Getting wet in a variety of places, and a routine 41hour journey
14.05.2007 - 20.05.2007
You produced the damned thing, so if it's wrong, it's your fault! It was a lovely wet Monday and we were traipsing around obscure London suburbs in the rain, looking at maps which we had produced and had been published, but very definitely had, erm, occasional technical errors on them. Field work is an important part of my job, and ensuring other people know what they are doing is critical. I have long suspected that for certain colleagues, “field work” consists almost entirely of travelling somewhere and then sitting in a pub for the remainder of the day. And events were more or less bearing that out, as it became blatantly obvious that neither of them had the faintest idea about what the bl**dy heck they were supposed to be doing. As a result, we took in some, erm, interesting parts of the city which we should have gone nowhere near, discovered several missing and wrong issues, and got soaked. Work is fun, isn't it?
None of that is strictly relevant to, well, more or less anything, with the exception that the upshot of choosing those two days to be doing such things in London mean't that I was treated to the kind of journey that is instantly forgettable and irrelevant for most people, but for a non flyer on a schedule becomes the kind of undertaking that would be considered unworkable to anybody else. Thus it was that at 7pm on Tuesday evening, i left London heading for Hell.
Thus, i spent an interesting 3 hours talking to a woman about why a helicopter project had come in so late and over budget (sadly, she didn't know where our submarine was, though), then led a motley group of 8 random folks in sprinting across Hamburg the following morning in a surprisingly not futile attempt to make a connection after we'd been somewhat delayed. I couldn't help but laugh at the poor American getting seasick on the perfectly calm Puttgarden – Rødby ferry, and decided that as i had three hours to kill somewhere, I may as well do it at home (barely 15km off my route) so nipped into the office, had a shower, and left the large map tube I was carrying (HA! No rocket launcher arrest this time), went and sat on Hässleholm for a while before sneaking on to an earlier train than my reservation allowed (nobody noticed, despite the fact i was bleedin' obvious and they had about 5hours to work it out), wandered at random around Stockholm for a couple of hours, then sat bored out of my skull waiting for the second night train of the journey which was over an hour late. Woke up the next morning (it was May 17th) in the middle of a blizzard and with a metre of snow all around me, and, erm, slightly chilly with no prospect of getting anything even vaguely resembling a coffee (or a woolly hat) before rolling past Hell and finally into Trondheim at midday.
Passing Hell, yet again.
It was Norwegian National Day, and the journey there had consumed over 40hours of my life, and involved 9 trains and a ferry. A 2hour flight would have made much more sense, and been significantly cheaper, but I couldn't help that. It should be obvious by now that I don't always (ever?) take the most logical option.
The Norwegians have long made a big deal about their National Day, but I had never previously managed to be here for it. However, a combination of factors had all fallen into place and I had made the effort. I couldn't help but be impressed by the numbers of people wearing National dress. A good 80%+ of women were fully dolled up in traditional outfits, whilst a similar proportion of the men were in their best suits, which was great to see. They were taking it seriously.
A very happy couple of days followed, catching up with some old friends (include Morten, a Danish guy who I had first met through the old www.landy-rtw.com project and was now living in Norway, as you do, with his stunning Portuguese girlfriend). We wandered around the city, went up to the fort, and explored the Trondheim version of Christiania, Svartlemond, watched a rally in support of poor old Eugene Obiora, a Nigerian killed by police in the Social Security office, got in terrible trouble with the lovely Tina (who probably appears in these annals several times in past locations) for arriving an hour or so late for dinner after getting hopelessly lost (we had got within about 150m before turning around and walking all the way back thinking we had gone wrong), then had a technological mishap which mean't that Brunch was buggered up as well.
Oh, and also got wet, but then again, this is Norway.
Traditional parade on Norwegian National Day in Trondheim, including the traditional, erm, Chinese dragon
I had made the curious discovery that for some reason, there are no night buses or trains in Norway on a Saturday night (every other night, there are both – If anybody knows why they don't run on a Saturday, please let me know), and th mean't that I witnessed my second large Norwegian fire, as on entering Dombås, it became obvious that the twisting smoke we had seen for several kilometres was not pre planned, and was a major fire in the town (I had arrived in Trondheim just as a large fire by the water front was finally being extinguished after raging through the previous night), a sad state of affairs which seems to be not uncommon in Norway. Trondheim city had suffered at least 6 major fires in the last 10years alone.
Aftermath of the Trondheim fire (above) and Dombås burning (from a mobile phone on a moving train)
And all of this simply in order to be able to get to Göteborg early enough on Sunday evening [somewhere I had to be, solely because somebody decided it would be fun to get me bored out of my skull for many hours, the *********s], I was forced to leave to Oslo on Saturday afternoon. On the plus point, i got to meet a couple of cool Couchsurfers, Jeff and Miriam, and also catch up with glorious leader Sam for a few beers, so couldn't complain too much.
But that's the least of my current concerns.
A few months ago, Stefan (who, obviously, is known to everybody as Emil) came up with the idea of a a bike tour across France. It started as a couple of week trip from Paris to Nice, and swifly metamorphosied into a leisurely tour of vineyards. At that point, i was signed up. After all, a couple of hours easy cycling through French countryside in the sun, followed by a few hours wine tasting sounds like a perfectly agreeable time to me.
Somehow, between the time I was signed up and the time we started (in, erm, 2 days time), it had been turned from such a leisurely trip to a 6 day bash from Paris to Cassis (just East of Marseille), involving days of up to 180km, mountain passes, Mt. fricking Ventoux and no less than 13 people, some of whom are customers, and all of whom are much, much fitter than me.
Even meeting Kiki again is currently filling me with less dread. That should speak volumes.
It starts in a week.
I'm in big trouble now.