A long, crazy, hard day, easily the most difficult day we’ve done. I knew, of course, that there would be hard days like this, but now we’re really into this it’s come as a bit of a shock.
Last night’s train was a big old-fashioned sleeper, as wide as it was tall, with six people to a cabin. Given we are now a round dozen, there was an inevitable split between those who wanted an early night and those who wanted to stay up and take a drink or two. I rather found myself in the latter and someone brought out whisky. This accounts for my sense of existential crisis today. I’m having a very Nordic downturn with Scottish flavours.
This feeling of drink-struck ennui hasn’t been especially helped by the incredible monotony of the Swedish countryside. Where Norway offered us grand fjords and train lines hugging the sides of mountains, Sweden has come on more like a reforested Norfolk.
It’s easy and lazy to make the mistake of characterising a whole country by the corridor of tedium through which the train line happens to have been built – I only wish we’d seen a few more beautiful vistas to talk about. We did see a beautiful midnight twilight, with the sun bisected by the horizon. But that was about it. As far as this trip is concerned, Norway got the geological bling.
The mood hasn’t been helped by our missing the first connection of the trip. It nearly happened at Copenhagen on the way north. It had happened at Copenhagen on the way south. We missed our train (and our seat reservations) to Hamburg, which means we’ll miss our train (and our seat reservations) to Berlin. We should still make it to the German capital tonight, but it will be a late one.
I’m squeezed into an unreserved seat on this crowded train. We’re dotted around two carriages and the restaurant car. But all this has already faded away because we’ve just experienced one of the engineering marvels of the trip – the train ferry, which saw this crowded tube of travellers taken directly onto a boat, in the train. We climbed down from the train and for the 45-minute crossing we stood on a sunlit Baltic Sea, ferries and yachts to port and starboard, wind turbines on the line of the horizon and beneath or feet an entire train.
That, at least, should be something to blog home about.
As I write this we are pulling into Germany. Tonight with a following wind and the right connections we’ll be in Berlin. The vast distances of Scandinavia are behind us, and the lines on the map will from here on be closer and, in consequence, more unsettled.