In this final part, I go back to Sweden again. There is technically a bit missing from what happened on the 30th, but I was sworn to secrecy, so that bit will remain missing. 😛
SUNDAY & MONDAY, DECEMBER 30-31: KOBLENZ – STENUNGSUND
Documented on a bus to Gothenburg and at home.
Lil had to go in the morning, so we said goodbye and I went back to sleep. Rita followed her down to the lobby to organise rooms or something like that. I got up an hour or two later and packed my bags, and made myself ready to go. Rita gave me 5DM, since I apparently had let her borrow 5DM for the Polaroid at the party in January, which she remembered, and I completely forgot. We said goodbye and I left Hotel Ibis. It was quite cold, but I sang a little (since I discovered I had printouts of the old German TA-lyrics with me). Then I went to the Haubtbahnhof, bought some bread and a can (I expected a bottle, but got a can – perfect for buses – NOT!) of Coca-Cola. I wanted Apfelschlore or water, but didn’t find any. I saw Rita, but she didn’t see me.
I boarded a train to Köln, that would leave at 14:17, and I found a place to sit. When the conductor came, she said I was in first class and that my ticket was for second class only (d’oh! Big deal!), so I moved… along with a few other people who had made the same mistake. Maybe 10 minutes before 16, I got off at Köln Hbf, found a little shop selling things like food and hygiene products. I bought some candy (Ritter Sport Nougat and Yoghurettes – WHY can’t I get any Yoghurettes in Sweden!? ARGH! And I can’t get any Apfelschlore either (although there IS a cider that tastes like it!), but I could go in to the nearest shop and buy a jar of Nutella. That bugs me.), and then went to McDonald’s to eat a Gemüse Mäc Menü (used to be called McGarden in Sweden, but they don’t sell it anymore… So I suppose I like Germany better than Sweden, at least food-wise…)… and to use the toilet. I had an empty water bottle, so I poured the can of coke into it, for easier handling on the bus.
Then, I went out to bus stop 5A, where a young woman asked if I knew Danish or German, and I told her I understood Danish slightly better than German, so… She wondered if she was at the right bus stop for the bus to Denmark, and I told her that indeed she was. Mensch, it was tricky speaking Swedish again! I had been talking English and German all week, and now I could speak my own language again, which was just totally weird. Oh well. We sat next to each other on the bus, and she was sitting on the seat next to the aisle. When she took up a pillow and tried placing it in front of her, I said she was welcome to use my shoulder as support instead, since that would be more comfortable, which she agreed to.
When we reached Hamburg, we wished each other a happy new year and a safe trip home, and then we went on different buses. My bus had the same driver as on the way down. I got a seat for myself FINALLY, and could just enjoy the trip. A man talked to me, I think he wanted the seat next to me, but I have no f***ing clue of what he was saying, so I had to say “I don’t understand, I’m sorry, ich verstehe Nicht”, so he gave up and got someone else to move instead (with less luggage to move, I might add), so that his daughter and him could sit next to each other. Why ask the first person you see, i.e. the one with the biggest packing on the bus, when you can ask someone with little or NO packing? Some people are just plain weird.
Right, so we went to Puttgarden, got on the ferry, yadda yadda yadda… I bought a box of the All-Flavour Beans for a friend (they don’t exchange coins, and the DM was on the way out, so I had to spend some lose coins). Back again on the bus…
Oh, I had been sitting writing like all the time or so, which a young boy (he was like 5 or something) behind me found to be very interesting. He was really impressed that I had written so much and he even pointed out my mistakes (he could see words being crossed out), so he said “you made a mistake there, didn’t you?” He also found my rolled-up poster intriguing, and wanted to unroll it once, but I told him no. He was really cute, though, because he made big eyes every time I started on a new page. He kept talking to me from time to time, until we both fell asleep. Oh, he also discovered my walkman, so he got to listen to it a little (a piece of “Geronimo’s Cadillac”, to which he replied “gute Musik!”… yeah, he spoke German with me, and I did my best in understanding and replying to him. It’s so much easier to understand 5-year-old Germans than it is to understand the older ones!).
OK, when we reached Rødbyhavn, the customs came aboard to check our passports, and they actually made an arrest! A guy was told “you are under arrest, this is a false passport”, but he came with them quietly. In Helsingborg (yeah, nothing special happened in-between, we didn’t even stop in København, and on the Helsingør ferry, most of us stayed on the bus), they checked again, but since the bus drivers told them about the check-up in Denmark, they didn’t demand to see passports. One guy (the one I couldn’t understand) was asked if he had a passport and if he was Swedish… but he didn’t know Swedish (the customs police only spoke Swedish, which I thought was very strange, not to mention extremely stupid), so he looked kind of puzzled at first, but shoed them his passport. Nothing wrong there. Those who “looked Swedish” or so weren’t asked at all. Me, he just looked at and continued (even though I had my passport ready).
Speaking of which, the stupid thing with travelling inside the EU is that you don’t get a stamp in your passport for every country you go to! Mine looks totally unused to travelling, yet it went to France in 1998 (passing both Germany and Belgium), England in 2000, and to Germany twice in 2001. But noooo stamps.
In Helsingborg, it was a lovely -18°C (or so), and snow, because winter had struck Sweden while I was away. I fell asleep, waking up just before Halmstad, because my walkman batteries were going down. Either that, or Elaine Silver had turned to be a bass singer and was singing very slowly. The family to which the chatty (now sleeping) boy belong were getting off in Halmstad, and the mother asked if she could borrow my mobile ohone to call her brother in Halmstad. She had three kids, it was extremely cold also very early in the morning (6 or something?), so I let her use it. It was only a very short call (what, 15 or 30 seconds?), so when she said she wanted to pay for it, I just said “no need, it’s not a problem”. The bus stopped, the family got off, and I fell asleep again.
I woke up in time to hear the drivers announce we were in Gothenburg. Looking through the window, I could see that indeed we were! I packed down my pillow, and was amazed. The time was juts after 8 in the morning! The time table didn’t expect us for yet another hour, or even more! I had just missed the bus to Stenungsund, so I had to wait for the one at 9.
I went to Forex, but they wouldn’t open until 9, and since the buses would only go once an hour, I decided to leave my D-Marks for a later date. I sat down on a bench, ate some flat croissant (that’s what you get when you squeeze food into bags), and some of that Neujahrspretzel I had bought at the train station in Koblenz, because it looked really tasty. Yeah, right, it LOOKED. Never ever buy that, unless you’re into very dry bread! It felt like it was a week old or something! But it was baked the day before! Besides, I burned my mouth on that hot pizza after the Fanclubparty, so dry bread was kind of painful to eat.
The bus came, and I went home. My mother called and I was to get picked up at the station at home at 09:45. I arrived maybe half a minute before my father, and we drove to a photo shop, which would open at 10, so we went to refuel the car, and then went back. Still they weren’t open! It was New Years Eve, so… we went home, dad and me.
I scanned the fridge for something edible (I found a small piece of homemade pizza that I ate with joy), and then watched a stand-up comedy show with Eddie Izzard on video that my sister had taped for me while I was away. I think I went up to check my email, and eventually, I ended up in the bathtub for a few hours, getting some well-earned sleep. When I got up, I just put on my pyjamas and bathrobe, in which I welcomed the New Year later that night. It was just my parents and I, so I didn’t have to dress up. I went to bed early (for a New Year’s Eve), and slept all the way into 2002.
~ The End ~
And yeah, at a future date, I’ll post some travel diary excerpts from a re-visit to Koblenz, September 2012 …