The Hike Stories
By Lily Dollner & Olivier Arts
Groningen NL – Stockholm SE
First day: Groningen to Delfzijl! We had a beautiful morning at Martini Hotel, saying goodbye and speaking with RTV Noord and Job from Dagblad. We left the hotel at around 11, and walked east, following the canal towards Overschilde for many kilometers. The path was long and straight with no end in sight, and we were surrounded only by flat green fields. We walked in near silence for the first two hours, no music and no thoughts, just enjoying the weather. The last 5 hours were absolute hell – I took the backpack and Olivier the cart. My hip joints and feet were aching and Olivier’s ankle was causing him trouble. When I took off the backpack it felt like walking on the moon. We had to take a couple of detours due to Google maps being unreliable and sending us to a couple of nonexistent cycle paths; we only arrived at the hotel at around 7pm. It seems like there are no ferries across the water to Emden, so unfortunately we will have to travel tomorrow to Scheemda and go around the inlet to reach our Warm Showers house near Moormerland.
When Frodo and Sam were rescued at the very last moment by Gandalf and the eagles on Mt. Doom, it feels totally unrealistic. But today we ran down the harbour and got on a gas freight ship, that happened to be heading directly to Emden. Everyone onboard was really sweet to us. Jack, Francis, and the captain were all enthusiastic about the project. Francis tried out the treadmill at the back of the ship, and we spent the best hour and a half so far just enjoying the scenery and chatting to the sailors. They dropped us off in the middle of a gas processing plant, and we walked out of the industrial area to a long dirt track that ran alongside the canal. It was a beautiful walking route that stretched on for about 15km, which unfortunately degraded halfway through into a horrifying muddy mess. We had to half-carry, half-drag Boldemort through the puddles and uneven ground. It took a bit longer than expected, but when we arrived in Oldersum Holger greeted us warmly. It was his birthday, and his close friend, wife, and neighbours came over for dinner. He made us mashed potatoes and meatballs and we ate an excessive amount. Olivier chatted to him in German about his bike trips and he gave us some great advice. He will walk with us tomorrow for the first five kilometres with his dog.
This morning we had self made bread from Holger. It was seedy and creamy almost like cake yum yum. He and his brown chocolate lab walked us through the swamplands. We saw our second water rat. Lily made a nice graffiti painting underneath the highway. It was humid and cold. A tiny bag of hagelslag never tasted so good. Tears were shed. After many kilometres we arrived early at Marion’s house. She didn’t expect us and had to rush to the dentist. Also her father had died. The funeral is tomorrow. Still she didn’t want us to freeze so we could sleep over. Saint Marion. The daughter of Marion went to Tanzania a few years ago and got married. A Tanzanian friend of her is now living with Marion and husband and other daughter. She’s working in a bakery. She grew up at the feet of Mount Kilimanjaro. The daughter that is still living at home is really cool and drinks beer with us. We eat ecological potatoes from a local farm. The husband of Marion is a legend and beats us all in the card game called wizard. Wicked day. Love to y’all. Tomorrow we want to sleep in a church. Blessssss
We left the Bohr household this morning a bit later than they did, as they had to start driving towards Hamburg at 7am for a funeral. They baked us a fresh loaf of bread for the day, and we wrote a note in their guestbook thanking them. It was freezing outside, and we got a bit disheartened about the length we had to walk to Varel, and the fact that our accommodation had fallen through. After around 27km the back tires of the bolderkar were so flat that we were more dragging it than rolling it, and the morale was getting really low. We stopped to talk to an older lady, who told us that walking in the fresh air through the forest is what keeps her young. A car then pulled over, Christina was taking her two children to horse riding lessons and offered to give us a ride the rest of the way to Varel. The bolderkar barely fit in the back of her car. We told her about our lack of accommodation. She told us we could try to call the church. They wanted to have us. But we had to wait a bit and had a beer in a dart bar. So at 19:00 o’clock we were welcomed in the home of Karen and Dirk. We had a lovely evening with conversation, wine and cheese. And of course the treadmill. Even dachshund Bettie went for a ride.
Karen and Dirk, the pastor of Varel, made us tea and breakfast this morning. Karen was concerned about my cough and how it seemed to be getting worse, and gave me a handful of Lemsip – a British flu remedy – for the road. Dirk then took us to the farmer’s market and told us a bit about the town, and the social initiatives set up by the church to run a food bank and homeless shelter. We bought some fruit and supplies there. After talking more about my cough and Olivier’s ankle, Dirk insisted on packing the bolderkar into his car and giving us a tour around the local harbour, before driving us all the way to Norderham, our next destination. The weather was bitterly cold and raining, so we decided to have a rest day there. After checking into our Airbnb and chatting a bit to the host about our journey, she agreed to help us do a load of laundry while we caught up on writing and figuring out finances. We’ve both lost a bit of weight at this point, so Olivier cooked a huge curry and we took it slow.
This morning started off with a proper breakfast for champions: pasta pesto. We walked around 10km to the harbour at Blexen and talked about Olivier’s job as a coffin bearer at funeral services in Maastricht. At the harbour we met two older women from Las Vegas who were also taking the ferry, and they tried to help us find a place to sleep but they had forgotten their phones. After 12 minutes the ferry arrived in Bremerhaven, and it was sleeting. We had no plan whatsoever, and two hours to find a place to sleep before we missed the deadline for booking a camping spot. We wandered to the Kunstmuseum Bremerhaven which was one of the only places open on a Sunday. There were two people working at the desk and they wanted to know why we had so much stuff with us, so we told them about our project and got two tickets to see the current exhibition. There were three floors and the curation was super eclectic, there seemed to be an artwork in every medium. We particularly liked the work by Dick Bell, “Butt a fly on my face your Ass”. As we were viewing the final video work, one of the workers from the desk came upstairs and told us he found us a place to sleep at an art initiative, and spat on Olivier’s face by accident. We walked to the gallery space and Mr Schmeckle was waiting there to greet us. He showed us around Gotyestrasse 45 and then took us to his apartment upstairs, and we chatted about his initiative and our journey. He gave us a set of spare keys to his house and we went out to get some lunch at a British themed bistro. We then walked to the harbour and explored a shopping mall which had been modelled to look like an Italian village. Afterwards it started raining like frozen knives, and we got drenched walking back to Gotyestr. 45. Mr Schmeckle let us take a hot shower and relax a bit, and we listened to his favourite album of a band from Bremerhaven who his dad was friends with.
Bad Bederkesa , Germany
We left Goethe 45 this morning around 9:30 after having a super friendly morning with Moritz. The night before we had ordered pizza with him, and made him a drawing which he framed in his house. The 22km walk flew by almost easily – we both felt really strong and full of energy. We passed through a record 4 small towns, and stopped by a railway track in the middle to eat half a jar of peanut butter. We passed by a memorial for a married couple by the side of the road, which had fallen, and stood it back up. We arrived at Karen and Jürgen’s house around 2:30 after having a big sandwich, and were immediately given a huge bowl of stew which we devoured. Karen showed us a photo book of their incredible family biking trip around Europe, which they pulled the kids out of school for. Lily took the dog Pelle on her lap and while she did she jammed his head against the bottom of the table. The daughter of the family was making a man made of willow sticks and we helped. Overall they spoke very well English so we could make great conversation. We went to bed really early to give our legs some time for growing.
U can’t touch this. MC Hemmoor. Waking up with the sound of birds chirping. Spring is coming. Breakfast is served by Jürgen, a kind father, a kind man. It is time to leave yet another family, another home. We can’t find our yellow bungee, the one we use to pull the cart. We find an alternative. But after walking for an hour we hear people screaming. It is Paula, the daughter of the family on her bike, with her friend. They found the bungee! Great characters. The road to Hemmoor is beautiful not only in flora also in fauna. Flocks of deer unaware of our approach gather at the edge of small tree groups. Huge birds, cranes, that are taking a rest from their migration. Majestic creatures, must be tasty on the barbecue? We are hungry even hangry maybe. After walking close to 30 km we arrive at the supermarket. We devoure the absolute most horrific ready made meatballs a human can eat. When we burp the taste comes up. Lasts 24 hours. On our way to the church a man comes running to us. We just passed the concrete museum. His name is Raphael, he is from Canada. A young soul trapped in a boomers body. The man won’t stop talking. Serious sociopath. He invites us to stay at his house. He tells he’s a drone pilot and that the lake we are passing by used to be a mine. The concrete used for the Statue of Liberty comes from that mine. Blablablabla. He won’t stop. We walk away to the church where we get a warm welcome from pastor Jan. Who thinks we are religious pilgrims. But while showing us his church figures out we’re kind of not. No matter how much we use the words “blessed” and “holy”. He shows us the top of the bell tower. And let’s us stay in the pastorie. Where we eat a horrific but high protein/fibre meal. Tomorrow it will snow.
To wake up in a Church and see that the landscape around you has turned white feels like Christmas in March. We start off a bit weak. We both have ankles that lack attitude. Lilys ankle is stinging and Oliviers ankle is rotten. We have found a place to stay at Merle but it’s a long walk. We choose to at least walk to the river Elbe and see from there. Walking through the landscape of Northern Germany is like a safari. Cranes, deers, woodpeckers, an occasional squirrel, it’s all there. After a while we don’t even bother to tell each other of another flock of deer running through the feelds. But our ankles are getting weaker by the minute. And the Elbe is still far. We walk past a Netto supermarket and because it’s international women’s day Olivier buys Lily some empowering snacks. We are almost at the ferry. When we arrive, there are clouds of geese gathering for there migration back home. It’s a beautiful thing to see animals migrate as they are supposed too. There are no borders, for us there are neither. We cross the river Elbe. 21 kilometers on weak ankles feels like an accomplishment. But it’s still a long road to our host. As we are writing a hitching panel to Hohenfeld. Two construction workers grab our attention saying they are passing there. So we hop in. Two Russian brothers that fix escalators. They drop us at a giant farm where our sweet host Merle is waiting for us. She is a theatre producer and lives in the loft in the top of the farm. We share leftovers and talk about art, love and life. She now has a meeting we are both tired. Tomorrow to Bad Bremsted hopefully with enough ankle to keep going.
Bad Bramstedt, Germany
We departed from Merle’s house at around 10:15 this morning, after she and her big dog Spike walked for us on the treadmill. Her house was a spacious, beautifully designed loft, and we listened to music while having breakfast. After walking for about 20 minutes, a cracking, splitting sound came from the back of the cart – a tumour-like growth protruded from the wheel. Five seconds later it exploded like a gunshot. We had just discussed this possibility as we were walking and had resolved to replace the wheels at the next town, but we must have overinflated the wheels at Merle’s house that morning. We began to take the wheel off and replace the rubber tire with our spare, feeling kind of out of our depths. Not five minutes later, a German man stopped his car beside us and pulled out a compressed air machine and a crowbar. He immediately had the new tire on and was waving goodbye, we didn’t even get his name. We were left at the side of the road feeling emasculated. Merle caught up with us in her car and we walked the next couple of towns together. She took us to the supermarket and we ate our weight in sandwiches and pastries before saying our last goodbyes. We decided to set a timer for one hour when we would not say a word to eachother. We already were walking in silence but thought that maybe timing it would make it more loaded and exciting. It didn’t. We walked through a dense forest where the silence was so thick it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We hoped that Sweden would feel a lot like this, judging by the satellite image of the landscape. We stopped at a bus shelter completely exhausted, and it felt like we would never get up again. Morale was low and we were feeling cynical. The last hour and a half was hell and as we rolled into town I felt like I would collapse, and Olivier took both the bag and the cart for a bit. The BNB we pulled up to said they didn’t have any rooms, and we had run out of options – no hotels, no warm showers, and no friendly faces, our luck had run out. As we were walking away from the place looking like dead rats, a car pulled up – the owner of the BNB – and she took pity on us for looking like shit. She let us have a single room at her Pension. We made enough pasta to feed six and then passed out.
After a hefty 10 hours of sleep in our Airbnb, we left Bad Bramstedt at around 9:30 with the promise of snow later on. Yesterday evening was a rough one, and left us totally exhausted. The walk today was a breeze down one straight highway, although a bit desolate with fields and windmills all around. We discussed shocking and horrifying movies that we had seen. We arrived at our destination around 1:30: the hardware store. After eating a dirty currywurst outside, we spent an hour looking for spare tires and inner tubes for our cart. After almost 30km we arrive at our destination, just outside of Neumunster. Olivier checks his ankle and it is absolutely necrotic: you can see beneath the layers of skin and fat, and it looks like a sirloin steak inside. Walking for 4-5 hours each day is preventing it from healing, and a couple of days rest is needed. We are going to find a place to stay in Kiel, a coastal town north of Hamburg, where he can rest – luckily our precious host from Bremerhaven, Moritz, has a few friends there who might be able to help us out.
We left our AirBnB yesterday at around 10:30, planning to hitch hike to our next Warmshowers location – Lukas agreed to let us stay for 2-3 days on his family’s dairy farm so Olivier’s ankle can heal. There was a thick layer of snow outside and the sun was shining. After 15-20 minutes of trying to catch a ride, a huge horse trailer pulled up – with horse in the boot – and let us climb in. They took us as far as the next town, Bornhöved, and let us out on the highway. We decided it would be too dangerous and/or illegal to hitch on the motorway so we walked into town and waited by the Aldi. Lukas kindly agreed to come pick us up in his car, so Olivier picked up some groceries so he could cook for the family later to say thanks. We had a fight in the parking lot about being sick of spending all our time together. At the dairy farm, we chatted a bit with Lukas – we are his first ever Warmshowers guests. He showed me around the farm, and I felt a bit bad for the cows. After reading a bit and relaxing in the living room, Olivier cooked a really nice curry and we met Lukas’ family. They have a friend who is a doctor specialising in wound treatment who will come by tomorrow morning to check Olivier’s ankle – then we will be able to decide how to proceed. We each drank about six glasses of wine and then went to bed.
I went into Kiel with Lukas to pick up a refrigerator and check out an exhibition in the city. It was snowing fat wet flakes, and freezing cold. We got a fried fish sandwich beside the harbour and saw a seal outside the aquarium, before walking to the StatdGalerie Kiel to see a show on the topic of tourism. – L
I left Honigsee at around 10am this morning in persistent rain, looking like a knob in full rain gear plus camelback. I walked 1.5 hours to Preetz to see the World’s Biggest Shoe, which turned out to be disappointingly small and unfashionable. I barely had time to write a hitching sign for Plön before an elderly woman, who had just finished shopping at Aldi, walked past and invited me into her jeep (she wasn’t even planning on driving that way). She didn’t really speak any English but told me that she knew the farm I was going to stay at, and that they make really good cheese. We struggled a bit to get the bolderkar in. In Plön I tried to get as close to the castle as possible, but climbing the steep cobblestone roads was really rubbish with the cart in tow so I ended up going to the edge of the lake instead. It was so windy, and the water was very choppy. I began the 4 hour walk to Dannau along a relatively busy road. The way was very hilly, and there was a lot of mature, Twilight-style coniferous woodland, and the sun was shining. When I arrived at Hof Berg farm at around 3:30pm I had my sleeves pushed up and was super sweaty. Birgit invited me into her cottage and gave me some stew, and then I went to help milk the cows. There are 70 producing milk right now, and they all have names. It was difficult to document my experience while occupied, with my hands constantly full of nipples. I’m going to wake up at 5am tomorrow to help milk them again.
Early this morning I became a Cheeser. I began with flipping and cutting yesterday’s camembert in the Hof Berg Käserei, then brushed salt water onto the firmer 6 month old wheels. Omar and Abdul taught me how to press and form Gouda, and then we had some birthday cake in the kitchen. I ate quite a lot of cheese and they gave me some to take with me. After Brigette and Albert tried out the treadmill, Falk and Renée did also. After the snow stopped I started walking, at around 11:30, to the next town – Högsdorf. After an hour and a half I arrived and planned to hitch to the next town and a half, but there were very few cars on the road and I started to lose hope. Finally a lovely man born in Tanzania stopped by and agreed to take me a bit down the road. We talked about punks, the shortage of dangerous people in other countries, humanism and the Enlightenment, graphic design, alternative medicine, ideology, paganism, Waldorf schools, and cheese. By this time, he had driven me the entire 40 or so kilometers to my destination at Hof Klostersee, and we had followed eachother on Instagram. I walked into the farm shop and immediately bought a liter of chocolate soy milk, which was organic and had a 20% discount. I ate my Hof CamemBerg with bread from Brigitte, and then went back into the shop to bashfully ask if Renée had called and if they were expecting me. They were, and I was led to my very own small red wagon. I explored the farm for a couple of hours, and met a few of the people who live and work here. I have an appointment at 6:30am in the cow shed, and at 9am in the cheese palace. The Newly-Graduated-Artist-To-Travelling-Cheese-Maker Pipeline is a powerful one. I nearly burned down my cabin.
(tijdens herstelverblijf in Honigsee)
Meer is zee en zee is meer.
Op 275 kilometer afstand begeeft zich een vrouw die graag tijd in Parijs spendeert.
Ook hier zijn de mensen op zoek.
Waar vind je dat?
Lucas zit ook op Tinder.
Hij woont tijdelijk op een boerderij bij zijn moeder en haar vriend.
De grond is jong, nog geen 40.000 duizend jaar.
In huis wordt er geregeerd door een hond, zij is een vrouw en ze heet Prinses.
Ze komt uit Cyprus, dat zie je aan haar ogen en haar temperament.
Zij heerst over het huis en Stephan, de vriend van de moeder van Lucas, heerst over de boerderij en zijn 150 bewoners.
De koeien worden tussen half 6 en 8 gemolken, ´s avonds weer.
Koeien wegen rond de 600 kilo en als ze struikelen dan breken ze vaak iets.
Sommigen hebben namen en sommigen hebben nummers.
Van Tanzania tot 9769.
Birte werkt in de keuken van een verslavingskliniek.
Zij is de moeder van Lucas.
Wij eten wat de alcoholisten niet op krijgen.
Er zit geen wijn in de saus of bier in de stoof en mondwater is verboden.
Alle deuren staan open, niet op slot, behalve ´s nachts want dan kan de gekke kattenvrouw naar binnen sluipen.
Precies om half 1, wordt er middag gegeten.
Altijd een aardappelvariatie en niet standaard vlees.
Ook Hans schuift aan.
Ik heb nog nooit iemand met zo´n grote vingers gezien als Hans.
Hij heeft een snee op zijn hoofd die zichtbaar is door zijn wijkende haargrens.
Prinses is geen fan van Hans.
Misschien omdat ze ooit Hans vingers voor sappige worsten heeft aangezien en dat heeft moeten bekopen.
Ook Benny schuift aan.
Hij is de zoon van Stephan.
Benny is buiten boer ook jager.
Alleen op everzwijnen in deze tijd van het jaar.
Daar maken ze worsten van.
Benny heeft een vaste plek aan tafel.
Stephan en Hans ook.
Benny heeft een hond, Hans niet.
In 1541 schreef Maarten Luther een pamflet gericht aan hertog Hendrik van Brunswijk Wolfenbüttel.
Hierin noemde hij de hertog “Hanswurst”.
“Heb je dorst ga naar Hansworst, die heeft een hondje die plast in je mondje.”
Stephan heeft een vriend die wondendokter is.
Hij schrijft me antibiotica voor en verzorgt het gat op mijn enkel.
Ik heb 10 pillen in een strip.
De wondendokter kan aan de aders in mijn voet zien dat ik rook.
Wist je dat hoe minder licht een kalf ziet, hoe witter het kalfsvlees is.
Vleeskoeien nemen minder tijd in beslag dan melkkoeien.
In honingmeer is geen meer vol honing.
Wel is er een zee.
Een zee vol open deuren en aardappelgerechten.
Lake is sea and sea is more.
At a distance of 275 kilometers there is a woman who likes to spend time in Paris.
People are searching.
Where do you find that?
Lucas is also on Tinder.
He temporarily lives on a farm with his mother and her boyfriend.
The soil is young, less than 40,000 years old.
The house is ruled by a dog, she is a woman and her name is Princess.
She is from Cyprus, you can tell by her eyes and her temperament.
She rules the house and Stephan, the friend of Lucas’s mother, rules the farm and its 150 inhabitants.
The cows are milked between half past six and eight, and again in the evening.
Cows weigh around 600 kilos and if they stumble they often break something.
Some have names and some have numbers.
From Tanzania to 9769.
Birte works in the kitchen of an addiction clinic.
She is Luke’s mother.
We eat what the alcoholics can’t eat.
There is no wine in the sauce or beer in the stew and mouthwash is prohibited.
All doors are open, not locked, except at night when the crazy cat lady can sneak in.
Exactly at half past one, lunch is served.
Always a potato variation and not standard meat.
Hans also joins.
I have never seen anyone with such big fingers as Hans.
He has a cut on his head that is visible through his receding hairline.
Princess is not a fan of Hans.
Maybe because she once mistook Hans’s fingers for juicy sausages and paid for it.
Benny also joins.
He is Stephen’s son.
Besides being a farmer, Benny is also a hunter.
Only on boars at this time of year.
They make sausages out of it.
Benny has a permanent place at the table.
Stephan and Hans too.
Benny has a dog, Hans does not.
In 1541 Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet addressed to Duke Henry of Brunswick Wolfenbüttel.
In this he called the duke “Hanswurst”.
“Are you thirsty go to Hansworst, he has a dog that pees in your mouth.”
Stephan has a friend who is a wound doctor.
He prescribes antibiotics and takes care of the hole on my ankle.
I have 10 pills in a strip.
The wound doctor can tell by the veins in my foot that I smoke.
Did you know that the less light a calf sees, the whiter the veal is.
Beef cows take less time to take care for than dairy cows.
In honey lake there is no lake full of honey.
Well, there is a sea.
A sea full of open doors and potato dishes.
I left Hof Kloostersee this morning early, at 8:30, after saying goodbye to everyone at breakfast. Matthias, the cheeser, had his son use the treadmill, who then tried to eat my keys. I walked for 7 hours in total, and ate almost half a kilo of salted cashew nuts, two bananas, and 6 mini Bifi’s in succession. I saw one dead deer and one dead cat, both hit by cars. I took a wrong turn just before the bridge to Fehmarn, and had to walk back for half an hour. I then hitched a bus (the driver was kind and let me ride for free) across the bridge. I rode a bit too far and had to turn back again, and walk an extra hour to get to the Warmshowers house. I met Olivier, who was biking, about 40 minutes in, and we sat in the sun on a pile of dirt and drank a Radler. He had expertly hitched three rides, and arrived early in Fehmarn. We attached the cart to the back of the bike and wobbled the rest of the way across the fields. Upon arriving at Simon’s house, we helped him to move some furniture around outside. He cooked us a delicious omelet using his own eggs, and a bunch of smoked ham, and let us try his homemade hot sauce. He is an avid gardener and painter, and smokes a cigarette every five minutes.
Simon made us a really nice breakfast with pancakes, coffee, and his mother’s homemade bread. He gave us a bag full of hardboiled eggs from his chickens for the road, and showed us his gas mask. After letting him walk on the treadmill in his garden, fully geared up, we set off for the nearest town on the island, Burg. We stocked up on groceries and high calorie snacks at Lidl, as we had been told multiple times that everything in Denmark is super expensive. We also got some cheap German alcohol for trading as Danes apparently love to drink. Olivier’s ankle was acting up so we hitched a ride to the ferry at Puttgarden. The ferry was massive and full of commercial shops and duty free stores, although we could only find a couple of rubbish sheets of paper to use for hitching later. Upon arriving at Rødby, the terminal smelled like burnt plastic and was almost deserted. Despite there being a lot of people on the ferry, very few got off. It was a kind of Hotel California situation and we were confused. The only way out into Denmark was down a big flight of stairs, no elevator, so we had to carry the cart down. It was super heavy and banged on every step, and I laughed hysterically until real delirious sobs started coming through. This resulted in the thin metal rod of the cart snapping. We bodged it back together with elastic cords and walked slowly to the adjacent village. There Olivier bought two hotdog breads from Aldi and we began to hitch. Eventually a lovely old lady picked us up, who spoke zero English. We spent fifteen minutes trying to fit the cart in her tiny vehicle, and she was very patient with us. After a silent and slightly awkward ride, she dropped us off at the next town on the highway, where we began to hitch again. Almost fourty minutes went by with people responding bizarrely to us – waving, giving thumbs up, middle fingers, one lady stopped to explain to us that the train station was only 15 minutes away. Finally, a very kind Romanian couple stopped after having driven past us a couple of times and taking pity on us. They explained that hitching is extremely uncommon in Denmark and might even be illegal. The man was a welder and he said he would try to weld the cart back together that evening, and took a piece away with him. We gave them a bottle of wine and they dropped us off outside our Warmshowers house in Vordingborg. Klaus was our host, and his house was extremely beautiful – it was furnished with sleek designer sofas and full of paintings. He explained that he worked with the local town hall as a kind of culture and education officer, and informed us that there was a wonderful theatre play taking place in town that night. After eating ravioli with him and taking a shower, we went to see the play, titled Brøl. It totally blew us away, with acrobatic stunts and a really intense narrative centered abstractly around relationships. We were then exhausted, mentally and physically, and went back to Klaus and to bed.
We had breakfast with Klaus this morning at 8, and he had plenty of suggestions of artists/initiatieven we should visit while in Denmark. We filled in his guest book and then walked to the sea, to walk around Vordingborg a bit while we waited for the kind Romanian couple (who picked us up yesterday) to meet us with a piece of our cart that they welded back together. We saw the old Vordingborg castle ruins and Goose Tower, which is the most intact of it’s kind in Scandinavia. Klaus walked on the treadmill and waved us goodbye around midday, whereupon we immediately walked 4km in the wrong direction. The sun was shining however and it was short sleeve weather, so we followed the highway for about 16km in the direction of a shelter by the seaside. Olivier was walking in crocs, and it was a bit uncomfortable as well as bad for the ankle. After realising that the shelter didn’t have a water supply, and that we would have to walk the last 5km over rough unpaved terrain, we decided to instead go for a small secluded beach closer to the road. It was a beautiful spot, totally silent and still. We set up our tent and walked a bit into the water, although it was freezing. Olivier cooked pea soup on the gas stove and we picked up some water from a nearby house. We met two local people, one of which lived on a neighbouring farm who said that there should be no problem with us camping here, and the other lived in the closest nearby house and presumably owns the land. He was really friendly and said it was no problem, although both of them warned us about a grumpy fisherman who owns the small boat moored here. We will wake up really early to try and avoid him.
We wake up early because Olivier couldn’t sleep because he was still traumatised of his almost death by self inflammation. And of course because there was a promise of an angry fisherman we wanted to avoid. Also the tide came in close to two meter from our tent. “ the tide is high but we’re holding on.” We leave early at 06:30. Nature at its finest. Flocks of deer in a foggy landscape. Eyegasm. Lily is still a little tired so she buys a can of Monster energy. It’s a long a wet road to our next destination. Olivier had to poop. So he went into a small forest. After pulling down his pants he realised he was in someone’s garden. But it was to late. The gravity did its work. After walking out of the bush a car stops. He asks very friendly what we are doing in the garden of his friends. We said it was none of his business and kept walking. 30 km of rain. Very wet we arrive in the next town it’s still early 11:30. But Stacy’s an American bistro opens and we sit in the back of a truck. We eat a hot dog, hamburger, milkshake, chicken wings, onion rings. It’s a feast and the waitress had huge knockers. We had a little siesta and then we left for Jush. He lives next to the railroad and is a carpenter. It’s his birthday. And his father comes by. He looks like Santa but is way more fun. The gift we had for Jush, a bottle of vodka, is immediately set to the test as he and Lily are doing shot after shot. Olivier makes a nice curry and they tell beautiful stories about living in Sharm el Sheikh and travelling the world. They are very warm and welcoming characters. But it’s already 21:30 so time for bed.
When we woke up this morning, Johs had already left for work. We ate the leftover curry from yesterday and had a relaxed morning, rolling up the air mattress and the bags. Olivier decided today we would try a new configuration of the cart, with the bag balanced on top – one person pulling, and one pushing. It worked well, especially downhill. We walked through the countryside and saw a Confederate flag. I very nearly didn’t find a good place to pee, as the landscape was wide open and desolate, but a tree appeared on the horizon just in time. We made sandwiches outside the supermarket on our laps like a couple of bums, with prosciutto and Philadelphia. When we arrived at Jesper’s house he greeted us warmly. He had a beautifully furnished open plan house, with lovely ceramics and art on the walls. We chatted to him about our trip and he baked really delicious bread rolls – they had an almost oliebollen-like consistency. After showering Oli took a nap and I read some of my book, and we met Jesper’s son. At the dinner table we discussed Yoda, gun violence, and agriculture. Olivier had five bowls of soup, with a fried kale, cabbage, courgette, and bacon topping. Afterwards there were freshly made cinnamon rolls, which Olivier also had five of. The ankle is once again getting infected, so we will visit the doctor tomorrow.
The taste of Jesper’s bread in the morning was a tasty kick off of a rather tragic day. Charlotte who used to work as a nurse made an appointment for Olivier at 11:10 at the doctor. Lily would walk ahead to our next destination. But half an hour later she was back. Her already fragmented mosaic phonescreen had met its final resort. So we went to the station while Olivier visited the doctor and got a second badge of antibiotics. We took the train to Ringsted. There we found a place that could fix lilys phone by tomorrow 4. As a reward we ate a kebab. We started to walk towards the Airbnb. Which is situated in an eco village. The entire house is made of hemp. If it burns down, the whole island will be stoned. It was raining and raining and raining. As the last few days were. Tomorrow again. The house we stay in has an obesed snake, a retired golden retriever and three sasy cats. The people are very sweet. But there is no supermarket around. So Lily went on a 1,5 hour run and did groceries. Absolute hero. We made spaghetti bolognese for an orphanage and are now in a food coma. Buone Notte!
The day started with cat puke of the sassy ginger one on the stairs. We ate the rest of the spaghetti. Lily had to wait all day for her phone. So we started playing video games but the PlayStation made a lot of noise. It was raining till 11:00 and after that Olivier left with the cart to our next destination. Lily would join later either by train or hitching. The walk was beautiful. Real Scandinavian landscape; forest and lakes. Rainbows, deers, dead and alive. Olivier arrived at the cute mansion of Christian and Ninny. Christian was there practicing his Dutch. He is multilingual and very erudite. We talked about his career in the army and as a civilian. Soon Ninny came home, a physiotherapist and painter. A free spirit. Lily called and told her phone wasn’t fixed it would happen tomorrow. Bummer. But she would also come to Christian And Ninny after eating a pizza with the mother of our previous host. Christian went to his bridge club to qualify for the local championship. Ninny wanted to smoke grass. So first she cooked Olivier delicious sheep meatballs and cabbage, potato and salad. Ninny grows her own grass and rolled two big pure joints. Then Lily arrived and we smoked. Ninny put on some spiritual lullaby’s and she danced elegantly on the treadmill. It was very much fun and we all got really stoned.
When we woke up this morning, Nini and Christian were already setting up a traditional Danish breakfast, complete with picked herring, capers, onions, and rye bread. With Christian we had a shot of liquor, as it kickstarts the metabolism. He later had a chance to walk on the treadmill, which he elected to do nude; he whipped off his morning robe and slipped up our rubber road. To normalise nudity and nobody no matter what age should be ashamed of what your body looks like. But to celebrate our bodies. Shortly afterwards, Olivier left in the car with Christian and got a lift to Roskilde. Nini showed me her archive of paintings, and I met her brother who is an inventor. I read my book for a few hours while Nini dropped her brother home. When she got back we had a tasting board of 16 different flavoured paté and talked relationships. I got the train back to Ringstedt and the weaselly phone repair goblin behind the counter made an excuse (for the third day in a row) why he couldn’t fix my phone, and why I should stay with him at his house if I didn’t have a place. I was pissed and I caught up with Olivier at Roskilde. Olivier had visited the town that day. The Viking boat museum and the Cathedral. We wandered around looking for, and failing to find, a place to fix it. We went into a supermarket and bought a new one, then walked to our Warmshowers host for the night. Olivier made another delicious curry in an exchange for a haircut from Rie. We chatted with Rie about politics, retirement, and the elevation in Sweden. Olivier’s ankle looks like cherry cobbler.
After waking up in our luxuriously warm Airbnb and taking one last glance back towards the jacuzzi, we began a very long walk to Hillerød. We walked through woodlands and saw an abandoned stroller by the side of the road – a free baby! We will exhibit him at the art fair. It began to rain excessively, on and off. We waited for twenty minutes inside a bus shelter in complete silence. The rain was icy – the temperature below freezing. Not looking promising for our future wildcamping endeavours. When we arrived in the town, we were starving and tried to find a place to eat. We settled on a pizza/kebab store; signs on the walls indicated Ramadan. I ordered a kebab pizza sandwich, Oli a Hawaiian pizza with turkey bacon, and two beers. My hands were so cold I could not hold the knife and fork for a while. We had some time to kill so we went into the mall and had a hot chocolate. It began to snow heavily outside, so we waited until it stopped before continuing to walk. The snow began again and we completed the last half an hour to Reinout’s house, a friendly Dutch man from warm showers. They weren’t yet home so we wasted some time playing kick the stick/attack the tak. A demented old lady offered us tea inside her home while we wait, but remembering the tale of Hansel and Gretel we politely declined. Reinout and his Danish wife cooked us a wonderful minestrone, with homemade bread, and gave us some wine and beer. We talked about football, Denmark, art school, and windsurfing.
Reinout had some proper Dutch breakfast articles set up at the table. Calve pindakaas and de Ruyter hagelslag. We talked about the continuation of our journey and he said he would drop us at his windsurfing club. So it would be a pretty way along the coast. It was pretty; beautiful rich houses on the cliffs of Denmark. In the distance we could see Sweden. But after a while it was completely covered in clouds. Clouds that were coming our way. First little snowflocks later a whole cloud of them falling down on us. It became colder and windier. But we reached the ferry, where we ate a hot dog. 20 minutes were passed and we arrived in Sweden. First things first we went to a McDonalds where we devoured a mcvegan and a double cheeseburger. Then we left to drop our cart at the warm showers host Frederick. We left the cart in the garden of his neighbour and both needed to go to the toilet. We went on a search. But Lily thought the pizzeria place was too shady. The bushes were too much see through for me. In the end we ended up buying a falafel just for the shit. The falafel was also quite good. Then we went groceries shopping so we could make Frederick a nice vegan meal. He liked it. We were still looking for a place to sleep for the next day. So we even looked on tinder to see for possibilities. Possibilities enough but there was also a cheap Airbnb. So we didn’t have to whore ourselves out.
We felt a bit like shit when we woke up in Helsingborg, I think. We were fed up and struggling to find places to sleep in Sweden. After getting our stuff together and watching an episode of The Last of Us on Frederick’s massive TV we went to a local shop and made cream cheese, salami, and cucumber pitas. I thought I lost my wallet but I didn’t. We soon find out that in Sweden, the Kar is King – they don’t give a single shit about pedestrians. I think, conspiratorially, that by championing the auto a monopoly on movement is being made, and you can only get places by either owning a car, buying a bus ticket, or pushing cash in some way or another. There weren’t any pavements and it was sketchy, but Jesus, land on all sides of the road is privately owned at all times. If you don’t have the right to walk places you don’t have the right to do shit. But we just ignored the occasional beeps from motorists and ploughed on. We saw our first IKEA. When we arrived at the Airbnb we were early, but the key was in the lock. Oli made chilli and we cracked open a bottle of vodka, mixing it with isotonic hydration powder like a sick and twisted Smirnoff Ice. We made plans to derail all of our plans, I plucked Olivier’s unibrow, and we went to bed.
Östra Göinge kommun
What a day. 3 alpacas. 2 dead body’s. 1 marina abromivich sculpture. 7 half liters. 4 vodka jus. 1 train. 1 bus. 7 deers. 300 dead butterflies. 1 shit sculpture. 7 pieces of quiche. 1 salad. 4 muesli bars. 23 km. Over half way. 2 episodes last of us. 1 jenny holzer. 4 X “Mama!”, 1 church, 1 vulva of granite, 1 free rainpants hanging in a tree, 1 giant ball stuck in a tree, 2 broke crocs, 2 portions Chili, 2 late night tosti’s, 12 Yoko ono wishing trees, 1 Martin, 88 travel pictures, 0 pick up cars, 1 hitchhiking sign, 1 leader. Lily Dollner. Queen of the Road.
We had a nice lie-in in Martin’s cute apartment. Olivier appointed me the authoritarian leader a couple of days ago, and I used it this morning to full effect, commanding him to pack the cart, clean the dishes, wash the tiles in the bathroom, and clean the skirting board with his toothbrush (before using it). Damn, it feels good to be a gangster. The Swedish weather is absolutely suicidally shit. It has been raining for 24 hours now, and cold to boot. We walked for a couple of hours in the freezing downpour down a beautiful wooded lane. I stopped to pee in the bushes and my thermal leggings became full of twigs and seeds. There was a rushing water feature where a moose might appear – it did not. Yet. The promise of meese is one of the few things keeping us going at this point. In a Swedish supermarket we discovered a salad paste covered in both shrimp and strawberries. When we arrived in Osby Brosby Nobsy we stopped in a bus shelter to get our bearings and book the Airbnb for tonight – a room in the very birthplace of modern man, the ultimate mass-production Mecca, Älmhult – the location of the first IKEA. ~ She’s been cheating on me in a furniture store, so IKEA car ~ After an excruciatingly long and wet walk, we arrive. We get to the place and assemble ourselves in front of a red hot fireplace. Everything in the house is suspiciously tasteful at first glance – the hallmark of a shrine to IKEA -and a shrine it was, down to the last Djungelskög atop Källax. We recovered just enough to drag ourselves out to IKEA 001, to feast on meatballs. It was exceptionally delicious. We got back to the house and Olivier made a curry, and we immediately had our second dinner. The chicken was a bit tangy so we fantasized about getting food poisoning tomorrow morning and thus not having to walk. We polished off the last of the cheap German vodka and watched an episode of Queer Eye. Another job jobbed.
I woke up this morning and Olivier had made a video compilation of birthday wishes, some of them from the people we’ve stayed with on our trip. I thought I was hallucinating because Michiel was speaking Swedish. Olivier got me an IKEA t-shirt with a selection of lovely little buttons. We decided to walk as little as possible for my birthday. After a curry breakfast, we immediately went to IKEA museum for some coffee and meatballs, and to wait for a bus. The bus driver was immensely friendly and offered to help us lift our cart inside. The hour long journey was through a forested area, and I stared in between the trees looking for moose until I thought I was going to throw up. We collectively wondered how the moose get over electric fences and how they fit through the small gaps between the trees. Upon arriving at Ljungby, we went to burger king to use the toilet and got a vegetarian whopper. It was freezing cold and raining. Although the rain didn’t seem too heavy, the drops were fat and we got soaked very quickly. When we arrived at the Airbnb it was like being greeted by our grandparents. They let us borrow a couple of bikes and we went to the local indoor swimming pool, where we were traumatised by an extreme water slide. As we were waiting for the hot tub and the light was about to turn green, a hairy guy with the appearance of an overweight porcupine, eyes red, and a ratty little moleman, accompanied us. The latter looked like he was touching himself under the water so I got out, but Olivier didn’t notice and stayed for the duration of the bubbles. It looked like a Cassius Marcellus Coolidge painting. Our hosts made us dinner for my birthday, and it was spectacular: big steak, potatoes, homegrown purple green beans, and bearnnaise sauce. We drank a grand total of four bottles of wine and got absolutely smashed talking about crime scene investigations, vaccinations, and the political and economic state of the world right now.
Big hangover this morning! Big dehydration. Our hosts left early to go to their granddaughters first birthday party, so we rose late and Olivier made bacon and eggs. We decided last night that we would stay in Ljungby an extra night, in order to finally fulfill the dream of seeing a moose in it’s habitat. We again borrowed a couple of bikes and rode 20km in the bright crispy sunshine. Bikes feel like cheating. We arrived at the moose park in a remote, densely forested area, totally sweaty. We paid the entrance fee and got a fistful of birch shoots to force-feed the poor moose, who were simply trying to go about their day, for our own sick entertainment. It was fabulous and we bothered them for at least half an hour. Their noses were surprisingly droopy and they looked prehistoric; I really believed that I knew already what a moose looked like, but nothing could have prepared me. They looked like CGI, and their velvety lips were decidedly kissable. They made grunty little cooing sounds to eachother, which made me feel like crying but I didn’t. We also cuddled two fat little minipigs. On the way back there was a brutal direct headwind. We were tired and our asses were sore as hell, and we barely made it to a grocery store back in Ljungby where we promptly made parking-lot sandwiches and devoured them. Olivier made, that’s right, yet another impeccable curry. They truly never get old and taste better every time. We even forced down another couple of beers somehow. We are dead tired.
With sore as hell legs from yesterday’s windy cycle, we had breakfast with our hosts – eggs and bacon, with homemade bread. They waved us off and we walked in silence to the bus stop. We had had a very serious conversation that morning where a lot of dirt and shit had been offloaded from chests, and we were feeling a bit sour on eachother. After an hour on the bus (mooseless) we arrived at the station. We had such a long way to travel due to there being very few places to stay in Sweden. I couldn’t get a ticket in time and we missed our train, and were forced to re-evaluate. We had two gas station hotdogs as brain food, and got on a train to Jönköping – fuck it. Olivier nearly pissed into a plastic bag due to the train toilet being out of order, but the train conductor broke open the door instead. About ten people refused our warmshowers requests and we were desperate. In Jönköping we had a meltdown and discussed very unethical ways of cutting short the project – examples will not be given here as they might still be employed in desperate times. We then remembered that WWOOF exists (thank you Maruna) and have booked a week-long stay on an organic farm, where we will make organic beer and cider, and get organically wasted every day. We might also harvest vegetables.
After spending one last magical night in Jönköping, we rolled down to the train station to get a bus to Gränna. We each had a hotdog. From Gränna, we had 28km to walk to our home for the next week and a bit, an ecological farm deep in the forest. We had to follow one long, straight road, with the biggest European lake on our left and a sheer, snowy, forested cliff on our right. It was a beautiful route, with some light snowfall; the ground was already covered in snow from a couple days prior. We came across a young deer that was frozen in place beside the road. It looked sick or injured, so I thought I would walk down the steep slope it was standing on to check it out. It didn’t run away, and I let my intrusive thoughts win and picked it up. I walked it back up the slope, falling once on my ass, and brought it out into the sun to warm up. The deer was responsive but obviously in shock. Oli called a local animal rescue, then walked to the nearest house to see if they wanted to help the deer as we had to keep walking to arrive before dark. I dried the deer off with my towel, and got covered in hair, dirt, snow, and a bit of blood. Oli came back with a Swede in tow, who had called someone to take care of the deer. He told us that it was as good as dead already, and before long a man arrived in a van with a shotgun and shot it twice without warning. We were a bit traumatised, and continued on our way. A few kilometres down the road, I noticed that one of the tires was split and close to exploding. We wrapped some twine around it, and then noticed that the bearing of a second wheel had been destroyed. The cart was hanging on by literal threads and barely made it to a gas station, where we replaced the wheel and consumed two more hotdogs each. Karin, who owned the ecological farm, gave us her daughter’s number, who agreed to pick us up on her way home from work. The farm is absolutely magical, in a very remote forest covered in snow. We have our own small cabin, and there’s no running water. We’re going to stay here for a week or so and live out our rural apocalypse survivalist dreams.
We have fully adapted to our winter forest fairy lifestyle. Yesterday was spent chopping wood, varnishing a cabin floor, and doing laundry in a frozen lake. Olivier cooked a vegan chilli and we discussed death and dying, and our serene collective ambivalence to the climate crisis and how it will bring about the apocalypse. Sweden is a good place to endure the end of civilization due to its abundance of wild animals and natural resources. After lunch we had a break, during which we laid in bed in our cold cabin and thought about our lives. I ate about 7 Werther’s Originals and an entire packet of HobNobs. After that I called with Noor to brainstorm our presentation in Stockholm, and walked around in the forest. At 7pm we went to an African drumming jam session in Karin’s cabin. We each chose a drum from the rec room. Karin had set the lights down low and lit some incense, and about 3 extra people arrived – we were about 8 people in total. We improvised rhythms and got into a trance like state, for almost two hours without break. Afterwards, we chatted with Karin’s friends about shamanism and they told us about the Sundance ritual, a kind of festival held in Sweden during summer where they met. For three days, hundreds of people don’t eat food and only dance and drink water. When they feel ill they take electrolytes. The result is that a magical dome of high frequency energy is created in the forest and everyone gets really high. We talked a bit about our walk and it’s struggles. This morning we had porridge as usual in Karin’s cabin, then went to cut saplings in the forest clearings. We finished around midday, and Oli is now making lunch.
Although we had a magical few days in the commune with Karin, it felt really good to get back on the road again. After 9am porridge club with Jasmin and Magnus, the other wwoofers, we cleared out our cabin and got our stuff together. The bearings on one wheel had fallen apart, so we stuffed a piece of hose onto the axel and covered it in grease. We said our good-byes and walked for 45 minutes into Odeshög. We had a bit of time before the bus came so we had an Easter themed lunch. The bus took us to Mjolby, where we jumped on a train to Linkoping. The cart is now barely holding together and pieces are falling off every hour. We had another hour’s walk to our warmshowers host, and the sun was shining. Almost all the snow has now melted. We stopped at a McDonald’s for some WiFi and reflected that our walking is almost at an end, while we waited for Heinz to return home. He made us a delicious curry and we played some Frank Zappa on his record player. Two beers later, we began an intense discussion in his living room about Noam Chomsky, survivalism, marriage, relationship problems, nuclear power, moose hunting, immigration, and gun violence in Sweden. He gave us a local cake made of cheese curds and vanilla, served with cream and jam, and we went to bed.
What do you wanna be when you are grown up? And. How are you? These are two questions that have been bothering me for the last two weeks. The first question indicates that there is a will to be something and there is the fact that you are growing up. You owe something to life itself. You are getting old so you must want to be something before you are too old and are still nothing. As an artist you can say I am inspired by my inner child. Today I want to be a farmer. Looking at a machine that cleans grains. I don’t want to go to a mental health institution. Maybe it is better to be an artist. Tomorrow I want to be a horse and pull a carriage full of stuff on a dusty road. How are you? Would you ask such a question to a horse? Maybe farmers would do that. Talk to their horse not expecting anything in response. Just to kill the silence. It’s really quiet at a farm not that there is no noise. Sheeps, tractors, chickens even people. Yesterday I farted 46 times. Not to reassure myself of still existing. We have a strict vegan diet over here. Dimitri, the French intern, is sure that it’s the soy yoghurt. There is a cat with sharp nails. I burned my face. But how are you? Did you grow up? Did you become anything? You can always try farming. Ecological farming. Even better. There are always pebbles in the grass to be sorted out. Stay safe and don’t forget to pray. For a good harvest.