Three countries in one day5 hours ago in Sweden
On checking at Munich Central Station, I was advised that there were no 2 or 4 berth sleepers available. All I could get was a couchette in a 6 berth compartment. The thought of sharing a small compartment with 5 big Germans full of the joys after their World Cup match win did not appeal, but it was either that or sleeping in a train seat. I was pleasantly surprised therefore on boarding the 22.52 Nightjet train to be told by the attendant that, because of a mix up over booking, I had a 6 berth compartment all to myself - ya dancer!
I enjoyed a good night’s sleep in my couchette compartment, as we thundered through the night from Bavaria in south Germany to Hamburg in the north. ‘Thundering through the night’ was an expression my good friend Jean McCormack used whenever we were driving in the dark, and she used to say it followed by a girlish giggle. She was a bit eccentric at times, but I still miss her.
The attendant brought a welcome simple breakfast of coffee, crispy rolls and butter and jam. We arrived at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof exactly on schedule, and I was in ample time to make my next connection to Copenhagen. Similar to my experience in Sicily (which now seems ages ago), the train actually rolls onto the ferry at Puttgarden, Germany and crosses to Roedby, Denmark in 45 minutes. Another exciting experience. Everyone had to leave the train for security reasons. This time however the ferry was much more upmarket, with restaurants, bars and duty free. Elegant, blonde Scandinavians sat on deck and opened their neatly packed Ikea lunch boxes nibbling at carrot batons and the like, while I tucked into my grilled sausage on a bread roll with potato salad and lashings of ketchup and mustard - yecannaewhackit.
An hour was all I had in Copenhagen before catching my next connection to Gothenburg. However I did manage to see some of the Tivoli Garden rides from the station platform. Some passengers passing through Copenhagen obviously had not changed any currency into Danish Kroner and were stumped at the entrance of the pay-as-you-enter loo. ‘It’s ok’ announced the efficient lavatory attendant ‘we take the credit card’. Well, I know Scandinavia is expensive, but who’d have thought you needed a credit card to spend a penny. I just hope it was Contactless for hygiene reasons.
Less than half an hour after we left that Wonderful, Wonderful city, we were crossing the famous Oresund Bridge, at almost 5 miles long the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. I was particularly excited as the Oresund Bridge was the setting for the Nordic noir TV series The Bridge. (I meant to say that Split, Croatia was boasting it was one of the main locations for Game of Thrones, but I don’t watch that). A couple across from me, who were not in their first flush of youth, were very lovey dovey, and were constantly taking photos of each other on their mobiles with the bridge as a backdrop. I asked if they would like me to take a photo of them both, to which they reddened and explained that they shouldn’t be seen together. I decided not to press the matter further.
Most of the trains I have been on have been very busy, and I was glad I had purchased a 1st Class ticket, as you were always guaranteed a seat, and sometimes extras like power sockets, free WiFi and refreshments. It was another sunny day as the railway hugged the coast as we sped up the Kattegat. On arrival at Gothenburg, I checked into the charming Hotel Royal, the oldest hotel in Gothenburg and family run. Complimentary coffee and cake was available in the foyer - a nice touch and very welcome.
Had a nice walk about the city in the evening sunshine. It’s been many years since I was last here, and the place has changed quite a bit. A lot of folk were watching the World Cup on big screens. As I am only in Sweden for one night, I had brought some notes I had at home from my last visit, only to be told that they had been withdrawn last year! I therefore had to withdraw some cash from an ATM. When I tried to buy a bottle of water to get some change for the tram, I was told the shop did not accept cash. Swedish people pay everything by card I was told. Ah well, you live and learn…Read more