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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Leicester to Sweden and back

One of the things that has been with me since I was a child is an interest in civil engineering.

I watched this TV program about a road link between Denmark and Sweden called  the Oresund Bridge a film showing Building it  so I decided that I was going to cross this link because it was there.

To drive from the Leicester to Malmo via Dover is far too much in one go, so I decided to stay at Amsterdam to split the journey.

I left Leicester towing my caravan on Wednesday 4/8/10 in the early afternoon, my ferry was actually booked for 8 the next morning, so I decided to park-up close to the terminal and found a very pleasant campsite at Folkestone.

Boarded the ferry no problems, made friends with a lady from Essex who was going camping for a month with her two young sons, who knows? I gave her my email address - if she writes I most certainly will write back.

My original plan was to park-up at Zeeburg having had a very pleasant stay there once before, but when I got there it was full, serves me right I should have booked :(

So after a degree of rigmarole, I ended up on a campsite in the middle of nowhere, at a place called Uitdam, around 12 km from Amsterdam which turned out to be ok and very peaceful and beautiful 'coz at night you could clearly see the stars in the sky, unlike in most cities 'coz of light pollution.

I was involved in the complicated process of extracting my invalidity scooter from my car and this Polish girl turned up with her German boyfriend an offered to help, which was gratefully received, they said after helping me, "that they would be on the beach drinking wine later on" this I took note of (not literally).

Went for a lonely meal of spaghetti bollock naked, where the waitress did not have a clue, I ask you? She expected me to eat my spaghetti bolognese with a knife and fork! She did not know that one eats spaghetti bolognese with a spoon and fork.

Having filled my belly with enough spaghetti bolognese as it could comfortably accommodate, I set off for the beach.

At this point, I can sense the disappointment at no photos of my adventure, well here is my first of this trip.

Some explanation is obviously in order, the dog, a very big poodle did not want to enter the water 'coz it was cold, this is very funny 'coz poodles are bred to be water dogs, the kid in the water was teasing the dog, if I had really known what I was doing I would have videoed it.

The dog kept barking but would not enter the water 'coz he knew it was cold, the kid knew this, so worked the point and demonstrated to the dog he was more of a man, than the dog was (don't you just love mixed metaphors?).

Had a drink and an interesting conversation with the couple who had helped me extract the scooter from  my car then went to bed.

My original plan for the next day was to ride into Amsterdam on my scooter and visit some of my old haunts last visited in 1973 (I lived in the 'Dam for six months then) but because I could not park the caravan at Zeeburg but felt 12 km was a bit of a push on an invalidity scooter, I went into the Uitdam caravan site office, to find out what was around to visit, the very nice lady, suggested I visit Volendam via Marken, the easy route from Marken to Volendam is via a small passenger ferry.

I did not take any photos on the journey between the campsite and Marken ,because in some ways it was not visually interesting. I'm new at travel journalism so perhaps total narrative type photos might work okay, comments would be nice.

An example of a narrative photograph. (queuing for the ferry at Marken bound for Volendam)

 Marken disappearing into the background, (no I don't know who she was, she just crept into shot somehow)

Had a ride around Volendam looking for a mobile phone shop, my idea being to buy a Dutch Vodafone sim card, thinking it would work the same as a Brit Vodafone sim card ie 50 pence for 24 hours surfing the 'net flat fee, apparently Dutch Vodafone don't work the same as Brit Vodafone, so still a problem accessing the 'net without going to an internet cafe.

A sight you would probably not see in an English town a heron sitting beside a canal.

Went for a beer on the waterfront till about 6:30 and decided to catch the ferry back to Marken as I had bought a return ticket, alas I had missed the last ferry, if you look at the map here you can see the road distance I had to travel to return to Uitdam.

Another narrative photo - the road out of Volendam.

I was a bit concerned with whether there were enough charge in the scooter's battery to take it that distance - no problem, it still had loads of charge left when I got back to Uitdam after about one and a half hours trundling through the Dutch country side, quite pleasant really.

Left Uitdam Saturday morning and headed north bound for Copenhagen.

There are hills in Holland here is proof.

There are lots of windmills in Germany.

This bridge crosses this channel

I reach Puttgarden the little ferry port that is the border between Germany and Denmark and sit patently waiting to board the ferry. Got chatting with the guy in front of me, queuing for the ferry , he was driving all the way to Oslo.

He was from Switzerland and was a retired truck driver like me (to those that do not know me I'm in the red C4.)

Boarded the Scandlines ferry which crosses the 18 km strait, to the Danish island of Lolland.

I used ferry crossings from the UK to the continent for many years when I was a truck driver and one enormous difference looms between Scandlines and the four ferry companies that operate out of Dover with Scandlines  you do not need to book, you just turn up and join the queue.

All they would need at Dover, is four electronic boards displayed at the entrance, one for each ferry company operating out of Dover, on the board would be displayed the length of the queue and the cost of the crossing.

The ferry I boarded was also a train ferry and it was a somewhat peculiar sight, to see the train leaving the ferry at the same time as I was.

Spent my first night in Denmark on Saturday 7/8 in this layby.

Arriving in Copenhagen.

Found the campsite using my trusty Tomtom, it turned out to be a disused fort to protect the port of Copenhagen called Charlottenlund.

My caravan is in the middle of the shot, at the front.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Copenhagen is to visit Christiania
bit of a disaster really due to the weather, it rained heavily for the whole time I was in Copenhagen, so there was no exploring on my scooter. Perhaps I will revisit one day.

Saw this church which had an interesting spire.

Had a look round Christiania,  looked a bit grim probably due to the rain.

Made some friends can't remember the ladies name, but his name was 'John the pom' from Australia he had started work as a Truck driver then became a dentist! presumably because it paid a bit better.

  Going into 

Entering the tunnel, between Denmark and Sweden.

Out of the tunnel now over the bridge!

Found the campsite at Malmo parked the caravan, extracted the scooter.

Took a photo of the bridge from the Swedish side.

Met a German one man band named Bernd, interesting guy, a true troubadour at 66 years old, he actually lived in Italy, but when I asked him how much of the time he was there, he said he was only in Italy for two months of the year, the rest of the time he toured Europe on his motorbike, with his tent, base drum and guitar, strapped to the back of his motorcycle.

Here he is on youtube

Got a shot of the Oresund link at sunset.

 Last photo of the trip, parked up for the night in a service station near Munster.

My original plan was to spend Tuesday night in Amsterdam, but Malmo to Amsterdam is a long way, which would have put me in the 'Dam early evening, by the time I had set up everything going into the centre, would have hardly been worth it seeing as I would be leaving the next morning for the ferry at Dunkirk.

Reached Dunkirk early Wednesday evening, my ferry was actually booked for Thursday morning, but because of having to book in (unlike the Scandline ferry and Oresund link) They made me pay an extra £17 to get an earlier ferry, which was a scam, because there was lots of space to spare on the ferry, which  meant they had to leave nothing off, to give me space, in other words it cost them virtually nothing more, to get me on board and bound for home.

Finally arrived home at around 3:00 Thursday morning, tired - but with a sense of accomplishment.

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