Life behind Bars, as one man journeys solo from Trondheim Norway south to Istanbul Turkey. This is part 3 of that journey, and we will pick up where Jeremiah and Shirley his bike were on that last post.
It seems our roving vagabond was riding blissfully in the rain amidst the lush green rolling hills of northern Denmark. And yes, the knees are feeling much better in this flatter terrain, thanks for asking. Denmark is beautiful, and you should see it when the clouds part and the sun comes out- wow, just incredible. Not a beef cow to be seen????? Has me worried!
Passing thru Arlborg, with a full rain suit on including plastic bags inside me shoes…..it’s yippy skippy time…….I know what the old tent will smell like tonight. Now the time to find some scented candles, and bury them in all my bags. It wards off evil spirits, and makes your clothes smell like Camelmeal and BO. Ooh.
All I done was ride folks, not much other than that. Passed thru a tiny hamlet, and smelled something very enticing so followed my nose to Peters Fisk, a mobile affair on the side of a street, where Peter sold all sorts of fresh caught fish, and also cooked, smoked, and any other way you can prepare fish…..he did it. I sat and ate one of his Dainish fav,s the fried fish ball or patty. Was great, hot, and I was wet, it’s 10am and this is breakers so it went down well. He also sold me his favorite fish treat, a smoked Hake for me supper that night. Have to admit, it may have been the best fish I have had.
On we rode till we camped among the thick evergreens just out of Renders. We were up early and headed full tilt …………… at about 8 mile per hour for Arnhus where I would jump a Ferry to Sjelland (sounds like Zeeland). Pulled up to ferry dock and sat less than 10 minutes before they began loading us, bicycles first. Met a fellow, Klaus, quite a rider. Loves the high mountain climbs, he was headed for Italy in a week to climb Stelvio (a world ranked cycle climb in the Dolomites of Italy.) I told him that I climbed the hill north of Renders Denmark…….he snorted with laughter. I leaned my bike against him till he held its full wieght……he then sacked his chuckle right back in and looked rather wide eyed at me. This is a brute he says. Ah, gosh, that’s nothing, sometimes I really load it up.
70 minutes later, we arrived Sjelland under fresh, clean, and sunny skies…..it could not have been any prettier. Big rolling hills when there was a hill, immense views of ocean on both sides of the slim Peninsula of land I was traversing. It’s about noon, so I have an ice tea and a ice cream bar, sat and watched the ocean…..it’s hypnotic with those soft waves rolling in……..I found myself feeling urged to quit smoking or confess to what I had done back in grade 8. Had to get up and keep moving before it got any worse. The shores are more often Reed lined than they are Sands, the water was aquamarine and beautiful from the vantage of the higher hills. ( those reeds will be important later in this blog )
Denmark loves there cyclists, and they build bike lanes in most places so travel by bike here is far more relaxing…….the analometer a built in measuring system on all cyclists ( yes, it is a rear facing device ) designed to scale the size of approaching hood ornaments and tell you how it will fit……or worse…..not fit. This highly developed function of a cyclists body just goes dormant when in Denmark……before long you don’t even know if a fire hydrant will fit. Sure was nice though, sail along and even become lost in the scenery for a change.
I rode for 2 relaxing days south by south east towards Copenhagen. Rode thru Roskilde and knew nothing about a large Viking Museum…….yes Pine I do feel sorta foolish now for having missed it. I must say, partially in defense that I am having phone issues, old age and tech related. Thos3 issues are still nagging and some cause of grief even today. Is my airplane mode off or on when on WiFi, do I turn on mobile data of not when on WiFi, can I have Bluetooth and WiFi at the same time…..dang, what ever happened to pick it up and dial????? I know, it’s easy for the r3st of yarn, but you should try to live inside my head at times to fully appreciate my low tech abilities. SO, THE ANSWER IS NO, didn’t have everything on my phone set correctly and missed some details along the way.
Then came Copenhagen. It was a combination of my god it’s beautiful and JW, get the heck out, save your life son, look at all the people. Everyone in a while that is a feeling that overwhelms me, sort of the opposite of claustrophobic. I think Fraud referred to it as “Closititus”, that longing to peer thru a keyhole at life passing by. Not sure exactly, it felt wrong not to have someone there with me to enjoy it, had a coffee and pastry in the sweet part of town, looked out at the oc3an, handed out 2 cards to folks having trouble with life and by noon was ready to make a break and head south. I shall return, but with my darling wife.
The road south gets to b3 more rolling, huge grain country. Outstanding fi3lds of Barley and 2heat chin high and the edges are poppy lined in a sweet orange color, backdrop pedaled by emerald green hardwoods. Everywhere you look is a post card it seems. I was headed for Vindaborg and old fri3nds. Jens Christians end and Dan, had stopped by to visit us in USA some 8 years previous. And today, I would stop by to say hello to them both in thier home country.
Jens, when I met him, was a blacksmith at a Dainish Medevil Village. Dan on the other hand had a sliver…….he’snorted a carpenter. Any5hing you want from remodels to complete new homes, the rough stud work, the inside hand made cabinets, any5hing to you want. Enter, ocean reeds or lake reeds here, as I ask about the abundance of thatched rooves in Denmark. I always thought that they were thatched with straw of one fo4m or another…….wrong. The best, and longest lasting thatched roof is thatched with minimum 2 meter long reeds harvested at the oceans edge (the interior ocean water here is semi salt, since there is so much fresh water flowing in each day) A properly thatched salt water Reed roof is a forty year roof, is laid on about 12′ thick. Next comes fresh water lake reeds, smaller, shorter, and not as long liv3d, maybe a 25 – 30 year roof. Most lake reeds today are shipped to the rest of Europe from Hungary.
But I got a wee bit ahead of myself in the telling of our meeting up. Jens, no long3r works as a blacksmith. Nor does he follow the buckaroo 5hing as closely as does Dan, Jens has r3turned to his true roots as a “free trapper of 1830) . Matter of fact just 4 days after I left him, he flew to USA to ride the Selways of Idaho. Packing a flintlock, a buffalo robe and some pipe tobacco is about all…….5 days of riding and a rendezvous held back in the woods away from tourists and cell phones. They take it seriously, one of them volunteered to be mauled by a GRIZZLY, so he could reenact Hugh Glasses famous epic ordeal. Not sure how that part of the trip worked out. We visited the Medevil Village the following day, great place to sp3nd a few hours for sure. Seen much of what Jens had hamm3r3d out and helped build in his almost 20 year stint at the Village. Dan and Jens are a wealth of knowledge from a guy like me passing thru, since they both are natives, have a solid grasp of history and construction methods. So in the time I am there I learned about dauber houses, thatched rooms and how my duoedendum hooks into my gastro-intestinal tract……..more on that later. ( hey Dan, I ate greens 3 times this week you would be proud of me…….I found these really cool mint green iced doughnuts, fabulous and I even feel healtier)
The time did come to pack up and head out towards Gedser and my last ferry till Bulgaria crossing the Danube. This was a 1.5 hour trio over to Rostock a very busy sea port city. Also where they weld up many of those huge steel towers used on those huge windmills that spring up anyplace that is not insight of a Senator or Congressman’s house……it’seems a bloody gardening miracle……but there I go on a rant. Back to Rostock and the ferry, I spent the better part of the last day in Denmark riding ahead of, then falling behind a group of 4 people from Iceland who had come down to THAW, and ride bicycles. They invited me up to Iceland, pointed me in the proper direction with dark red swollen fingers and black finger nails, frost bit cheeks and red noses?…….sure. I am going to rush right up there. I asked them if they knew a bikini was supposed to end ALONG WAYS above the ankles and are not to be worn with wool socks underneath. No sir, they had no idea what I was talking about.
The ferry doors opened at about 5pm, we all busted out and headed our own way among rolling tanker trucks, semi,s h3ad further south and tourists with travel trailers that were tired and ready for thier first night camping. And us on velocip3des right in among them, seeking our way thru a maze of lanes, passing vee-hickles (US pronunciation). I rode about 20 miles east or Rostock and set up camp, had a slab of cheese, and some salami and called it a day.
I am going to say something here that will leave my German friends offended – sorry but it just as it happened. I will be gentle in the retelling. I ended up riding further and faster than I had intended for this main reason. In general I really found the Germans to be rather cold and all of on this t4ip. Been to Germany several times and have not encountered the attitude I did this trip. I could find no one who would attempt to help with English, even young people in stores and on the street when I stopped to find directions. DUTCH, dutch, air kept getting told. Along the way, I stop for a drink when I see someone I would like to talk to………this was a total blow out for me, old people, young, no matter what I got a cold shoulder each time. So, sorry, but I had nothing else to do but ride. Longest day so far do2n here is 137km about 90 miles give or take. 5 hills in one day, all posted at 8 percent grade. I crossed northern Germany, in an angular fashion in about 4 days.
Crossed into Poland at Scwedt, rode over the bridge into th3 waiting arms of a prostitute…………wait minute she’s already taken, not to worry ther3 must be 30 or 40 more. The rode to Chino is lined with them. Each with a little folding chairs, a bottle of water and no where near enough cloths to be out picking berries. It was truly a line up of Dolls and Dogs, every little pull over off the road had a hooked stationed there. That stretch of road was without doubt the heaviest trafficked I have seen, and it was a Sunday afterall………..what are confessions for????
I love Poland, it’s poor enough to be interesting, wealthy in very friendly people, and what is on display is the BEST that they have. Poland as a Nation, refused to take any refugees -PERIOD. Poland has a GDP per capita of approx 12,500, compare that to Russia at 9,450 per person, or CZ at 17,300. Poland does not fall into the top ten poorest Nations in Europe. It sits at number 16 as of 2015 status. Sadly for Poland, it’s most abundant natural resource is COAL. Merely mentioning coal in these global warming times will get you kicked off any local school bus by a kid from the indoctrinated first grade. So what you see is a lot of simple dry land farming and timber harvest, yes, they have manufacturing and technology and all the other things going on but at a smaller scale. Funny little state I found. Poland ranks higher than USA on world ranking of educational quality, but lower in the total number of educated per capita. The young generation will be Poland’s new future for sure, as they are the educated. It’s the older generation who are coming out from under the mantle of Communism who are the bulk of the un or under-educated. But enough of stats and figures, let’s get back to prostitues……..no, let’s get to riding.
Most of my time here in southwest Poland is spent riding thru dense forests, sometimes beautiful hardwood canopied roads, and other times miles after mile of pine trees. Gotta love those heavily shaded rides thru hardwood trees, at times so dark you consider turning on a headlight. Logging trucks abound, quite abound few are hauling firewood length logs, meaning the trees have been cut to about 1 meter length. When they load them on the truck racks, there are 4 rows of logs per trailer…..very unusual for a former Canadian logger like me to see.
My journey has taken me on the smallest roads I can find that meander across the Polish countryside. It has been a very enjoyable experience for sure. Riding thru one little rustic village after another. About every 4th or 5th village is large enough to have a tiny Schlepwe or corner store. Sometimes all of 10 by 10. The only refrigerated product in them are BEER and ice cream product. I have eaten a lot of ice cream so far. The people along the road are ready and willing to visit. It does not take long to get out Google translate. Fill in the gaps between smiles, knods, shoulder shrugs and that pure “what the hell” look. I have been offered food, soup from a farm grandmother and of course plenty of both beer and vodka.
Had an interesting stop in a tiny town. Bright hot sunny afternoon, passing thru the usual small farm town, I happ3ned past a brightly painted vehicle sitting up on a pedestal like a presentation of sorts. It was located behind an iron bar type fence, but I rolled around to take a pic anyways. Riding back, I see that gate to this yard is op3n. It’s a firehouse of sorts, albeit small and a little worse for wear, it’s a firehouse. The front door of the firehouse is open, but it’s so dark inside I can’t see anything. So I roll up and begin parking my bike and I can hear voices emanating from inside. Raucous happy laughter, coughing and the sound of leg slapping, that sort of noise.
I pull my camera out, and poke my head thru the door, they were totally caught off guard, had no idea I had come upon thier alcohol induced jovialities. DOBRA, DOBRA, they yelled and went on in a flurry of Polish thinking I am a fellow Pole. My blank countenance must have given it all away. 4 supremely drunk firefighters sat there in the midst of one “newish” tiny firetruck, a folding table with empty beer bottles and gently leaning lilting folding chairs…….just like thier occupants, along with a few scattered uncoiled firehoses. No day to have a house fire, that’s for sure.
They wanted me to sit down and have a drink with them, I knew that could be a problem so I pretended the sun and beer didn’t work together. It seemed they understood, so they cleared off the used beer bottles and broke out a Fanta type drink. We toasted, we talked, we broke out the translator and shared stories and a few political views. I tread carefully, as you know a man with an opinion is one thing…..a drunk man with an opinion ….well that can go bad. We turned to Trump, the group was split. The drunken of the group, made an effort to stand from his chair and make a powerful oratory on the new USA president?……..nut his legs failed him and he tumbled to the floor drink and all. His would be famous last point as they say fell flat and will never be recorded in Polish history nor sung about by the bards. He was the worst off of the crew, the others while definitely almost gone they could about the least make sort of cogent points. I switched to talk to the old fire truck and it’s year that it was made. Well heck, this got more heated than the political landmine I was invited into. They finally settled on 1934, made in Gdansk.
After what seems at least an hour or chatter, I felt it was time to get my pic and move along. So, I arranged my phone to take a self timer pic and attempted to bail in, but dang tech, I could not get the time timer to trigger. Snapped a few pics and got outside to snap a few more of the truck.. escape would not be that easy after all. One fellow came on outside, and implored me to follow him as if he had the secret location of the Holy Grail. Follow I did, maybe 1/4 mile back to his place on the side of the road that I had just passed. With a beaming smile he showed me the treasure he passed, and it was pretty cool. His beautiful red brick barn, a huge red barn to be sur3 all in the typical 4 square yard pattern forming a green center square. His great looking barn, built from locally made brick back in 1830 when his little town was really something.
I rode on out, knowing that man takes pride in all sorts of things, I am guilty of the same in many ways. These guys loved thier little firehouse and there volunteer capacity. They wanted USA to be the strong ally they counted on for so many years now. Where will it all go in the future, who knows because I sure don’t. But this IS do know, we are not the ones who will control nor shape our future with argument nor artfully passionate orations……it is indeed all in god#s hands and the final end will be as he determines.