Chapter 3: the paradise island of the bicycle

IMG_20160806_145706

Sweden ended just as it began: bright and warm, human and by the sea.

Helsinborg is the port city, one night from Halmstad, where I boarded a ferry to Denmark. A beautiful city with a remarkable architecture and great views from the garden at the top of the hill (Denmark can be seen from up there).

The ferry I boarded was named “Aurora”. It is the same name I got on my boat, on which I navigated between London and Oxford for several weeks, on river Thames. Such a coincidence that put a smile upon my face.

IMG_20160809_171652

It is a weird sensation to go into another country when you’re taking it easy, no stress involved. In my case, without useless borders (what are borders protecting from?) nor pointless identity controls (is there an “ilegal” human, different from the others?), I arrived into another country with a different though similar language, a currency with the same name but different value and less Km to cycle.
It’s in this country, Denmark, where I finally arrived to Copenhagen: the bicycle haven.

I was lucky enough to have met with the Bicycle Deptarment of the Copenhagen Kommuna, where I was told about the history of the bicycle development: after WWII, people were poor. They couldn’t buy cars. Economy was mainly at a local scale and bicycles were the primary transportation system in towns and cities, in a country which is basically flat. Along came the economic expansion between late 60’s and early 70’s and the country and its people became richer and started to buy cars. Cycle lanes started to disappear in many cities, but Copenhagen was an exception. Today, at the dawn of a new cycling boom in Europe, the Danish capital reaches nearly 60% of cycling traffic in its city centre (5 years ago, it was almost 40%) and nearly 50% in the “Great Copenhagen”.

So I was there, sitting in silence and listening to this, thinking how difficult it would be to other cities to reach these levels regarding cycling traffic, etc… After what I thought that it is not necessary to do so. Every single city has its own style in many ways, including urban planning. Any kind of Change must be pushed by people, citizens, and the Administration is the unique risponsible to assume the will of change and lead it effectively through adapting what is needed. It is impossible to turn a Madrid into a Copenhagen. Madrid is just different. As it must be.

My dearest friends, Pablo and Leyre, hosted me for a few days. Again, a good example of old friendships where Time went by very slowly.

Just three days where I understood that “August” does not mean “hot”. And, from there, I cycled towards my next destination: Hamburg, Germany. I found rain and lots of wind, especially when I had to cross over the bridges from one island to another (one of the bridges was over 4km long). As if it was yesterday, I remember the day I arrived to the beach at Guldborg, after more than 100Km and a side wind that pushed me almost one meter to the left, and realized it looked like a beach at Andaman islands (less 10ºC). Good memories.

 

IMG_20160809_153804

The day after, early bird, I met Rolf on the way. He is a 67 year- old Berliner who left Berlin 42 days ago and was cycling around the Gulf of Bothnia. He was then at 5100 Km from the start. Again, this story deserves a whole Chapter.
I arrived to Germany with him.
It is a strange feeling to come back to a country after so long. I missed Germany.

And, guess what? The whole way from Copenhagen to Hamburg was on a cycle lane, believe it or not!

Now it’s time to get some rest before starting the second half of this travel.

Be good!