It took so long for us to leave The Floating City that Grainne and Brian came back again from their trip to Sweden. Grainne sits excitedly by my sick bed (our latest reason for not leaving) and tells me all about their adventures. It seems they are now referring to my blog as the “Activist Lonely Planet” and used it to find places to visit in Malmö and Stockholm. They were also inspired to try hitchhiking for the first time, leaving their van here at Teglholm and thumbing over the bridge. It seems to have gone really well. It’s nice to hear that my adventures are inspiring others.
Now Brian and Grainne will leave with us. A convoy of two vans with romantic notions of parking up somewhere midway to Hamburg. Two vans, four people and some countryside to enjoy. We can breakfast in one van, supper in the other, sit around our burner in the evening…
Grainne and I decide to spend our last day in Denmark in… Sweden. A day out in Malmö. We will hitch across the bridge, pick up the snow trousers she left there, buy a postcard each for our collections, take a sauna, eat lunch at the Glassfabriken and make it back to Teglholm in time for our final, final night.
Grainne waits at the petrol station entrance with a sign while I walk around asking people at the pumps. We swap over after a while and somebody stops. “Going to Sweden, yeah?” I ask, tucking my “Malmö” sign down by my feet. “I have a friend too, it’s ok?” I say as Grainne runs down from the pumps. “Sure, no problem,” he says.
We are about halfway to Helsingor before we realise we are going the wrong way. Too late to turn back now. Our driver apologises profusely for his mistake, offers to pay for our ferry fares if we decide to go across from Helsingor to Helsinborg and hitch down to Malmö from there. Grainne refuses politely. I’m almost convinced, but even after the ferry crossing, we will still be further away from Malmö than we were back in Copenhagen. We drive in silence for a while and feel the tension mounting.
Our driver says something to Grainne I don’t quite catch… “But… were you wanting to go to Sweden though?” Grainne asks. He has offered to drive us back the way we’ve come and take us over the bridge himself. This is a very large favour. We all laugh as he says, “sure, why not?” The tension crumbles and we get on with enjoying our ride.
First we have to take this car for an M.O.T. near Helsingor, then back down to Copenhagen to swap cars and over the bridge to Malmö. It will take a little longer than the 20 minute ride Grainne had when hitching Malmö-Copenhagen with Brian just over a week ago, but at least we will have an adventure. We take sneeky tourist shots and snigger quietly, drinking coffee from plastic cups and reading men’s magazines in the garage while the M.O.T. is going on.
Back in Copenhagen, we swap into our drivers own car in the street next to Teglholm and cross the bridge. I try not to wince as our driver pays the €60 fare to cross the bridge, drop us off and drive back again. Wow, he really was sorry!
We don’t have time for a sauna now, but we have some stories to tell and we have a nice lunch at the Glassfabriken and meet up with Grainne’s CSers before heading back.After a two hour wait we get a free ride in a taxi over the bridge to Copenhagen airport, where we jump first a metro, then a train back to Teglholm. Three hours in each direction. Whew!
We have our final, final night – which stretches on until 6am with a crate of beer and some truth-or-dare based games. We are really leaving this time.
It takes a whole day to put the finishing touches on the van and pack everything away. We have a last supper with everyone and leave late – too late for Brian and Grainne, who will meet us the following day somewhere in the South Danish countryside.
Pete picks me up from the station and we catch up on the past few days over a cheesless pizza in the cafe opposite.
It’s nice to be back. The frozen lake and snow-covered pine trees are even more beautiful now that my lungs are functioning properly. The temperature has risen slightly too, all the way up to -7. It’s practically bikini weather!
M has disappeared for a few days, meaning we can sleep in his shelter. There are less people now and with the warmer temperature, people are happier to sleep in the tipi. Pete and I somehow get M’s shelter to ourselves for a night. What luxury!
While I was gone, two Swedish guys appeared.
One is a scout leader, the other a gas station attendant.
They don’t know anyone who lives here, but found the gathering while searching the internet.
They emailed Ed, who politely replied with the details. Unbelievably,
they’re camping in a small dome-tent just behind Ed’s shelter. Each morning they get up early and jog around the frozen lake before breakfast. They teach us how to make bread using only a frying pan, a plastic bag, flour, water and salt.
My second day back, on Pete’s request, Ed gives us a bow-drill workshop. It’s an ancient way to make fire, without matches or lighter. It’s tricky, but the Swedish campers both pick it up straight away. My efforts are useless – I can barely even hold the bow properly. Pete nearly makes fire happen with a piece of wood he’s carving himself. He’s blowing on the ember between two pieces of wood as instructed, but it ends up going out. What happened? “Hang on, let me see that piece of wood…” Ed grabs the top piece that Pete was holding, which on closed inspection turns out to be… a charred banana! Ahhh…the old banana problem, happens to everyone the first time!
Back in Ed’s shelter, the remaning seven of us sit around telling stories and collectively cooking up a big curry. Humour ensues as several people take turns to try to chop a piece of wood for the fire inside the shelter as nobody wants to go and retrieve the big axe from the tipi several minutes walk away. It reminds me of when I used to get stoned and we would sit for hours thinking up ways to make tea without getting up. Ed kneels sweating by the fire in his longjohns, trying and failing to chop a particularly hard bit with a tiny axe. We all fall about in hysterics. It’s a lovely evening, but by the end of it, even Ed ‘s had enough of being overcrowded in his humble home. Time to move on, we think. I have had two more days in the forest and Pete has had eight in total. Time to move south and warm up a bit!
I’m on a train with Jim, Jatta and a dreadlocked guy named Patrick. Jatta is going home to Finalnd for personal reasons. Patrick is going back to Denmark. Jim and I will hang out in Stockholm for a few days and wait for Pete. If we decide to go that way, we’ll give Jim a lift back to Copenhagen. It’s 50/50 at the moment. We both have an urge to see how far north we can get…although to be honest, that urge is shrinking in me.
We find a last-minute CS host for two nights. Micke is vegan and into skipping. He doesn’t need to ask what a primitivist gathering is and he knows the social centre well. These are all good signs. His flat is only one room though, so after drinking a pot of tea with us he bids us goodnight and goes out to his girlfriend’s for the night, telling us to help ourselves to his food. He also imparts his knowledge on metro and train jumping. In Stockholm, hardly anyone pays for the metro. It seems to be a lot more socially acceptable to “plank” than it is in some other countires. There is even an insurance you can pay that will cover the cost of any fines you might get and a video showing different techniques. I mastered the kicking technique quite well. I´ve yet to try the scarf flick.
Stockholm has a great social centre. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it. It’s shut until the 12th of January, along with the vegan pizza place and other nice cafes. With the traveling and everything, I’d forgotten about New Year. Jim and I spend ours in Micke’s flat without him, watching 1984 on the internet, eating his vegan cheese and watching the fireworks out of the window. Part of me wants to be back in the forest. Another part is snug and smug under my pile of blankets.
We spend two nights with another CS host before I decide to go back to the forest. My breathing is back to normal, I’ve had some space and I feel more like myself again. Jim will stay in Stockholm and I’ll let him know about the lift. He will have to avoid the Rasrisks alone until I get back. Pesky little things.