Friday, 15 February 2008

Travelling to Kiruna

All went well.

Jarda, Christian and Martin help me carry my luggage to the bus stop. It is difficult to carry it all with four people; it is clearly impossible to carry it all for one normal human being. We arrive at the busstop 15 minutes early. Jarda goes home because he's cold (but looking forward to Kiruna where it will be 20 degrees colder); Martin and Christian wait until the bus arrives and help me put all the luggage in. Bus 14 takes the long way; from Hubland to the main station via Randersacker. It would be much faster to take bus 10 and then the tram, but I want to minimise changes. The bus goes via places where I have never been and probably never will be again.

Upon arriving at the busstation, I rush to the railway station (with my laptop), fetch a luggage wagon and rush back. I put on all my luggage, push the wagon up a ramp up the sidewalk, seeing it all fall off, put it back on again and continuing my way to the main station hall where Joshy is waiting. He is quite surprised to see the huge amount of luggage and asks how I'm going to carry it. I repeat what I said to Martin and Christian: I will have to walk multiple times if there is no luggage wagon.

Our platform, number 14, happens to be the only one without a luggage belt, so I have to carry everything up. Carrying the book case is quite bad (nothing compared to Copenhagen the next morning) but doable, and we have the time. It turns out we have to be exactly where the stairs end. There is one other person entering the train here; a half Spanish, half Danish woman who tells us she has performed as a circus artist in Tuschinky theatre (Amsterdam) in the 1950's. A long time ago.

We have a whole compartment for ourselves, so we can sleep almost as if we have beds. We eat some crisps, drink one of the three liters of milk that I brought, wonder why we are standing still at Fulda for 40 minutes (it is according to the schedule) and go to sleep around midnight. I wake up at the Danish border to go to the toilet, and a few moments later the Politi wants to see our passports and identity cards.
"Talar du svenska," he asks Joshy, who is unable to answer this question.
"Sprichst du Deutsch," he asks after turning a page.
"a little"
"Why do you not speak Swedish?"
The politi leaves and we are left wondering about Danish humour.

Nearly three hours later we cross the Store Bælt, one of the most beautiful moments of the journey. Although we entered Scandinavia at 6:00, this is another symbolic moment.

We arrive at Copenhagen and depart the train. The next train is not fixed, but the earlier the train, the more time we will have at Malmö, and I was told one may need a lot of time there. I run looking for a luggage wagon; I don't find any. I run looking for the elevator; it's very far away. I run looking where we need to go; I don't see it at the outside because the sun is shining onto the screen. I run the other way and find where we need to go. Up a stairs and down a stairs. We start with the valuables. Then I carry the rest. The last one is the book bag. It takes an eternity to take it up the stairs. At every step, I put my knee below the bag to push it upwards. Downwards goes slightly better, but by the time I finished with the stairs I have no energy left to carry it, and I drag it over the floor. The last meters we do together; just in time to fetch the Øresundståg 45 minutes after departing the Nachtzug.

As Øresundståget takes only 30 minutes, we sit at the "balcony" (area between compartments). We find out that we actually sit in the 1st class; nothing we can do now. The personnel checking our tickets don't say anything about it. Crossing Øresund is not very interesting because pillars of the road above block the view most of the time, but the windmill park at sea looks nice. In Malmö we have another 45 minutes and it turns out we leave the train exactly opposite where we need to enter the X2000; the doors are still closed. I get some money at an ATM and I buy a lunch, then I return to our luggage and Joshy is off. When the doors finally open, we rush in, stuffing our luggage at a place for wheelchaired people; fortunately there aren't any today. We go to our seats and relax for the next couple of hours.

I send a text message to Johan asking for help at Stockholm. First he says he will not be there, but tells is to go from 18B to 4. Later he texts that he will be there, in the end we don't see him but just work. We have only 30 minutes in Stockholm and really need to hurry, because it's a huge station and we don't know the route. Fortunately there is a luggage wagon. I put in a coin, it is the wrong one, I can't get it out any more, and I panic; someone else gives us a wagon, I put on some luggage, conclude it doesn't fit, try to get another one, am told it does fit, and we go, running to the main hall, searching for the elevator, finding the elevator. It refuses to carry us; we are to heavy with all our luggage; we split in two, first me, then Joshy, upstairs we run to some place where it says 1-8, there we need to take another elevator, first Joshy, then me, then we run to the platform and we arrive in time. The train isn't there yet. I have time to check the text message that arrived on our sprint. Johan was delayed. I phone him and tell him to go to platform 4; he says he's already there, I wave, he waves, and we meet. When the train arrives he helps us to carry it in and returns the wagon. We put in 5 crowns and now those are 10. Puzzling. I thank Johan and we'll meet again.

In the train we meet Spacemaster Johan, who is traveling home to Ånge, a trip of only five hours or so. Coincidentally, Joshy sits next to him. I, however, sit in another compartment, near a group of terribly noisy students from Leiden University. Since the train is nearly empty, I join in the compartment where Joshy and Johan are sitting, at least for the evening. At night I doubt where I will lie, but when the Leiden students are still laughing and talking at 0:15 I move to the other compartment (less space but sleep is possible). Horrible, such students. But I got some sleep.

Woken up near Älvsbyn.
Norrbotten's Län!
Fascinated until arrival in Kiruna.
Stefanie hauls us there.

I had too much luggage; that was not at all practical.

Pictures at

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