Cities / Towns Visited: 40
Countries Visited: 13
Steps Taken Today: 23,663
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,441,809
Today was to be another day of travel, off to a new country, but first we had a little time free to fit in some last minute sightseeing. Where to then? The Kastellet; an old coastal fortress just north east of the main city, which still houses army barracks, but is also set in parkland and is open to the public.
Heading off, sorry to see our little Airbnb rooms go, but not so sorry to have to deal with buses and trains again to get into Copenhagen, we managed the trip without any major hiccups. Once alighting the train we scurried off to a nearby hotel which participates in a service called Luggage Hero, which runs in a few major cities around Europe, where you can pay to store your luggage there and simply pay by the hour; very useful to people using Airbnb and cannot store their bags at their accommodation after checking out, and also cheaper than using the lockers at the train station. Having used the service now I really wish more cities took part.
Bag free, we hopped back on a train and went a few further stops and found ourselves at the east station. From here it was a short walk to the edge of the park. Stepping under the shady trees and passing over one of the bridges which spans the moat at the foot of the fortress walls, we followed the path around the base of the towering stone walls, in their distinct star formation. The rustling of the leaves in the cool morning breeze made for a relaxing stroll to end our rather hectic visit to the Danish capital.
Edging around the fortification, we eventually found ourselves on the shore side, and it was but a short walk to finally visit the Little Mermaid statue, from an angle that doesn’t involve taking a photo of the back of her head with a plethora of tourists in the background. Instead it did involve wading through said tourists to take a decent photo, and appreciate the figure of one of my childhood favourites.
Having had our fill of minimal personal space, we waded back out and headed into the heart of the Kastellet, to explore a little. Wandering the grounds we passed a few buildings, much too brightly coloured and pretty to look at all like any sort of military property, and yet they were. Up on the hill part of the walls sits a quaint little windmill, turning lazily in the wind, keeping watch over the ducks swimming in the moat. Finally we meandered past the old cannons, and out through the main drawbridge, where it became obvious that all of the local water birds were busy rearing children in the warm spring sunshine, with cygnets, ducklings, goslings (all of which I insisted on calling Ryan), and water hen chicks, diligently following around their watchful parents. It was such a picturesque walk, it felt almost surreal.
A beautiful old church and it’s fountain sit just outside the walls, and after basking in their glory we doubled back to the station and were soon shooting off to the airport, via collecting our luggage of course. Check in and security whizzed past, and we were left with plenty of spare time before take off, and thus went on a hunt for a fruit danish, because somehow we’d struggled to find any at any bakery, much to my disappointment. Luckily we managed to locate a café which stocked a couple, and thus we managed to tick ‘eat a danish in Denmark’ off the bucket list without having to resort to cannibalism.
One short and painless flight later we touched down in country number thirteen; Norway, Bergen to be exact. And thus the saga of getting to our Airbnb began. Step one: metro train into the city went smoothly, that’s a good sign. Step two: bus up to the nearest bus stop to the house. Now for those of you who have never been to Bergen, a decent portion of the residential houses sit dotted across the steep hillside of Mount Floibanen, and when I say steep, I’m talking almost cliff like, unnatural gradient roads that are so thin that two buses could not pass each other, thus there is only one which comes only once an hour. Keeping that in mind we arrived at the bus stop to find that there is no timetable posted showing the times of our bus, all we knew is that it leaves from there and so we waited, and waited, and waited a little more; it eventually became obvious that we had just missed the bus as it finally came a good 50 minutes or so later, sigh. Eventually, and after a rather treacherous bus route, we arrived, thus the short but painful walk to the house began. Heaving slightly from a mix of the weight of our luggage, and general exhaustion we arrived, freed the key from its key safe and tumbled inside, dumping out luggage in our small, but clean, room.
Our host was currently out with friends, but that was no matter. Already tired, we rather reluctantly resided ourselves to the fact that we would have to head back down the mountain to source food to cook dinner; at least we wouldn’t be hauling the luggage I guess. Now people often forget that going down steep hills is almost as painful as going back up them, with its delicate balancing act of leaning back enough that you don’t tumble forward, but not so far as to tear a leg muscle or fall on your arse. With our calves feeling the burn we made it down the combinations of stairs and streets to the base and snagged enough groceries to make dinner and breakfasts for our stay, adamant that we did not want to have to make a second trip. Stubbornness at its finest. Now the worst part was to begin, the hike back up. I can confidently say that you never realise how unfit you are until you have to lug tote bags of food up a ridiculous incline on little sleep and having not had time to fit in a proper lunch. There was a few breathing and drink breaks, and a good few breathless exasperated spurts of ‘Erghhh, I’m dying!’, but as expected we made it to the top alive. The only redeeming factor of the experience being that the view was stunning. Stumbling in the door we began making dinner, and it was only… 11pm.
We were now much further north than we had been so, you guessed it, we were still faced with an unnerving bout of eternal sunshine outside, making it seem deceptively earlier. Please note that at this point it was only 16 days until the summer solstice, so I’ll be honest we had nothing at all that I would constitute as night; it was like perpetual dusk, with the sun never dipping quite low enough for the sky to reach any shade that wouldn’t comfortably sit on a pale colour palette. In my tired state as we lay down for a much needed sleep, I did stop to wonder if all robberies at this time of year would all be classified as daylight robbery, and if crime rates actually go down at this time of year without the shadow of darkness to hide shady dealings. Ahh the nonsense thought processes of the sleep deprived. Eventually sleep took me into its arms for what I will confidently call daydreaming, and as I drifted off all I could think was that I know these northernmost citizens often suffer from bouts of depression in the endless night they live in as the winter solstice comes and goes, but I was swiftly discovering that I become strained and saddened by the constant battering of light. I am a lover of the night, I thrive in the inky shadows of the wee hours, and feel rejuvenated more by the moonshine than the sun. Depression presents itself in strange situations, for some it is in the darkness, but for some it is the light which breaks us. It is a very personal struggle, and one which is as individual as the person them self. For those of you suffering know that I am here with you, and I understand. I have stood where you stand, and I often stand there still. You are not alone in your darkness, even if that darkness is drenched in sunshine.