Haret AlfasiThe Long Way To Italy | Autumn 2016

Day 5: Hello Denmark! I'm new here :D

I am such a lazy bum when it comes to waking up! It was 9am and I was SO COSY in my sleeping bag! It was also the day of Arafah. An important date in the Muslim calendar and marks the day when the biggest and most monumental part of the annual Islamic pilgrimage is fulfilled. It’s strongly recommended that one fasts this day if they can, so I opted IN! I knew it was going to be a bit tough, but it was my choice and I wanted to do it.

After freshening up and waking myself up a little, I decided to check out how the bluetooth communication was doing as far as recording goes. I removed the microSD card, slotted it into the card reader USB stick and whacked that into the laptop. The recording quality seemed to be on point but….wait…what’s this? Why can’t I hear anything? Nooooooooooooooo :(. The microphone wasn’t recording my voice! Bugger! That technically meant that this fandabadozie bluetooth camera communicator supposed-gem-of-a-device had been reduced to nothing more than a mute action camera right now……that…..gave me a voice prompt when it started and stopped recording. I was seriously ticked off by this. Going online didn’t help either as most people spoke about it being a hardware fault that needed replacing. But….come on Sena….after 2 days of usage? I mention 2 days because the audio was only recording on days 1 and 2. Days 3 and 4 were completely mute! All the stuff I had spoken about and shared…nothing. This was super annoying and I was trying my utmost hardest to not let it get to me…..but it was tough. Things seemed to be going the wrong way so much. Gah :/

I tried not to fret, but instead think of positive solutions. I went on the SENA site and found that they had a distributor in Sweden AND Norway. The Sweden dude was too far up north but the Norway distributor was right next door to Oslo. Fantastic. I’ll go to him I thought and hopefully they can sort me out with a replacement. It was most DEFINITELY still under warranty and I wanted to make the most of that. I had unfortunately wasted a ton of time faffing with it and quibbling to myself about how I could fix it. The seconds and minutes ticked by till I realised it was actually coming up to 12. Shoot. I need to make a move! I scrambled and got myself packed as quickly as possible, ran to the boathouse, paid, ran back, realised that I need the key to open the barrier, started to run back when the barrier started to lift, ran back to the bike and only then finally started my day of riding.

I continued up route 76 to Kiel and from there I swung east taking routes 203 and 199 through Brodersby, Gelting and Langballig before reaching Flensburg just shy to 4pm. On the way there, I crossed a large bridge that took me into the town of Kappeln. There, on the side of the road I noticed an outdoor shop and thought it worthy to stop by and see if they had a burner for the gas cylinder that Chris had given me. The ladies at the store didn’t speak English very well but they were generous and kind enough to give me instructions as best as they could. They informed me that a petrol station just up the road should stock them and that I should try my luck with them. Thanking them as I walked out, I spotted that the bridge was fully open and a stream of marine traffic was cruising by while restless car drivers looked out their windows praying that they could get a move on soon. Luckily for me I was on the right side of the bridge and had nothing to worry about :). Fast forward a few minutes and I was at the petrol station, but unfortunately they didn’t stock what I needed so I gave it a miss and just carried on.

Soon thereafter, I found myself in Flensburg. The town itself was extremely beautiful. The water sliced into the centre of the city like a sharp knife, so going around it was a must given the direction I’d just arrived from. Old rustic buildings with meticulous decorations and colourful fascias gave it a touch of nobility and finesse that I hadn’t seen in other German towns up to this point. It was as though someone had picked up a a few districts from central Paris or London and just plonked them there. As odd as it was, as pleasantly surprising as it was. Unfortunately I couldn’t snap any photos due to the lack of parking space, but I did keep the GoPro and helmet cams rolling, so be sure to check those out.

I was now a stone’s throw away from Denmark and once again I opted for the A/B roads instead of the motorway. And so I hopped onto route 200 and entered Denmark for the first time in my life through the Krusà border crossing. The FIRST THING that hit me was the broad smile that the border policeman gave me. It was extremely genuine and pleasant, and that automatically gave Denmark lots of points. Well done policeman! The SECOND THING that hit me was the width of the roads and the lanes. They were HUGE! Seriously….I mean…it was one lane but you could easily fit two cars in it…possibly three if one of them was a Fiat 500. A snug fit it would be but…snug’s good too ;). I remember chuckling to myself and making silly jokes about lane positioning….except…lane positioning in one lane xD. The roads were very well maintained and the extra lane width gave me a feeling of comfort that I’d never experienced before. Also perhaps due to the fact that there was hardly anyone on these roads! And THAT is the THIRD THING, haha. Seriously….massive roads and so little traffic. I was thinking to myself: “What the f……………., are you serious? Where dem cars be at? Where dem automobiles be at?” Scarce is a fitting word.

I passed by Kiskelund, Søgard, Lundsbjerg and was soon in the coastal town of Aabenraa. Now THIS was a really pretty town! The super spacious roads thing is just as valid, but what I loved about it was how…..oddly serene it was. How the road pavings from the pedestrian streets and pavements seamlessly blended into the regular road surface, and how the buildings were constructed and positioned relative to one another. I’m struggling to put it correctly but….I just really REALLY liked it! From there I continued further north towards Haderslev on the 170 before swinging around Kolding on the motorway and entering the island of Funen.

The logical thing to do if you want to get to Norway is to take the E20 motorway straight to Copenhagen…but I simply couldn’t. So I did what I normally do and veered off it immediately and headed south east cutting through Glamsbjerg to reach Faaborg. Let me just mention right now that the scenery on these roads was simply TO DIE for! The gentlest rolling hills coupled by sweeping twisties that had me grinning from cheek to cheek. Cows and bulls lazily grazed and chomped on the brightest grass I’ve seen in my life and everything seemed to simply breathe with life! The colours were simply out of this world! I was enjoying myself too much and took the time to be thankful that the weather had help up perfectly up until this point.

From Faaborg I continued east towards Svendborg on route 44 and then straight across to Skarup Fyn and Oure. My idea was to follow that same route all the way round and up to Nyborg and from there I’d hop back on the E20 motorway to Copenhagen. But…like the night before, I found nighttime calling on my door quicker than I expected. This was really troubling me now…..the daytime hours were dropping drastically and it wasn’t helping that I was starting super late as well. Up to this point however, I had continued to ride in some seriously stunning scenery. I noticed the stunning architecture of the churches that were extremely well maintained with their step-like roof structures. They were all painted in the brightest white that contrasted beautifully with the bright orange roof slates comfortably perched up above. The homes and cottages were another spectacle, with so many still retaining their old thatched roofs that bellowed history, age and memories. There was also an evident keen interest by the residents on gardening as so many houses had plant pots and hanging flower baskets that added that extra dash of colour that ticked so many boxes for me. I was genuinely genuinely impressed! Complimenting this stunning architecture was now the presence of forests and woodlands as well. GOSH THE FORESTS AND THE TWISTIES THROUGH THE FORESTS. I was sold. This country needed a proper trip specifically dedicated to it! I promise to be back Denmark. Mark my words.

The clock ticked 7:30 and I knew that I needed to stop to find a place. booking.com had me in for a surprise. The prices were sky high….a LOT higher than in Germany and I gulped at the prospect that this may very well only be the beginning and that things would only be getting more expensive from here. I opted to try Airbnb instead and found the prices a little cheaper which was encouraging. Bear in mind that I had tried to complete my verification process on the ship but couldn’t so I was bracing myself for the worst. Luckily however everything went smoothly and I was able to verify myself via Facebook and voila, I was all good to go to book! Except…I had never booked with Airbnb before. I knew that normally one would have to contact the host first etc and I was looking at my watch and thinking if I was cutting this TOO short perhaps. I felt like I was but I had no choice.

I made a booking in the property of what looked like a pleasant and cheerful middle aged man and sent him a message whilst wishing for the best. Ten minutes went by, 20, 30….no response. I had used the “Instant Book” feature which from what I understood meant that the host did not require to confirm it, but that check in details between the host and the guest would still need to be confirmed. Had I acted too soon? Should I have waited for a response from him first? I didn’t have answers to any of these questions, but what I did know was that I was 15km away from the property and that it made sense that I get myself there as quickly as possible and deal with the rest of these questions later. So I did just that, and what a ride it was. The sun had completely set by now and all but a faint brush of light remained on the horizon making for a fantastic last photo with the backdrop of three wind turbines in the background!

I rode through the darkest pitch black woods and through fields of freshly cut maize that glistened with a magical yellow as the last of the light floating in the sky touched their reeds. I was absolutely blown away by it all, and as much as I wanted for the host to be there and for everything to fall into place, as much as I wished that I could continue riding like this for a while longer. Everything comes to an end however and soon I found myself in front of the property. I called the owner via Skype but the lag was SO TERRIBLE that we were waiting almost 30 seconds between each message and reply. I called him again and understood that he was 2 hours away from home and that I would have to wait till he got back. He did however suggest that I could try knocking on the door and see if any of the two other guests would open up for me. I did just that while he was still on the phone and hey ho one of them opened the door! He was a young Ukranian guy called Bogdan who was studying and working on the farm with the owner. We exchanged a few words and he asked me about my trip and then proceeded to show me the kitchen and where everything was.

One thing I must mention however is the smell that hit my nostrils as soon as I walked into the house the first time. It was the smell that I can only associate with that Slavic region of the world (Poland, Ukraine, Russia etc) as in all the times I had been with or in the homes of people from that region, this culinary scent was there. It took me back in memory even to the days I worked in construction….gosh….12 years ago :O. The vast majority of the guys were from Poland and Ukraine, and perhaps the smell of coffee lounge is what came back to me immediately. It was practically the same. I’m not sure if it’s certain condiments used in the sausages or salamis that these countries are famous for, but it was definitely something very familiar and the association was automatically made.

I got myself comfortable and indeed a couple of hours later the owner arrived. He was a very smiley middle aged man with thinning hair and a bristly moustache that had me secretly wanting to take out my strubble trimmer and organise it for him. Ugh, the temptation! Haha. He quickly busied himself with making the bed and thereafter we lost ourselves in a conversation about everything from farming, global warming, travelling when one has the opportunity, not listening to those who discourage, Brexit, how the Sahara is expanding, weather patterns, tree illnesses, the consumerist mentality of today’s world (how people use and throw away so quickly) and so so many other topics. Come 15 minutes past midnight, we were both totally spent and bade each farewell. He explained that I could comfortably checkout whenever I wanted tomorrow, which is always nice to hear! He did however explain how I should “hurry” to the north but take my time on the way down as winter is indeed coming. The way he said it made me feel as though I was a knight receiving some sort of prophecy from an oracle. It was genuinely surreal the way in which he said it. So Game of Thronesy.

Some of the other points he mentioned included how quickly daylight was being chipped at on a daily basis and how each day his town lost 3 minutes of daylight from each end of the day (sunset and sunrise) and how he expected it to be getting lost at a quicker pace further up north. He gave me an estimate of 3 weeks before the first snowfall begins in Norway and how I should really try to get myself there as quickly as possible. I’ll be taking his advice of course and hope to make some serious headway tomorrow.

Time to sleep now however :)