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cities

Perfect Morning at Kærskov

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Perfect Morning at Kærskov

On a quiet suburban road with houses on both sides, there was a family hanging out by the curb on one yard. They seemed to be expecting something. When I passed them they were giving me strange looks. Wondering what that was about, I looked for them in my mirror, but instead saw a car and a motorcycle with yellow lights appear behind the corner, then some cyclists.. a LOT of cyclists. It was a race!

I quickly drove into the ditch to let a hundred or two bicycles and support vehicles zoom past me.

Now I understood those weird looks. The people were out there to watch the race pass. They must’ve had a surreal moment when seeing me. “Here they come honey! And in the lead… is a… what the hell?

Later that evening I passed Århus, which looked like a gorgeous city. Lots of cafes, restaurants and bars with cool well-dressed people sitting, eating and drinking outside. A very European feel, further underlined by wine being sold in grocery stores (which is not a thing in other Nordic countries). If I wasn’t an uncool badly-dressed smelly cyclist, I may have stayed longer. But as it was, I continued onwards.

Trees silhouetted against evening clouds.

Although wild camping isn’t allowed in all of Denmark, there are government-sanctioned forests and other places where it’s okay to pitch a tent. I've been mostly following the official national bicycle routes, as well as the map of free camping places.

I thought this limitation would be uncomfortable, but actually I’ve discovered that having less choice makes touring easier. If I have an idea of where I’ll be sleeping it’s a lot easier to plan ahead and leave certain tasks until I reach the campsite. Maybe there is something to be said for a bit of planning, after all.

One of these free tent places was in Kærskov near Horsens. Another old beech forest with hike, bike and horse paths. A small pond offered an excellent campsite. I had plenty of time to examine the area, take photos and cook dinner before sunset. Everything was perfect. (Almost everything.. I opened a box of newly bought Danish cheese and nearly gagged. The smell was disgusting. I don’t understand how it’s even legal to pack such a powerful stench in a bland container without warning signs.) There was some foot traffic, but it died off at dusk and I went to sleep early.

This'll do for a campsite!

Again I was awake for the sunrise. The morning was freezing, so there was a great deal of reluctance in leaving my down feather bed. But I’m glad I did, because it was a stunning sight. Sunlight seeped through the treetops in beams that lit the misty air. Dewdrops clung to leaves and spiderwebs. The surface of the pond was a clear mirror, except where lilies broke the illusion, or birds caused ripples when diving. A squirrel rustled in the branches.

I walked around slowly, took my photos, breathed in the brisk autumn air and chatted with people on their morning walks. Beautiful hurryless days like this are what touring and traveling are all about.

Once again, I couldn't believe my luck that this is what I get to do for the next few years.

There are one million spiders in this photo.
Small island mirrored.
A couple of the trees had autumn colours to boot.
 

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Why I Don’t Like Cities

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Why I Don’t Like Cities

As I've already said elsewhere, this trip is mostly about nature destinations. Cities are not my thing. And I say this as someone who used to genuinely prefer large cities - the bigger the better. I've lived in several cities with populations in the multiple millions. As I got out of my 20's however, I suddenly gained a deep appreciation towards the serenity that can only be found in nature. So that’s where I try to spend most of my time now.

Cities are loud, dirty, polluted and unnatural places. There's a constant background noise of cars. The air smells like concrete and exhaust fumes. Everything is artificial; even the park is designed by an architect. There are so many people it’s hard to make contact with anyone.

And that’s under normal circumstances. When I'm on a bicycle trip it gets much worse. Now I can barely visit a toilet somewhere without worrying about where to leave my bike and bags so they won’t be stolen. I don’t even like camping grounds due to the prices (among many other reasons), how am I going to pay for a hotel room that costs my entire week’s budget?

Plus of course cities are just miles and miles of definitely-not-camping-here grounds that it’s difficult to navigate out of. 

That’s why I didn’t have the greatest time when I entered an actual city for the first time on this trip. Despite the fact that the place was Tromsø, undoubtedly one of the nicest little cities in the whole world. I was also tired from riding all night. For some reason I hadn’t found a campsite before Tromsø, so I made the very questionable decision of riding through it, instead of turning back and being less picky with my sleeping spot. Another rookie mistake.

So, with all the above in mind, exhausted after a long day, on an increasingly hot morning, surrounded by busy “oh shit I’m late for work" commuters, trying to stay out of everyone’s way and figuring out the local traffic rules, with a very heavy bicycle in a city that isn’t exactly “flat” ‘cos there’s a bloody mountain in the middle (probably higher than any in Finland), having Google Maps shout instructions into one ear with incomprehensible street names telling me to take turns that don’t exist, and after 45 minutes of trying to navigate my way out and somehow ending up almost exactly where I started from… I was, overall, not the happiest I've ever been.

A lonely tree by the fjord in Skibotn. Or not lonely, perhaps. It could have a very active social life for all I know.

Of course I am fully aware that I can only blame myself for all of this.

Nevertheless, cities are not my thing. And if you are reading this blog hoping to see photos of Paris, Rome and Barcelona, you are most likely going to be disappointed. For the most part I will be avoiding cities, preferring to stock up in small towns and villages. Hopefully I'll get to spend the vast majority of my time in the peace and quiet of nature.

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