TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Firstly I would just like to offer my congratulations to anyone still reading this. I know what a short attention span you have and how easily distracted you are by cat videos on the Facebook and the Youtube. In terms of your short attentions span you are not very unlike a cat, I fear you will become bored of me, but then I remember I am the Cheshire Cat, how could I ever be boring? Luckily for you, I can talk about myself all day!
Right, you will be wanting to hear (well, read) what I got up to today. As with yesterday, I shall inform you in two parts. I am currently on the first of two trains for our journey to Berlin. This train goes to Hamburg (mmm, burgers…) and it is late, but more on that later.
The day started with my personal humans as I shall now refer to them, a name I of course came up with entirely without Jack’s help, getting the bus. We left the room we’d spent the night in, crossed the road and boarded my first bus. All was well until my stupid, stupid humans got off at the wrong stop. This was mainly Charlie’s fault, I mean Nørrebro, Nørreport, they look nothing at all like each other! This careless mistake resulted in my humans walking into town looking for the train station, giving up and getting back on the bus. We then arrived at Nørreport station and made the short train journey to Østeport.
From here, it was a short walk towards the Little Mermaid, but on route my personal humans got distracted by the water… oh I am long suffering. Charlie thought the water was star shaped, Jack thought it was shaped like a turtle, frankly I do not care what it was shaped like, as they crossed it and we became surrounded.
Turns out, there was a fort called Kastellet in the middle. We carried on and made it to the Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue in Danish) Not as little as I expected, but not huge, pretty much life-sized. Jack said it is built on a rock in the sea so it is covered at high tide, Charlie said it was something to do with Hans Christian Andersen who was apparently a famous Dane. Now, I might not know an awful lot about human pastimes (mostly because I have no interest), but I do know a lot about books, Hans Christian Andersen was indeed a famous Danish author who wrote the Little Mermaid in 1837 – a fountain of knowledge, am I not?
We then walked back to the fort and through the area within its guarding walls. Not only is it in the centre of such terrifying water, it is built on steep banks and heavily defended by big cannons and a mighty windmill.
The cannons were very similar to those we met at the Akershus fortress (see the picture of me sitting on one from Day 2) and the windmill was truly magnificent, although no one ever explained to me what a windmill is actually for. Based on its position on the edge of the fort and its passing similarity to those wind turbines we saw from the train I can only assume it converts wind into green energy for fort defence purposes.
We then walked back to the station and were given slightly confusing but mostly helpful directions by a mildly drunk Scot who was now living in the area. This was an interesting experience…
Directions obtained we got the bus into Christiania for lunch. We walked through Freetown Christiania, another interesting place. Lots of food, no cars, weed (which I avoided, thank you very much), brightly painted shacks and everything you might associate with an alternative lifestyle. We passed back out of Christiania and visited Fala Fala, a vegan falafel stand inside the Copenhagen food market. This was a warehouse-like building on its own (very square and constructed) island overlooking Nyhavn, crammed full of every type of ethnic street food one could imagine. If you love food and want to try many different cultures’ foods without much walking involved, come here! Fala Fala served up falafel, hummus and tonnes of veg in a pitta with a side of chips and more hummus. Charlie also braved some kind of spicy aubergine based dip with chilli seeds in it. I’m rather glad I wasn’t offered any of that, I have a rather sensitive palate. Despite that I heartily approve of the generous portion sizes, both the chips and the pitta sandwich all for 100 Danish Krone (something along the lines of 11 British pounds.
From the food hall, we also had organic apple juice, made from three types of apple and beetroot juice, including carrot, apple, lime and ginger. I thought this a rather odd combination, but Charlie liked it.
Stuffed to bursting with food, we walked back to the bus and journeyed back to Copenhagen station to get the trains onto Berlin. We arrived early with the plan of checking the platform number and then hanging out in Tivoli Gardens until the train was due. This being us, things didn’t work this way of course.
The train platform wasn’t yet up, so we decided to go to Tivoli Gardens for a bit and then head back to the station nearer the time the train was due. Turns out Tivoli Gardens is a theme park immediately opposite the station and not the free public gardens Charlie was lead to believe by the WebWideWorld.
After this truly heavy disappointment (you may have noticed by now our love of parks), and the lack of green shady areas around the station, we sat and waited inside the station for half an hour. The train was then 20 minutes late and moved to a different platform (fortunately it was the neighbouring platform so all we had to do was turn around). When the train did arrive, there was quite a lot of confusion trying to find the seats. We spent a lot of time trekking through alternating very hot (standard class) and beautifully cool (1st class) carriages before getting off the train and trying from the other end. Seats eventually found, we settled down for a four and a half hour train journey. I’ll be taking a cat nap for the most part, my humans can do as they please.
A final note about Copenhagen before I stop for now. As mentioned briefly last night, it is definitely more full of old buildings than Oslo – no Great Fire of Copenhagen I can presume. In the day it’s not dark at all either which is always a positive, and just as blistering hot as Norway. It’s very flat here (but then compared to Oslo I suppose anywhere would appear flat) but there is too much water everywhere; a river, canals, the sea, it’s too much, I can’t wait to get to landlocked Berlin.
Mein Gott! The train has just made an announcement – the train is going on a ferry and going across the sea. I did not sign up for this, why do these things keep happening to me?!
I shall retire from writing now, hyperventilate for a good few hours and pick up the narrative again later.
Part II – I’m continuing this story technically on Sunday morning, but for narrative purposes, let’s pretend it’s still yesterday.
So, the train actually went on a boat, a very big boat on its own special tracks and everything. To make matters worse, we weren’t allowed to stay on the train in the relative safety of the hull but had to go up on deck and watch the water. Wrapped up in Charlie’s jacket for protection from the evil stuff, I was taken first to an indoor area with sea views and then out onto the decks, once more surrounded by water. 45 minutes we were on this boat before being allowed back into the mildly more secure train and off onto the relief of dry land. My humans had a great time, you won’t be surprised to hear, watching one piece of safe and sturdy land disappearing to be replaced with nothing but water in every direction, stretching out to the horizon before finally being able to glimpse the harbour and the return of safety. At least the boat didn’t bob!
We were now on an island, our arrival point known as Puttgarden. Not long later we crossed some more water onto the mainland by a mildly less scary bridge and carried on our journey through countryside, the hills of Oslo still only conspicuous by their absence. Although we weren’t sure at the time of our exact crossing of the Danish-German border, I now know it was our arrival at Puttgarden which heralded our arrival in our fourth country (I’m counting Sweden as a country even if we were only there for a few hours – our unscheduled stop at Lund allowed us a bit of extra time there).
Around an hour and a half later, we arrived in Hamburg where we had an hour and a half to kill before the next train to Berlin. On looking for a nice place for dinner we unwittingly walked into a street festival. There were food stalls and live music and people everywhere. The personal humans thought it would be wise to sit here and eat dinner on the curb. Despite my fear of being trampled, the atmosphere was amazing, although rather loud for a little cat on a pavement. The music we listened to during dinner was excellent though, so one must not grumble too much.
After dinner we wandered around the city before getting on a seemingly short train (only two hours!) to Berlin. By now it was too dark to see anything and arrival at Berlin was after midnight. The station was gigantic and the outside appeared to be constructed entirely of glass.
From the station, it was a short bus journey on the night bus and a walk up a rather pleasant road to our room which has a massively high ceiling and our own balcony, although we are yet to go out on it.
Arriving so late meant it was pretty much straight to bed, ready to explore the city tomorrow (well today). Until then, Chesh.
Greetings, humans! Today’s entry will come in two parts, mostly because the train is long, I am bored and writing gives me something to do. The journey is very long – 8 ½ hours including an hour stop between trains, we had to make one change. We left our room this morning, our last trek into Oslo, with time for a last sit at our (well, my humans’, there is water involved) favourite places. We also discovered this gigantic building known as Havnelageret, its function unknown. Despite rigorous Internet searches I'm still not entirely sure what it's giant walls contain, other than that it is a commercial building, 11 floors tall with foundations 20 metres deep. It was completed in 1921 at which point it was the largest concrete building in Europe and its fourth floor used as an air raid shelter during World War II (my thanks to Wikipedia). Pretty impressive, one must admit.
We boarded the 1 o’clock train from Oslo to Gothenburg, Sweden. As we journeyed across the border in the world’s hottest train (the air conditioning was broken and the windows didn’t open – I call that a design flaw), the hills, trees and city buildings gave way to much flatter open farmland. We saw more red, purple and yellow painted wood-clad houses and fewer trees. Most of the journey had that dreaded water known as the sea next to us (luckily the side furthest from our seats) but occasionally the evil stuff would come over our side and I would be surrounded. Not even slowly roasting was enough to make me want to get near the wet stuff.
Anyway, four hours of baked train later, we arrived in Gothenburg. What an achievement! My humans might have their shortcomings, namely their insistence on spending considerable amounts of time near water, but they have got us by train to another country. I do not give praise lightly but well done, Charlie and Jack. Though please note, this will be the only praise I shall bestow upon you, I can’t have you getting above yourselves and suggesting I should walk. After all, you’ve made one inter-rail journey, the rest must be easy!
Well, I’ve got distracted. I blame the train, hotter than that hell-hole factory in Vietnam – no I wasn’t going to mention Vietnam.
Right, Gothenburg. By the time we had got out the station and made sure we were back so as not to miss the next train, we only got to spend half an hour in this city.
In some ways, it had its similarities to Oslo, big buildings, scary trams, a river, parks, but this city was older and had a rather worrying lack of pedestrian crossings, unlike Oslo where the stripy things were everywhere.
My humans sat down to admire the view in a park under a shady tree. After the blazes of that train, I would have quite liked this but would they let me enjoy it? No, these evil humans had to sit by the river, didn’t they?
Well, after that it was back to the station and our next train, Gothenburg to Copenhagen. One short delay and some slight confusion as to whether we were actually on the right train later, we were off. The Sweden that is rolling past us as I (well, Charlie) write is green, still mostly flat, but a few more trees have returned. Some of the buildings are similar to those in Norway, but now there’s some more brick thrown in too, the difference subtle enough to let us know we’re firmly in a different country now.
And there’s some whirly things. What the blazes are they? (Sorry, still cooling down from the last train).
Oh, Charlie informs me they are wind turbines that make green electricity. I didn’t think wind or electricity were green, more a blue colour for the former and a crackly white-yellow for the latter.
Well, either way, I think that sums up the day so far, I will continue today’s entry when we arrive at the room this evening.
Part II – broken air con and water were the least of my worries! Basically, as soon as I caught you up to speed on leaving Gothenburg, things started to go wrong. There was a technical fault with the train (I don’t really know…) which meant it ran slower than normal and so we became late. So late, in fact, the train decided to terminate in Malmö and not carry on to Copenhagen.
This resulted in us getting off in Lund and catching a different train into Copenhagen – luckily we didn’t have to wait too long. There were some nice old buildings opposite the station which almost (but definitely didn’t) make up for the pain in my backside our train caused me.
The train from Lund ran on time so all was going well finally. Charlie and Jack have been talking all day about a bridge into Denmark (that’s where Copenhagen is). That’s good news, I like bridges.
I do not like this bridge, it is over water. Fortunately I survived the big scary bridge and after our unplanned second stop in Sweden, we have eventually arrived in Denmark. Only, we had missed our direct bus to our room for the night so this meant taking a train to the next station (Nørreport) – which was late – and running for another bus.
Copenhagen seems nice enough, although older than Oslo. Very dark as well, although we did arrive at 10pm so I should probably assume this is not always the case. At least it actually gets properly dark here, unlike Oslo’s 24 hour summer sunlight which was weird yet strangely endearing.
The room is nice but it is too dark for me to see out the window (my favourite pastime) and someone has put a lot of planty things and some blinds in the way. It is like they are making it purposely difficult for cats to look outside. Anyway, I suspect I’ll get my humans to take a picture of the view in the morning.
We’ll be exploring Copenhagen and then getting another long train to Berlin tomorrow.
Until then, Chesh.