STOP the presses! I have just (september 9th) learnt that Holland Norway Line has been declared bankrupt and I believe that some travellers with return tickets are having to make their own way home. This is such a shame as it was a startup in only 2022. When travelling with them it was obvious that ferries are such a complex business to operate. I feel so sorry for them, for those who had the vision for the company and for all of their employees who seemed a very sweet and professional bunch of people. There seem to be fewer and fewer ferries in Europe, forcing travellers to use carbon-crunching air flight. See here for some more details.
28th June: This is 28th June and this is the news from cabin 8814 of the Romantika. Its my second cabin on this voyage so far, the ferry sailing from Kristiansand down to Emden in Germany. In my first cabin, I thought I had vaguely heard some music in it and thought ‘this is going to be slightly annoying’, had a shower, had a short sleep and then I heard loud singing and guitar playing. It turned out that the cabin was right under the sundeck with the Entertainer who was, I presume, entertaining a whole bunch of people a few feet above me. I was really pleased with myself that instead of just putting up with it I felt no hesitation in going up to the information desk and asked if there was another cabin. As a result they have given me a new cabin on the same deck but right at the other end of the ship. I am so pleased. Its completely quiet here.
How did the day go? I didn’t sleep well last night (again). I was awake at 3.30 and slept fitfully until shortly after 7am. I got up and made some lovely coffee with my filter dripper which has been great. I washed up, washed out the little hut (which would have cost Krhundreds if I had asked the staff to do it). I headed out over the sand dunes to walk briefly on the beautiful beach. There was not a soul in sight – just footprints. On the way back to my hut I chatted to the couple of cyclists I mentioned before, who are Italian and certainly well into their forties. They had cycled here from Italy(!) and are cycling to Nordkap planning to arrive there by August. The timetable of people on pushbikes is so different to mine. I certainly take my hat off to them.
I headed off with the bike packed up (that is so satisfying) taking it easy on the road, unlike yesterday when I hurried around. Eventually the last 14k was motorway and lots of tunnels (and higher speed limits) and made it to the ferry. I was greeted by the sight of loads of motorcyclists who were mostly Dutch and German.
There were a couple of guys from England who told me what they had achieved (which immediately made me feel that I did not do enough, was not adventurous enough): they did some off-road riding, they wild camped, they rode the famous Trollstigen Pass, none of which I had done. They went up to the arctic circle too. They were nice guys. It was the sort of conversation you have where very quickly you realise that somebody is a talker and not a listener, so you just settle into listening and they talk – which is fine (and they had had an interesting time). There was lots of luggage. Lots of people have lots of luggage on these large touring and ‘adventure’ bikes – metal panniers PLUS rolltop bags. Much more luggage than I have been carrying. In fact much more than I used to take when I had a large bike and metal panniers (I still have them and must sell them). There were a couple of KTM 1090 Adventures looking very nice. One had nice black metal panniers. (I was tempted to think about getting metal panniers for my bike for a future tour on road (not offroad where they would be a liability.)
After a couple of instalments we got onto the boat – and I have already described the rest.
I’m now going to head off to the buffet early before things run out (you can see my German heritage at work here) and afterwards read more of Ubik by Philip K Dick (Wikipedia says: The story is set in a future 1992 where psychic powers are utilized in corporate espionage, while cryonic technology allows recently deceased people to be maintained in a lengthy state of hibernation.).
Tomorrow morning at 10.15 we get into Emden. I was looking at my map of the Netherlands thinking that I will ride straight down south on a German autobahn by the border and then turn right into the Netherlands because the motorways are much faster in Germany. I know I will get to the Hook of Holland early but its not too bad a building. You can sit inside and get a coffee from a machine. I would sooner do that than what I did on the way over which was such a drawn out and laborious ride. I will be happy to sit and read until it is time to board….
Its now 7 minutes past 7 in the evening on 28th June, on the ship and in my new cabin 8814 as opposed to 8141. A couple of observations: I have just enjoyed a pleasant hour or just less, sitting in the buffet eating salad, then fish, then more salad then some deserts and maybe three glasses of anonymous white wine. I was sitting there people watching – as usual. I was watching all the people that chose salad mainly and have come to the obvious conclusion that during the life-course people change their shape. That’s observation number 1. Observation number 2: after eating I strolled out on to the sundeck where the singer had been singing earlier when I got into my first cabin. It was two minutes past 7 when I arrived there and it was completely deserted. There was no singer, no audience and nobody making any noise at all. That whole event goes into the category of – well two things – possibly being hasty (in asking to move cabin) but the real category that my request to move goes into is into the mental category of ‘regretting choices’ which is an entirely useless category. It was the right thing to do – to move. The music could have gone on for hours – and I remember the employee on the information desk mentioning to me that the entertainment lasts until 11pm.
There is no network here in the cabins which is nice, in some ways. Its very early, only 7pm but I will get to bed in a couple of hours. As I wrote before, we dock at 10.15, I ride down through Germany and the Netherlands and repeat this experience on the ferry to Harwich. The ride from Harwich into London will be the bleakest part (the A12 is no fun) but arriving home will be great.