My first night in Denmark, this idyllic, quiet, expensive wet country shows how far I’ve come. The wind has challenged me, and I know I’m going to have make some shortcuts if I want to make it to Copenhagen by tonight.
It’s almost June and it’s cold. You have to pity these Danes. The sky is blue, and there’s a crisp bite to the air. There’s nowhere open for breakfast, so it’s back to Netto before getting the ‘IDA’, the passenger ferry to Bogø. It’s a 10-minute trip, and there’s only one other passenger. Danish flags are everywhere; four on the boat and two each at both docks. Patriotism runs high here, and the red and white colours are omnipresent throughout the journey.
Bogø leads over to Møn and with the wind in my face, making an easterly ride is near impossible, so I decide it’s time to change tactic. I opt to move to Store Damme in the island’s centre and cycle directly north, trying to keep some distance from the sea’s headwinds. Møn’s history can be traced back to the Stone Age, and there are some of the oldest burial grounds in the world located here. One such grave I pass dates back to 3500 BC. The churches here are also ancient, looking like Viking relics with grand, obtuse white towers, some dating back to the 13th century.
The Queen Alexandrine Bridge connects the island to Zealand and the winds are ruthless. Workman sit in scaffolding on the bridge, priming and re-welding its old joints. How people work in such calmness, in such conditions I don’t understand. The Kalvehave Church dominates the landscape. Sitting in a field of barley, the towering ivory 13th century building could fit into the set of a movie. The road takes an uphill turn into the countryside to Praesto, an old fishing town where I grab some lunch. Finding my way into one the few cafés around, I start to talk to the owner. The café doubles up as a BnB for bikers that are making the same route. As an officially listed dwelling for people like me, the owners tells he’s always fully booked up for the entirety of the cycling season. I however am one of the first ones this year he’s seen, with the majority of people doing the route between July and August.
From here, I decide to take another route again, to bring me away from the coastline. Just before Faxe Ladeplads, I take a left and cycle a northern route through the island’s heartland, relying solely on my maps and iPhone. Through country-lanes and farmlands. Acres and acres of just sprawling fields, horses and ancient, Nordic cottages. It’s like Game of Thrones, but with more wind. The further north I go, the less arable it becomes, where eventually one town merges into the next the closer I get to Copenhagen. As it gets towards 8pm a stranger gives me the finger from a nearside bar. I wonder if he sits here year round, flipping off every single cyclist from Berlin. I realize it’s time to capitulate and make camp at Hundige Hvan, a beach resort south of the capital. I’m too late to check, so I just rock up and pitch my tent, grab a hot shower and go for a pizza and beer.
After several hundred kilometres, the final stretch was here. Although my ass was sore, I wasn’t actually tired. Just gasping for some more vitamins, and some time to decompress.
Up until this point I had been lucky with the weather. Blue skies, soft-delicate dews and slight warm breezes. This morning it was raining in a way you’d expect it to in the Baltic. I was only 30 kilometres away from Copenhagen, yet this stretch would eventually be the toughest, thanks to the bad weather and poor sign-posting. The road follows parallel to the beach, a popular get-away for those from the city. Approaching the Arken in the city’s suburbs, Copenhagen’s contemporary art museum, the road twists across swampy grass lands through rich Danish suburbs, where mum’s run with their pushchairs, and dapper old gentleman walk along the coastline. The rain came down in droves and the need to be somewhere warm and dry grows.
The route then twists around the edge of the city, teasing you further showing you the end from a distance, as it follows around and under the highway, through a nature-centre and past expensive high-rises that look out across desolate fields towards the sea. The area forms part of Kalvebod, recalimed seabed dating back to the 18th century. The bike route runs past shopping centres, through parks and past youth centres. Finally entering the city centre the ridiculousness of it all starts to seep in. I haven’t washed since I started and I’m wearing the same clothes I wore in Day1. My tent and sleeping bags are fixed to the sides of my bike, taped together and dragging along the side due to one of the fixings breaking on the second day. I feel like a vagabund, without a house, dirty in the land of clean, and beautiful people – all busying around between jobs. Crossing the Langebro bridge eeking towards the end of my journey, the stunning Royal Library sits to my right. It’s a beuatiful and majestic city, and people here love their bikes. It’s difficult to know where the EuroVelo ends or begins, lacking fanfare or banners. I stop outside the City Hall and ask a tour guide to take my photo. I want more attention. Someone to buy me a beer. I almost expect there to be more cyclists there, patting each other on the back in self-congratulary stances. But no, nothing.
I follow the route a bit further to the train station, which is listed as the start point for those heading in the other direction. I grab a coffee and a sandwich and start to plan my trip back – I’m done and hanging around the Danish capital doesn’t appeal to me. The journey far outweighs the destination. I can’t help but feel that I want to keep on going on. I find it hard to just stop and be. This is one of my real struggles in life, and at no point does it resonate more that when I’m Copenhagen booking my train back to Berlin. Which is a shame, as Copenhagen is full of amazing, friendly people, lots of museums and great architecture. Throughout the city there are amazing bars, coffee shops, and book stores. I pop into a cornershop to buy a beer, and notice they have a comic rack and stacks of independanlty published magazines. If this was in Berlin, I would be in here all the time, drinking overpriced beer, flicking through magazines that I would have no intention of buying. There’s a certain sence of irony, as many people tell me Copenhageners admire Berliners, wanting to emulate the independent, grassroots culture. Somehow they’ve sculpted something more engaging and fun - a youth spirit that is very much their own.
I spend the afternoon chilling out in Rosenborg Garden, now reading Ulysses. The sun is out and the city looks the best place in the world. Couples lie around in the grass, as kids play games and tourists wander between the royal buildings. It’s the perfect weather to sit back and have a beer, wandering into a bar I reluctantly cough up the EUR 10,- it costs for an amazing, cold drink. The restaurants look amazing and everyone is out on the street, post-work banter. Saving my money, I go to a cheap, Indian take-out (surprisingly really good) and grab another street beer. You get the feeling that there is nothing the Danish can’t do.
I can’t shake the feeling that I want to get back on the bike and go on further. There’s nothing that wouldn’t stop me going to Helsinborg and up to the Arctic Circle. It makes you question the purpose of living. Getting up every day and going to work, just to earn money to buy things. I could happily live on my bike. Spend around EUR 20,- per day living in my tent. Getting on the bike for five or so days leaves me with more questions than it does answers. The journey had been blissful and extremely meditative, focusing on getting from one place to the other. Thinking about where I’m going to get the next meal from and where I can pitch my tent. But at the end it leaves me asking for more and I’m very reluctant to go back home to hustle for work and further myself in the day-to-day rituals of existence. Life is but a self-constructed Panopticon. But is it realistic to think that a life on the road is possible. Shirking responsibilities, commitments and running away from relationships. Even Kerouac had his Moriarty. This won’t be the last time I take on such a trek, but sometimes a journey requires a partner. As does most things.
What I Listened To:
This might seem a bit weird for someone who listens to mainly jazz at home and works in the electronic music scene, but when I’m cycling, I often have a lot of hardcore and metal in my headphones. It’s that aggression and energy which really gives me an extra kick – a sort of emotive-addrenaline boost. If you see my cycling around Berlin with my earbuds in (I know, it’s not clever), I am most likely listening to something very loud and abrasive. So on occasion, when I started to tire and feel weary, I would turn my phone on and play some Converge or At The Drive In – something that would drag me onto to wherever I needed it to. Here is a playlist of some my most listened-to tracks.