In conversation

Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the sustainability challenge is telling people about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and seeing what their response is.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been overly successful in making the case for travelling the way I have planned and I’ve not been able to convince anyone to travel with me for any leg of the journey (including my girlfriend who knows all the people I’m visiting on the way too). So that part was never really going to be part of the challenge, and if it were, then I’ve not been successful on that one. edit: I have subsequently found out that some people actually read this blog including a good friend of mine who now lives in Canada who opted to travel 12 hours with train from Waterloo to Ottawa rather than 4 hours by plane after having read my blog! (yes full credit to me)

But perhaps the point is on reflections and the conversations that I have with my neighbours and visiting friends.

I’ve had very helpful advice from some people I’ve spoken too, and offers from them to help me out in my wayfinding. We had a Norwegian friend staying with us for a couple of days who offered to find out if her parents’ business involvement in a logistics company could assist pairing me up with a truck driver coming from Scotland to Norway by ship. The downside was that this was a company that worked almost exclusively servicing the oil industry so it would be ironic if there was an option there.

I had my German neighbours give me about some helpful hints on booking a stopover in the middle of my journey with Deutsche Bahn.

Nils was encouraging me to investigate options to hitch hike, and has done so very successfully himself, reaching home (southern Germany) in about 24 hours with 9 lifts after having taken the Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry. My linguistic abilities here may fail me however if I were to attempt this… he recommends trying in summer when longer days are more forgiving on unsuccessful convincing skills.

Espen, my friend in Brussels asked me if I had heard of these great things called planes. But he recognises how seemingly ridiculous it is to have such cheap airfares that do not take account of the environmental impact. Having interned with the EU Free Trade Association, he’s quite up to speed on European politics and assures me that the EU Emission Trading Scheme ought to start working better in the near(ish) future both in geographic scope and the range of industries and activities that are covered.

Jan’s helpful advice to me was that my blog is way to word heavy. My advice when I was visiting him in Kiel was that he was driving on the Left side of the road. Ok so now it’s picture time!

train1

Greater Anglia Cambridge to London Liverpool Street Station
London Underground Liverpool Street Station to Kings Cross (yeah so I was cheap and took the slow train that doesn't go direct)
London Underground Liverpool Street Station to Kings Cross (yeah so I was cheap and took the slow train that doesn’t go direct)
train3
Eurostar London St Pancras to Brussels Midi. Free breakfast on board was a nice touch…

 

Deutsche Bahn Inter City Express from Brussels to Köln. Pretty sweet looking train. And there's lots of them.
Deutsche Bahn Inter City Express from Brussels to Köln. Pretty sweet looking train. And there’s lots of them.
Inter City train Köln to Hamburg. I wasn't meant to be on this train specifically but there were quite significant delays in Köln, so hopped on a another service an hour later, with a full 6 berth cabin to myself the entire way.
Inter City train Köln to Hamburg. I wasn’t meant to be on this train specifically but there were quite significant delays in Köln, so hopped on a another service an hour later, with a full 6 berth cabin to myself the entire way.
Regional train Hamburg to Kiel.
Regional train Hamburg to Kiel.
Regional train Kiel to Lübeck.
Regional train Kiel to Lübeck.
Inter City Express Train on the ferry over the Fehmarn Belt (a small passage of water that separates Lolland and northern Germany). LOL...
Inter City Express Train from Lübeck to Copenhagen on the ferry over the Fehmarn Belt (a small passage of water that separates Lolland and northern Germany). LOL…
Vogulfluglinie. The bird flight line. This is the ferry going from Puttgarden in Germany over the Fehmarn Belt to Rødby in Denmark. I was quite surprised that the train went on board, and paid a little extra to take this route rather than the more boring ICE train that goes on land (and through tunnels) the whole way.
Vogulfluglinie. The bird flight line. This is the ferry going from Puttgarden in Germany over the Fehmarn Belt to Rødby in Denmark. I was quite surprised that the train went on board, and paid a little extra to take this route rather than the more boring ICE train that goes on land (and through tunnels) the whole way.
Kind of cheating to include this one, but it's a local train that took me a couple of stops to the Copenhagen central station.
Kind of cheating to include this one, but it’s a local train that took me a couple of stops to the Copenhagen central station.
I'm on this train as I write going from Copenhagen to Hjørring. One last train after this goes on the half hour journey from Hjørring to Hirtshals where the ferry to Norway departs.
I’m on this train as I write going from Copenhagen to Hjørring. One last train after this goes on the half hour journey from Hjørring to Hirtshals where the ferry to Norway departs.

Free wifi is a nice feature… only found on this train so far of all the services I’ve taken. Also both the ICE train from Germany to Denmark and the DSB train within Denmark are diesel powered, so the potential savings by taking train are reduced compared to a possibility of clean electricity (although I’m not saying it is clean – it has the potential to be clean).

I can’t conclude by saying this journey is without fault. It’s very slow, expensive and liable to be delayed at various points (I’ve had 1 cancelled train and 1 train delayed by 30 minutes). If my present one experiences any delay at all, I will probably miss my ferry to Norway. So maybe it’s risky in some sense. But at the same time, I’ve been able to visit three friends on the way (if I knew more people I could easily do more and stretch the journey out even further). I’ve also visited the Atomium, the EU parliament, Cologne’s excellent Christmas markets and cathedral, a seriously cool skate park building business run by one of Jan’s friends in Kiel, Copenhagen’s design museum and the little mermaid. Can’t ask for those things on the plane journey right?

So no regrets. Only I probably won’t repeat the journey very frequently because of enormous time and cost considerations. Still putting off that carbon offsetting research… Guess it’ll have to wait until after Christmas.

Also I’m inclined towards attempting to keep this blog running over the next year, because it’s a useful tool to keep some of my ramblings around the internet in one spot. And because the scope of my initial task was far too great for 10 weeks worth of blog posts. Sustainable transport and food and consumables. Yeah small topic!

And since my anticipated arrival in Norway is effectively Christmas Eve (since the 24th is the main day of celebrations), Merry Christmas, Joyeaux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten, Glædelig Jul and God Jul!

 

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