...and finally, Germany

I am finally back in Germany. The transfer was not easy though, since I spent most of my time in Iceland working on my thesis, that I finally finished not long before I left. Last Saturday afternoon, after I had the last meeting with my supervisor, and spent all my day working on it, my word processor miserably broke down. I closed it and went home, thinking that I had lost only the last 10min of work; but I had the bad idea to click on "repair", which brought the status of the document back to what it was the day before, so basically deleting all I had done on that day. There was probably a way to undo the repairing, but instead of wasting time on finding the way, I just did all the work again, which I remembered quite well. I even went out to get some fresh air and see the crazy Reykjavík night life still blooming as dawn was approaching at around 3 a.m.. Then I went home, i.e. to the "hole in the wall", made a pdf of my work, and packed my stuff. My flight (yes, I flew this time, unfortunately - the ship was too expensive this time, because the cheapest couchettes were already fully booked) had been moved to Akureyri, because eventually, after over 1 month of volcanic ash trouble, the airport in Keflavík was closed. After a tiresome bus ride started at 7 a.m., I reached Akureyri again, and in the evening, Copenhagen. On the train to Hvidovre I fell asleep for 3 minutes or so, which made me miss my stop in Nørreport. So it took me 2 hours to finally reach my dear Icelandic-Greek friends, at whose place I spent an awesome night.No need to say that the following day, when I was supposed to make it to Berlin, I overslept. I really needed a good sleep, but the delay seriously jeopardized my trip. I stuck out my thumb at a crossroad in Hvidovre at around 11:30, where I waited for a good two hours. The first ride was good, as I covered almost half of the way to Gedser, and I was dropped at a lovely service area with German cars. While I was looking for the right one, a nice Danish guy approached me and offered me a ride south. I told him that I was looking for Germans, but he insisted, so knowing that most Germans drive cars filled with kids and stuff, I accepted. He dropped me in the countryside close to Nykøbing (Falster) at a toll area with a lot of trucks, that looked good. But always the same story here: German truck drivers are not allowed to take people on board. And the other ones, they weren't going to Germany. So I tried a couple of rounds, with no success. Then I walked up the road (a good 2km or so) and stood next to a sign saying "Rødby - Gedser". I stood for hours with my sign to Gedser, but everyone either played tricks on me, or ignored me. Eventually I went back to the truck spot, for another round with the trucks. No success. So after wasting all my afternoon like this, I walked up the road in the other direction, to the next village. I tried to hitch a ride anywhere, with no success. Just one car stopped to tell me that the highway to Gedser was closed... So eventually, at around 6 p.m., I took a train to Nykøbing (I was only 2 stops away), and took the cheap bus to Gedser (the railway was not working either!). At around 7 I was at the ferry terminal, where I saw that the next ship, the last of the day, was leaving at 9.I had heard that the ferries to Germany are free after 9 p.m.. It's not really like that. It's just that the ticket sale is closed, and nobody really checks your ticket, so it's easy to sneak in. Also, the ticket is actually valid for a round trip, so at that time of the day it's clear that most of the passengers are going back and don't need a ticket. I was with a German guy that was asking around how he could buy a ticket, so eventually I had to buy one too, because the ticket counter opened just for us. The ship was nearly empty, so I didn't find any cars to take me on board. The price is great though, 7€ for a 2h ride, that you can take both ways. At around 11 p.m. we arrived in Rostock, where I started to look for a suitable place to crash at the harbour, but couldn't really find one. I decided to go downtown then, because it would take some time and just in case, I could easily stay awake until 5 or so, when I could have started looking for early birds driving to Berlin. Meanwhile, I had called my girlfriend to ask her if she could find me a place to stay in town. I stood for half an hour waiting for a bus that didn't come, unlike the shuttle bus driver had told us. Eventually, I realized it was not a bus that was supposed to come, but an "Abruftaxi", a taxi-bus that you need to call at least half an hour in advance. It was too late to call for the last one, so we were stuck at the harbour, 10km away from the city centre. My girlfriend told me that, incredibly, she had found a last-minute couch. I texted the guy that there was no bus and I was going to walk downtown. He replied that it would take me 2h to walk downtown, and that he was going to bed, but I could just call him and wake him up any time I'd be there. So me and the German guy started walking somewhere. We first got to the main road, which is in fact a motorway, and a nice sign was standing on it warning that it's forbidden to walk on it. I proposed that we should walk anyway, because the spotlights were good and the few cars driving by could have stopped for us. If the cops would come, they would have given us a ride, I said, and probably keep us busy for the rest of the night, which wouldn't have been as bad as sleeping in the cold. But the other guy didn't like this option, and since he kind of knew the area, I followed him. We ended up at a house were rail workers were staying. We asked a guy watching TV in there how we could walk downtown "legally". He said we couldn't, so ganz unoffiziell, unofficially, he showed us the way along the rail tracks (that were obviously forbidden too). We walked on there and ended up in another place, where we were supposed to go over a fence. In that moment, a car came and opened it. We asked for the way, and then for a ride, which we got, after the man had had a shower. He drove us to the tram stop, where the very last one came after 5 minutes, at 00:30.At 1 I had finally reached my couch, and woken up the guy, of course. He welcomed me with a big, sleepy smile, and introduced me to his cat and to the fragrant, ready-made guest bed. I slept like a baby until 10:00 the next morning, when my host and his girlfriend greeted me with a Na, mister CouchSurfer? I had breakfast with them, and within half an our, I hitched a ride to Berlin. If there were a golden couch or some prize like that, these people would have won it, if it were up to me!Berlin was cold. It was colder than Reykjavík and colder than Denmark, don't ask me how. When I arrived in Lichenberg, where my girlfriend was waiting for me at a friend's, she told me that the next day we would have had to leave with her at 5:30. It was like a curse then, I thought. The "friend" had decided to go away for 4 days straight after work, and didn't even think of letting us take care of the apartment. At first, I was baffled; then I calmed down, and realized that although I spend most of my time with perfect strangers that welcome me into their homes in the middle of the night, feed me, give me rides, and in many cases left me the house keys for several days without even knowing me, there is still a great deal of the world around me and these people that is not like that. My lifestyle isn't "normal", although when one lives deep into it, you may come to believe that it is, and than out there it's just a minority of people that are paranoid and ideologically refuse to be nice. We still have a long way to go.

See original: Lost in the North ...and finally, Germany

Velkominn heim

Yesterday, Wednesday, April 14th, at 6:30 p.m. I got off a car at Hlemmur bus terminal. After 10 days on the road and at sea, my thumb had brought me all the way back to Reykjavík.I really don't feel like writing, I am totally overwhelmed by this weird feeling of being back home without having a home.On the way from Voss, I dropped more than half of the things I had with me in my bag, trying to be as light as possible. I even gave up my tent and sleeping mat, and as the events soon proved, I didn't really need all that stuff. Of course, hitch-hiking in Iceland means accepting the possibility of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, maybe overnight. But it didn't happen.Short before I left Århus, I contacted Eleonora in Tórshavn. She is vegan and I wanted to meet her and her German boyfriend Hannes during the 8 hours I was going to stay in Tórshavn. What she told me was that her boyfriend was in Århus too at that time, and could give me a ride to Esbjerg, because he was going to catch the same ferry. He drove me there, spent a nice time together with him and another French guy on board, and then he invited us over to their place to have an awesome vegan breakfast. His girlfriend made delicious chocolate-coconut waffles, and then we went on a city tour. They also invited me to stay over with them longer and take the ship later, but I really had to go.Two immediate rides from Seyðisfjörður and Egilstaðir, off I go. The weather was great, the people, fantastic. Although our second ride was all the way to Akureyri, I decided to get off at Mývatn and look for jarðböð, natural baths. This didn't have anything to do with the so-called "Blue Lagoon of the North", which is just a swimming pool with a 2000kr entrance (provided that the water is free, and the building around it costs as much as any other swimming pool, I don't get why it costs more than 360kr). I am talking about caves with hot water inside. My driver had been there as a child, and didn't quite remember (of course, it's free, they don't advertise it), but he managed to find out and drove me all the way to the caves. You have no idea, but you will have as soon as I will upload some pictures...However, I couldn't really enjoy the bath after I realized that I had left my bag with my laptop on the roadside in Egilstaðir. I grabbed my phone to call the police, but my battery was dead (and my charger was in the bag). Hitchhiking with a laptop is not recommendable, but if you're still pretending to be a student, like me, you're gonna need it. So I walked about 4km to the next town Reykjahlíð and called the police from the post office (why use a payphone when people have at the post office have nothing to do?). They didn't know about it, meaning that nobody had reported the bag yet, so it could have been stolen. I decided to hitch further to Akureyri with my French and Belgian travelmates, and waited 4h in the cold for our ride.We got to Akureyri at 8:30 p.m. and I was driven to the doorstep at my host's, a nice Polish girl working as a researcher at the university of Northern Iceland. When she welcomed me, she asked me aren't you missing a computer bag? Now, how could you possibly know about it? I said. A Dutch couple hitch-hiking from the ferry had been standing after us at the very same hitch-hiking spot, found my bag, and although we hadn't exchanged names, because of the Italian text on the bag realized it was mine, and remembered that I had said I had a couch in Akureyri at a Polish girl's. They logged in, found her profile, and told her about it. In 1-2 days I'll have my bag back.Yesterday, the Belgian guy and I got stuck in Varmahlíð, 100km West of Akureyri, after a long wait to get out of the city. It was just in time to meet Caroline, a nice German girl that seems to be everywhere I am or I want to be (she was with Eleonora and Hannes in Tórshavn too). She made food for us and stayed all over her lunch break. If we hadn't had luck, we could have even spent the night there. Now, isn't this awesome. You are in the middle of nowhere in Iceland, and you find out that a friend is temporarily there for a very short-term job. No matter what happens, I know something crazy is going to happen to me, like when I got forced to accept a 50€ banknote by my ridegiver last summer in Germany. Or getting there at exactly the time I need. When you start wandering where you'll spend the night, there comes your ride.I am staying at a friend's now, but in the house where I was living in a whole in the wall until last October there is a vacant room, so apparently I'm even gonna get a room all for myself, for free, in house full of dear friends of mine.Welcome home.

See original: Lost in the North Velkominn heim

Farvel, Norge

Hvor skal i hen? I asked when I opened the door of the white transporter that dared to pull over on the on-ramp close to Hjørring. The girl at the wheel threw a weird glance at me, but then she got it and replied in Norwegian Vi skal mot Tyskland, we are heading to Germany. I hopped in and we set off. To break the ice and start a conversation I asked them, so, you're gonna load on some booze? Then I noticed he was talking on the phone. He said ssh, the cops are on the phone. Fuck.I didn't even stand 10 minutes waiting for this ride, and I had soon put away my Århus-sign, thinking that it might get hard to hitch and so I got ready to accept nearly any ride south. I burst in a big smile when the two Norwegians pulled over, thinking that finally I was in Denmark and getting rides would get a lot easier than in Norway. So my surprise was even greater when I realized I had hitched a ride with two Norwegians... in Denmark. I got more scared at their request to make me drive than their stated intention of smuggling stuff back into Norway (why on earth do you have to tell me about that?). Thinking that the car was empty so I was not in any trouble yet, finding myself at the wheel had the uncomfortable inconvenience of being legally responsible for everything going on in the car; but on the other hand, I had the situation under control, and regardless of them drinking and smoking hash and talking to the cops who wanted to know where they were because of a witnessing business, which they wouldn't say, well, at least I could trust myself. The time was soon over and yes, I "dropped myself off" at a lovely gas station, where I was soon picked up by my Danish friends.Certainly a luckier day than Wednesday. That was definitely not my hitch-hiking day. I knew that hitching out of Oslo was hard, if not impossible. I had a hard time to calculate distances, find the right spot and the right bus going there, and eventually didn't make it to the bus on time. In Denmark, it took me 1:30h to drive 150km, but for the same distance from Oslo to Larvik it would have taken me 2-3h instead and unpredictable waiting time. The train was way more expensive than a 4h ferry ride to Denmark, which I really didn't understand why, and once in Larvik, I walked forever to get to the ferry terminal. Larvik's ferry terminal is one of those places that clearly aren't thought for pedestrians (read: hitch-hikers). It took me over half an hour to get there from the train station, and almost walked in through the car lanes. Spring had come before me, so my Icelandic sweater did the job it was actually called so for. But I made it eventually. Next to me was sitting a whole family of Danish gypsies who, judging from the women's red-painted hand palms, had just come from a beautiful marriage in Norway. Certainly not the kind of thing you experience on a plain...My host in Hjørring was great, and she saved me from sleeping on the beach in Hirtshals. I was totally pampered. And once at my friend's place close to Århus, we went to the garden and welcomed spring by harvesting nettles, which were soon transformed into a delicious nettle soup... and finally I got my new traveller's guitar!

See original: Lost in the North Farvel, Norge

On the road again

Finally, on Easter Sunday, 2010 I left Voss after the longest two months since some time. I left with the winter, since snow was melting everywhere, and the lake in front of the hostel, that was my only balcony view for the whole time, was half defrosted, and some bold ducks had already started dipping their claws in the icy water.I left a job that I had long thought was one of the best I ever had, without turning back. I made quite a lot of money (about 3500€ netto, if you really want to know) for having worked only 2 months on minimum wage, and I am happy to leave with some cash in my pockets. If I had been smarter, though, I would have taken a month trip during the dead period after Easter, and come back to work in the summer, where there is a lot to do and a lot of money to be made. But after several years of nomadic training, my daily budget is as near to zero as possible, and I am quite happy with the money I have now, and can now spend the whole summer travelling. Why work more to spend my money on travelling, when I can travel with almost no money now? Why wait for travelling, when everything you need to do is loading your backpack and stick your thumb out?Keeping your budget low must involve a lot of hitch-hiking. I had tried it before around rainy Bergen, and worked quite well, although as I wrote before, I had never stood so long amidst so much traffic, without being picked up in a reasonable time. This time it was even worse, and it took me about 13h to get to Oslo. And I couldn't have been luckier! The day before leaving I have been observing the traffic along the E16 Bergen-Oslo, hoping that there would be enough cars. Unfortunately though, this doesn't mean much in Norway. Actually, if there are many cars around, you're very likely to be completely ignored by nearly everyone, while if there is less traffic, people will sooner notice (and maybe pity) you. Of course on Easter Sunday at 8 a.m. there were almost no cars around Voss. But the night before I got to talk to a guy at the local café, that told me he was gonna drive to Geilo with his girlfriend the next day, and asked him for a ride. In Voss there was no longer any snow, and Geilo - which is half way to Oslo from Voss - had just got 30cm the day before. So I gave them half of the huge pizza that I had baked with my last groceries the night before, and we set off on good time. But instead of taking 3h, we had to wait long for the ferry across the Hardangerfjord, and then 2 hours because of a snow-blocked mountain road that had to be driven through in a convoy. So eventually I was dropped off in Geilo at 2 p.m., got two small rides to Ål, and there I waited forever. I watched an endless row of Audis and Mercedes pass by; unlike other spots, here most drivers seemed to be alone at the wheel, and looked extremely bored. But instead of accepting the company of a lone hitch-hiker, they sped away without even noticing me. I have seldom felt so transparent before.When I was already thinking about finding the nearest train station and/or a place where I could spend the night, I went to some trees to take a leak, and when I came back to the highway, there was a car parked next to my backpack, the driver trying to fix something in the dashboard. I looked in, and saw a happy family of four and lots of luggage, so I didn't want to bother to ask them to squeeze me in (I experienced a couple of times before, that people with kids sometimes seem to reply quite kindly to my requests, although saying that they would take me aboard if they only didn't have their kids with them). So I picked my sign and stuck out my thumb again, thinking that if they really wanted to take me with them, they would have called me in. And that was what they did! And as it was already past 5 p.m., I got my ride to Oslo. The guy at the wheel had been a hitch-hiker himself in his youth, and thought - probably because of my weird moustache - that I was from the Ukraine, Eastern Europe or something. For some reason, Norwegian hitch-hikers are an extinct breed, and nobody would have thought I was a local. Considering that you're likely to be driving an Audi Quattro at driving school, and that one driving lesson here costs 5 times the price you'd pay in Italy (which is already extremely expensive!), you'd understand why.The queues on the highways were pretty long, but the two kids had quite a nice time interviewing me. Another little girl on a short ride I had hitched, asked me whether it was not skummelt (scary) to hitch-hike. It depends who picks you up, I said. But after hitch-hiking in 7 different countries since last summer, I never met anyone scary. Not that the world is free from scary people, of course; but they just don't pick me up, it seems. If the people who stop are somehow revealing the amount of nice people in a country, then the number of those in Norway must be scary low. With some people, everything you need to do is to break the ice, confirming the stereotype of the cold but under-the-surface-friendly Scandinavian. But I don't think that anyone in those Audis and Mercedes would have let me do it. And my experience in Denmark, Iceland and the Faroes says that there is a huge difference between Norway and its neighbouring countries, and that the lack of sunlight and cold-argument are plain bullshit. People are rich, don't need help, and don't give help.I came to Oslo at around 9 p.m., after 13 hours on the road and about 500km. I got dropped off at Majorstuen.Tomorrow I'll hitch to Larvik and get the ferry to Hirtshals. Hopefully I'll get a ride on board to my couch in Hjørring, as I'll be there after sunset.

See original: Lost in the North On the road again

Weekend Hitchhiking Trip

I finally got a long weekend off, and I quickly grabbed the chance to do some hitching in Norway. This is the first time I tried to hitchhike systematically in the country, as last time I was here, back 3 years ago, I wasn't yet a hichhiker. Hitching rides was a bit harder than I had thought, as a couple of times I had to wait for fairly long at spots that looked very good - but it went pretty smooth in the end. I started on Friday from right in front of the hostel - the E16 going from Oslo to Bergen stretches across Voss, and trucks even stop to rest in the hostel's parking lot - and after 2 rides I was in Bergen, almost as quickly as with the train.Spring is on its way and Bergen was as rainy as it's famous for, and as in many modern cities, free toilets are a mirage. Even along the way, at gas stations and kiosks, it costs as much as 10kr to use the toilet. In these cases, waiting for someone to pay and sneak in after the door has been opened is a good option (if someone looks bad at you, you can always use the excuse that you don't have the only coins required and it's troublesome to change a banknote, which is very plausible). Another option is looking for a university building, although even at the University Library for Humanities that I often visit, you have to ask for the key at the counter (weird). Again, this is not a question of stinginess - if I have to take a big one and am looking for some comfort in a clean and nice toilet and soft toilet paper, I am more than willing to pay (especially because it doesn't happen too often); but 1okr for taking a leak is outrageous.Hitching out of the city from the centre is nearly impossible, as there are tunnels and big roads where car drive fast and don't have space to pull over. There was almost no information about Bergen on Hitchwiki, so I had to find out myself. I took a bus to Åsane Senter, a huge mall North of Bergen, very close to the juncture of the motorways going North and East. I used that spot twice, first on Saturday to hitch North, and then on Sunday to go East back to Voss. It was great. The first day I had a small sign and it was pouring like hell, so it wasn't that pleasant. But my drivers were great, and already at 3pm I reached Førde, 176km further North.This year Førde won the prize as the ugliest city in Norway for the 3rd consecutive time (I wonder why having this competition at all, if the outcome is already known). The city wasn't that special indeed, but the landscape around it is great and confirms its importance as fjord hub. But what was special was the reason why I got there: I was invited to surf a couch by a 46-years-old awesome crazy CouchSurfing lady, and I was crazy enough to go there. Her house was amazing, and I was treated like a prince. We spent the whole evening talking about hitchhiking, peace and love, hippy communes, naturism, and crazy CouchSurfing experiences. The world is still a great place as long as people like these are around!I talked so much that it eventually exhausted me. I talked to the CouchSurfing lady, and to all my drivers (it was a big exercise in Norwegian, but I soon started to like it). I told them the story of my life, and soon wanted more. Like last summer, when I started hitchhiking in Iceland and the enthusiasm caused me to hitch all the way to the Netherlands, enjoying it in an endless climax. Switching language after crossing a border and starting telling the same stories again, first in Danish, then in German, and then in English - that's something that is more valuable than all the free miles that I was given. This summer is going to be even better, because I'm going to hitch from the Netherlands to Portugal, and I'll need to refresh my poor French, Spanish, and improvise some phrases in Portuguese (or something that resembles it). When the location of the Hitchgathering was set to Portugal, at first I thought no way, it's too far, it's gonna take me ages to get there. In fact, I'll need to be in Copenhagen 3-4 days after the gathering. But in fact, it's very feasible: by hitching 500km a day (I hitched almost 300 on Sunday in about 4h, and this part of Norway is not that easy), I can get to Portugal in about 4 days, and starting early in the morning could even allow some sightseeing. Hitching back to the North will be harder, but it'll be all about finding one of those Spanish trucks carrying tomatoes to the rest of the world.One of the biggest surprises I got this weekend is the typology of people that pull over. I expected that at least some Norwegian women would pick me up, because Norway is (or at least says so) the world's leading country in women's emancipation. But no way, only one lady gave me a short ride to a better spot, but the rest were all middle-aged men driving alone. I got rides from women and even girls (17 years olds on the Faroes) in several countries, but not in Norway. One possible explanation is that women in Norway tend to use public transportation more then men, who are more eager to drive their expensive cars.

See original: Lost in the North Weekend Hitchhiking Trip

Free Copenhagen

Great evening yesterday night in Christiania! My friend Andrea just joined me here in Copenhagen and we both moved to a nice commune in Vanløse. People share everything here and they do it in a very effective and organized way. For example, there is a dinner list where who wants to eat dinner can sign up, or even crossing the box "save some for me". I borrowed a bike from my previous host, and Andrea found one here. So now although we live pretty far from the centre (8km), we don't have to spend money on transportation. We are basically living for free; I stopped spending money several days ago, and if everything goes on like this, I won't spend any, but for the occasional cup of coffee or beer, until the end of my stay. Now I want to involve the local CouchSurfing community in order to create a page called Free Copenhagen modelled on the one I wrote about Iceland last year, with all things you can do for free and how you can survive without money in Copenhagen. This is tourism for the next millennium.So yesterday we took our bikes and cycled for almost an hour to get to Christiania. People's Kitchen was supposed to start at 7, but at 6:45 everyone was still cutting vegetables. They told us the food was not gonna be ready until 8, so we asked if we could help. I thought it was hard to get in unless you knew someone, like everywhere in Christiania basically. But not here: we started cutting, slicing, mixing, and all that. People were getting really hungry and since we had a lot of bananas, we just made litres of banana smoothie and served it as an appetizer. We also had huge bags full of fresh bread (that had already been thrown out by the bakery, for some reason) and pizzas, that also went into appetizers. The menu was very basic, and it was exactly the same that we would have many times in Reykjavík: a stew, rice, salad and fruit salad. The stew was almost raw and too watery, so at the end people had to pour most of the water out, and eventually all the taste was gone. That was so typical! I guess next Thursday we'll try to take over the stew-making process, if there is nobody who can. Tonight food at the Candy Factory!

See original: Lost in the North Free Copenhagen


...is the name of the commune where I'm staying in Frederiksberg. Lovely people. They welcomed me like one of them, fed me after I hadn't had almost anything to eat for 48h on the road, and spent the whole night playing board games. Every night there is a communal dinner, and tomorrow I'll be making some taboule.I cannot say hitching was unsuccessful yesterday, although I didn't make it all the way to Copenhagen. I set off from a little village between Hamburg and Kiel and already at 10 I was at the docks on the island of Fehmarn. The ferry leaves every 30min and costs 6€ for foot passengers. The Danes are going to build a bridge to make their beer-shopping trips easier, maybe hitching a bit harder, since everyone's car will be probably be loaded with booze. I had had nothing for breakfast and I was starving already from the day before, so I desperately needed to get some food before being forced to face the ferry's menu, which I didn't want to. So I turned around and spent more than an hour looking for a bakery in the village of Puttgarden. I had almost the impression of being somewhere in Iceland: nobody was around, the landscape was harsh and constantly swept by the wind, there were no shops whatsoever but 8km away. I regretted not having bought anything at the gas station that morning. It was not a big problem though because I used my legendary but a but miserable emergency food supplies (i.e. rye bread with tahini and vegan salami, plus some dates and a dehydrated royal gelly drink). But I thought people came to Germany to shop; I forgot though, that they come with their cars to shop, so they don't need shops at walking distance. And I was the only foot passenger.I got some small rides and got first badly stuck near Nykøbing; stood on the ramp, it was raining and I had bad luck. I waited almost an hour before a nice lady brought me to a roadhouse on the island of Farø, where I got stuck again. There were really few people there, people not quite friendly or going in other directions. While I waited for someone, it got dark, already between 4 and 4:30. My chances to get a ride to Copenhagen were shrinking. Eventually I asked a man that took me to Næstved, where I took the train for the remaining 80km. It wasn't a great deal, because by hitching I saved around 80kr compared to taking the train directly from the ferry. I met nice people though, but although I have to admit that it wasn't cold at all and at this time of the year it should freeze at night and it doesn't yet, it wasn't really pleasant. Or maybe it's just the disappointment of the train.I have to admit I had overestimated Denmark. I though it was a great country to hitch-hike but it probably isn't. The reason why I thought so is that people that pull over are very nice, and they happen to be solo female drivers as well, which is quite uncommon in most other places. But sometimes you have to wait quite long for meeting some of those. My problem is also that I usually have really bad luck with truckers. Either they just refuse to take hitchers on board, or they're impossible to find or to talk to, or I just don't get rides to service stations. Or maybe I just lack boobs (sad but true?). Yesterday there were two trucks at that rest place in Farø, but they were empty and the drivers were nowhere to be found... probably I should plan my trips with a good map of the service stations, pick the best ones and ask for rides hopping from one to another.Well, this is the balance of my trip from Italy to Copenhagen now (total 62€):- Bologna-Munich night train: 23€- Munich-Berlin with a shared group ticket: 8€- Berlin-Hamburg with car sharing: 13€- Ferry Puttgarden-Rødbyhavn: 6€- Train Næstved-Copenhagen: 12€If I don't hich-hike, I need a good reason not to. For example, eco-friendly solutions that are also reasonably priced. I figured out one for getting back to Germany that I could have thought about before: BerlinLinienBus from Copenhagen to Rostock for 26€, then Mitfahrgelegenheit (car pooling) from Rostock to Lübeck for 8€. Not bad. Unfortunately I had to book Ryanair to get back to Italy from Lübeck, but what can you do when trains are so hard to book? Why do I always get the price and all the details when I look for flights, but almost never for trains travelling between two different countries?

See original: Lost in the North Trafikken

Tomorrow Copenhagen

I'm here, and almost there. I chose not to fly, and the problems have not been few. I already didn't feel too well when I set off on the night train from Bologna to Munich. Then things went better, and meanwhile, I spent some time with awesome people, like Marieke and Evan from the time I was a European Volunteer, and Hugo and Marie, that I hosted in Reykjavík in September, and who now hosted me; I also took part at a creative writing workshop on climate issues, and I'm going to meet the same people in Malmö in 2 weeks. Yesterday I was planning to visit the Kombinat Gatschow, a rural commune in the middle of nowhere in Mecklemburg, near Demmin. Train ticket was too expensive: 30€ for just 200km, obviously with slow trains, two changes, and the last part of the journey would have been on a bus, because the rail didn't work. So I decided to try to hitch-hike at least as far as Neubrandenburg, and then go on by rail and bus. Unfortunately though, I didn't organize my trip too well, and the place where I was going was just in the middle of nowhere. I stood at the wrong spot, with basically no traffic in my direction, and I was feeling so tired that just after a few hours I came back to Berlin, where I soon decided to try another way. Since I didn't have an accommodation in Rostock, where I was planning to take the ferry to Gedser on Sjælland, I preferred paying a visit to my friend Stefan near Kiel. Today I got a ride to Hamburg and then later joined him in his village called Altengörs. Tomorrow I'm gonna hit the road again, hitch to the ferry place on the island of Fehmarn, probably get a lot of "nos" from Danish drivers whose cars are too full of beer from the shop or early Christmas presents to take extra passengers, embark on the ferry to Rødby, and then get ready for a 4-hours hitch to Copenhagen. I already have a couch in a nice commune in Frederiksberg. If it gets dark, the train from there is not too expensive.So, today's outcome resulted in a somewhat unexpected visit to the Hansa-city Hamburg. I had been there a couple of times before, without getting too impressed by it actually (I don't understand how some people can get so excited by it), but this time it was like a culture shock. I left Berlin, which in spite of its ever-changing facade has an irresistable hippish retro aura, and was thrown into Hamburg's premature Christmas shopping frenzy without being at all psychologically prepared. The city looked like an old ugly lady, who talks but nonsense and has nothing to offer but her money, and thinks that being all covered in glittering jewels and expensive trifles will make her look younger and more beautiful. The streets were full of lit-up wreathed Bavarian-style huts selling all kinds of sweets and sausages, as if the Alps had been moved to the Elbe. The crowd on the street was everything but the melting pot of people that really live there; the voices were those of well-educated and well-positioned Germans, some English speaking exchange students, quite many Norwegians attempting to solve the obnoxious problem of having too much money and not knowing how to spend it. Smoking blondheads walking in chain constantly pestered their golf-playing husbands with the question hva skal vi kjøpe, what shall we buy.I had to spend some hours there and felt helpless, the more I walked into the city centre, the more the situation got worse. Luckily I found a bookstore with big, nice yellow armchairs, that was full enough of people to allow me to sit there reading the newest up-to-date Japan travel companion.

See original: Lost in the North Tomorrow Copenhagen

Last days in Holland

Whoa, my trip has reached its end! Since I arrived in the Netherlands I seldom had the possibility to write a post. These two weeks have been so intensive!Everything started in Germany on July, 25th. Denise and I took a SchönesWochenendeTicket and after 7 and a half hours sitting in a train, we reached Enschede, the last station we could go to with the regional train. we found a Mitfahrer, so we basically went to Holland for 14€ each, which is not bad. There we surfed a couch on the University Campus, that apparently is only populated by computer nerds. The guys who hosted us had a recycled computer in the kitchen with soft keyboard on the fridge door, an intranet to share films and media on their TV, and they even nailed a couch onto the kitchen roof, so that it swang like a hammock, and installed a subwoofer in the couch!After crashing in the laundry room, the next day we started hitch-hiking West at around 1 p.m., although we wanted to start much earlier (usual). We had 4 hours to reach Leiden (160km), because I had to attend the welcome reception in a restaurant at 5. At first it seemed that it would have been a bit hard: we quickly got a couple of rides, first to the motorway and then to a big gas station/restaurant. We got bad luck at the gas station and moved over towards the restaurant's parking lot. I tried to talk to some truck drivers, but all of them were sleeping or didn't want to have hitch-hikers around, like the Polish driver that I greeted with "Autostopowicz", without success, as if I had named a bad infection. The Spaniards were really nice and sociable, but unfortunately they were going to Spain: they would have actually taken us to Madrid, they said, if we had wanted, but had to go the other way...We had a sign, and experience says that with a sign it takes a bit longer, but then you find the right ride. So it was. We waited almost one hour, but eventually two cars pulled over, one bound to Rotterdam and the other to... Leiden. They were a nice old couple who showed us pictures of the royal family from a glamour magazine, and brought us all the way to the restaurant. We got there at 5.15, so I was 15 min late and had missed nothing. Later on we reached our first host, Tommy, the CouchSurfing ambassador of Leiden. He had an insane passion for Norway and an even more insane sense of hospitality: he lived in a one-room apartment and managed to host 6 people at the same time, with 3 mattresses and 2 couches. It was weird but also in a way cozy, and the other people nice, although I had to listen to the adventures of an American girl in Rome, who found funny that taxi drivers there would pinch her butt. The other Surfer we stayed at, Klara, was less fun but finally a civilized place to stay, and a clean kitchen where we could finally make a nice dinner.In the weekend, we packed our stuff once again, wrote a carton sign bearing the title "A'dam", and hiked to a gas station. After 2 seconds we found a ride to the City, and in less than 30min we were there. Amazing. Without knowing it, the guy stopped at a coffee shop on the way to the centre, where I realized that we were 5 min walking from the Casa. We went there and everybody started hugging us. I felt like joining an ashram, and we were offered delicious (but sooo hot) couscous at 10 pm. Then people decided to go out, and got the key of two bicycles. They have a system with bikes: they have a frame on the wall with nails and keys, and the names of the bikes; the bikes are locked in pairs, so the keys are also organized in pairs, and if some keys are missing, you automatically know which ones are available and which key you have to pick. Apparently, the bikes also have a profile on their website.Downtown, everything was full, and we eventually ended up sitting on the pavement, which wasn't bad after all, it just felt so much like Italy. The next day we watched the Gay Pride Parade, which was even grander than I had imagined, especially because afterwards the street likened an immense open-air landfill (apparently you cannot get money for returning beer cans in Holland). In the evening, I cooked vegan pizza with fresh tomatoes, aubergines, capers, garlic & herbs tofu and olives. The kitchen was full of dumpster-dived artichocks, and every evening people make amazing organic bread out of sourdough brought over by the PastaMadre project.The Casa was an amazing place. I found it because I wanted to find it, and I surfed it because I really wanted. It's not a place where people end up by chance, it's not a squat, it's not a commune, it's just magic. It's a magic bunch of people who made me feel more at home than in any other place where I have lived. Depending on when I will finish writing my thesis, I have to go back, do some activism in Amsterdam and learn some Dutch.I think I understand now why people at the Casa don't do CouchSurfing. CouchSurfing is great, but it's limited. The Casa is unlimited, is not for tourists or backpackers, it's a living thing, that calls you for becoming a living part of it.Right now I am in a wonderful apartment in Leiden, hosted by two great hosts with two beautiful huskies. I will stay here until Saturday morning, and then I will hitch-hike to Maastricht, where I will spend the night, and move to Cologne the next day, and in the evening fly back to Reykjavík.The course that I am taking is really challenging. I am basically taking a 3/4-months workload in two weeks. I have even reconsidered my wish to take a master's degree here in Leiden, because the level is so ridiculously high, and the time when you're supposed to complete your studies so tiny, that I would probably die on my books, and I most certainly don't want that. Leiden has a huge team of top scholars, and they do things their own way: I learned Proto-Indoeuropean in Italy with the /a/ and some schwas, but here, even in the Proto-Germanic class, after one day they started putting laryngeals everywhere, not to mention things like Balto-Slavic accentuation, which apparently nobody understands yet...Next post after my comeback to Iceland!

See original: Lost in the North Last days in Holland

In Leiden op de couch

Finally the Netherlands! Last Saturday Denise and I bought a SchönesWochenendeTicket and took all possible regional trains to the Dutch border; since we found another guy to share the cost of the group ticket with, we both paid around 14€ for getting to the Netherlands nicely sitting in a train. We thought about hitch-hiking, but after the exhausting experience on the Danish border, I thought I might prefer sitting in a train for 7 hours instead, although our hitch-hiking trip to Berlin (we visited my ex-collegue Marieke) was extremely succesful: we found 2 Spanish girls, who apparently had very little experience at hitch-hiking, but nonetheless found us all rides! When we came, we saw them on the first intersection in Halle towards Berlin, and thought the spot was horrible to hitch a ride. We hadn't said that yet, that a car pulled over and collected them, so we asked the lonely driver if we could join them, and we were brought all the way to Potsdam. Without us, those two girls would have probably never made it, most importantly because they didn't even know where Potsdam was... later, we split at a gas station: they stayed there and asked the drivers, and we stood on the street further on, until they had found a ride and took us with them again. Brilliant!So, on Saturday we went to Enschede with the train, and since we managed not to write our name on the ticket, tried to sell it again at our destination, but found no buyers. So we surfed a couch in the student village on the university campus, and were offered dinner and breakfast with the other students. The next day we packed our stuff and went to the street to Hengelo, where the motorway started. With two rides we were at a big station on the motorway, where we stood with our sign for over an hour. At around 3 I started losing hope that I could be at the welcome reception for arriving summer school participants in Leiden, scheduled for 5 p.m., but then suddenly two cars stopped on the ramp we were waiting at, at the exit of the restaurant. One of the two was a retired couple who were going precisely to Leiden, so they brought us all the way to the reception, about 150km, allowing me to be there only 20min after the start.In Leiden, we are staying in an unbelievable place. The guy is actually the CouchSurfing Ambassador of Leiden, and he's completely crazy. He has a 1-room apartment of a few square meters, and shares bathroom and kitchen with 4 other students living in the house, and yesterday we were 7 sleeping here, with 2 American girls and 2 Russians, sleeping on 3 mattresses and 2 couches. You couldn't see the floor between the mattresses. We spent the night at a nice pub and celebrated the last night of the Eurotrip of the two girls from Atlanta, and we all went to bed like a nice, happy family. Tomorrow I'll probably start uploading some pictures.

See original: Lost in the North In Leiden op de couch