The Netherlands! Delft! An old friend! After a long and fairly miserable (i.e. too hot) bus ride from London to Rotterdam (did you know the bus actually gets on a train, and the train travels under the English Channel, and then the bus gets off the train again? I’ve never heard of a bus on a train… you know, it would be cool if a bus got on a train, which then got on a ferry, which then got on a plane), and then a train from Rotterdam to Delft, I found myself face-to-face with a familiar face, and a friendly one at that. I had promised the great Alex Trahan I would be in Delft to see his Master’s thesis presentation. So I was. The night after the presentations we had a big party with lots of great food and good beer, and before I knew it the sun was rising. We decided a few hours of sleep would be prudent before going out to explore Delft by bicycle. It’s amazing how good “patats with freit sauce” taste after a long night. This is a Netherlands delicacy in which French fries are served in a paper cone and doused with mayonnaise and any other sauces your mayonnaise-clogged heart might desire.
Alex is a smart guy, but that’s not what makes him so much fun to be around. He’s a fellow adventurer and explorer and we enjoyed swapping stories. We even did a bit of adventuring together in the Netherlands. During the few days I was there, we explored Amsterdam (what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam), Den Haag (good food, great beer, wonderful town), Gouda (yes, the cheese is very good there; Alex and I had a bromantic picnic in the park, in the rain, with some Gouda cheese, tomoato, cucumber, bread… but I digress), and the surrounding countryside of Delft. While we weren’t out seeing the sights, we were relaxing with some of his friends, or drinking good beer, or baking apple pies, or watching really bad martial arts movies, or cooking something, or doing all those things at once. All in all, my stay there was fantastic. Being able to visit a good friend made the experience all the better.
Once again I found myself leaving a comfortable situation to jump into the unknown. I was on a train to Hamburg, where I would be couch surfing for a couple days. My host was, once again, wonderful. Agi is a great tour guide and showed me around the city for a day. She even treated me to a fantastic, authentic southern German meal and apple spritzer at an open-air wine garden in the city plaza. I can’t remember what the dish is called; it’s something I can hardly pronounce, but I do know it’s traditionally from southern Germany, and it’s a kind of pasta filled with minced meats and vegetables, and it’s served with an excellent sauce and some of the best potato salad I’ve ever tried. And it is really good. Hamburg is yet another beautiful city, this one with a history of shipping commerce and therefore a major transport hub in Germany, with the great Elbe river running through it. Fun fact: did you know that Hamburg’s official name is The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, “reflecting Hamburg’s history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, and that Hamburg is a city-state and one of the sixteen States of Germany”? Sounded cool to me.
I wasn’t in Hamburg very long before I was off again, moving north into Denmark. Rememer that bus that got on a train? Well, guess what? This time, my train got on a ferry! Now where’s that plane?
I am sorry to say that I didn’t spend much time at all in Copenhagen. I stayed for one night, where I couch surfed together with a guy named Elliot, from Florida. What are you doing in Europe, Elliot? Oh, I’m moving to Berlin, Bryson. Why don’t you contact me when you get there? I’ll have a place for you to stay.
Our host was one Elisabeth. Elliot and I spent the evening cooking pasta and drinking wine, while Elisabeth went off to bed; the poor girl wasn’t feeling well and was gracious enough to host me anyway. In the morning Elliot took me to Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood in Copenhagen. It’s a sort of anarchistic commune where marijuana and brownies are sold at outdoor stands, like ice cream and hot dogs. What an interesting little place. Alas, I was not able to spend more than half an hour or so exploring this land of freedom, for I had yet another train to catch. It was time to move toward Scandinavia, the Land of the Vikings and Everything Badass.