Category Archives: On the road

… and back!

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… or well… sorta… ;).

With over 300 unread blog posts in my Reader, my articles still unfinished, the dishes still waiting to be done (as is the laundry and the ironing) and the experiments still failing, but with 2 handed in grant applications (which I don’t even know I want to get accepted) and still not quite back on my game after a frankly quite tiring outing to Iceland.

And you know what I was thinking when I conjured up the “Add new post” tab?

I have no effing clue what I’m supposed to write about! :D

There you have it, over 2 weeks complete absence in the blogosphere and I got a writer’s block – you’d think I’d have something to say, at least… . Makes one happy they didn’t pursue that ‘I wanna be a writer’-dream, doesn’t it ;).

But I digress…

Iceland! Where anything over a foot tall is called ‘a tree’ and getting lost in the forest is therefore a seldom event – should it occur: just put the cork on the bottle and get up. Where geysers kill you with their foul smell before they boil you, and the tap water is so rich in sulfur your silver rings will turn gold if you dare stay in the bath for more than 5 minutes (true story. only i was in it for over 30 minutes.). Ah yes, Iceland… a beautiful country indeed.

To ease my coming back in the blogosphere (I can’t really be expected to splash 500+ words right at you, can I?), and because pics say more than a 1000 words (or so I heard), here’s some photographic evidence of my trip. Not that these pics were not taken by me and you are therefore not allowed to copy, reproduce and/or alter them in any way.

Do you have the expression "to sell air"? Yes, well, somebody needs to tell the Icelandics it's an expression...


The Strokkur geyser, right before the surface tension breaks. (we were a bunch of scientists on a trip. for us this is cool.)


The plains of Þingvellir, at the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the oldest parliament of the world (930 AD) used to assemble.


Remember Eyafjallajökull? This is a branch of its gletsjer.


The walking path running behind gives you some idea of the dimensions. Quite impressive.


Sun setting over Iceland's black beaches...


Reynisdrangar rocks - these are trolls turned to stone when they were too late to get to the cave before sunrise - although scientists claim they are basalt uprisings. What do they know, right?


The blue lagoon - more money than it's worth, but you kinda need to have been in an outdoor 38ºC swimming pool while it's snowing at one point in your life.

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A tale from the road

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My apologies for leaving you all post-less last weekend, but I wasn’t exactly in the mood for blogging due to the circumstances that sent me home unexpectedly, and neither did I have time to prepare some scheduled posts – but for now regular posting is back! (well, at least until the end of the month)

As I said, I had to return home unexpectedly last weekend. And I took the train. From Lund. To Ghent.

A 17 hour journey*.

To this moment I have no idea why exactly I chose the train. It wasn’t that much cheaper (although, to say it with Tesco: every little helps!). Or actually… T told me to take the train. So I did.

And it started out great – the first train was 15 minutes late. Not when I got on, but for some reason or another, it stopped every 10 minutes. Without there being a train station. We stopped on the øresund-bridge, we stopped before getting into the tunnel, we stopped when we got out, … honestly, this train had issues. I was starting to fear I’d miss my connection and wasn’t exactly thrilled by the idea of missing my grandfather’s funeral because of a train with issues. So once in Copenhagen I started to run – well, you know, the kind of run-hop-walking you generally do when you’re in a hurry but got a big backpack on your back and a full handbag on your front which bounces along happily. The platform was found easily enough, but this was the longest train I ever saw (not really… I saw a Guinness Book attempt for the longest train of over 70 wagons… but for the sake of this post: it was loooooong) and my coach was the very last one. And when I finally got there, I wish I hadn’t.

The wailing which greeted me coming from the train was just… mind-blowing. Think a 2-year-old which has been taken its lollipop, only this was an adult. And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t going to stop even if you gave her 10 lollipops. She was sitting in a couchette with her husband and 3 children, and was completely freaking out. The conductor was in there with them, trying to calm her (and her kids, which were getting really upset because, well, their mother was upset), so I wiggled my way past to try and find my couchette, hoping it would be as far away as possible from noise. It wasn’t. In fact, in passing the conductor I had already passed my spot.

It was there.

The one remaining seat in the couchette occupied by HER.

Please, no, please don’t tell me I have to spend 12 hours in a tiny couchette with a freaked out woman and her 3 kids. She has probably a very good reason to be upset and I’m a kind, tolerant person but please…

And then they got out. For whatever reason the lady had decided she would not continue her journey and she got out, her 3 kids and husband following her silently. I couldn’t believe it – not only did I not have to share a couchette with Mrs. Wail, I GOT A WHOLE COUCHETTE FOR MYSELF! Ah, bliss … .

And then they got back in. Apparently 3 ticket guys combined had been able to convince her to still take the train (strangely, her husband did not say a singly soothing word to his wife, let alone give her a hug or a kiss, rather he seemed embarrassed by the whole situation).

No… please… no… .

Fortunately, both the lady and the conductor had the same idea – it wouldn’t be healthy for me to spend the night in her company. Pfieuw…. for a second, I thought I would be assigned a private bed, since the couchettes seemed pretty much full, but I ended up sharing with two Croation women which fell asleep as soon as they found their seats.

The Thalys was late. And the train to Ghent was late. But I was home. And sometimes, that’s enough.

* For the sake of comparison, Copenhagen-Brussels takes 1h20 with the plane – 6 hours door-to-door.