It's a little bit freezing cold outside. I'm in the middle of Sweden in December. Who's idea was this anyway?
Berlin somehow got better the more i was there. I spent most of the time in the eastern side of the city and in Kreuzberg which is an area adorned in graffiti (even the fire station had some) second hand shops, small record stores, street art and lots of bakeries and Turkish restaurants. There was an area called Mitte where i saw a photo exhibition and art galleries, Christmas markets, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and bus loads of other tourists clicking cameras in the winter sun and the cold rain.
And then there was the beer. I found a delicious little microbrewery serving some of the best beer i have ever tasted which came with a side salad of relaxed bar staff, football on a big TV, tiled walls, furniture that looked as if it had been nicked from somebody's house and a big dog that sat in everybody's way as it licked its bollocks. And everything rattled slightly as trams rumbled pass outside and the rain hammered down. Somehow, it felt like home.
I met up with Anja who i met in Georgia a month or two ago. She took me on a cycle tour for the day showing me the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, more fantastic exhibitions, Currywurst (Bratwurst in curry sauce), gluhein and whizzed around on a bicycle as i followed straining to hear her barking directions and information over her shoulder at me as we dodged traffic or waited at lights in the never ending cycle lanes.
I said goodbye to Berlin and Anja and got on a bus to Copenhagen. I figured the bus would travel over land and bridges but a few hours into the journey we came to a ferry port at Rostok. Now, i have a very black and white relationship with the sea. Sometimes my stomach is like a brick for the whole journey on a boat and other times i vomit so much i almost break a rib. There's no in between and there's no telling which it will be until about five minutes into the sea journey. Fortunately my stomach stayed inside my body this time and two hours later we were in Denmark and not long after i was on a train leaving Copenhagen for a small city called Horsens in the dark and damp of a Danish winter.
I met up with Jamie, an old mate that i went to high school with but hadn't seen for ten years. It's strange how sometimes when you meet friends or family that you haven't seen for years you're somehow able to just carry on the conversation from where it left off years previously and so it was with Jamie. I stayed with him and his girlfriend, Jeanette, and we mainly spent our time drinking, eating, watching TV, playing on an X-Box and avoiding the rain. We also went to a Christmas tree farm and played tenpin bowling where we saw dozens of Danish people on Christmas parties who got shitfaced drunk, ate a load of food and were entertained by the worse band in history called The Bacons.
Horsens was a quiet place that seemed comfy and an easy place to live but also very quiet and set in a flat green agricultural landscape. Jamie described as "retired persons dream" which pretty much says it all. The train back to Copenhagen revealed more flat green farmland and more retired towns and not much else.
Copenhagen seemed like a very cool place to spend some time but i only stayed there one night and hopped on another bus to Stockholm taking in another ferry journey on the way and then an endless landscape of green trees interrupted only by the occasional farm and three kids at the back of the bus who seemed to cry and scream for no reason. In Stockholm i met Alex who i lived with when i was teaching in Hong Kong a few years ago. He's from Ethiopia and has been working in Sweden for three years and we chatted and caught up with each others lives on a bus for three hours until we arrived in Bollnas which is like Horsens only smaller and less interesting. And fucking freezing. I've just read that description back to myself and it sounds like the start of a bad joke, "There was an English man and an Ethiopian man on the back of a bus in Sweden in winter and..."
So that's my life at the moment - taking mammoth day long bus journeys into the cold arse end of Europe and freeloading my way onto long lost friends sofas and into spare rooms. I'll be doing the same for the next two weeks all the way back to Leeds. Feel free to leave some abuse below.