25 July, 2013

Interrail in five days!

I am going to Romania. It will be great. But in order to get there, I will take the train and visit a couple of good friends on the way. Beginning in Denmark, after a nice week with my parents, I try to buy an inter rail ticket in Frederikshavn, but you can't do it that way anymore. I have to take the bus to Aalborg and get it there. No problem, except I have forgotten that I have changed bank and I have a new code on my credit card. No customer service on a Saturday, but I manage to find a free Wi-Fi and fish out the four vital digits from the home page of Møre Sparebank just in time to get the train to Berlin and from there to Warsaw and further on to Krakow in the South of Polen.

Konstancja and Juri in their cool back yard
The journey takes around 30 odd hours, which is far more than I get to spend with my dear friend Konstancja and her great new boyfriend. I have to go to them first, as it is a long gone promise and they will be busy elsewhere later in the week. Our schedules to allow for a good dinner and a stroll around churches and sights in this beautiful town before I leave again, with the following afternoon train.

So ... how cool is this?

A lovely couple of friends and an odd ...
... couple of towers!

Paris is next. Well, after the detour to the Polish capital, where I can not get aboard the train just after midnight, as it is Russian. They are not part of the Interrail-system. I'll have to spend the night on a short wooden bench until the early morning train, then change in Berlin and go on via Frankfurt to Paris.
    I have written about the benefits of train travel before. You see the world go by your window while you tend your own business or get new acquaintances. So far, I am particularly charmed by the Polish staff on the trains. Great sense of humour and fine service.

Perfect. Simply perfect.
The stay in Paris will be for 22 hours, after nearly twice that time on the rails. Alice picks me up on the station and we spend the warm summer night chatting on the grass near the Eiffel Tower. Only Paris is Paris, and no place comes close on a wonderful evening like this. A bottle of red wine and good food among relaxed Parisians on the grass, with the absurd iron-construction towering high above everything. Simply great.

Thanks to the "green" mayor of town.
This is what tomatoes can look like!
    I use one of the many city-bikes, and Alice has her own, so getting around is easy. Being with her is always a great pleasure, but it will only be this evening and a quick breakfast, as she works tomorrow.

To me, this is one of the most typical sides of Paris. I love these buildings, and wonder who lives inside...

It is not hard to make people smile, "even" in paris.
Pouring the rosé.

What friends are for... sharing good times as well as the bad. A very good one here!
Always amazing.
When I am on my own again, I visit a fascinating cemetery in between Montparnasse and  Denfert-Rocherau. I never found this one before, and it is huge. Graves amaze me.
    Thanks to the metro, I arrive comfortly in time for lunch with yet another friend, Kristell, who I know from Oslo. She chooses a bar serving great food on tables outside and order a steak for herself. I prefer a big salad and truly enjoy it with the fresh rosé wine poured chilled into the glasses. It is a feeling of excuberant luxury to sit like this, with no hurry or stress what so ever. I have all the time in the world, and happen to spend a bit of it here, on a pavement served by a wonderful readhead.

Spending one afternoon in Paris sounds somewhat stressful, but if you have seen most of the touristy stuff before, you might decide to pop out of the metro near Trocadero and make a slow stroll along the Seine. Thousands of tourists are good entertainment and some touts try to trick you for money. The sun is shining and life is great. Behind Louvre I find a clock shop where a nice fellow I got to know in the north of Finland last year, works. We have a glass of wine before it is time to return to Gare de l'Est and aim for Germany for the third time this week.

As usual I have no reservation. The train is full. Or so they say. It rarely is, really, so I jump on, and find the restaurant carriage. It is not much of a restaurant, but offers four seats and some floor space. It all turns into a kind of a party. Even the German selling the beer is adding his gute Laune and good spirit, claiming I must buy three bottles as he is short of change. So I do.

Wanna cross the Atlantic with this Dude and a shipload of Rum? You can!
    One truly wonderful Dutch Guy has just got of his proud clipper, with which he has the most admirable sailboat project of Tres Hombres. He explains about some hairy plans for sustainable and fair transport in the future and we are joined by two charming Swedish women who are returning from the Santiago de Compostela-experience. It is a perfect night. All I have to do is to remember to get to the part of the train that are destined for Budapest, where I do a quick walk in the park before continuing to Bucharest. I have lost count of hours and days, but something like less than a week have passed since I left my parents in Denmark.

It has been just fine. Now time for Rumania!