Days 17 to 22: if it’s Tuesday I must be in Bognor Regis?

What Elly said. Picture to be added later. I have been in so many hotel rooms and lifts in artificial twilight I hardly know where I am!

I know I’m on a DFDS boat that will take us to North Shields, arriving tomorrow morning. My issue is I have yet another cabin number to remember, another route to it to learn, and my brain cell refuses to hold onto any detail at this level of granularity. And why does it feel like twighlight at 16:21 in August? Mein Gehirnzelle is verrucht!

Day 17: arrival in Kiel, trains to Hamburg, Osnabrück and Amsterdam

Day 18: Amsterdam to Zaandam

Day 19: around Zaandam

We decided to cycle to Geversduin, to see the location of the hobbit house we’ll stay in some day. (One of Elly’s birthday presents years ago was a stay there. However, plans were scuppered by COVID.)

Day 20: around Zaandam

No cycling – we travelled by bus. We spent our last full day in the Netherlands visiting a windmill museum! That might sound tratsch but it’s actually pretty and informative.

Day 21: Zaandam to IJMuiden to the North Sea

Day 22: North Sea to home

Day 16: Goodbye Oslo

Our hostess left fairly early in the morning to go to her work. She’d shown us the route she recommended to get to the harbour, including the names of the important streets en route. So after a leisurely start, and locking up her house, we set off. I’d programmed a multiple-part journey into Google Maps using the street names we’d been told. Don’t try this at home, kids!

  1. At the end of each journey-part, GM stops showing the onward route and asks if you want to continue route-following. This is no help if you are halfway down a steep street, going quite fast and just want a direction to follow, and really do not need to try to push a button on the jPhone bouncing in your handle-bars. Of fucking course you want to go on, otherwise you wouldn’t have set further ‘destinations.,
  2. in subsequent stretches, GM keeps on changing the direction it is showing, as if it can’t decide whether you want to go on to the next ‘destination’, back to a previous one, or somewhere else entirely.
  3. GM’s sense of distance changes quite rapidly as you approach turns, if it deigns to show them at all, leading to missing turns and longer journeys.

Really, what moron designed GM? Perhaps it’s the same tosser who thought hanging bikes vertically in trains is a good idea. Anyway, we eventually arrived at the ferry terminal, where we both cycled onto the boat, including going up a steep slope to the mezzanine deck. This was helped by slipstreaming from a couple of touring Harley-Davidsons in front of us. After that, there was nothing to do but sleep, eat, blog, sit and get lost on the way back from the smoking deck.

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Day 15: around Oslo, being tourists

Our wonderful hostess took us into town and then to a triplet of museums on Bygdøy peninsula. Medical issues and the number of people wandering around in the dark, overheated atmosphere may have led to me finding the Fram museum somewhat oppressive, although going onto the boat without first knowing why it was famous first may have contributed. I’m sure the museum has done a thorough job of preservation and presentation of information in non-native languages, but what’s the point when you can’t see it to read it?

I also managed to cause concern by following Elly or her doppelgänger into the next hall via an underground passage (which is meant to be used by visitors), thinking it was the way to the next museum. It wasn’t, and Elly and our host are adamant that they never entered this passage, and that they had to search both toilets for me.

By contrast to Fram, the ship museum next door was light so we could see the exhibits, and get a feel for the harshness of life at sea on tiny, very well preserved boats. Most of them were used for fishing, but I don’t see where the catch would have been kept. There was hardly enough space for the sailors.

The top museum, by my reckoning, featured Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-tiki and Ra rafts. This hit me emotionally, as well as enabling us to get to close to the rafts I could begin to imagine life on boards: how much space and privacy there wasn’t. Then again, Kon-tiki and Ra were actually bigger than I’d imagined. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense to you but it does to me!

Here’s hoping the photos do some justice:

Day 14: arrival in Oslo

We arrived in Oslo about 10am, and were met by an old friend who is doing post-doctoral work in Oslo. She had been adamant that we would stay with her rather than in a hotel: she’d deliberately rented a house with guest-space when she arrived in Oslo in 2019, but then wegen des Coronas no-one could visit her. It was lovely to have time with our friend and her guidance around town was top-hole.

Our friend took us through central Oslo, past the town-hall, to the national museum T-bane station (‘tunnel-train’ = ‘underground’, even though most of it is above ground), and then by train to her house in an uphill suburb in northwestern Oslo. After dumping our gear and catching up a bit – it’s been over 3 years since we last saw each other face-to-face – we went in search of the national ski museum, because we are in Norway and therefore north of the arctic circle. We found the municipal ski-jump – also used for the olympics, apparently – and people riding an aerial runway down it, but not the museum. I suspect its exhibits are so old that they and the building have crumbled to dust.

We took the T-bane to the final stop on this line (Frognerseteren). Apparently this area was the summer pasture for the Frogner area in central-ish Oslo. We couldn’t see any animals grazing but found a lovely and popular restaurant selling (among many other nice things) vegan cake. Even better, my blood sugar was in a state where cake was welcome.

After admiring the view and nattering for a while, we headed back to our friend’s house to cook jambalaya, eat, chat and crash out. (Our friend did most of the cooking, but I chopped vegetables and Elly was skivvy.)

Day 13: Kiel to Oslo

So, yes, there was success! We cycled to the Hauptbahnhof, where Elly waited outside the Reisezentrum while I spoke in fractured German about our ticket needs. There were bike spaces on the train we wanted from Osnabrück to Amsterdam. So on Tuesday we will arrive in Kiel about 10am. Then we’ll take a regional train to Hamburg (1 hour 12 minutes), then an intercity train to Osnabrück (2 hours 30 minutes), then another intercity to Amsterdam (3 hours 7 minutes). So that’s 6 hours 49 minutes on Euro-bahnen, without smoking! You’ll probably hear the screams in Edinburgh. We then took a brief look at the Hiroshimapark, before heading to the ferry terminal. That was a slightly confusing ride, including a narrow bridge across the Förde.

When we got into the terminal, we were told to go to the front of the car-queue and shelter from the elements under the concrete roof next to the check-in gates, because cycles and motorbikes would be boarded first. However, the check-in person then told us that the captain had decided to to board other vehicles first. So we stood and got very cold for an hour. Our reward was being able to cycle onto the ferry.

The ship itself is crazy. Imagine a vey posh version of the shops you are forced to go through between check-in and gate at an airport, but with lifts from a colour version of Metropolis, rooms that are the same size as a budget hotel but as posh as a 5-star, all piled onto a ship as big as a major oil tanker, with superstructure so high you could bungee-jump from the bridge.

As we set off, we watched progress from the forward observation-lounge. We were tempted on deck for cigarettes (well I was) and to watch as we passed under the Nyborg-Halsskov (‘Great Belt’) bridge. It’s truly magnificent, but I doubt my photos do it justice. By then, my blood-sugar was calling out for pizza. In addition to all the posh shops and restaurants, there was a pizza-bar selling (among other types) pizza with vegan cheese.

I think that after that we slobbed and blogged until our evening meal, a very plentiful buffet, and then crashed out. All that active travel is so tiring!

Day 11: Neumünster to Kiel

23·2 undulating miles: https://cyclemeter.com/3432aa395de1d505/Cycle-20220817-0959-48514 (cumulative cycling 212·5 miles)

I spoke too soon in the last entry about getting into my stride. (Would cadence have been more appropriate?) The way from Neumünster to Kiel was mostly on tarmac cyclepaths (with occasional ‘drempels’ due to tree roots) but it undulated by a few meters quite often, and that was taxing. I’m also pretty sure I’m pedalling against some friction, despite Lev having been serviced not long before we left. (I blame the crap UK trains – no way were Lev’s handlebars squint before we left.) There were some patches of gravel en route, which had me singing something like Deutschland Deutschland ohne Wegdek mainly because Deutschland Deutschland ohne Straßenbeläge doesn’t scan.

We had a drinks-break at a lakeside café on the east of the Bordesholmer See. It night have been possible to swim in the lake (and the temperature made this tempting) but there was nowhere to change – there was a sign on the café door saying very strictly ‘this is not a changing room’ and I really didn’t fancy doing the last 10 miles in squelchy padding.

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