My weird body clock obviously factors in the time difference between the Netherlands and Britain. I woke up at 5am local time which, of course, is 4am back home. This, of course, made me very early.
Although I’d had one last night, I decided to take advantage of the best shower I think I’ve ever had in a hotel room. Talk about great pressure. Amazing. And with two shower heads (one high, one low) and excellent temperature control. And not over a bath. I highly recommend the shower in room 315 at the Ibis Styles, Amsterdam Centraal.
Given I didn’t really know what I was doing, I figured I’d give myself an hour and a half to get to Amsterdam Sloterdijk. There was a bit of confusion with buying a train ticket but, otherwise, it was so simple I was at the bus station with an hour to wait. And the Starbucks wasn’t open.
And, because I’m an idiot who doesn’t read instructions, I waited at the wrong bus station. Fortunately I realised my mistake and thanked the goddess of buffers for providing me with the means to stop me missing my FlixBus.
The bus was very comfortable and a lot cooler than outside, according to the temperature displayed above the driver. For the first leg to Hamburg, the only people talking on the entire bus were right behind me. They hardly drew breath.
Our first stop was in a town called Drachten in the Netherlands. It’s main claim to fame appears to be an experiment in shared space. They removed all signs and traffic lights in an attempt to reduce traffic accidents. The theory was that drivers pay more attention when forced to through lack of direction.
And it worked. Before the experiment, there were eight accidents per year whereas, two years afterwards there was one.
Stop number two see us in Groningen, where mum’s friends Diane lives. Mum went and visited for a while when she stayed with us. From what I saw from the bus station, it looks quite intriguing.
As well as Diane, Groningen also has a very old clock, a very modern museum and, would you believe it, a maritime museum. Looks like we need to visit.
We became a part of a traffic jam on an anonymous bit of motorway between Groningen and the next stop. I noticed lots of motor homes as well as trucks with the scary ‘angles mort‘ label stamped all over them which I can’t help but translate as Angles of Death! The traffic problem appeared to have been two lanes merging into one. It all went away after a bit.
We crossed the border into Germany at some point then arrived at our next stop, Oldenburg.
Once ruled by the Danes, Oldenburg has had its fair share of historical catastrophes. Plague, fire, foreign rule all feature large in its history. It was under British control after the Second World War and even the French had it for a while during Napoleon’s march across Europe.
From the bus, the centre looked interesting. It all appears to be pedestrianised. It was also very hot. A building had the temperature in big red numbers: 28°.
Then came Bremen. It featured in the Brothers Grimm fairy story Town Musicians of Bremen. And, NDL, the international shipping company was born in Bremen. It describes itself as very much a working class city. It also has dozens of art galleries and museums.
Bremen also meant the end of me worrying about someone sitting next to me. While we picked up and dropped off people at each stop, none of them had the window seat beside me. How lucky was that?
There was horrendous traffic coming into Hamburg but that wasn’t as bad as the hour and a half delay for the bus to Copenhagen. Standing at Hamburg bus station was not fun. Particularly when it was 29°.
This bus was completely full, which meant a woman in a big woollen cardigan sat next to me. It was still 29°. I don’t get that at all.
Because we were late, we just missed the ferry across to Denmark. Mind you, we had priority over everyone else, getting to the head of the queue. And the ferry isn’t a little car ferry like I imagined. It was a big, beautiful Ro-Ro.
There came a gruff announcement from bus driver: “Listen to me! You must now get off bus for 45 minutes!” Gladly, I thought. A beer and cinnamon bun later, I was up and out on deck, enjoying everything. The wind, the water, being on a boat, perfection.
The crossing was a lovely diversion, the sea breeze providing some relief from the heat. We once more boarded the bus and headed off.
Only to be stopped by the police. The driver told us to get off and line up. The police wanted to see our papers. It was just a formality and we were all soon once more on the bus and, finally, in Denmark.
The sunset almost made up for the delay.
There was a bit of a hike to the hotel but, eventually, I was checked in with a beer in my hand and a pillow for my head. Tomorrow Stockholm.