2009 Wednesday 22nd April: Off to Denmark via Harwich

Here’s a trip that I forgot that I made – on my blue Triumph to Denmark – to do a week’s work at the University of Southern Denmark or was it for a conference? and some small touring around Denmark. Most of my trips start with the 67.8 Miles from home in Cambridge to Harwich for the ferry, this time in 1.75 hours. And this time, unlike most trips which have been the short overnight sailing to Hook of Holland, this is a longer trip direct to Esbjerg in Denmark, a sailing that did not exist for many years after this journey.

heading off to Denmark
Fellow biking passenger riding to Helsinki on the Guzi he’s just bought in the UK
Suffolk or Essex coast waiting to leave

I am feeling euphoric as I lean on the rail on the sundeck of this ship sailing out of Harwich harbour. Its a beautiful sunny evening as we pass huge container ships on one side and a village church on the slightly more distant other shore. I think repeatedly that this beats flying, having just experienced two 24 hour flights through the US in the last week or so. Here, you just drive up to the kiosk, show your ticket and drive on, no passports, no worrying whether you have left your scissors or bottle of juice in your bag, no metal detectors, no frisking, no waiting in dry air-conditioned airports for hours, no close questioning from immigration officials. And we are on Danish time. Some announcements are only in Danish. My cabin has a tv and is on the same level as my motorbike, near the bottom of the ship, so I will know if we are sinking before most of my fellow passengers. While waiting to ride on, I chatted to the only other biker, a tall Finnish man who, he tells me, has just taken out a 5000 Euro loan to come to the UK and buy a 10 year old V-twin Moto Guzzi cruiser. He is very proud of it and ties it down on the deck with real care.

His journey home to Helsinki will involve another 500 miles of riding and two ferries – if I understood him rightly. The ride from Cambridge to Harwich was beautiful for the most part, through sunny Essex villages and twisty roads. I felt so competent on the bike for a change. The luggage is a treat, my expensive panniers, and my highly visible yellow Ortlieb bag on the rack, plus my loaded tank bag. Handling is fine though I ‘noticed’ it takes rather longer to slow down with this extra weight. Now for an hour or so preparation for the student workshop on Friday then I will venture upstairs to either the swanky looking restaurant or the down at heel bar which will probably be full of the slim Danish youth who are here in great numbers, calling out ‘Lars’ to eachother and spraying themselves with the scent testers in the duty free shop. The captain has just told us that we should have a perfect crossing and to get up on the deck around 9pm to watch what he is predicting will be a beautiful sunset.

Its 0120 Danish time and sleep refuses to take me into her soft embrace. Perhaps its the coffee I had after my hugely expensive meal (I will take my own food and wine on board for the return) or the constant movement and vibrating furniture or the vestiges of jet lag. I will do a bit of work…