|The 06.10 from Peterborough to King's Cross|
The journey to London was pretty much as most previous journeys I have made on this route. Just north of this point is where, a little over 75 years ago, the Mallard broke the world steam speed record - a record it has held ever since - but nothing of that nature was on the cards for today. Despite the absence of such potential excitement, I do confess it was somewhat difficult not to feel at least a little smug knowing that the next few weeks were to bring more joys than my fellow passengers had likely ever imagined. And as I saw the sun rise above the eastern horizon, I thought to myself, that's just where I'm heading. To the east!
|The ICE train to Cologne|
The railway station in Cologne is immediately beside the cathedral which is generally worth a visit. Apart from it being a rather dark and drab building - it could really do with a decent clean - it is of fairly spectacular design and was remarkably preserved during the Second World War when all surrounding buildings and bridges seem to have been flattened.
Though having visited before, I had not previously known of the relics once housed within this edifice. Apparently, in centuries past, the bones of the three magi were once buried within the cathedral - and here we were now heading to the east from whence they came. OK, I realise that few subscribe to the idea of these chaps coming from China (or of these bones having any connection with those who came) but it was in that general direction. And if anyone is interested in relics of this nature, I have the skull of the lost sheep at home, not to mention a crumb from one of the loaves left from the feeding of the four thousand, etc.
Having found free Wi-fi in Cologne, our five hour wait for the Copenhagen train didn't seem quite so long. One cathedral visit, a half chicken and chips and several e-mails later, we attempted to board the overnight DSB sleeper to Denmark and settle down for the night. This was trickier than anticipated. Firstly, the doors of our carriage wouldn't open, so after entering via the adjacent car we discovered that there was also neither electricity nor lavatorial conveniences available. The latter were available in carriages either side, but without electricity we were to have neither lighting nor air conditioning - a bit of an inconvenience on a rather hot and humid summer night. But we had a bunk each, in a compartment we shared with four others, and the train did do the essential job of carting us from A to B.
|Early Wednesday morning on the DSB sleeper in Denmark|
At some point in the night the train changed direction. A couple of the passengers disembarked, including the rather large German chap whose size appeared to defy the load capacity of the opposite bunk on which he had been perched, and finally we were woken to a glorious sunny morning. The Dane, who actually turned out to be a Swede, kindly offered me some of his delightfully organic crisp bread which would have been more palatable with a decent cup of tea - actually any cup of tea would have sufficed at that point.
Arriving in Copenhagen more than an hour late, apparently due to recent, inclement meteorological conditions in northern Germany, we had just enough time to step out of the station and pay an exorbitant amount for a sandwich before hopping onto our next train - this one an 'SJ' train, bound for Stockholm.
At first all seemed to be going rather smoothly. We both had window seats and were to have plenty of scenery along the five hour journey to the Swedish capital. We passed through and over the Øresund (or Sound) Tunnel and Bridge to Malmo, but then things began to go wrong and ceased running smoothly. Actually they ceased running at all and the reason given for all the hassle lay at Hassleholm, as one might have expected, where there was apparently a signal failure. Our five hour journey ended up taking nine hours, but the beautiful Swedish scenery more than made up for it.
|Our hostel in Stockholm|