TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Today is our last day – how can time have gone so quickly? Just yesterday we were waking up to the Alps rising above us and sitting by the water of Lake Geneva.
We packed up our little room. I failed to mention yesterday that the toilet is next door and didn’t have a light which made using it in the dark last night interesting for the humans, but leaning out the window provided a spectacular view.
We enjoyed the short walk to Paris Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar back to Kent. Check in went smoothly (more scanners like back at the airport) but then… delays! There was a technical fault with the train which was so bad, in fact, they had to get us a whole new train.
We finally boarded an hour late (more chance for the humans to claim some compensation) and eventually we departed for Ashford. The way off the Eurostar platform onto the Southeastern line was very confusing and pointlessly long winded but we eventually found the train.
Well, that’s it, back home, Europe trip over! And what a trip it has been, I for one would be game for doing it all over again, the sights I’ve seen! I feel very few cats have travelled through so many countries and certainly not in such a short time. For most cats, ‘travelling’ is the journey from the neighbour’s garden back to their food dish and then to a comfy bed, preferably with an obliging human to offer strokes and attention. Who knows, maybe I can inspire the cats of this world to take up travelling… but then I forget not all cats are educated like me and can read. Oh well, their humans can read this to them perhaps?
I suppose that’s it, all that remains now is for the humans to unpack and get back to normal life. I hope one day I’ll get a chance to make another blog of another amazing trip – I don’t want to be stuck in Charlie’s house for the rest of my life! If I’d actually met any of you, I would have said nice knowing you but as it stands in this brave new world of internet publishing to anonymous audiences, all I can say is I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Tails, if you’re still there of course and I’m not just talking to myself! I’ll say that’s unlikely, a more fantastic and interesting talking cat I’m sure you’ve never met.
Hope there will be a next time, Chesh.
Ps. For fear of this entry being rather short and all over in a couple of paragraphs, I suppose I should let my humans have their say, after all they did carry me around for ten days, made sure I had a great time (apart from all the water), took many pictures and helped me write this.
Charlie. This trip has been a journey I have wanted to make for two years now and it certainly didn’t disappoint my high expectations.
Of course, as with any trip of this magnitude, there were the lower points, late trains and the ridiculously high temperatures that meant we spent a good portion of every day coated in sweat, but there were so many amazing parts that made any of the bad bits insignificant in comparison.
Visiting all the cities has been the best trip I’ve ever been on, but how to pick a favourite? Oslo and Berlin were the two cities we were most keen to visit, hence why we stayed in these places longer than the others and they were definitely worth the longer stay. If pushed, I would probably say Berlin was my favourite city, I love the sound of the language and the history of the place. But then, Oslo was so beautiful and so incredibly green for a city, both in terms of the trees that were everywhere, but also the fact that so many people were driving electric cars, the city itself was just so clean and relaxed as well.
Maybe Oslo was my favourite? Or Berlin? I don’t know – I can’t choose. Copenhagen, Vienna and Geneva were fantastic as well and if we’d had longer in these cities, I’m sure I’d also have felt a sense of being comfortable in the area, fitting into the place, which I started to feel in Oslo and Berlin as we re-visited the same streets, particularly those around the rooms we stayed in.
I might not be able to pick a favourite city, but visiting the (remains of the) Berlin Wall I think was the most interesting place we visited. The remains immersed us in the history of the place – I was absolutely fascinated, but then I do love modern history!
My favourite meal? The falafel pitta sandwich from Fala Fala in Copenhagen, such a huge portion and so delicious, I still dream about it (well, not quite, but I wouldn’t mind if I did). My favourite place to eat was Vienna’s Swing Kitchen – a fantastic atmosphere – but my favourite dessert was most certainly Brammibal’s doughnuts in Berlin, I heartily recommend them although I think Chesh has already sung their praise!
Working out the trains between countries, transport within the cities and finding all the places we wanted to visit was a bit of a challenge, especially with limited internet whilst on the Continent, and involved a lot of planning before we arrived in any of the countries, but there is no doubt it was worth it.
We have seen some of the most amazing sights, enjoyed a ridiculous variety of delicious foods (some of which was actually native to the countries we visited) and met a lot of people – mostly our room hosts and the serving staff/ owners of the cafés and restaurants.
Eating vegan was never a problem, I’ve just done a search on Happy Cow and in a 5 mile radius of central Berlin there are 53 all-vegan places, including cafés, restaurants and bakeries. When making our choices we had to restrict the search to a specific area of each city to even be in with a chance of choosing where we wanted to eat!
This whole trip has been amazing. For anyone who wants to travel and see lots of countries in a short space of time, give inter-railing a go, it won’t disappoint you.
Jack. Hi all! If you’re reading this then you already know all about our use as human cat-carriers and how much Chesh loves water! XD
All joking aside, the trip round Europe was amazing, there’s no other way to put it, with the lows, like broken air conditioning, appearing inconsequential next to the highs such as seeing each city. I'd always wanted to see the world a bit, having only been to Spain and Greece. Seeing all the differences between each country in relation to their architecture, customs and habits was enlightening; all the people we met were really friendly and helpful.
My favourite city was definitely Oslo; it was small, had tons of green plants, was clean and had a nice atmosphere. The views from our room were amazing.
Berlin was definitely a close second with its historic buildings such as the Brandenburg gate. Reading about the Berlin Wall was incredibly interesting though tinged with sadness due to the suffering people endured.
My favourite meal would have to be the falafel in Copenhagen as it tasted amazing and the atmosphere was bustling. The best desert was definitely the chocolate milkshake at Lia’s Kitchen in Berlin, I’ll have to try and make my own!
Eating vegan was easy due to the Happy Cow app and all the Airbnb hosts we met were extremely welcoming.
And most importantly, the trip wouldn't have been as awesome as it was without Charlie who is an amazing friend....and I suppose Chesh as well ;)
Day 9, Geneva to Paris
Greetings, humans! As promised, I will inform you about any exciting developments on our night train journey. The only unexpected occurrence was the train stopping for over two hours at a station somewhere in Austria where our cabin-mates got off and didn’t come back. Nice people that they were, it did mean Charlie and Jack had the compartment to themselves and could stretch out across three seats each. I mean, that’s almost as good as a bed but for the price of a single seat.
Now, onto today. What a morning! I woke up to the early morning light of 5:30 AM, stretching my legs and flexing my claws to be greeted by a beautiful sight – the Alps stretching high above us on both sides, green, covered in trees and small old Austrian houses; I can’t be sure but I don’t think we’ve crossed into Switzerland at this point.
Despite the beauty of this early morning scene with the mountains lightly coated in mist and Charlie’s best poking abilities, Jack didn’t wake up and so missed what I must surely argue is one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
Well, that got a bit poetical. We went back to sleep for a bit and when we woke up, it was definitely over the border, the Swiss flags and number plates were a bit of a giveaway. But we were travelling through the German part of the country so, like in Austria, all the writing was in German. The fact that Switzerland also speaks French, Italian and Romansch confuses me slightly – why don’t they speak Swiss? And while I’m on the topic, why do they not speak Austrian in Austria and Austrian-German instead? I’m not sure that’s too important or relevant to my writings so I shall move on.
Our train pulled into Zurich (or Zürich to give it its German/Swiss name) and alighted for breakfast. In the train station, my personal humans found a shop selling vegan pretzels and shared a seeded one, although it was very salty and Charlie attempted to brush most of the salt off.
Breakfast over, it was then back on a train to Geneva (Genève in French – this city is in the French speaking part). This was a double decker train, one the three of us had long since watched and coveted at every station and here it was – success – we were on the top deck. Splendid views! What can be better than watching the Swiss countryside roll past than watching it from a whole floor higher up?
It was quite obvious when we passed into the French speaking part of Switzerland, obviously the signs became French, but the buildings were more often chalets instead of the farm buildings, both beautiful in their own way. We arrived in Geneva at lunch time and so headed straight to Aux Deux Ports, a vegan bakery, for lunch. Another new wonder of modern transport: the tram! After seeing them all around the cities we finally got to ride on one of these as well!
For lunch, the humans selected from the counter a large helping of spinach tart and a batch of freshly cooked potato crêpes with a side of salad and sauces. This was followed by the obligatory (as I have seen with my humans and thoroughly approve) dessert. This was strawberry cheesecake and a sponge cake with vanilla buttercream icing, coconut and lemon curd. Well, I’m going to call it lemon curd, that’s what it looked like, just not what it tasted like! Everything tasted good though, so I suppose that’s what’s important.
One of the café owners imparted wisdom to us – there was an area of Lake Geneva where swimming was free. Although not as blistering as the previous days, it was still pretty hot, and cooling in the lake would be much appreciated by the humans if not by me.
I thought they’d broken this deranged habit of heading to water like ducks!
We took the tram back to the station and walked from here to the lake. Part way there, the humans got distracted by a souvenir stall and then sat down on a grassy area. I thought perhaps the lake had been forgotten but, alas, no! They soon got up and carried on along the side of the lake looking for the place we had been promised. Before long we came across a small pier other humans were jumping off from a diving board into the water and swimming around. Oh what a shame, there was an entry fee to get onto the pier, looks like no swimming today then!
Oh darn it! These humans are painfully persistent in their quest for water. They kept walking and found a rock wall built around a small harbour, they walked out onto this and sat perilously close to the edge. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they took off their shoes and socks and put their feet in the water. Cold shivers are going up my back even now just thinking about it! At least they decided against swimming in it.
We stayed here for an awfully long time, looking across the lake, trying to guess which mountain was Mont Blanc (the one with snow on, of course) and taking pictures. Then a pair of swans with cygnets viciously and completely without motivation started swimming towards us and then… um… swam past us, so at least we were safe from them, the same cannot be said for the water.
And then, as if I needed any more proof that water is deadly, Charlie slipped on a rock and would have fallen straight into the lake if aforementioned rock hadn't been there! I nearly lost my scribe and cat-carrier! This would have been a disaster too terrible to comprehend, but did the humans realise the dangers of water now? Did they realise what I had been telling them all week? No, of course not!
After a lot more sitting and contemplating of the holiday, such as discussing the best city and the food they would most like to have again, my humans finally discovered it was time to leave and get the train to Paris. Well almost, they managed to squeeze in a bit of time sitting in a final park.
We then boarded the train which took us to Paris where I am writing this. We walked through the city to our final room. After much confusion regarding the English translation of what exactly we were supposed to do (this is basically a self-service room), we finally settled down for the evening.
Well, I did very much like Switzerland, waking up to the mountains may have been the only time in my life I enjoyed waking up. The countryside and the housing styles were beautiful. I think I would have liked Geneva too if it hadn’t had such a big lake in it, I mean, it is so big it is practically a sea, they might as well call it Ocean Geneva!
Paris, on the other hand, I could get to grips with, old buildings everywhere, even the metro signs are stylish. Small streets, big streets, winding streets with those old lampposts like that one in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, just perfect, especially for a stylish cat such as myself. Perhaps I should have been an Aristocat.
Well, goodnight for now folks, bed time for me. Tomorrow I shall relate to you my final instalment, the Tail of my return to Britain by Eurostar.
Until then, Chesh.
Day 8, Vienna to Geneva
Greetings, humans! So, did we make it to Vienna? Well, I told you yesterday we did so that ruins that surprise!
I’m sitting in the same park as where I related the second part of yesterday’s adventures to you, I’m just going to keep writing and fill you in on the story so far today.
I woke to a terrible occurrence! It was truly traumatic, it may be several years before I am fully recovered! My poor back right leg was coated in some horrible viscous bubbly stuff which Charlie said was probably shower gel, but we could not find out how this had leaked, the bottle itself appeared intact. It was horrible, I had to be given a bath in the train toilet wash basin, using wet loo-roll. Bubbles went everywhere and I feared my beautiful pink fur would never be the same again!
We eventually made it to Vienna HBF (Central Station) two hours later than expected and instead of heading out into the city, we did what any good travellers would do and headed straight to ticket sales to fill out compensation forms. Ok, we didn’t go straight there. We went to Information first and they told us to go to ticket sales, which slightly ruined the narrative but let’s just go with it.
The task of filling out the compensation form was made considerably harder by the fact that the forms were in German, but with the help of Google Translate (other translating services are available) and the Austrian sales person who gave us the form, we managed to fill it out and could expect 25% of our fee back, well hopefully. Although as we have an Interrail ticket and so really only paid for the reservation on this train, who knows exactly what it will be 25% of that we’ll get back!
Charlie and Jack were each given 8€ compensation in addition to this 25%, which was used to buy food, water and souvenirs (not necessarily in that order). I wasn’t given any cash but decided not to assert my rights, my reasons were three-fold. 1 – I didn’t pay for a ticket, b – I have no use for any of the three items mentioned above and numero tres – I don’t really understand the concept of money as I have mentioned on at least one previous occasion.
Our first stop was, surprisingly, a park. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that these humans of mine spend a lot of time in parks. I cannot fault them there.
This park was at the Belvedere Palace, or Schloẞ Belvedere to give it its native name. Well, technically I believe these would be called gardens, not a park, our first clue being that we were told off (in Austrian-German) for sitting on the grass – who knew that was even an offence, certainly not me!
The huge fountains and sculptures of sphinxes and topiary trees were our next clues, as well as the neatly gravelled paths.
We sat and admired the views, then after a short walk through the city, took a U-train (we are getting quite expert at these things now) to Schönbrunn park. This (apparently) contained another palace which once belonged to the Austrian royal family, but we are yet to find the giant building. Despite this, lunch under the trees was what one might term a ‘pleasant affair’ and we watched someone practice slack rope walking, an interesting spectacle. We also managed to capture the elusive crow-pigeon on film, the humans were very pleased with themselves.
You’ll be pleased to hear my poor fur has recovered from its hideous encounter with the shower gel, it seems as good as new.
I then took a cat nap and Charlie accidentally joined me, and why not? Us cats are geniuses (or should that be genii?) after all, maybe more humans should take up our ways.
Actually, on second thoughts, don’t! You would all be too busy sleeping to fulfil the roles I need you for while I’m sleeping!
When we awoke from our nap, we visited an organic supermarket because someone (Jack) didn’t bring enough food for the week and had to replenish, we almost passed for locals (I’m joking, my humans could never pass for locals). I’ve never been to an organic supermarket before, or a supermarket come to think of it, my humans left me in our room in Oslo whilst they visited Rema 1000, I was happy, I had the amazing view remember?
No matter, my humans enjoyed the supermarket (probably) and bought some food, which is important to them. No food = hungry humans = dead humans, not the case with me. I’m not sure how long humans can actually survive without food, but based on the frequency of meal times I guess it can be no more than 5 hours, longer overnight while metabolism is slower. Sometimes I surprise even myself with my scientific reasoning.
Food purchased, we returned to the park (we still haven’t found the palace) and enjoyed the shade of a different tree in another area of the park. It was another blisteringly hot day and, none of us having slept well on the train, a lazy day in the park was just what we needed. We also happened to have chosen a spot next to a drinking water pump (these are relatively common in Germany and Austria, I have noticed) so the humans were cool and refreshed all afternoon.
I took offence at this arrangement for, firstly and most obviously, the presence of water, and secondly, the constant stream of dogs playing with the wet stuff.
Right, we will soon be off for dinner and then catching our second and last night train to Geneva, so I will catch you up on these later… or whenever I can be bothered… I can’t let writing get in the way of napping!
Part II – we are on the train! In a very long tunnel, I believe. If not, all the lights in the world outside the train must have gone out.
And I learnt why we didn’t find the palace – we were in the wrong park, not in Schönbrunn, but another park across the road from it, called Hadikpark. These humans do make me worry. Well, it doesn’t really matter, we saw most of the same sights, you know, the important things like U-stations and construction work, which seems to follow us everywhere.
Our next journey was to dinner. Three short trips on three U-trains and a slight detour when we missed a turning later, we were at the Swing Kitchen.
Dinner, I’m reliably informed, was absolutely splendid once again – the Swing burger and the Vienna (schnitzel) burger with a side of huge chunky chips and onion rings for the first course. With the exception of our previous schnitzel burger in Berlin, this might be the only time we’ve eaten food native to the country we have been in, schnitzels are a famous German and Austrian dish, usually made with veal or pork (you probably knew this already), but can also be made from chicken, or soya in Charlie and Jack’s case. This was followed by a hazelnut crunch ice cream ‘burger’ – ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies, the circumference coated in hazelnut crumbs – and a triple layer nougat cake with chocolate sauce icing, a blob of cream and a chocolate spoon (not too eat with, for decoration only) – both, again, were apparently fantastic. My humans highly recommend Swing Kitchen to vegans and non-vegans alike spending the time in Vienna.
This was the end of our Vienna trip, back on the U to Wien Meidling Station this time. I say, Charlie and Jack have really got the hang of this U-train business. Oh, schnitzels, I said I was only going to praise them once. Pretend that didn’t happen, let’s start again. This was the end of our Vienna trip, back on the U to Wien Meidling Station this time where we discovered the washing up liquid had exploded in Charlie’s bag. This is the true cause of that horrible substance which had coated my leg earlier. As well as myself, other less important stuff such as food packaging had also been mercilessly attacked. This tidied up, we were ready to board our second night train to Zurich, for the change to Geneva.
Vienna has been a fascinating city, not speaking Austrian was an unexpected development although Charlie did know this wasn’t a language. I would have loved to spend more time here, perhaps to actually visit the Schönbrunn Park and maybe even see the palace. Then I could give you another of my riveting history lessons. I will tell you that the palace was the summer residence of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, built in the 1740s-50s and has 1441 rooms (thanks Wikipedia). Anything else you might like to know, you’ll have to find for yourself, seeing as we didn’t actually go there, I don’t think I can justify too long a history lesson.
Anyway, as I said, I would have liked to spend more time here, but the train timetable people wouldn’t let us, the two hour delay also didn’t help.
Yesterday I didn’t take much time to describe the train, and as it is the same type of train as last night’s, I will discuss them both together. If you’re not interested in trains or suffer a nervous disposition where description of vehicles is concerned, you might want to skip this bit.
The seats are in compartments of six and can be set back to recline, almost completely flat, although this does take a bit of manoeuvring and assumes, of course, there is no one sitting opposite you who would also like to lay flat. Or has legs. There was the option to have gone in the sleeper car and have an actual bed, but in a highly responsible yet completely idiotic money saving initiative, the seats were opted for by the humans to sleep in. The compartments were air-conditioned, but this only worked when the train was moving and also had a dial for speaker volume, not that we ever worked out what it was that we would be listening to.
Ok, it’s safe to read again now, we are settled into our compartment for the night. I can’t imagine anything else exciting will occur, if it does, I’ll tell you about it in tomorrow’s entry.
Until then, Chesh.
Day 7, Berlin to Vienna
Greetings, humans! We have been sitting on a station platform in Hannover for over an hour, our train has been delayed by 105 minutes. So I shall fill the time by writing about our last day in Berlin.
We started by getting the U-train (the German equivalent of London’s Tube) to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the border crossings of the Berlin Wall (yep, more history lessons today, folks). This was the area of the West controlled by the Americans and named after the letter C in the phonetic alphabet (Alpha is the crossing point from West to East Germany and Bravo is between East Germany and West Berlin if you’re interested).
Unlike the Bernauerstraẞe sector of the wall (which was in the French sector), here an artist’s installation marked the path of the wall in the form of brightly coloured purple and blue pipes above the streets where the wall had stood, which I suppose was kind of cool.
What I realised today was that the Wall was not a barrier dividing the city into its East and West halves, but instead a circular wall cutting off the West side of Berlin from the rest of East Germany, a tiny bit of West allowed to remain in the otherwise Eastern country, Berlin itself being firmly in the east of Germany. France, Britain and the US were responsible for controlling their parts of West Berlin, and East Berlin was controlled by the Russians – see my helpful map if you’re confused.
The Wall was set up by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to 'protect its citizens from fascism' as it was building a socialist state, however West Berliner’s referred to it as the Wall of Shame and its real purpose was to stop East Berliners fleeing to the West through West Berlin. Credit for this information goes to the information boards posted all around Checkpoint Charlie and at Bernauerstraẞe.
After some more souvenir shopping at Checkpoint Charlie, we moved onto the Topographie Des Terrors, a museum and memorial documenting the events of World War II including Hitler’s rise to power and the Holocaust. The longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall can also be found here, even if it was a bit torn down. The concrete tube over the top prevented people climbing it, concrete extending behind the wall stopped vehicles knocking it down by driving into it (I’m not sure how effective this was).
Strangely enough, when the Wall was brought down in 1989, the Limex-Beau company sold off parts of the wall, stamped for authentication to be used as road building materials. I find this very odd behaviour, but then what can one expect, they were human…
Things started to get a bit heavy so we took a break for lunch and visited another nice park and then headed over to Brammibal’s Doughnuts. My humans were very pleased with themselves for finding an all vegan doughnut bakery. They shared (ginormous) glazed ring doughnuts. They were chocolate peanut fudge, peanut banana fudge, nougat and hazelnut sprinkle. I have been reliably informed that they tasted fantastic, if you like doughnuts and are ever in Berlin, Germany or central Europe in general, a trip here is a must.
Doughnuts eaten, we headed over to the Brandenburg gate; it was huge! In case you're interested (and if you're not, I'll tell you anyway), the Brandenburg gate became part of the wall, separating the British West sector from the East. In 1987, US president Ronald Reagan stood on the West side of the wall and petitioned the East to 'tear down this wall'. Was Reagan an influence on its fall two years later? Probably not, but I'll let you make up your own mind.
I liked this area of Berlin, there were lots of old buildings and we also found the famous Tiergarten, but it was another 30˚c day and so we decided it would be a good idea to head back to our room and cool off with a cold shower.
It also allowed my humans to pick up their giant backpacks and say our goodbyes to our host. A short bus ride later, we were seated on our first train of the night, this one to Hannover.
A note on the spelling of Hannover: the English spelling has one 'n' (Hanover) and the German spelling has two, I like it with two 'n's so that is how I'm going to spell it!
This first train journey all went smoothly and we took our last look at the city as it disappeared from view. Berlin has been a fascinating city and we’ve had (accidentally, I might add) a very history based visit, the multitude of parks to eat meals and relax in has also been a great positive.
We arrived in Hannover and set off to find yet another park for dinner and to our surprise, discovered a piece of the Berlin Wall, stamped so there could be no mistake, at the entrance to the park. Strange coincidences.
Speaking of coincidences, I haven’t mentioned the cranes for a while. I am starting to wonder if they have followed us from Oslo, every city we have visited has been rife with cranes in an assortment of colours. Progress is everywhere, or so it seems.
Our night train to Vienna, as I mentioned earlier, has been delayed by 105 minutes, so that’s it for now, we’re all caught up. I’ll write later when the train eventually arrives and we are settled in for the night.
Actually, by the time the train arrived, it was so late we all went straight to sleep, therefore I’m actually writing this in a park in Vienna, so at least you know we made it to Austria, there was a point where I started to fear the train would never come.
In the end, the train was 130 minutes late – that’s over two hours!
A long time for a little cat to be sitting unmoving on a station platform in what, I must be honest, was not a good looking city. It was around 11:30 when the train was an hour and a half late that I seriously began to fear we would have no train and be stuck in this ugly German city forever (sorry, Hannover, I’m sure the areas of you we didn’t get to visit were beautiful).
The train finally arrived after midnight and we settled into our compartment, yes, this train has actual compartments like they do in old films. Although I don’t think the seats slide down into a reclining position like ours did in old films. How would I know? I’m a cat, I read books, I don’t watch films.
Finally! My poor, weary, exhausted, tired etc. body could rest!
Tomorrow I shall relate to you what we did in Vienna.
Until then, Chesh.
Day 5, Copenhagen to Berlin
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.
Day 4, Oslo to Copenhagen
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.
Before we Begin...
Greetings, humans, and welcome to my blog, Tails of a Travelling Cat, by me, Chesh. Now, you may have noticed I bear a passing resemblance to the Cheshire Cat of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and yes it’s true I started life in a Disney store (or more specifically a factory in Vietnam, although I’d rather not talk about that) but I prefer to think I am more like the dashing Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat, star of the less well known Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. If you’re not familiar with the books, I suggest you check me – ahem, them – out, I portray a stunning über-librarian of the Great Library superbly, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, enough about me (for now), this is about my travels, which does include me a lot, I suppose. I am inter-railing around Europe with my two human companions/ servants/ cat transporters, pick your favourite, but more on them later. My journey will start in Oslo, Norway on the 23rd May where I will be staying for a few days to sample the local food (although as a cuddly toy I don’t technically have to eat), experiencing the city and meeting the B&B owner’s cat (I hope he’s friendly). After that it’s on to Gothenburg, Sweden (for half an hour), a day in Copenhagen, Denmark and then a couple in Berlin, Germany. Then it’s onto Vienna, Austria and Geneva, Switzerland, both for the day, before finishing up in Paris, France (hopefully you knew what country that one was in but I am making my blog accessible to all) to travel back home on the 1st June.
I suppose I should mention my human companions here now seeing as it was their idea to do this trip and they were responsible for all the booking of trains and B&Bs, buying food and getting Europe money, which I thought was all called Euros but turns out that’s not actually the case in Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Switzerland… so Euros are actually only any use in Germany, Austria and France. I’m side-tracking again, ok, my humans.
Charlie had the original idea to organise this trip and persuaded Jack to come to, with the aim of visiting as many countries they had never been to before as they could in ten days. I’d say they have been pretty successful, six new countries and France because the Eurostar was a good way to get back. Then I came into their lives (improving them considerably, needless to say) and now I am coming as well because I am too important to miss out on a trip like this (and who else would write so fantastically?).
Oh, and they’re both vegan, seeing as I don’t need to eat, I won’t die if I eat their food but, hey, what the hell, I’m up for trying anything.
Well, that pretty much sums up the when, who, what and why of our trip. Until next time, folks.