Sunday, August 20, 2006

From Copenhagen to Ljungskile...

I wrote most of this in Ljungskile at Bjorn's mother's
house high up on the hill above the town. This is such
a beautiful place, it is a lot like Alaska, but it's
been warm the whole time I've been here. Taking the
train from Copenhagen was challenging once I left
Denmark because they don't make any announcements in
English and I alsmost missed this mystery transfer in
Malmo. I'm sitting there on the train listening to my ipod,
a lot of people get off the train, but I don't think anything of it.
I notice this plush double wide seat had opened up, all within view of my luggage (snowboard bag with main/jib sails(87 pounds), regular suitcase (55 pounds), my packpack (30+ pounds)). I sunk into the seat, spread out my
awesome map to figure out where I was cause I'd been listening to drunk Henrick the philanderer talk about his exploits of Swedish women and hadn't noticed a single train station sign. I'm just starting to relax when I look up and see this train conductor yelling at me in Swedish. I take out my headphones and explain I only speak English. He tells me I'm about to miss my transfer and I panic. In the rush to get all my bags and stuff to the next train and I lost that really good map. I must have dropped it. I grabbed all my bags and hustled off the train and down the platform about 60 yards to the next train. The conductor held the train and gave me this look of shame as I flung my things up onto the train. The train left, I piled my bags as out of the way as I could and sat on them all the way up to Gotenborg.
When I got to Goteborg it was 3:30. I hadn't packed a lunch and I was planning to get currency in the train station in Copenhagen, but I was just in time for the train to Goteborg that would transfer to the train I needed to get to Ljungskile. So, now I have no currency, no map, no food, no cellphone or email contact with Bjorn... But I'm not freaked out yet, just hungry, hot and tired. So in Goteborg I get into the train station, wait in line to get my ticket only to find out i'm in the wrong line. I get directed to the next counter and thay couldn't help me either. I talked to 10 different people who didn't know anything about trains and timing... I knew I had 30 minutes to buy my ticket and find the train and NO ONE COULD HELP ME! They were all useless! The last counter I went up to I had to take a number and as I watch this idiot in front of me fumble for change to get his ticket all I can think about is the train I need to be on in the next 5 minutes. I pull up the window plead for help and all I got was, "Your train is leaving in 1 minute." I KNOW!!! Which Blankidy blank track!!!
"You'll have to look at the board." I was so pissed, I went up to these two security guards and asked for their help. They were very understanding. As I was talking to them, we watched the only train I could catch leave. My only next option I had learned was a bus leaving in 5 minutes at the other end of the station, about 100 or so yards away... with all my bags. I had no idea where to go. I asked the security guard to lead me down the way to slot#36 and I got in line in time to make it, but I was in the wrong line. It was very confusing and I was actually in line #37 and the bus I was supposed to get on was pulling out. I realized it was my bus when I saw the reflection of the number 36 on the window of the bus I was supposed to be on. I flagged the driver down and he actually came back and let me stow my things and get on. I lucked out big time. If I missed that bus I was stuck for the night. The bus had no air conditioning and it was easily 90 degrees. So, I tried to relax, but I did'nt know exactly how far the town was or how far the bus stop was to where Bjorn is, plus I didn't even know how to pronounce Ljungskile ("Young-shiela") ... I was riddled with doubts about what was going to happen, I was on a bus going to some random town on the north west portion of Sweden with no real solid contact, it was hot, I was tired, hungry... and I had gas. I looked around to see how many people were on the bus... most of them were asleep and I thought to myself, I'll never see these people again, right? I was at least going to make myself comfortable and let it rip with no remorse or shame... stinky too.

So, the bus pulls up into Ljungskile and it's a town the size of Stinson Beach, California... real small and I start to chill. How far could it be? I saw a marina as I pulled in, it has to be just right across the freeway. I get off the bus and look around for a taxi, but there aren't any. I find a pay phone, but I can't seem to get the phones in Scandinavia to work. I couldn't get a hold of Bjorn, so I walk up this little hill with all my stuff and ask this older lady in a book store for some help, but she didn't speak very good English and suggested I go down to the other store for help. I walked out and looked around for while. A few minutes later I asked this younger lady for directions, she has no idea where the marina is... I used Bjorn's business card for my reference to see if she knows where it could be. She described it as 10 minutes away. She suggested we use her phone, if I wanted to. So, we called Bjorn's mom's house and Bjorn just happened to be there. He said, "Don't move, I'll be there in 2 minutes." All stress left my body and I took a deep breath. Bjorn Axel Johansson picked me up and took me down to his marina where he teaches sailing.... 2 minutes by car from the bus stop. He totaly took care of me from the moment I got there. We got some food and he gave me 3 choices of activities we could do.
We could walk to his cabin 30 minutes away and make dinner, I could chill by myself down by the boats and sleep or we could get on his boat, motor out to this island about 4 miles away, drink wine and go to a 40th birthday party for his good friend Lars. And that's how Bjorn
opporates... he presents things as though you have options when there is no question one of the options is the best and the one he wants to do. So, we hoped on his boat and went out to an island about 4 miles away for his friend Ander's 40th birthday party. 4 boats were all rafted together when we pulled up, I was introduced to his friends and their family and we had
shrimp and crawdads with salad and bread... and wine from a box (quite popular there). We went swimming and hung out until after sunset (10:30) and motored home. I forgot my camera, but I'll never forget what Lars wife did. Analinda thought about, then discussed with me what the rocks on the island would look like with a few IKEA candles lit up for decoration.
She started off with 6 candles, but by the time she had finished there were at least 40 randomly and artisticly lit up all over the rocks we had just had dinner on... it looked magical. Just before we left I ran up to the top of the island and looked out across the channel to an island called
Orust and simply marvelled at my good fortune... the amazing blessing had continued and had brought me to tears. It was just so beautiful, so perfect how everything had just worked out. And it gave me a new sense of confidence.

On the way home, we heard music from this waterside bar and we pulled up to get a peek... there were two Swedes playing Quiet Riot, We're not going to take it as loud as they could on their accustical guitars. Then they closed their show with YMCA by the Village People. That was the funniest thing I'd seen since I'd been there. Picture 10-12 drunk Swedes doing the
YMCA dance having no idea how gay that song is... and doing it wrong. I asked Bjorn, who had been an exchange student in L.A. in 1985, if they knew anything about the song and he just laughed and said of course they don't know. We motored back to Bjorn's boathouse dock
still laughing from the randomness we had just witnessed. Again, Bjorn gave me 3 choices; "You could walk with us for 30 minutes to our place that doesn't have a bathroom or shower, or I could drive you and could stay up at my mother's house, or you could sleep on my boat next to a shower and the bothrooms right where we are all going to meet in the morning for breakfast."
This is when I found out that the "H" boat would be my new home for the next few days. The picture at the top of the page was were I slept... pretty cool, huh?


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