I see the connection; the obvious teachers of Australian construction workers: the English. The houses are of the same poorly insulated quality. In Australia it almost makes sense, the southern parts of the country are only cold for a couple of months every year and the northern don’t even get cold at all. But England is a cold country, so to have single glass windows is a big mistake. Not that the walls are much better insulated. The heaters don’t work and even when they do there’s so much heat that’s wasted because it can’t be contained in the house.
Other than that I shouldn’t complain, the architecture of the old school English houses is really cool. One of the best things about travel is when you walk around in a new city and you realise that architecture is different all over the world, at least the older buildings. It gives each place it’s own atmosphere, it’s own soul and it speaks to you, the lonely traveller on the road. It tells a story of a city that once stood as the capital of the world. The center of a huge empire that spanned the globe. In fact, Sweden is one of only 22 countries that has never been invaded by England. A statistic that bears witness to the true global scale of this crumbling empire.
I suppose it’s easy for me, being Scandinavian and all, we build houses to stand through an ice cold wolf-winter, the last winter before the end of days, before Ragnarök. We don’t need to house millions upon millions from all over the world (although our population has passed the 9 million mark and is approaching 10 in the next 5 years or so if I remember correctly). Also, we get virtually free heating as we burn all our rubbish and convert it into heating. Some things just make me proud to be Swedish, other things not so much. Like our most recent hollowing out of the freedom of speech. Our politicians can reach an agreement on that, but when it comes to the most basic things for how to run the country they stand divided, or apparently so. It’s a sandbox, a farce, it’s a big fat joke and most people have invested too much of themselves in the joke, thinking it’s real, to start laughing. It’s embarrassing really.
But I digress, it’s too strong a tendency when you’re sitting cold by the window, wearing a beanie and scarf inside the house, looking out at the grey sky of London with a runny nose and a sore throat. I’ll be fine, it’s just the common cold. After walking 20-30 kilometres in the past couple of days I think I will take this day as a day of rest, go to Camden Market, have a cup of coffee and study my course. Maybe even pick up a souvenir for that special someone. London has been great so far, although quite cold, inside and outside.
I will definitely come back to this city in the warmer time of the year. But for now this is all you will hear, just a quick update from the road.
Beppe Karlsson, London
Things are shaping up on the road. One piece after the other is falling into place. I love setting out without a means to get from point A to point B with stops in between. Only a date and a flight out. It gives me that bit of pressure to perform and finish my goal, but also the flexibility to do as I please. Most often it means I miss out on a sight I was hoping for, but in every single case it means I get to spend more time in a place I really enjoy.
The next leg to Hamburg is booked and ready. Only a few hours left until departure. Got a couch to crash on and a friend to guide me around town. Amsterdam is going to be a massive wing, both how I get there and where I sleep while I’m there, I got some connections that I’m trying to use, new friends are always good though. So whatever happens, happens.
The leg from Amsterdam is for me the toughest. I will take a ferry to England and my biggest fear is water. But I figured it’s time for me to face my fears and get on that boat!
Well, anyway, I ain’t gonna bore you any longer. It’s time for me to sleep unless I want to be completely dead by the time I catch the train tomorrow morning.
Beppe Karlsson, Malmö
If you want to try something that will be far beyond your comfort zone; try hitchhiking. I haven’t felt that much anxiety about anything in many, many years. Not because I was afraid to be molested or murdered, but simply because I was afraid to talk to strangers.
Hitchhiking Made Easy – A Big Portion of Luck
Forget everything you’ve seen in movies about how psychopaths pick up hitchhikers and chop their heads off, that’s movies. This is reality: people are good natured, at least some are, and luckily for you the good natured people are the ones that are likely to stop and pick up a hitchhiker. Well, you don’t have to tell me, as a former bartender I know how shit people can be, but the assholes out there don’t tend to stop to pick up a hitchhiker. Although I’ve heard stories of them verbally abusing hitchhikers, not that it has ever happened to me. But some people are just small in so many ways that they think the only way for them to reach the light is by stepping on other people. You’re more likely to have to deal with these people in basically any job.
It all happened so fast I didn’t even have time to take any pictures. That’s why all I’ve got for this post are some photos I got from Pixabay.
So armed with nothing but my firm belief in the goodness of my fellow humans, and the awareness of the bad, I took to the pavement with nothing but a small backpack, hiker boots, warm clothes and my thumb. The first step was to get a ride from Lagan, my tiny home town, to Ljungby, the larger town about 10 kilometres away. I’ve done that stretch a few times before so that was nothing new to me. Just walk along the road with your thumb out and hope that somebody will stop to pick you up.
I had a ride within 15 minutes, a bus driver. He must be used to picking people up and the fact that I was only about 50 metres away from a stop probably made it all the more natural for him. He wasn’t driving his bus mind you, he was returning to work after his lunch break. We had a little chat in the car, I kept the focus away from myself as I didn’t want to jinx my good fortune by talking too much about my tough challenge ahead: get to Nottingham, England by rail and thumb in less than a week and a half. Through 7 countries with 5 major stops on the way. So I only told him I was going to meet a friend at the petrol station by the highway. It was true, only I’d mistaken my friend’s schedule and he had actually finished work by the time I thought he started.
My plan backfired on me right away. I had no clue how to hitch a ride by the highway. I had been hoping my friend would be able to help me. I was going to chat to him and casually start conversations with customers and see if they could offer me a ride to Malmö. But when that didn’t turn out like I wanted I started feeling anxiety building up. What was I going to do now? How do you get a ride? Was I supposed to just go up to people and ask? They were not very likely to go in the same direction as I wanted anyway, and since I was only a couple of hours away from Malmö I didn’t want to catch a ride for a part of the way. So I decided on a different tactic: write a sign, drink a cup of coffee and sit outside the petrol station reading a book. Let them come to me, and if I don’t get a ride in let’s say a couple of hours I’ll change the tactic.
Turns out that was a perfect tactic as I had a ride within 15 minutes of sitting down. I hadn’t even finished my coffee, nor the first page of the book, by the time I had been offered a ride with 2 musicians returning to Malmö from a gig. We got along really well and chatted about this and that over the couple of hours we shared the road. It felt like we had made a new friendship and we parted ways in Malmö only after I got the details on how to find their music as I was genuinely interested. They played Swedish and Arabic folk music. An interesting combo and apparently they were quite good at it too.
Now I’m sitting in Malmö, the Swedish gateway to Europe, waiting to catch a train from Copenhagen early tomorrow morning to take me to Hamburg by noon. I still have many challenges to face on this trip but I have a feeling it will all work out well in the end.
Beppe Karlsson, Malmö
Autumn signifies the end. After comes rebirth.
It’s rather fitting that I finish up my time in Stockholm with the passing of autumn. Right now I’m gearing up ahead of my future travels. I’m a tech freak, so I have acquired a few new things to help me document my future trips; all second hand mind you, I’m on a budget.
I got one of those little lenses, the ones that connects to your phone via WiFi; for what seems to be a good deal. It takes excellent images (the featured image for this post was taken with the new lense) but it is a little bit slow. It is however a lot easier to carry around on a trip with limited space and carry capacity than my dSLR, which now also sports a battery grip. Of course a longer journey can’t be done without my trusted companion but there’s been many times when I wished I had a smaller, less conspicuous camera, especially in cities and when I only want to bring a small backpack, like for my upcoming hitch hiking adventure. Basically, down sizing was necessary.
With this latest addition I should be able to bring only my smaller backpack, since everything I’ll need for the North Sea Loop should fit in that one.
The major stops have been decided, but the dates haven’t been set yet. I aim to travel as goes:
10 major stops where I plan on spending at least one night. Travel time in between will vary as I intend to hitch hike most of the way, but have found myself defeated by a few obstacles I’m not able to get over. The first being the bridge from Sweden to Denmark. I guess I could go hitch hiking across, but then I run the risk of becoming a drug mule (not that anyone brings drugs from Sweden to Denmark; it’s usually the other way around) so I just think it’s a hell of a lot easier to catch a train across the bridge.
Next up is how to get from continental Europe to England. I will be taking the tunnel and I haven’t even looked into how that works yet. A train is all I know so far.
After that I was planning on going by boat from Newcastle to Gothenburg or at least to Oslo, but it turns out the ferries stopped running a few weeks back. That means, regrettably, that I will not be able to make the same voyage my ancestors did about a thousand years ago. Instead I had to look into flights; it’s about 100 euro cheaper to fly to Oslo from Manchester than to Gothenburg. So I will work my way from the capital of Norway down to Gothenburg, and then on home.
I know, this is another boring post where everything is about me. I promise I will have something better for you soon. I’m just too excited right now to think straight.
But with this I can announce that I will soon be bringing in a “Guide” section to the site with information on things such as how to get a visa, how to hitch hike, how to find work on the road and all other things on how to be a backpacker; at least through my eyes.
Beppe Karlsson, Stockholm
So another place is left behind, another ending and another new beginning. I look forward to 10 days on the roam. Going from one place to the next, couch to floor, you got it? I’ll sleep on it.
Such is the life of a drifter, roaming through life; hanging on by a thin thread. I’m used to this by now, so used to it in fact that losing one couch means nothing as I always have a backup plan. This is my town, like any drifter owns a place, I own this one. The class shows through, the rich owns the property but the rover owns the streets and everything else. Life is ours; matter is yours – but what matters is life.
Once again I happened to have some alcohol left and instead of carrying the extra weight in my bags I decided to drink it and funnel it into the toilet. Space is scarce when your life needs to fit into a backpack. Still I failed, miserably.
Once again, the conclusion was that I have way too much stuff, and that still means I have less than most people. I now carry one big backpack, one smaller backpack for my camera gear and one laptop bag. On the side I have some other stuff that needs to be stored with my parents. The changing of the seasons and what not. At least that’s what I blame.
I think everyone should do this every now and then, and instead of putting most of their stuff in storage they should donate or throw it out. This time I had too much of the luxury of keeping things so I didn’t donate as much as I usually do, I didn’t throw out as much as I usually do. Even though I can think of a thing or two that should’ve gone, I couldn’t; you get attached to things when you become stable, even if it’s only for a little while.
Lesson never learnt, even though I’ve gone through this over a dozen times by now. Move in, move out. Acquire things, leave it behind. Time goes by and all I need is my creative tools and some clothes on my back, but still I stock up, too much in my pile. I need to share, so that’s what I’ll do. A few shirts will leave my hands in the next week. I don’t need them, I have what I need and then some. The season’s changing and there’s no reason for hoarding for a time when I won’t even be here. So on it goes, and then on again.
There are some exciting times ahead, I found my old bracelet with the message: “Let the journey begin” so I put it on just to let the world know: I’ve begun my journey, even though I might seem to be in the same place – I’m really not. I’ve moved on, I’m just tied down for another few weeks by the fundraising aspect of travelling.
I look forward to seeing you out there in the real world.
Beppe Karlsson, Stockholm