The train across Sweden was so modern, comfortable and fast with an amazing dining car no one seemed to use. The spacious clean bathroom with warm water was the ideal time to dress my burst blister. I bought big sterile bandages and scissors at one stop – it’s so weird to be hobbling around like an old man but I’m determined not to let it bring me down. Arriving at the Centralan Station in Stockholm I slowly walked to my fav hostel and I’d forgotten how classy this city is – and felt a bit shabby, I need some slim-fit trousers, maybe time for a visit to H&M. Hired a bike next morning in Gamla Stan and suddenly the foot problem is not an issue and I’m cruising around the Sodermalm island in the sun and at a kayak hire jetty I recognised Erik who took our group bike tour last time I was here. As he paddled off with some clients I chatted with his assistant and she recommended a vegetarian restaurant called Hermans, an institution, apparently. NZ$24 for an all-you-can-eat smorgasborg and the best vegetarian food I’ve had. I was origianlly planning to eat at the renowned restaurant at the top of the Fotografiska Museum with the celebrity chef – yeah, well, maybe next time. The three floors of photo journalism, fine-art and fashion photography are all stunning, I wish Theo was here to see it. All the galleries are dark and each image is lit separately – cool. The gift shop is pure natty tat heaven – I could of spent heaps, so many witty thingys to buy, perfect Christams gifts? – the Leica camera that’s really a pencil sharpener, love it – hmm, or maybe not. Hardly anyone takes cash here, it’s all pay wave, and I notice Westpac is taking about 50 cents everytime I use it! There’s a huge construction project going on in the harbour area that the locals are getting annoyed with, it’s taking years, they’re preparing for sea level rise from climate change to save the old city – those Swedes. It makes navigating around tricky, so I’m still cycling with just one hand and with Google maps in the other – not looking like a local at all.
I have decided to delete a large number of recipients of this blog because of the silly, off-topic type of comments some people leave – not interesting or supportive. One of the reasons I’ve gone off Facebook too, all those weird comments – so now this just goes to immediate family and a few friends. In Southwest Sweden, north of Goteburg is a cute little place called Upperud where I stayed one night at a guesthouse before my 46km walk through the woods, over the rocks and around the lakes to a guesthouse at the end of the trail in Edsleskog. It’s called the Pilgrims Trail and has been used since medievil times. There are six campsites with shelters along the way, I aimed for the third at the half way point but it was swarming with bugs so I trudged on and found a flat spot to put up my tent. The heat and distance caused a few blisters so next morning I decided to take a short cut, got off the trail, used the gravel roads and headed for the main road, and hitched to Egleskog, checked-in and crashed out. I had a little gas cooker and made cups of tea along the way and listened to Ray Charles and Van Morrison. On the way to Upperud on the train from Malmo to Goteburg I started listening to Joe Rogan Experience with Russell Brand #1283 – one of the best I’ve heard, but with the train peaking at 200 km per hour, (there’s a digital display) I only got a third of the way through. It’s great to also tune into RNZ live in the evenings and listen to Morning Report. Everyone here has been so kind giving me bandages, cotton pads and antiseptic for my blisters. The Swedish countryside is just so beautiful, all the houses are painted ox-blood red and look like they should be on a chocolate box, and around every corner there’s another lake with a house and jetty at it’s edge – what a magical place.
I must have cycled hundreds of miles around Copenhagen have it fairly figured out and yesterday was so interesting. First, out to the beach and back then to Reffen, the reclaimed shipyard where it’s all happening; CopenHell, a big metallers concert nearby with Slash, Slipknot and The Scorpions and alot of Scandi bogens everywhere. A big housing area is there with all sorts of designs: tiny houses, modular units and house boats. I had gone to see the Urban Rigger by Architects BIG and met Thorsen who was buying one for his son and told me all about them, 25 square metres and $NZ220,000 each, totally eco with separate shared areas, laundry and storage – amazing. I visited the food village, where there’s an outdoor dance club, breweries, and DJs everywhere – so popular. It’s interesting how the Danes think the Swedish has ‘less edge’, as Thorsen’s wife said, but Berlin has ‘more edge’ than Denmark. So many young South American people here, many living semi-permanently at The Steel House where I stayed, mooching around in the day and working at McJobs like UberEat deliveries. There’s no work in their countries, apparently. Lime Scooters are being introduced here and the Danes have different rules than NZ. They must follow the same road rules as bikes which have their own lanes but these are integrated as general road users. They can’t be used in pedestrian areas. The traffic lights here have really short phases, they change really quickly, you hardly have to wait, I like that. This will be my last post for a while as I travel on to Sweden.
Some problems and I was unable to post anything for the last few days because the firewall created by my webhosts needed a tweak. All fixed by Reuben and Andrew back there in Grey Lynn – amazing guys, I’ve been with them for 20 years and they’re always onto it. I have 3 domian names and websites with them – if you need a good CMS (content management system), please check out www.website.world The days are so long here, it’s light until 11pm and when I get up at 6am it’s already blazing sunlight. The National Museum has room after room of bronze tools – the success of the nordic people comes down to three things in my opinion; working metal, 1500 years of bronze before they started smelting iron, boat building (corded ware), and women contributed and influenced equally in society. The whole thing was ruined in my opinion by the arrival of that Roman Church with it’s repressive, sexist mumbo jumbo – and suddenly the fun’s over. Last day here and I’m cycling to the beach 45 minutes away – I brought togs with me and I’m gonna use ’em!
An hour south of Copenhagen is Camp Adventure and the new Forest Tower that spirals up above the trees, quite a feat of design and engineering with a beautiful boardwalk approach – who could resist strolling to the top and looking out across the countryside in the warm breeze. The park is full of cabled walkways between the tress and people whizzing by on flying foxes. The rail and bus journey allowed me to see a little of rural Denmark, it’s really flat – perhaps next time I’ll visit a few other places like Aarhus and Roskilde where the viking ship museum is. Today I’m visiting the National Museum.
A kayak tour around the housing, offices, and the Maersk Opera House that sits on its own island.. There’s cute little canals and waterways weaving around the city. Two hours and didn’t even drop my phone doing selfies. Temperatures around 22 degrees – everyone talks about how it rains here all the time but haven’t seen much until last night riding back from Apotek open mic where I’d met up with Bernard the local songwriter who’s invited me to a another event 40 minutes north of the city. Trying to remember street names is tricky, they all merge after a while, been wanting to find a shop I’d like to go back to – try remembering this address, on the corner of Købmagergade and Kronprinsessegade, ok got it. Learning about Hygge, it’s a big idea in Denmark and I like it.
I arrived at Christiania in the morning before the crowds and had a really good look around, and met Josephine a mother with a baby who’s own mother was one of the original hippies that sqautted the abandoned army barracks and land in 1971, and set up an alternative community. All the cute dwellings look handmade and I wanted to know if there were any compliance issues, and apparently in the last 15 years they have got pretty serious about it, but all the existing structures are legal. About 900 people live there and it’s all about freedom of the individual and communty resonsibility. I saw the dealers on Pusher Street with their hash and grass for sale. I went into the smokey Woodstock Bar, and had breakfast at a cafe listening to music by Kiwi band Dragon. Then the police strode in and the dealers barked like dogs to warn each others and quickly dismantled their displays and slipped away. It’s illegal to sell hash and weed but as Josephine said, the only people who buy it now are from outside the community. It’s good to see the hippie values of community living and sharing of resources is still relevant in 2019. Perhaps an alternative community area in Auckland would be a good place for people that don’t really fit into the one on offer in exploitive-property-value-obsessed Auckland. Here’s an idea, close the container port, move it to Tauranga or Northland and use the land for social housing – just let people get creative and build communities there. No, I didn’t buy anything dodgy in Christiania – just a lovely tote bag with the Christiania logo.
Arrived at 9am at the Steel House, a really modern take on hostel/hotel accomodation with pod beds, locked my gear away and walked to the Mikes Bike Tour lasting over 3 hours taking us through all the neigbourhoods and food villages, what a nice place to live. Went to a famous food market near the Israel Park for lunch and back to the hostel to sleep. Yes, food is expensive, but so nice. Awake at 8pm and time to visit Tivoli Park at dust – an immaculate amusement park in central Copenhagen with gardens, winding paths, a lake with a sailing ship, clever lights, quaint restaurants, music halls in the spiegeltent style, and amazing rides – totally magical, it couldn’t be done better. Then to Mojo open mic night, but too late to play, but made a few contacts for other places to play – everyone is so friendly and helpful.
On Sunday 16th June I fly directly to Copenhagen on Thai Air and begin a six week journey to six countries. I will be staying about a week in six different cities; Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallin, Berlin, Paris and Jerusalem, with a couple of side trips into the countryside in Sweden and France. I’m taking a guitar with me again and will be checking out a few live music bars and have already found a few online that have open mic nights. I hope to write my blog every couple of days and hope you’ll tune in – even if you only check out the pics. I have pre-booked my accomodation in each city and my air and rail journeys in Europe. It means I know exactly where I’ll be on any day, and I guess what I lose in spontaneity I gain in the certainty of staying in good central places and save in travel fares in peak-season Europe. Generally, I try to stay in the more modern hostels with no more than 4 bed dorms, with one AirBnB in Jerusalem. I use Booking.com for most places but some I booked direct like City Backpackers in Stockholm where I stayed last time and really enjoyed their location and homely atmosphere. Other hostels like the Generator chain, where I’m staying in Berlin, are more like hotels; modern interior design, no self catering and with dorm beds that are more like pods with a light, shelf, power and USB outlets, and a big lockable drawer for each person. My only luxury will be staying in a country lodge in Dalsland in West Sweden with meals provided at each end of a hiking trail walk.