It was a short, beautiful ride, to the small town of Seyðisfjörður, in Eastern Iceland. We had booked a one-way trip on Norröna, a Smyril Line Ferry traveling to Hirtshals, in Denmark. I wasn’t looking forward to the voyage. The only thing that excited me was that we would be making a stop at the Faroe Islands.
It takes three nights and four days to reach Denmark from Iceland. Since I am very susceptible to motion sickness, I was terrified. The thought of being trapped on a boat, while traveling through the vast Arctic Ocean, feeling dizzy and nauseous for that long gave me anxiety. I usually make an effort to avoid taking medications, but there was no way that I was about to even consider that option. I took a pill as soon as I was supposed to, and continued doing so every 12 hours. For the next few days I would feel heavily medicated. My ears would feel slightly plugged and I would be very sleepy.
All sorts of vehicles were waiting to get on board. After parking the motorcycle, and securely strapping her in, we grabbed our bags and began to squeeze our way out of the parking area. After going down a few floors, the air felt damp and limited. It also reeked of chlorine. When we found our room, I was glad that we were the first to arrive. Six beds were cramped together in 10ft. x 10ft. area. After some thought, we took dibs on two of the top bunks. They didn’t feel as enclosed. I was a bit more relieved once I found out that we were sharing the room with only three others. We would have a bit more air to breathe.
After a short tour around the ferry, I felt exhausted, and my brain welcomed the shut down. Our beds were nothing but a thin plastic mat on a steel shelf. Luckily, we had a blanket with us, as well as our sleeping bag. Otherwise we would have had to share a bed to keep warm. It wasn’t what most people would consider comfortable, but I fell into a deep sleep, quickly. A few hours later I awoke to a loud, deep snore. I tossed, turned and struggling to stay asleep. The repetitive snorts and groans tortured me until I envisioned slightly extending my foot to kick the stranger into silence. Instead, I used my energy to find a pair of earplugs, buried deep inside my purse. The ocean must’ve been rough because I felt us sway back and forth. Luckily, the medication worked its magic and I was rocked back to a deep sleep.
The following day took some effort to adjust. We were given a free meal at lunchtime but I found it difficult to eat as the ferry tilted from side to side. I was surprised that I managed to keep all of my food down. We spent the day wandering around the ferry and watching stuff on the computer. Even though I slept at least 12 hours the night before, I could’ve slept all day. A coffee would have helped to wake me up a little but a tiny cup was being sold for 16 Danish Krone, which converts to approximately $3.25 Canadian dollars. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Everything was expensive on the ferry.
We had another early night, and once again I woke up to loud snoring. I should’ve known to put my earplugs in earlier, but I’m not accustomed to dealing with that sort of situation. Thank goodness Rocky isn’t a snorer! I don’t like any noises disrupting my sleep, but snoring doesn’t just wake me up, it awakens an insanity inside of me.
The ocean was much calmer that night and continued to be so in the morning. Breakfast was much easier to swallow. It was early afternoon when the ferry came to a stop at the Faroe Islands. We docked in the Capital, Tórshavn, on one of the larger Islands, named Streymoy. Since the ferry wouldn’t be departing for five hours, Rocky and I went exploring. We were immediately greeted with a colourful display of architecture. Many of the houses were painted in red, black, blue, yellow, and some of them had turf roofs. The Faroe Islands are known to be one of the cloudiest places on earth, but the sun decided to shine bright that day. We walked the streets past many boutiques and overpriced shops in searched of a coffee shop. It was very disappointing to find out that the coffee was much cheaper on the ferry.
When we got back on the ferry, we found a few friends outside on the deck. We joined them under the overhang, and enjoyed the fresh air. I didn’t drink because I was heavily medicated and to scared to puke. But, everyone else passed around a couple of bottles. After a late night, we woke up early in the morning, excited to arrive in mainland Europe. Getting off the Ferry was a nightmare. All of the vehicles were packed together like sardines in a can. It was nearly impossible to squeeze through with our bags. There were times when I had to lift my bags over my head or kick them under hitches. I did the limbo under mirrors and maneuvered around as if I were in a maze. If that wasn’t tough enough, a bunch of morons who had already found their vehicles, were waiting inside of them with their motors running. It shocked me that so many people could possibly think it’s ok to have their exhaust poisoning the air inside of a tightly confined ferry. By the time we had finally found the motorcycle we were sweaty, tired and lightheaded. We still had to load everything on and change into our gear.
Getting off of that ferry was a complete relief. I was worried that we would still have to cross some sort of customs, but borders are invisible between European countries. I had arranged for us to stay with a guy named Bo, from Couchsurfing. He lived with a woman named Tove, her husband Jens, their niece Rebecca, and Bessie, a sweet black Labrador. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet Jens, he was traveling for work at the moment.
When we arrived at the beautiful countryside home, in the town of Selling, near Århus, Tove welcomed us inside. We weren’t the only foreigners visiting. Mayuko was a girl who had traveled in from Japan. She was hilariously adorable. We arrived in perfect timing. Bo had hot tea and baked treats prepared, the moment we arrived. Everybody was really nice and very welcoming. After we were given a tour of the property, we rode down the street to pick up some vegetables from the local farm. Bo and Tove prepared a huge delicious meal and we were introduced to Rebecca and her friend Frederikke. A Danish dish named Frikadeller, accompanied by a few different vegetables, was made for us. It was fried ground meat in the shape of a thick hamburger patty, but it tastes a bit different. Dinner was delicious.
After eating, Rebecca and Frederikke invited us to a street party, in the city of Århus. We gladly accepted the invitation. Tove dropped us off in the city and our first mission was finding a convenience store. Rebecca and Frederikke wanted to pick up a bottle of rum and pop. They said that we could drink as we wander. Really?! In Canada, it is only legal to purchase liquor or beer in stores that only sell liquor or beer. And, drinking it outside in public without the confines of some sort of barrier isn’t legal either. I was really enjoying the freedom of walking through the crowd, enjoying a stiff drink, and checking out the sites.
Århus is a very pretty city, built around a wide river that was once a port. We found ourselves a place to sit, along cemented steps that faced the water. The area was lined with bars and cafés. There were people everywhere, either sitting in a patio, or by the river. They even had big, clear, plastic bubbles that float in the water. People would pay to go inside the bubbles to roll, jump around in, or try to crash into each other with. It looked like a lot of fun. The entire area was a fun place to be, and I imagine it would be a great place to spend an evening even if there was no street festival.
The following day was nice and sunny. Rocky and I walked with Bessie around the property. The country home was located on a great piece of land, beside a stream. We followed the water until we reached an open field with horses. These three gorgeous creatures were massive. I don’t believe I have ever seen horses that tall in my life. Bessie got frightened and ran back home while Rocky and I attempted to feed them some grass. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated. I felt like I was a small insect as they surrounded me.
Before evening, Rocky and I picked up some groceries and prepared a meal to share with our Danish friends. We spent our last evening in Denmark, indoors, sharing stories, photos, and chunks of chocolate. Staying with Bo, Tove and Rebecca was a perfect introduction to the hospitality in mainland Europe. We all exchanged our goodbyes that night, because we wouldn’t get the chance to see anybody in the morning. After a comfortable night sleep, Rocky and I packed up motorcycle and rode out in the rain.
Our next destination was in northwestern Germany! We were on our way to a town called Hude, in the state of Lower Saxony. Since it was a far ride, it was a perfect excuse to use the A1 Autobahn.
Germany’s Autobahns are more than 12,000 km’s of road that are famously known in the world for having no speed limits. Cars were flying past us at speeds exceeding 180 kmh. At one point during our ride, a car drove past us so fast that the wind pressure it created against my body gave me a good shake and quickly woke me up. Yup, I must’ve fallen asleep on the back of the bike. I don’t understand how it is possible, but it wasn’t the first time that I caught myself sleeping while riding. What the heck?! That’s so dangerous.
We finally showed up in Hude, a peaceful town of gorgeous farmland. I had arranged for us to stay with a man named Paul and he greeted us at his door with the best introduction ever! Paul wasn’t sure at an exact time we’d be arriving. He had just applied a thick mask of clay on his face just before we rang his doorbell. I was confused at first glance and wasn’t sure what I was seeing. I didn’t want to rudely stare at what I thought might have been a skin condition. My curiosity was finally satisfied when he giggled with embarrassment and told me he had just applied the mud to his face.
Paul was a very interesting character. His home was filled with fragrant scents and much laughter. He was silly, kind and very laid back. We spent the following morning with him, picking up some groceries. The cost of food is incredibly cheap in Germany. Later that afternoon, Rocky and I drove out to a KTM dealership, located in Bremen city. Paul offered us his car so that we didn’t have to ride in the rain. Rocky had ordered a couple of parts for the bike, to try and fix the problem we had been facing throughout Iceland. We needed a start relay and we were also picking up a clamp for the right side mirror. We had gone without a mirror since it broke off when we were in Canada.
When we arrived back at Paul’s house, he prepared us an authentic German dish. I have always thought Schnitzel was delicious, but it seemed to taste better in Germany. A piece of boneless meat is thinned with a meat tenderizer, coated with flour, salt, pepper, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, it is then fried. If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you do. It is a quick, simple but tasty way to prepare a meat dish.
We had planned on leaving the next morning but the weather was cloudy and rainy. Paul invited us to stay another night. Rocky and I fixed the motorcycle and once we were done, Paul drove us to the grocery store for another good meal at a great price. Staying with Paul was great. We spent our last night hanging out in his living room, listening to music and taking turns playing different instruments.
Early the next morning, the weather was perfect, and we prepared to leave Hude. We rode through the flat German land, past many dairy farms and fields of sunflowers. We eventually stopped at the edge of a huge parking lot and decided it was a good spot to sleep for the night. We rode past many small towns the next morning, and we took a ferry to cross the Elbe River. The Rathen Ferry is a small passenger/vehicle cable ferry. It was a very short ride but we both found it interesting to ride on a ferry that is propelled by the current of the water. The ferry is attached to a floating cable, which is anchored firmly in the riverbed upstream. The ferry is then positioned into the current, causing the force of the current to swing the ferry across the river on the cable.
It was a very pretty drive towards Dresden, Germany. When we arrived in the city, we searched for free WiFi but failed miserably. We spent the entire day riding through heavy traffic, unable to park near any place that may offer an Internet connection. We eventually discovered that because of certain laws in Germany, it is nearly impossible to find an open connection. German law holds the operator of a public hotspot liable for everything its users do online. Even once we found a McDonalds, free internet is given only if you have a serviced telephone. You must provide your phone number in order to receive a text message that contains a code. My service was disconnected after leaving Canada. We rely heavily on the Internet, as most travelers do. It is used to keep us in contact with friends/family, we use it to post/write the blog, and we send out Couchsurfing requests and or respond to messages. It was a huge inconvenience that made Germany an annoying country to travel through.
Too late to do any site seeing, we rode out of the city of Dresden. We bought dinner at a grocery store and noticed that the outskirts of the parking lot offered a beautiful view. We decide to camp at the far corner of the lot, where we could stare past a cornfield and see the city in the distance. Later in the night, we discovered it was a popular place to hang out, as many locals parked nearby.
We were about to cross into Czech Republic and I felt like we were rushing. Had the Internet been accessible, I think we would have stayed in Germany much longer. There were many things I liked about the country. It seemed to be very well structured, organized, engineered and controlled. I couldn’t help but notice a resemblance between Germany and Rocky. I think that Germans might even love adventure as much as him. People (men) were very enthusiastic about our travels. We were constantly given the thumbs up by other motorists. Every time we stopped at a grocery store, Rocky would go inside and I would keep an eye on the motorcycle. The attention that it received was constant. Most men would start examining the bike from afar. They’d check out its heavy load, and then peek at the license plate. By the time they got around to noticing me standing near by, every one of them looked intensely confused. Most used different sounds or gestures to question my ability to handle such a large bike and heavy load. I tried my best to let them know I wasn’t alone. It always made me chuckle.
In the morning we packed up and parked out front of the grocery store. A few patio tables were set up beside a BBQ truck and we decided to grab a bite before getting on the road. I approached the man behind the counter and after discovering he didn’t speak English, I used gestures to ask for permission to see what was under the container lids. Since I didn’t know what the German names signified, I figured it was easier to visually see what was being offered, and point to my choice of options. That didn’t work out to well. He responded by rudely raising his voice while reading the menu list at me. The German language already sounds harsh, but to be yelled at in German, is super scary. Instead, we opted to eat grocery food that morning. Although I really liked Germany, I was glad to be leaving the country that day.