink on deck.

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